Can A Water Stream Be Deflected By A Magnetic Field?

Water, along with oxygen, is a fundamental need for every source of life on this planet. Not only does it cover a majority of Earth at about 71 per cent, but also 60 per cent of our human body is made up of it. While water is electrically neutral, it is still a polar molecule that contains a negative and positive charge on either end, similar to the North and South pole.

Magnetism in the universe

Everything in the universe has a magnetic field, even though most things exist at the atomic level. In particle physics, the spin of elementary particles, such as molecules and atoms, induces a magnetic field. However, because these elementary particles exist in huge numbers, the magnetic fields are cancelled out and thus cannot be felt.

Water repels external magnetic fields due to its diamagnetic nature. So, theoretically speaking, a water stream, such as a flowing river or falling raindrops, can be deflected by a strong-enough magnetic field.

However, practically speaking, there are various factors that must be accounted for in order for such an attempt to be carried out. Because water has a diamagnetic nature, it has a weak opposing magnetic field that lasts as long as there is an external magnetic force applied to it. Hence, while deflection might sound possible principally, it cannot be translated practically.

Furthermore, with the inclusion of impurities found in certain water, such as chlorine or sodium, there are additional negatively and positively charged ions present. While an external magnetic force does not affect stationary charges, moving charges, on the other hand, can be deflected by a magnetic field.

Hence, while it is quite possible to deflect raindrops with a magnetic field, it might not be practical as there is no sufficient concentration of charged ions present in the raindrops to be affected by a magnetic field visibly.

Can a magnet deflect a water stream?

One vital piece of information to know is that such magnets that are capable of deflecting water streams, such as NIB magnets, cannot be found in the natural world. They are manmade electromagnets that are created using a flowing electric current. The magnetic field exists for as long as the current flows. Because they are not permanent magnets, they are generally stronger than natural electromagnetic fields. The stronger the current, the stronger the electromagnetic field. Hence, it is possible that such magnets can be increased to the point of deflecting water streams.

Fun fact

If you are able to generate a strong enough electromagnetic field, even tiny water creatures, such as frogs, can be levitated using diamagnetic repulsion, as proven in a science experiment conducted in 1997. A group of Dutch and British scientists placed a frog in the middle of the throat of a strong electromagnetic field and got the amphibian to float in the air.


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