GCSE Physics


Pass an electrical current through a wire and something amazing happens: a magnetic field is produced! You can show this by passing current through an insulated wire near a compass, although iron filings will also do.

Turning the current on and off will cause the compasses to deflect. Shown below are four compasses near a wire that comes towards the camera.

The effect of current through a wire on the alignment of magnetic plotting compasses
  1. Move your mouse over the image: the image changes to show that the current is on, flowing towards the camera. The compasses show the magnetic field.
  2. Move the mouse off and we reverse the direction of current (away from the camera), leading to the opposite magnetic field.
  3. Click here, or the image, to refresh the page, making sure you move the mouse away.

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