How Do Magnetometers Affect Everyday Life?

What is meant by a Magnetometer?

How Do Magnetometers Affect Everyday Life?
Image by Goran Horvat from Pixabay

A widely used magnetometer is an electrical instrument associated with the calculations and estimations linked to magnetism. It helps to gauge and measure the values of the direction, strength, relative change, and magnitude of a selected magnetic field in a specific place or location. 

The magnetometer also has the capability and ability to analyze and compute the value of the magnetic dipole moment. It can do so for various materials and objects. It does so for the ones emitted by ferromagnetic substances primarily. The device ascertains and records the influence and effect that the dipole moment has on an induced current. The measurements get taken when the latter works on current-conducting or carrying coils.  

When was the First Magnetometer Developed and Invented?

Historical recordings and shreds of evidence state that the first working model of a magnetometer got developed and invented in 1833 by the head of the Geomagnetic Observatory located in Göttingen, Carl Friedrich Gauss. The device could estimate and evaluate the value of the intensity of the magnetic field at a particular location or point in space. This design and working of this instrument required a permanent magnet in the shape of a bar hung from a fibre made of gold. It remained suspended horizontally parallel to the ground. 

Gauss used this type of magnetometer to calculate the varying and existing differences in the oscillations created by the swinging of the bar magnet. He experimented and recorded the observations of the values obtained from two cases. It included the demagnetized and magnetized states. Using the observed and noted values, he could compute a consistent and absolute value for the overall strength of the magnetic field surrounding the Earth. 

Later, during the 19th century, several improvements got added to the initial framework of the magnetometer. Francis Ronald and Charles Brooke implemented and included the mechanism of photography. It enabled them to capture the timings and other details of the oscillations of the permanent magnet bar automatically. They could do it continuously without having to keep a manual lookout. Thus, it made the observation process more effortless and undemanding.  

Modern magnetometers have functions that automate the entire estimation process. Additionally, they have numerous beneficial features and attributes. Hall effect is one such notable addition that required a large number of trials and errors. 

What are the Applications and Uses of Magnetometers?

A magnetometer is used in different and diverse locations. It stands true, be it on land, in air, or space. 

They can withstand and work in harsh environments and conditions without compromising their functions and operation in any manner. Thus, they find application in various fields, domains, industries, and sectors. 

A few uses and applications of a magnetometer include:


Several pairs of magnetometers come together to form a gradiometer. These devices remain horizontally divided and separated, maintaining a fixed distance of the gap from one another. 

Readings get taken from each sensor. They get subtracted or deducted to obtain the precise value of the difference between the existing and working magnetic fields. This magnitude gives the gradients of the field. It originates owing to the magnetic anomalies that interfere in their performance and efficiency. 

Gradiometers use magnetometers to enhance the faint magnetic anomalies. For this reason, they prove to be beneficial for archaeological expeditions and in-situ investigations and discoveries. Additionally, they help in real-time detections and findings of unexploded ordnance whereabouts and locations.  

Calculating the Magnitude of Mechanical Stress

An object may have some degree of mechanical stress in it using its features and attributes. A magnetometer is used to calculate that value. This estimation involves and works primarily with ferromagnetic substances and materials because they emit a strong and distinguishable magnetic field. 

A magnetometer may also enhance and enrich the quality and factors of the scale magnetic domains and the microscopic alignment. It helps increase and improve the magnitude of the magnetic field present in and associated with ferromagnetic substances and objects. 

Detection and Exposure of Underground and Hidden Coal Reserves

A magnetometer serves a significant and beneficial role in detecting, exposing, and discovering a coal mine or its reserves. It helps create and shape the map of a particular area of a regional basin that has a considerable quantity of coal. In addition to that, the device locates and points out both the underlying and the imminent hazards and dangers. A coal mine or underground reserve may bring them with it. 

A magnetometer encompasses the effects and presence of the present basaltic intrusions. They may consist of dykes, volcanic plugs, and so on. These intrusions are detrimental and dangerous as they can damage valuable and costly mining equipment. In worst cases, they can even lead to the development of lethal and grave situations, critical enough to endanger the lives of the miners and all the associated people. 

What are the Effects that a Magnetometer has on Everyday Life?

A magnetometer is a convenient and advantageous device that gets used in numerous places. We can find one incorporated in most electrical appliances and devices around us if we look carefully enough. They are used in vehicles, airports, mobile phones, compasses, and so on. 

Their varied application can get owed to their use in almost all places and conditions. For example, a magnetometer is a part of the heading sensor in aircraft. It helps the air-borne vehicle find its destination and navigate in the correct direction. It permits the aircraft to steer clear of all obstacles when the view in front gets obscene and dark.  

For underwater expeditions and travels, a magnetometer can be used in vessels like submarines. It is possible provided the device gets packaged adequately. In such cases, it facilitates the crafts to detect the presence and movements of nearby objects and those at a particular range. Hence, it forms a part of the defence mechanisms. Additionally, it enables the discovery of ferromagnetic materials deep under the surface of the water. 

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