Why do like poles repel each other?

When we hold two magnets together so that like or same poles are close together (two north or two south) they repel.

But, when we hold two magnets together with the unlike poles (a north pointing to the south or vice versa) the magnets stick together (attract each other).

To understand this here is the explanation.

We obviously know about energy, that is needed to create movement.

The magnets contain ‘stored energy’.

To understand the stored energy let’s take some example which helps us to understand this easily.

A car/bike that’s standing still will start to move when the diesel/petrol inside it burns. It happens because petrol contains stored-up energy which is released when it burns.

Now, I have another familiar example, for the stored energy that is related to us (humans/any organisms).

We or any organisms can move/run, it’s because the energy stored in our food is released and some of it changes into movement energy.

Scientists termed this stored-up energy as “potential energy” and movement energy as “kinetic energy”.

So, in the same way, all magnets have a magnetic field that contains stored-up energy.

But there’s a way to decide or change the movement of the magnet by changing the amount of stored-up energy surrounding the magnet.

The Rule for this is,

Wherever there is stored-up energy in an object, then the object will be pushed (when it is free or not tied) in the direction that causes the stored-up energy to decrease. 

Here, the stored-up energy is reduced and replaced by movement energy.

Hence, if two magnets are pointing with unlike/opposite poles together (north pole to a south pole or vice versa), then bringing them closer together decreases the energy stored up in the magnetic field. 

Then they will be pushed in the direction that decreases the amount of stored-up energy. That is they are forced together (called attraction).

Now, if two magnets are pointing with like/same poles together (a south pole to a south pole OR north to the north), then the stored-up energy will decrease if they move apart.

So according to rule, the magnets will be pushed in the direction that decreases the amount of stored-up energy. That is, they are forced apart (repelled).


Simply Easy Learning

Updated on: 10-Oct-2022


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started