Although many people may not realize it, magnets are the power behind a vast number of technological devices today. Many of these magnets in computers and generators–among many other things–are what are known as earth magnets. These use the same basic principles as regular iron or other alloy magnets; they have a north and south pole with magnetic fields that attract unlike poles of other magnets and repel like poles. The difference between earth magnets and other magnets is the type of metal used, and the strength of the attraction. Earth magnets are made of ferromagnetic metals or metals that, like iron, can be permanently magnetized, that create an extremely powerful magnetic pull.
They are prone to brittleness and it is not uncommon for an earth magnet to shatter violently if dropped or thrown. They are so strong, in fact, that there have been instances where children have swallowed these small magnets and an organ in the digestive tract has been pinched between them, causing injury or even death. Some of the larger earth magnets can crush a finger between them. However, when used with caution, this is not likely to happen.
Created late in the 1900s, earth magnets have been used ever since their invention for many different purposes. Neodymium magnets, the more common of the two types, have slowly become more affordable and are today available to the general public for almost any household need, rather than just to the scientific community. They tend to be very small; and although the magnetic field is not very far-reaching, it can be strong enough to cause breakage if two attracting magnets are set near enough together. These magnets are often used in devices that run partially or fully on electromagnetism: electricity that is powered by magnetic force. Computers, for example, use earth magnets; even though it is known that exposure to magnets will destroy a hard drive, the hard drive would not work without them.
There are other uses for them, however; refrigerator magnets, cordless tools, metal detectors, and self-powered flashlights can all be made with neodymium magnets. Many people believe that magnetic pull has healing properties, although that has not been proven scientifically. Small earth magnets are often used for water conditioning as a purifying method, or for magnetic therapy.
Earth magnets today are a stronger alternative to other types of permanent magnets. They should be kept away from small children, and it would be wise to avoid using them near any computer or other similar devices, as they could cause permanent damage. They can also erase information on a credit or debit card, so such powerful magnets shouldn’t be kept in purses or pockets unless they are being used. However, there is little other danger with these small magnets and the majority of people who use them are extremely satisfied.