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ERIC Number: EJ892002
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-May
Pages: 2
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Magnetic Levitation and Newton's Third Law
Aguilar, Horacio Munguia
Physics Teacher, v45 n5 p278-279 May 2007
Newton's third law is often misunderstood by students and even their professors, as has already been pointed out in the literature. Application of the law in the context of electromagnetism can be especially problematic, because the idea that the forces of "action" and "reaction" are equal and opposite independent of the medium through which they act can be muddied by the concept of "action at a distance." While some experiments have been described illustrating Newton's third law in magnetic situations, these do not offer the student a clear way of evaluating his/her own preconceptions. The experiment we present shows how easily the student, and even the graduate student, can fail to apply the third law correctly in an electromagnetic situation. The experiment described here employs a magnetic levitator and shows the difficulty in recognizing action and reaction forces.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A