Demonstrating the conservation of angular momentum using spherical magnets

Johan Linden, Joakim Slotte, Kjell-Mikael Källman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


An experimental setup for demonstrating the conservation of angular momentum of rotating spherical magnets is described. Two spherical Nd-Fe-B magnets are placed on a double inclined plane and projected towards each other with pre-selected impact parameters ranging from zero to a few tens of millimeters. After impact, the two magnets either revolve vigorously around the common center of mass or stop immediately, depending on the value of the impact parameter. Using a pick-up coil connected to an oscilloscope, the angular frequency for the rotating magnets was measured, and an estimate for the angular momentum was obtained. A high-speed video camera captured the impact and was used for measuring linear and angular velocities of the magnets. A very good agreement between the initial angular momentum before the impact and the final angular momentum of the revolving dumbbell is observed. The two rotating magnets, and the rotating electromagnetic field emanating from them, can also be viewed as a toy model for the newly discovered gravitational waves, where two black holes collide after revolving around each other. (Enhanced online) (C) 2018 American Association of Physics Teachers.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)25–30
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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