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Kids Corner: What's up with Fusion, Energy and Magnetism?

Learning about energy subjects like fusion, matter, electricity, and magnetism may be somewhat daunting for some middle or high school students. Nowadays, it’s not the case anymore. Students can learn about these subjects on the Internet through webquests, interactive sites, interesting lesson plans, and more.


Fusion energy is the power that is released by the joining of two individual nuclei. Two smaller nuclei are fused to form one bigger nucleus, generating tremendous amount of energy. This energy source is sustainable, safe, and environment friendly because it does not produce carbon dioxide or other hazardous chemicals that contribute to global warming. Due to population and economic growth, the demand for energy will continue to be high despite the best energy conserving efforts. In this light, the development of energy through fusion is crucial. Research and studies on fusion energy have led to the building of the Tokamak. It is a type of magnetic confinement device that helps to produce fusion energy in a controlled environment. Tokamaks were first constructed by the Soviet scientists, and its successful versions are T3 and T4.

Matter & Energy

The earth is primarily made of energy and matter. Matter refers to physical things like air, water, and others. It comprises of four states, namely, solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Energy is simply the ability to do work. It can be in different forms like heat, mechanical, magnetic emissions, or electrical. Energy can be classified as kinetic energy and potential energy. Kinetic energy is generated due to movement while potential energy is stored energy. Riding a cycle, bird flying, and windmills can be considered to be kinetic energy. Fuel or water stored in a dam is considered to be potential energy. Einstein developed the theory about the relationship between matter and energy, stating that matter can be converted to energy and they are linked to each other at an atomic level.

Electricity & Magnetism

Electricity can be defined as flow of electric power. It is the most basic and largely used form of energy. Electricity can be derived from coal, water, wind, the sun or nuclear energy and it’s what makes all our appliances work. In fact, this energy not only runs these time-savers, it also plays a pinnacle role in the manufacturing of repair parts like whirlpool parts or Jenn-Air parts. Magnetism is the ability of a magnet to attract magnetic materials. The force generated by the charged particles of magnet causes magnetism. In 1820, famed Danish physicist Oersted identified a connection between electricity and magnetism. During a demonstration in a classroom, he accidentally held a compass over wire carrying electricity and observed that the needle of the compass was perpendicular to the current. In a hurry, Oersted discovered the thermoelectric effect, leading to the building of the first ever electromagnet. An electromagnet is a set of wires which generates a magnetic field when current is passed through it.

Power fields and magnetic fields are lines of force that are produced due to the generation of electric power. Electric fields are caused primarily by voltage fluctuations in which the field is stronger when voltage is higher. It can exist despite lack of current flow and it does not vary despite variations in consumption. On the other hand, magnetic fields are generated by the flow of electric current, and it varies with the consumption of electricity. The sources of these fields can be natural like a thunderstorm or manmade like radio stations, power sockets or television stations. An electromagnet can be used to generate a magnetic field. This requires a simple wire with electricity flowing through it. The strength of magnetic field depends on the strength of electricity so the higher the electricity, the stronger the field. To concentrate the magnetic field in one area, the wire is wound into a coil, creating a strong magnetic field in the centre of the coil.

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