Prof. Jean-Marie FRERE is a scientist at the Service de Physique Théorique, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium.

His research interests are in Particle Physics and Fundamental Interactions, in particular in some better understanding of the mechanisms at play:

  • unification of the interactions,
  • origin of mass
  • cosmological evolution.

During his stay in Quy Nhon, he shared with us a simple measurement, as a prelude to an international call for secondary schools (or first years of university students) to measure the horizontal component of the Earth magnetic field, an object which is shared by the whole world population.

Measurement of the Earth magnetic field in Quy Nhon

Why the grass? Well, it is just to remind us that the experiment needs to be performed outside (to avoid stray currents or steel from the buildings, it is also advisable to be far from power lines).

This simple measurement is the prelude to an international call for secondary schools (or first years of university students) to measure the horizontal component of the Earth magnetic field, an object which is shared by the whole world population!

While the apparatus may not yield the exact normalization, comparison of data on different points of the Earth (by different schools communicating by Internet) allows for definite comparisons.

For instance, the value found in Quy Nhon is, as expected , approximately twice that found in Brussels (Belgium).

While any school can easily reproduce the equipment, it was tested here by the staff at the Quy Nhon Planetarium and will be available to students or visitors in the future.

Anybody can join : the instructions for a standardized solenoïd and the few extra components can be found (including a PDF template) at http://homepages.ulb.ac.be/~frere/MagneticField/EarthMagneticField.html

Comment on the picture: to avoid stray magnetic fields and steel components inside the building, the measurement needs to be done outside, with the power provided by batteries or dry cells. (avoid car batteries due to the risk of deadly short-circuit).

For more information contact:

Prof. Jean-Marie FRERE
Physique theorique , CP 225
Universite Libre de Bruxelles
Bruxelles                    
http://homepages.ulb.ac.be/~frere
http://www.ulb.ac.be/sciences/physth/

Photo credits

Jean Marie FRERE, University of Wolverhampton