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Unformatted text preview: The Magnetic Field of a Straight Wire Like magnets, current-carrying wires also create magnetic fields. Wires of and any and all shapes create a magnetic field, but straight wires are the easiest to work with. After going through some calculus we will tackle more complex situations, but for now we look at the most simple case: the straight wire. Shape of the Field As we know, the magnetic field must always be perpendicular to the direction of the current; in terms of a field around a wire, this means that the field lines must follow a circular path about the wire, as shown below. Figure %: The magnetic field in a plane perpendicular to a wire carrying a current I Given that the field lines travel in a circle around the wire, as shown, how do we decide which way the field lines point? We use our hands again, relying on the second right hand rule. Take your right hand, stick your thumb up like a hitchhiker, curling your fingers around. If you point your thumb in the direction of the current, your fingers will curl around in the direction of the...
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