Ring Magnets

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Frequently Asked Questions...

Neodymium rare-earth magnets?

If I have a ring magnet with a hole in the center (donut), if I put a copper pipe through the center, will the magnet cling up against the copper?... or will it repel it evenly on all sides so that it doesnt touch the copper at all?...

I'm trying to demonstrate levitation and I want as little drag as possible. I want to put one magnet at the bottom then put a magnet on top repelling it so that it will hover above the magnet on the bottom. Then stick a wooden dowel through the center so the top magnet doesn't fly off. But the top magnet will be rubbing up against the wooden dowel when I spin it.
But if you drop a ball magnet inside of the copper tube it will slow down. I was wondering if it had the same effect on the outside.

What about if I used steel pipe?

Best Answer...


One of my favorite demonstrations involves dropping a spherical Neodymium Iron Boron (NIB) magnet down a thick-walled copper tube. Before the demonstration, the magnet is brought close to the pipe, so that students can see that copper is non-magnetic. When the magnet is dropped, however, it takes a full 8 seconds to fall. The magnet appears to float in mid air as it journeys down the 3 foot pipe.
Your ring magnet will not stick to the sides of the copper pipe, but it will fall down the outside of the pipe more slowly because of Lenz's law. I think the copper is a good idea because you have two demonstrations in one: Lenz's law, and magnetic repulsion. Whatever you decide upon, find a well-polished material to minimize frictional forces.