1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hysteresis

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HYSTERESIS (Gr. ὑστέρησις, from ὑστέρειν, to lag behind), a term added to the vocabulary of physical science by J. A. Ewing, who defines it as follows: When there are two qualities M and N such that cyclic variations of N cause cyclic variations of M, then if the changes of M lag behind those of N, we may say that there is hysteresis in the relation of M to N (Phil. Trans., 1885, 176, p. 524). The phenomenon is best known in connexion with magnetism. If an iron bar is subjected to a magnetic force which is first gradually increased to a maximum and then gradually diminished, the resulting magnetization of the bar for any given value of the magnetic force will be greater when the force is decreasing than when it is increasing; the iron always tends to retain the magnetic condition which it has previously acquired, and changes of its magnetization consequently lag behind changes of the magnetic force. Thus there is hysteresis in the relation of magnetization to magnetic force. In consequence of hysteresis the process of magnetizing a piece of iron to a certain intensity and then restoring it to its original condition, or of effecting a double reversal of its magnetization, involves the expenditure of energy, which is dissipated as heat in the iron. Electrical generators and transformers often contain pieces of iron the magnetization of which is reversed many times in a second, and in order to economize power and to avoid undue heating it is essential that hysteresis should in such cases be as small as possible. Iron and mild steels showing remarkably little hysteresis are now specially manufactured for use in the construction of electrical machinery. (See Magnetism.)