1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Magnetometer
MAGNETOMETER, a name, in its most general sense, for any instrument used to measure the strength of any magnetic field; it is, however, often used in the restricted sense of an instrument for measuring a particular magnetic field, namely, that due to the earth’s magnetism, and in this article the instruments used for measuring the value of the earth’s magnetic field will alone be considered.
The elements which are actually measured when determining the value of the earth’s field are usually the declination, the dip and the horizontal component (see Magnetism, Terrestrial). For the instruments and methods used in measuring the dip see Inclinometer. It remains to consider the measurement of the declination and the horizontal component, these two elements being generally measured with the same instrument, which is called a unifilar magnetometer.
|Fig. 1.—Unifilar Magnetometer, arranged to indicate declination.|
Measurement of Declination.—The measurement of the declination involves two separate observations, namely, the determination of (a) the magnetic meridian and (b) the geographical meridian, the angle between the two being the declination. In order to determine the magnetic meridian the orientation of the magnetic axis of a freely suspended magnet is observed; while, in the absence of a distant mark of which the azimuth is known, the geographical meridian is obtained from observations of the transit of the sun or a star. The geometrical axis of the magnet is sometimes defined by means of a mirror rigidly attached to the magnet and having the normal to the mirror as nearly as may be parallel to the magnetic axis. This arrangement is not very convenient, as it is difficult to protect the mirror from accidental displacement, so that the angle between the geometrical and magnetic axes may vary. For this reason the end of the magnet is sometimes polished and acts as the mirror, in which case no displacement of the reflecting surface with reference to the magnet is possible. A different arrangement, used in the instrument described below, consists in having the magnet hollow, with a small scale engraved on glass firmly attached at one end, while to the other end is attached a lens, so chosen that the scale is at its principal focus. In this case the geometrical axis is the line joining the central division of the scale to the optical centre of the lens. The position of the magnet is observed by means of a small telescope, and since the scale is at the principal focus of the lens, the scale will be in focus when the telescope is adjusted to observe a distant object. Thus no alteration in the focus of the telescope is necessary whether we are observing the magnet, a distant fixed mark, or the sun.
The Kew Observatory pattern unifilar magnetometer is shown in figs. 1 and 2. The magnet consists of a hollow steel cylinder fitted with a scale and lens as described above, and is suspended by a long thread of unspun silk, which is attached at the upper end to the torsion head H. The magnet is protected from draughts by the box A, which is closed at the sides by two shutters when an observation is being taken. The telescope B serves to observe the scale attached to the magnet when determining the magnetic meridian, and to observe the sun or star when determining the geographical meridian.
|Fig. 2.—Unifilar Magnetometer, arranged to show deflexion.|
When making a determination of declination a brass plummet having the same weight as the magnet is first suspended in its place, and the torsion of the fibre is taken out. The magnet having been attached, the instrument is rotated about its vertical axis till the centre division of the scale appears to coincide with the vertical cross-wire of the telescope. The two verniers on the azimuth circle having been read, the magnet is then inverted, i.e. turned through 180° about its axis, and the setting is repeated. A second setting with the magnet inverted is generally made, and then another setting with the magnet in its original position. The mean of all the readings of the verniers gives the reading on the azimuth circle corresponding to the magnetic meridian. To obtain the geographical meridian the box A is removed, and an image of the sun or a star is reflected into the telescope B by means of a small transit mirror N. This mirror can rotate about a horizontal axis which is at right angles to the line of collimation of the telescope, and is parallel to the surface of the mirror. The time of transit of the sun or star across the vertical wire of the telescope having been observed by means of a chronometer of which the error is known, it is possible to calculate the azimuth of the sun or star, if the latitude and longitude of the place of observation are given. Hence if the readings of the verniers on the azimuth circle are made when the transit is observed we can deduce the reading corresponding to the geographical meridian.
The above method of determining the geographical meridian has the serious objection that it is necessary to know the error of the chronometer with very considerable accuracy, a matter of some difficulty when observing at any distance from a fixed observatory. If, however, a theodolite, fitted with a telescope which can rotate about a horizontal axis and having an altitude circle, is employed, so that when observing a transit the altitude of the sun or star can be read off, then the time need only be known to within a minute or so. Hence in more recent patterns of magnetometer it is usual to do away with the transit mirror method of observing and either to use a separate theodolite to observe the azimuth of some distant object, which will then act as a fixed mark when making the declination observations, or to attach to the magnetometer an altitude telescope and circle for use when determining the geographical meridian.
The chief uncertainty in declination observations, at any rate at a fixed observatory, lies in the variable torsion of the silk suspension, as it is found that, although the fibre may be entirely freed from torsion before beginning the declination observations, yet at the conclusion of these observations a considerable amount of torsion may have appeared. Soaking the fibre with glycerine, so that the moisture it absorbs does not change so much with the hygrometric state of the air, is of some advantage, but does not entirely remove the difficulty. For this reason some observers use a thin strip of phosphor bronze to suspend the magnet, considering that the absence of a variable torsion more than compensates for the increased difficulty in handling the more fragile metallic suspension.
Measurement of the Horizontal Component of the Earth’s Field.—The method of measuring the horizontal component which is almost exclusively used, both in fixed observatories and in the field, consists in observing the period of a freely suspended magnet, and then obtaining the angle through which an auxiliary suspended magnet is deflected by the magnet used in the first part of the experiment. By the vibration experiment we obtain the value of the product of the magnetic moment (M) of the magnet into the horizontal component (H), while by the deflexion experiment we can deduce the value of the ratio of M to H, and hence the two combined give both M and H.
In the case of the Kew pattern unifilar the same magnet that is used for the declination is usually employed for determining H, and for the purposes of the vibration experiment it is mounted as for the observation of the magnetic meridian. The time of vibration is obtained by means of a chronometer, using the eye-and-ear method. The temperature of the magnet must also be observed, for which purpose a thermometer C (fig. 1) is attached to the box A.
When making the deflection experiment the magnetometer is arranged as shown in fig. 2. The auxiliary magnet has a plane mirror attached, the plane of which is at right angles to the axis of the magnet. An image of the ivory scale B is observed after reflection in the magnet mirror by the telescope A. The magnet K used in the vibration experiment is supported on a carriage L which can slide along the graduated bar D. The axis of the magnet is horizontal and at the same level as the mirror magnet, while when the central division of the scale B appears to coincide with the vertical cross-wire of the telescope the axes of the two magnets are at right angles. During the experiment the mirror magnet is protected from draughts by two wooden doors which slide in grooves. What is known as the method of sines is used, for since the axes of the two magnets are always at right angles when the mirror magnet is in its zero position, the ratio M/H is proportional to the sine of the angle between the magnetic axis of the mirror magnet and the magnetic meridian. When conducting a deflexion experiment the deflecting magnet K is placed with its centre at 30 cm. from the mirror magnet and to the east of the latter, and the whole instrument is turned till the centre division of the scale B coincides with the cross-wire of the telescope, when the readings of the verniers on the azimuth circle are noted. The magnet K is then reversed in the support, and a new setting taken. The difference between the two sets of readings gives twice the angle which the magnetic axis of the mirror magnet makes with the magnetic meridian. In order to eliminate any error due to the zero of the scale D not being exactly below the mirror magnet, the support L is then removed to the west side of the instrument, and the settings are repeated. Further, to allow of a correction being applied for the finite length of the magnets the whole series of settings is repeated with the centre of the deflecting magnet at 40 cm. from the mirror magnet.
Omitting correction terms depending on the temperature and on the inductive effect of the earth’s magnetism on the moment of the deflecting magnet, if θ is the angle which the axis of the deflected magnet makes with the meridian when the centre of the deflecting magnet is at a distance r, then
|r 3H||sin θ = 1 +||P||+||Q||+ &c.,|
in which P and Q are constants depending on the dimensions and magnetic states of the two magnets. The value of the constants P and Q can be obtained by making deflexion experiments at three distances. It is, however, possible by suitably choosing the proportions of the two magnets to cause either P or Q to be very small. Thus it is usual, if the magnets are of similar shape, to make the deflected magnet 0.467 of the length of the deflecting magnet, in which case Q is negligible, and thus by means of deflexion experiments at two distances the value of P can be obtained. (See C. Börgen, Terrestrial Magnetism, 1896, i. p. 176, and C. Chree, Phil. Mag., 1904 , 7, p. 113.)
In the case of the vibration experiment correction terms have to be introduced to allow for the temperature of the magnet, for the inductive effect of the earth’s field, which slightly increases the magnetic moment of the magnet, and for the torsion of the suspension fibre, as well as the rate of the chronometer. If the temperature of the magnet were always exactly the same in both the vibration and deflexion experiment, then no correction on account of the effect of temperature in the magnetic moment would be necessary in either experiment. The fact that the moment of inertia of the magnet varies with the temperature must, however, be taken into account. In the deflexion experiment, in addition to the induction correction, and that for the effect of temperature on the magnetic moment, a correction has to be applied for the effect of temperature on the length of the bar which supports the deflexion magnet.
See also Stewart and Gee, Practical Physics, vol. 2, containing a description of the Kew pattern unifilar magnetometer and detailed instructions for performing the experiments; C. Chree, Phil. Mag., 1901 (6), 2, p. 613, and Proc. Roy. Soc., 1899, 65, p. 375, containing a discussion of the errors to which the Kew unifilar instrument is subject; E. Mascart, Traité de magnétisme terrestre, containing a description of the instruments used in the French magnetic survey, which are interesting on account of their small size and consequent easy portability; H. E. D. Fraser, Terrestrial Magnetism, 1901, 6, p. 65, containing a description of a modified Kew pattern unifilar as used in the Indian survey; H. Wild, Mém. Acad. imp. sc. St Pétersbourg, 1896 (viii.), vol. 3, No. 7, containing a description of a most elaborate unifilar magnetometer with which it is claimed results can be obtained of a very high order of accuracy; K. Haufsmann, Zeits. für Instrumentenkunde, 1906, 26, p. 2, containing a description of a magnetometer for field use, designed by M. Eschenhagen, which has many advantages.
Measurements of the Magnetic Elements at Sea.—Owing to the fact that the proportion of the earth’s surface covered by sea is so much greater than the dry land, the determination of the magnetic elements on board ship is a matter of very considerable importance. The movements of a ship entirely preclude the employment of any instrument in which a magnet suspended by a fibre has any part, so that the unifilar is unsuited for such observations. In order to obtain the declination a pivoted magnet is used to obtain the magnetic meridian, the geographical meridian being obtained by observations on the sun or stars. A carefully made ship’s compass is usually employed, though in some cases the compass card, with its attached magnets, is made reversible, so that the inclination to the zero of the card of the magnetic axis of the system of magnets attached to the card can be eliminated by reversal. In the absence of such a reversible card the index correction must be determined by comparison with a unifilar magnetometer, simultaneous observations being made on shore, and these observations repeated as often as occasion permits. To determine the dip a Fox’s dip circle is used. This consists of an ordinary dip circle (see Inclinometer) in which the ends of the axle of the needle are pointed and rest in jewelled holes, so that the movements of the ship do not displace the needle. The instrument is, of course, supported on a gimballed table, while the ship during the observations is kept on a fixed course. To obtain the strength of the field the method usually adopted is that known as Lloyd’s method. To carry out a determination of the total force by this method the Fox dip circle has been slightly modified by E. W. Creak, and has been found to give satisfactory results on board ship. The circle is provided with two needles in addition to those used for determining the dip, one (a) an ordinary dip needle, and the other (b) a needle which has been loaded at one end by means of a small peg which fits into one of two symmetrically placed holes in the needle. The magnetism of these two needles is never reversed, and they are as much as possible protected from shock and from approach to other magnets, so that their magnetic state may remain as constant as possible. Attached to the cross-arm which carries the microscopes used to observe the ends of the dipping needle is a clamp, which will hold the needle b in such a way that its plane is parallel to the vertical circle and its axis is at right angles to the line joining the two microscopes. Hence, when the microscopes are adjusted so as to coincide with the points of the dipping needle a, the axes of the two needles must be at right angles. The needle a being suspended between the jewels, and the needle b being held in the clamp, the cross-arm carrying the reading microscopes and the needle b is rotated till the ends of the needle a coincide with the cross-wires of the microscopes. The verniers having been read, the cross-arm is rotated so as to deflect the needle a in the opposite direction, and a new setting is taken. Half the difference between the two readings gives
the angle through which the needle a has been deflected under the action of the needle b. This angle depends on the ratio of the magnetic moment of the needle b to the total force of the earth’s field. It also involves, of course, the distance between the needles and the distribution of the magnetism of the needles; but this factor is determined by comparing the value given by the instrument, at a shore station, with that given by an ordinary magnetometer. Hence the above observation gives us a means of obtaining the ratio of the magnetic moment of the needle b to the value of the earth’s total force. The needle b is then substituted for a, there being now no needle in the clamp attached to the microscope arm, and the difference between the reading now obtained and the dip, together with the weight added to the needle, gives the product of the moment of the needle b into the earth’s total force. Hence, from the two observations the value of the earth’s total force can be deduced. In an actual observation the deflecting needle would be reversed, as well as the deflected one, while different weights would be used to deflect the needle b.
For a description of the method of using the Fox circle for observations at sea consult the Admiralty Manual of Scientific Inquiry, p. 116, while a description of the most recent form of the circle, known as the Lloyd-Creak pattern, will be found in Terrestrial Magnetism, 1901, 6, p. 119. An attachment to the ordinary ship’s compass, by means of which satisfactory measurements of the horizontal component have been made on board ship, is described by L. A. Bauer in Terrestrial Magnetism, 1906, 11, p. 78. The principle of the method consists in deflecting the compass needle by means of a horizontal magnet supported vertically over the compass card, the axis of the deflecting magnet being always perpendicular to the axis of the magnet attached to the card. The method is not strictly an absolute one, since it presupposes a knowledge of the magnetic moment of the deflecting magnet. In practice it is found that a magnet can be prepared which, when suitably protected from shock, &c., retains its magnetic moment sufficiently constant to enable observations of H to be made comparable in accuracy with that of the other elements obtained by the instruments ordinarily employed at sea. (W. Wn.)