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Fleming’s Hand Rules

When discussing electromagnetism English scientist, John Fleming, created rules that were easy to remember using hands. They are hand thumb rules along a conductor, hand thumb rules for solenoid and electromagnetic poles, hand generator effect rules and hand motor principle rules, (Adler, 2013). These rule were designed to help remember how current flow and electron flow relate oppositely.

The first rule, the right hand thumb rules along a conductor, explains that when a right hand is used the thumb represents the direction of the current flow; this is demonstrated as if the hand is grasping a conductor. The direction of the fingers (wrapped around the conductor), is the direction of the magnetic field lines. If the electron flow is the desired flow to be demonstrated, rather than the right hand, the left hand will be used.

Above demonstrates the right hand thumb rule, showing that the thumb points in the direction of the current flow. Furthering the right hand thumb rule is the hand thumb rules for solenoid and electromagnetic poles. When a solenoid, a coil of wire that acts as a magnet when an electric current is present, is involved, creating an electromagnet, the magnetic lines of flux are still demonstrated, as well as the flow of the current, the difference is that there are now loops created through the current, increasing the flux density. When more loops are added to the solenoid the strength of the magnet increases. The thumb points in the direction of the North Pole while the fingers point in the direction of the current. If the left hand is used and the thumb points in the direction of the North Pole then the fingers will point in the direction of the electron flow. This is demonstrated in the following figure.

Many things affect the strength of the solenoid: the number of loops around the core, the type of material used in the core, and the strength of the current. If the core material is more permeable then it will produce a stronger solenoid. Increasing the loops of the coil will increase the surface area that the electrons gather on; if it is shorter it will increase the effectiveness of the solenoid, as well as if the diameter is greater. This allows more electrons to pass through faster, if the core is long and narrow fewer electrons can pass through at once.

The next hand rule is the right hand generator rule. This rule is specific for generators and involves the first three digits, the thumb and the second digit is extended while the third digit is flexed as a perpendicular angle. The fourth and fifth digits are not of importance and are curled out of the way, when the thumb points in the direction of the conductor’s movement on an armature, the index finger points in the direction of the magnetic lines of force field and the middle finger points in the direction of the current. As with other hand rules, if the left hand is used it will depict the direction of the electron flow. The right hand generator rule is demonstrated below.

The last hand rule (below) is the hand rule that applies to motors, the left-hand motor rule. Similar yet opposite to the right hand generator rule, the thumb indicates the direction of the conductor’s movement on a rotor, the index finger points in the direction of the magnetic lines of force field, and the middle finger points in the direction of the current. If the electron flow is to be demonstrated then the right hand will be used.