|MadSci Network: Earth Sciences|
That's a good question Holly, I have to say that it all depends on your location. The earth can be be thought of as a huge bar magnet. As I am sure you're aware, a bar magnet has two poles: one is north and one is south. You are also correct in your understanding of how they interact, in that two poles which are the same will repel and two different poles such as north and south will attract each other. So, now let's apply this to the earth. The earth is essentially a huge bar magnet which also has a north and a south pole, but be careful answering which is which. Have you ever used compasses? When you pick up the compass, the needle always points north right? That's because the compass needle is also a bar magnet. The north pole of the compass needle is being attracted to the south magnetic pole of the earth. Thus you can now see that the geographic north pole is actually the earth's south magnetic pole. Likewise, the south geographic pole is actually the north magnetic pole of the earth. So, answering your question, having said all this, we should see that the north side of your magnet will stick to the earth if you are at the north geographic pole such as somewhere like the Artic Circle. If you were at the South Pole such as Antartica you would see the south pole of your magnet stick to the earth. If however, you were in between them, like the equator, then your magnet would want to point towards their respective opposites and wouldn't "stick" to the ground. Also, keep in mind that the earth's magnetic field is very weak so your magnet won't actually stick to the earth or even be pulled noticeably, but when you have something small like the bar magnet of a compass needle which can move, then you can really see how strong it is there.
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