How Gyroscopes Work

A new study shows that in principle electric motors follow the same physical laws as gyroscopes if we re-reconsider magnetic fields.

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A supplement to the philosophy of science paper "Time's Paradigm". See "home page" for abstract and summaries.


"While it has long been considered that a magnetic field has lines of force propagating out from the north pole of a magnet and flowing in towards the south pole, this is confusing because:

Both poles attract - what is actually going on?"


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The peculiar behaviour of gyroscopes and spinning tops and their ability to seemingly defy gravity, and yet it all boils down to the fact that they are following the same principles as an electric motor.

Mysterious Magnetic Fields and Electric Motors

Though angular momentum and torque are usually used to explain precession and the mysterious 'gyroscopic effect', there seems to be very little consensus in the physics community as to how such things actually occur. Explanations abound but usually end up with, "Well, that's the odd thing about torque."


Let's first consider the three perpendicular planes of rotation in a gyroscope, we will call them x, y and z.

A wheel spun on its axis through the plane of (x) has a force applied to its (y) plane and consequently proceeds to rotate through (z). See diagram A below.

How a gyroscope turns force through one plane into torque through the third. Similar principle to that of an electric motor.

This is precisely what occurs in an electric motor, diagram B.

An electric current is passed through a coil in plane (x), which then has a force applied by a magnet compelling it to rotate in plane (y) and consequently it proceeds to rotate through plane (z).

How an electric motor turns force through one plane into torque through the third. Similar to that mentioned above for gyroscopes.

This suggests that magnetic fields emanating from poles are circular in nature and exert a rotational force, not lines flowing out one pole and back in the other as is usually depicted. In an electromagnet this circulatory field we can imagine as an extension of the coil and the current flowing, propagating out with the same spin as the current.

Permanent magnets, too, have a field associated with the flow of electrons within their atoms. Magnetic fields are intimately associated with electrical charge. But just like the 'gyroscopic effect', magnetic fields are equally misunderstood and confound explanation.


Looking at the classic two dimensional depiction of a magnetic field, as created by iron filings on a sheet of paper, we are simply presented with a cross-section of a magnetic field. By visualising many cross-sections at a multitude of angles we can project the traces through three dimensions (see diagram C), creating a circular pattern for the field rather than lines. The lines we see created by iron filings are tiny induced magnets lining up, whereas the actual force compelling them to point in a particular direction must be perpendicular to their polar alignments.

Both magnetic field vortices at either pole have a rotational force which wraps around the magnet becoming one large cocoon field.

The Lorentz Force Law is not in question here. What remains unanswered in the classic view is how exactly the mysterious magnetic field permeates and how both poles are able to attract objects when fields are expressed as lines of force projecting out from the north pole and in towards the south pole.

To begin with we must accept that magnetic field lines emanating from the north pole of a magnet and returning to the south pole do not necessarily imply motion. Likewise, the concept put forward here, that there is a rotating circulation expressed by the magnetic field at each pole, is simply a matter of visual interpretation.

It is often dubiously written that on switching on an electromagnet, a magnetic field is dispersed from its north pole at the speed of light, which means theoretically that there would be a measurable time delay between departure and arrival of the field at the south pole. It seems unlikely that magnetic field generation at the poles would not be simultaneous! So what is really happening?

Both magnetic field vortices when lined up have a rotational force in the same plane and direction.

It is more likely that both poles become activated at the same time and their fields both propagate out, causing attraction by induction. That attraction is a circular influence - a vortex. Two magnets facing one another with opposite poles (diagram D.), have magnetic fields rotating in the same direction, creating a closed system between them. By contrast, two magnets with similar poles facing off have rotations that oppose one another - therefore obvious repulsion.

This gives us an understanding as to why the north and south poles of magnets attract and repel one another and how electric motors and gyroscopes function in, principally, the same way.


In both diagrams A and B the spinning (current) coil and wheel rotate very marginally in the (y) plane, while force is passed to torque in the (z) plane. This is due to the fact that both wheel and coil are rigid objects whose spins (angular momentum) in this discussion are high speed.

This diagram shows that a gyroscope is forced to rotated about its third axis and not fall down due to gravity.

3D plotting of points (see diagram E.) on their circumference - were wheel or coil forced to rotate through (y) - show that their physical shape would have to distort, ergo break, and would therefore only be capable of rotation in (y) if they had elastic properties. In order to retain their shape, not break apart under these contradictory forces and continue spinning unimpeded, rotation through (z) is their only recourse - a path to freedom and continued angular momentum.

For this reason alone force is transferred as torque from (y) to (z) plane. Nothing magic nor mysterious about it.

… (And the spinning wheel doesn't fall off your finger).

This diagram shows that a gyroscope acts in the same way as an electric motor and vice-versa.

Please visit the author's AMAZON KINDLE page to purchase the entire book, TIME'S PARADIGM.
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Further reading, see Is the Universe Contracting? for an overview of the core principle.
Or, for a summary of the paper, see Abstract.

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We conclude that a magnetic force field propagates as a circulating vortex from both poles.

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A synopsis of a work in progress. Copyright: A. Graham, 1988 - 2018

No unauthorised use of the material published or the concepts described herein is permitted.