Also known as a magnetometer, a gauss meter is a measurement device designed to measure the direction and strength of a magnetic field. It is also available in small, hand held form, which can be easily carried by a person to monitor magnetic fields as he/she walks.
Gauss meter comes in two types, scalar and vector. While the scalar gauss meter measures the strength of the magnetic field present in the area around the device, the vector gauss meter measures the direction of the magnetic field according to the device location and to which direction the device points. There are gauss meter models that combine both scalar and vector technologies.
Depending on the application, there are different types of gauss meters. The most common gauss meter relies on what is called ‘The Hall effect’ which is a measurable voltage that is created when a magnetic field crosses an electrical current. Another common types of a gauss meter is the fluxgate meter which measures the magnetic field along a given direction. The proton gauss meter uses nuclear magnetic resonance which is the tendency of atoms to absorb and then emit magnet and electromagnetic energy.
A gauss meter working principle is pretty simple. The screen provides a reading of how strong the magnetic field is and may show the direction it’s coming from. If the person holding the device walks closer to the magnetic source, the reading will rise and vice versa. Conflicting readings can happened due to multiple sources. In this case, a more advanced technology is required to determine where the sources are coming from.
Gauss meter has several scientific uses. It is a beneficial tool in space exploration for understanding more about the magnetism of foreign planets and is an essential device here on Earth to detect certain landscape formations. It is highly used in geophysics to get an idea of how the land is laid out but can also be used to detect hidden items such as shipwrecks or to hunt for loss items in the sand. Gauss meter can also be used by security guards to detect guns or other weapons.
The first gauss meter was invented in 1833 by Carl Friedrich Gauss. It was consisted of a bar magnet suspended in midair by a string and was able to offer only a crude measure of the strength. Nowadays, gauss meter can even be used in cell phones. A cell phone featuring this technology can give directions to the user similar to a compass.