Before the days of mobile devices and laptops, our entertainment needs were mostly
filled by one source, the television. This, my friend, turned out to be the single most innovative
technology until the computing age, and to this day, it remains a powerhouse in the entertainment
realm (Clark, 2015) and other areas as well. Truly, we depend on TV for entertainment, news,
education, culture, weather, sports—and even music, since the advent of music videos along with
the well-liked and in style Kpop music videos. Oh boy, I almost forgot to mention one—anime! Or
so I thought, because TV’s significance in society goes deeper than all of them. Along the long
list of its usages, television is a great wonder of modern science manifesting an intricate and
spectacular functioning that can be explained thru scientific terms. In the same way, science can
provide enlightenment when TV displays strange color distortion added with the presence of
magnets set near to it. How and why does this phenomenon happen? Let’s dig in and discover!
The distortion only works on an old fashioned screen which is essentially either a
cathode ray tube (CRT) type TV screen or computer monitor. So, to understand why this happens,
we need to know how they work. In a microscopic look of this specific television, a CRT is made
of an emitter of electrons called cathode, voltage/electric field accelerators called anodes, coils,
windings used to deflect the electrons as they travel through the tube called deflecting coils and
a fluorescent (phosphorescent) screen (Fais, 2016). Adam Weiner (2009) asserted that CRT
television screens create an image on the screen by accelerating charged particles (electrons)
using an electric field. Electrons then pass between the two steering coils which are made of
copper wire. Currents running through the coils produce magnetic fields as the principle goes,
“the electric charges in motion produce magnetic fields.” These coils act as a guide for electrons
located in the television, making them go to the correct places on the screen to produce image.
Therefore, as the electrons pass between the coils and through their respective magnetic fields,
they are deflected to specific locations on the screen. One coil controls horizontal motion, and the
other vertical motion. When the charges hit the screen called phosphor, they cause this
phosphorescent coating to glow—viola! An image in motion will now play before you.
A short-lived joy arrived at the entry of magnet, swapped with curiosity and startle.
Here, we enter the bizarre yet wonderful effect of the magnet on TV. If a magnet comes in contact
with the screen, it magnetizes that section of screen, disrupting the magnetic field and flow of
electrons. The motion of electrons reaching the screen is affected by the magnetic field of the bar
magnet. This is due to the fact that the magnetic field exerts a force on the moving charges, thus,
causes the color or picture of that area to be distorted. Physics can mathematically explain the
distortion that placing a magnet near the cathode tube results to its magnetic field (B?B?)
deviating the electrons through Lorentz force (F?=q?E?+(v?×B?)F?=q?E?+(v?×B?)),
thereby, distorting the image.
However, the solution to the problem is to reverse the polarity of the spot the magnet
contacted. This demagnetizes it, a process called degaussing.


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