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Magnetic damping is a form of damping that occurs when a magnetic field (i.e. a magnet) travels some distance through or past an electrical conductor (or vice versa).

When a magnetic field moves through a conductor the movement induces an eddy current in the conductor. The flow of electrons in the conductor immediately creates an opposing magnetic field which results in damping of the magnet and produces heat inside the conductor similar to heat buildup inside of a power cord during use. The amount of energy transferred to the conductor in the form of heat is equal to the change in kinetic energy lost by the magnet – the greater the loss of kinetic energy of a magnet (a product of its mass and speed), the greater the heat buildup in the conductor and the more forceful the damping effect. Eddy currents induced in conductors are much stronger as temperatures approach cryogenic levels. This allows for critical damping for cryogenic applications and testing in the aerospace industry.

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