FBI mnemonics

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The various FBI mnemonics (for electric motors) show the direction of the force on a conductor carrying a current in a magnetic field.

Other mnemonics exist that use a right hand rule for predicting resulting motion from a preexisting current and field.

Configuration, using the left hand


The left hand is held with the thumb, first finger and second finger mutually at right angles.

  • The Thumb represents F - Thrust (or resulting Motion).

  • The First finger represents B - Field.

  • The Second finger represents I or V - Current (in the classical direction, from positive to negative).

Configuration, using the right hand

Other sources use the right hand to predict force, though the fingers used vary:


  • Thumb = F ("thrust")
  • Index finger = I or V
  • Middle finger ("Birdie") = B


In this alternative, some versions recommend not extending the middle finger, but instead imagining the force coming from the palm of the hand.

Other frequently confused rules

Prediction of direction of field ('B')

The rules above are usually used to predict 'F' based upon 'B' and 'I' - the force on a moving charge when moving through a field, whether or not the charge is carried in a wire. However, this rule should not be confused with a different right hand grip rule for the prediction of the direction of a field ('B') produced by current ('I') traveling through a wire.



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