Facts About Magnets

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  • Magnets come in four flavors. Ferromagnets — which include substances like iron and nickel — are composed of atoms with unpaired electrons whose spins are aligned. They make good permanent magnets. In another type of magnet — called ferrimagnets — only some of the electron spins are aligned.

  • Magnets are objects that produce an area of magnetic force called a magnetic field.
  • A coil of wire with an electric current flowing through it becomes a magnet.
  • The earliest magnets were referred to as lodestone or magnetite. There is a story that a shepherd from the island of Crete was the first
    to discover lodestone when his crook, which had an iron tip, was pulled towards a stone when he passed over it. The shepherd’s name was Magnes.
  • All magnets have points where their magnetic strength is concentrated. Those points are called poles. We label them north and south because suspended magnets orient along north-south planes. On different magnets, like poles repel each other, opposite poles attract.
  • Magnetism can attract magnetic objects or push them away.
  • Today’s high speed trains use magnets to float each car, reducing friction and allowing the train to run very efficiently.
  • Magnets can be found in many common household items such as telephones, computers, stereos, refrigerators, TVs, and VCRs.
  • Magnets have invisible magnetic fields which attract and stick onto steel items.
  • The Earth’s core is believed to be a mix (alloy) of iron and nickel, giving the Earth its own magnetic field.

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