Magnet
Electricity and Magnetism

More on magnetic materials and magnets

Physics Narrative for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

Read more about the ways in which materials interact with other magnets

Permanent magnets retain their magnetism, while other materials are attracted to magnets (they are magnetic) but do not themselves become permanent magnets. How can we explain this?

The origin of magnetism lies in circulating electric currents. In atoms these circulating currents arise from the distribution of electric charge around the nucleus. How that charge reacts when it is placed in a magnetic field defines what sort of magnetic behaviour the material it forms will have.

We'll suggest that you can model this with mini-magnets.

These mini-magnets might align with the external magnetic field, and stay aligned when the external field is removed. Then we'd have created a new permanent magent.

Or they might not stay aligned when we remove the external field, so there would only be attraction or repulsion whilst there is an extenal field. These materials are magnetic, but don't make permanent magnets. The mini-magnets inside these magnetic materials could align to either to be attracted to the object producing the external field (like paper clips), or to be repelled by the object (just like the levitated frogs).

Magnet
can be analysed using Magnetic Field
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