Do magnets twist when turned?

1. Jun 17, 2014

snorkack

A spinning top has the property to twist when turned. If it is placed in a tilted position, it will not fall over downwards. Instead it will precess around the vertical position and remain at a constant tilt.

This is the property of total angular momentum. Suppose that a spinning top were placed inside an outer shell, which is not spinning but which is affixed to the ends of the axis.

Such outer shell would then also resist turning and twist sidewards instead. Even though the outer shell is not rotating at all. The property to twist when turned reveals the existence of angular momentum inside, which cannot be verified by examination of the nonrotating outer shell.

Now, permanent magnets contain large numbers of electrons and nuclei inside, and are magnets because the spin or orbital angular momenta are aligned, not paired (as in diamagnetic and antiferromagnetic objects) nor randomly distributed (as in paramagnets).

Does this mean that on an attempt to turn a magnet by applying a force in its outer shell, it would twist because its internal angular momentum, rather than yield to torque?

2. Jun 17, 2014

Staff: Mentor

No, a magnet acts like a non-spinning object.