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Explain magnets at the subatomic level to me?

  1. Aug 13, 2009 #1
    Can someone explain magnets at the subatomic level to me? According to wikipedia, many of the electrons' spins are oriented in the same direction; what happened to the Pauli exclusion principle? Is it something to do with the electrons being delocalized that changes the other quantum numbers? Is a single atom of hydrogen magnetic?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 14, 2009 #2


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    Hi kashiark! :smile:

    The Pauli exclusion principle will only apply to electrons around the same nucleus …

    they can't be in the same states …

    but electrons round different nuclei are in different states anyway. :wink:
  4. Aug 14, 2009 #3
    Re: Magnets?

    Wiki notes at


    If you read the above reference you'll find that "magnetic" vs "non magnetic" does not have a precise line of demarcation. My guess is that if you put almost any atom or particle in a strong enough magnetic field it will align itself at least in part with the magnetic field due to either electric charge, spin, or other factors.

    Hydrogen would likely not make a good permanent magnet for use in a simple electric motor.
  5. Aug 14, 2009 #4
    Re: Magnets?

    What exactly is a magnetic moment? How does the spin of a single electron create a magnetic field when it spins?
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