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How do magnets pull things if magnetic forces are incapable of doing work?

  1. Apr 21, 2012 #1
    When a magnet pulls a paperclip, what exactly is doing work on the paperclip? It cannot be a magnetic force can it? I thought it was a very strong statement that I read in my intro physics book and even Griffiths(pg. 207) that magnetic forces do no work. So what is responsible for accelerating a paperclip towards a magnet?

    Is it something related to the changing magnetic flux? Is there an electric field somewhere doing the work?

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 21, 2012 #2
  4. Apr 22, 2012 #3
    I think the guy on the second part of the thread who's touching on spin was getting closer to the point of my question. I still don't know what's responsible for the work we see when a paperclip gets pulled in by a magnet.
  5. Apr 22, 2012 #4


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    2017 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    With magnetic fields, you always have charges which move in some way (spin is similar to a movement in that respect). Moving charges in magnetic fields are equivalent to stationary charges in a field which has an electric component.
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