Magnets and Paperclips

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

So I was goofing off yesterday trying to shoot a magnet off of another magnet because of their similar forces and starting playing with a paperclip. I noticed if I put the paper clip to one magnet, it stuck, as it should. However, when I put the other magnet on the other side of the paper clip, it didn't stick as well if at all. Is this because as the first magnet attracts the paper clip, it begins to polarize it? Like a dipole moment in gases? I would think that would explain why if you have a bunch of paper clips stuck to a magnet for a time, all touching each other, and pull them off they retain their hold on each other for awhile.

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Science Advisor
You can think of it as polarization, yeah. Though, ferromagnetism is a little more complex than that. But the end result is similar. The paper clip itself becomes essentially a magnet, aligned with magnetic field of whatever you used to magnetize it. Second magnet can reinforce or disrupt the effect depending on orientation, shape, etc.
  • #3
Ok, thank you. I appreciate the help in figuring it out. Im a Chemistry major, Junior year in college. Only thing I've done with magnetism is a brief explanation of dipole moments and the differant kinds of said moments, along with electron spin and polar molecules sooooo I don't know much about it. Thanks again.

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