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One misconception about magnets

  1. Apr 15, 2013 #1
    Hi, everyone!

    Everywhere is said that when two magnets meet each other, like poles repel and unlike - attract.
    I checked this statement for my refrigerator magnets, and, surprisingly, I can't find a confirmation here: the refrigerator magnets always attract each other and never repel, so one may think, that no matter how you place two fridge magnets together - they will always contact with the unlike poles. I tried to rotate them - no result.
    Of course, this can't be the case, that such magnets stick to a fridge with always different poles. There are only two poles, so among all my fridge magnets I would expect two find at least two, which will repel each other. But I haven't found.

    On one website I have read the following explanation: fridge magnets are weak, because they are not just usual iron magnets, but they are made from composition of tiny magnets and some other non-magnetized material. These magnets are faced with different poles towards the surface, and these poles are distributed nearly equally. When two such fridge magnets of the same size face each other, that site stated, that the tiny magnets of those magnets orient themselves in such way that they align themselves in order to turn with unlike poles to each other.

    I don't fully understand that. If we try to join two simple magnets with like poles to each other, they will repel, won't they? But in fridge magnets, as it was said, poles are distributed equally on the surface, so there should be equal forces of repulsion and attraction. However, these magnets attract and don't repel. Why?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 15, 2013 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Not all magnetic fields have well-defined poles.
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