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Permanent magnets: do electrons attract each other?

  1. Mar 7, 2015 #1
    When reading about the quantum explanation of permanent magnets, I only read about electron spins. Sure, but are they behind that aggressive attractive force existing between opposite poles? Common sense tells me the only things that should attract each other in a metal are electrons and protons. Surely it's not electrons only, they should not attract each other, no matter what their spins are, right? So does this spin asymmetry ultimately create a dipole atom? Does it distort the electron cloud, so that one pole will be the side with the larger bulging part of the cloud, the other will be the nucleus (being the smaller part of the electron cloud on the other side)?
    Something like this should be happening, right? Otherwise, we are left with dissatisfying answers such as: "well, magnetism is magnetism" or "we just don't know".
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 7, 2015 #2
    Positive and negative charges are attracted to each other via the electrostatic force. Whilst this is related to the magnetic force (hence the name 'electromagnetism'), they are not entirely the same thing. Magnetism is the manifestation of the electrostatic force that occurs when a charged object is moving i.e. when there is a current. If you have knowledge of special relativity, look here for an explanation. A spinning electron constitutes a very small loop of current, so there is a magnetic field in addition to the electric field produced by the charge. I'm not sure if that answers all of your questions, as some of them are not completely clear to me.
     
  4. Mar 10, 2015 #3
    Thanks!
    Now I understand it by accepting the rules of relativity...the only thing I have to understand now is why objects contract when they move...
     
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