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The physics of rattler magnets

  1. Oct 14, 2011 #1
    The physics of "rattler" magnets

    I have been playing around with these magnets (mine are 5.5cm long, 1.5cm diameter at the central bulge), and some of the effects I am not quite sure how they work, although I have some ideas. These are the effects:
    First, their actual function, the "rattle" noise they make when you throw them together. However, when you throw one of them at something, metal it makes no such noise, just the ordinary noise of metal on metal. I think perhaps the magnets are both spinning, so switch from repelling to attracting to repelling again, which causes them to bang together repetitively, causing the noise.
    When I put the magnet perpendicular to the chair leg at the top, it slides down, while swiveling back and forth. When I put it parallel, it stays where it is. The effect is especially pronounced when I tilt the chair leg 45°. Initially I thought that it was due to magnetising the chair leg, but now I think perhaps it is due to it being attracted to the same direction as the chair leg, and when it isn't in the same direction, the magnetic force is weaker, so it falls down some more.
    When I stack 2 of these chair legs together, so the magnet kept is between the top of the two chair legs, and the chair legs come closer together as you go down, then if the magnet is spun, it spins and goes down the chair legs really fast and doesn't appear to slow down. I set it so the chair legs can move to accommodate for the movement of the magnet. If I don't, it still spins and goes down really fast, but it falls off the chair legs. I think perhaps it works in a simerlar way to a ball rolling down a hill, but I'm not sure.
    Do you have any explanations, and are any of my ideas right?
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2011
  2. jcsd
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