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Van der Waals forces question

  1. Sep 4, 2015 #1
    I may be as wrong as an alchemist, but according to what I know, many substance stay together because of vander vaal's forces (I forgot how it's spelt) which is essentially the temporary dipoles that form around molecules, some times, the dipoles line up such that two neighbouring molecules have oppositely charged ends pointing at one another, causing attraction. My question is, why don't the same effect be just as strong and frequent in the cases where the similarly charged dipole ends point together and cause repulsion, pushing the substance apart on the molecular scale?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 4, 2015 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    The dipoles induce each other - and this is always in an attractive way. It's similar to a magnet attracting a nonmagnetic piece of iron. The field leads to the correct orientation for attraction.
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