Secret to Magnets Can Be Found at Subatomic Level

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 9, 1997 | Go to article overview

Secret to Magnets Can Be Found at Subatomic Level


Byline: J. Hope Babowice

You wanted to know

Michael Church, 7, of Libertyville wanted to know:

How do magnets work?

If you have a question you'd like Kids Ink to answer, write Kids Ink, c/o the Daily Herald, 50 Lakeview Parkway, Suite 104, Vernon Hills, IL 60061. Along with your question, please include your name, age, phone number, hometown, grade and school.

For further information ...

.. about magnets, Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich suggests

- "Amazing Magnets" by Julian Rowe

- "What Makes a Magnet?" by Franklyn Branley

- "The Secret Life of Dilly McBean" by Dorothy Haas

- "Magnet Magic" by Phylliss Adams

- "Marta Magnets" by Wendy Pfeffer

Web sites:

- Electricity and magnetism at http://www.essex1.com/people/speer/elect.html

- Science of magnets at http://buerkle.arc.leon.k12.fl.us/mag/magtext.pg14.html

- Fermilab at http://www-ed.final.gov

Have you got a magnetic personality? Does your mom tell you opposites attract? Did you know that magnets and magnetism are a major part of our daily lives, from energy fields within our bodies to forces that pump huge machines to light up entire cities?

Michael Church, 7, a second-grader at Libertyville's Butterfield School, wants to know "How do magnets work?"

Magnets are objects that attract certain metals and produce a force called a magnetic field. There are three fundamental forces: gravity, electricity and magnetism. Magnetism and electricity are closely related and are brought together under the same heading: the electromagnetic force.

All materials - the Earth, wood, water, copper, air, water, iron and other minerals - are magnetic although some to such a small degree that it would not be noticeable without a special detector. This is because all matter is made of moving charged particles - electrons and protons, whose motion sets up magnetic fields.

There are two types of magnets - permanent and temporary. Permanent magnets are rocks and minerals found in nature to be magnetic. Magnetite, or loadstone, is an iron ore. Pure nickel and cobalt also are magnetic. These minerals can attract or repel certain minerals. Permanent magnets can exert forces on temporary magnets to make them become permanent.

Temporary magnets are ones that can be made into magnets when a permanent magnet is present, but lose their magnetic property when the magnet is taken away. …

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