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More about Magnets

by Stanford Magnets

A magnet is an object that can be found in a variety of shapes, sizes and strengths. A typical magnet consists of iron, nickel and steel. Its use is to pick up or pull items that are made of the three same materials. Magnets are wonderful things and come in handy in lots of ways around the house and workplace. Objects that are brought together by magnets require having the same properties.

There are two specials places on every magnet where the strength is at its most. All magnets have what are known as poles. There are two types of poles- like poles and unlike poles. If a magnet is allowed to turn on its own it will always come to rest with its poles pointing in a north-south direction. This is a property of magnets that is a given. One of the most important properties to remember about magnets is that unlike poles attract each other whereas the opposite is true of like poles (they repel one another).

Other crucial aspects of magnets and magnetic force are as follows. A magnet can be easily constructed from an object made of steel by striking it repeatedly with another magnet. Once a steel object has been made into a magnet (in other words, magnetized) it will remain that way and not return at any time to its pre magnetized state. What is referred to as a freely turning magnet is given the special name of a "magnetic compass.”

Magnets all have a pole that seeks the north-south direction. There are no exceptions to this rule. Interestingly enough, due to its gravitational pull, the Earth in and of itself is a magnet and therefore all compass magnets, no matter what form they take, constantly work and interact with the movements of the planet (or earth-magnet).

There are many different types of magnets but four familiar types are bar magnets, circular magnets, horseshoe magnets and refrigerator magnets. Some magnets have more strength to them than others and are therefore able to pick up heavier items. Paper clips are one type of item that can be picked up very simply by using a magnet. Horseshoe magnets have a tendency to carry the most strength as far as non-industrial magnets go.

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