How does a magnet work?

Have you ever played with magnets? Or have you ever noticed how those refrigerator magnets remain stuck to the refrigerator door, year after year? Well, a magnet has a wide range of applications. But before that, let us learn few basic things about magnets.


What is a magnet?

  • A magnet is a material that has the property of magnetism. Magnetism can be defined as the physical phenomenon that allows a particular substance or material to attract other magnetic materials.
  • These materials possess the ability to conduct electricity. They can also attract other metals or iron when kept in close proximity.
  • The physical process occurs because the constituents atoms of a magnetic material, in the presence of a magnetic field, are aligned in such a way that they are attracted towards the magnet.
  • Each magnet has two poles or ends. These ends are termed as north and south pole.
  • A magnet also has the ability to repel another magnet if two similar poles like the north poles or south poles of both magnets are in close proximity.
  • So, the basic rule is, like poles repel each other whereas unlike poles attract each other.
  • Magnets are of two types – natural magnets and artificial magnets.
  • Natural magnets are materials that are naturally found on the earth and possess magnetic properties. In fact, the first magnet was apparently discovered when a shepherd found his iron stick had gotten stuck to a large rock embedded in the earth. This rock was a natural magnet. Artificial magnets are manufactured nowadays and are used for various applications. Examples of artificial magnets include horseshoe magnets, bar magnets, cylindrical and ball-ended magnets.
  • Our Earth is also considered a big magnet.
  • The force of the magnet is applicable to a particular area.
  • Hence, for a magnet to attract some material, it is not required for that material to come in direct contact with it. Instead, that material can just be in the magnetic field of the magnetic material to be attracted by it.
  • The materials that are attracted to magnets are iron, steel, nickel and cobalt.

Fun Facts:

  1. The compass was the earliest application of magnets.
  2. The compass shows direction by using the earth’s magnetic field.
  3. The most advanced use of magnets is done in Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI) machines for scanning purposes.

Related Questions:

  1. What is magnetism?
  2. What is a magnetic field?
  3. What are the types of magnets?

True or False:

  1. A magnet is a material that has the ability to attracts other magnetic materials.
  2. Magnets have one pole only.
  3. Like poles of two magnets attract each other.
  4. The magnetic poles are the east and west poles.
  5. Magnets also have the ability to conduct electricity.

Objective Quiz:

  1. Magnets are the materials that have the ability to ______.
    1. Attract other metals.
    2. Generate a magnetic field
    3. Both 1) and 2).
    4. None of the above.
  2. ______ is the example of magnetic material.
    1. Iron.
    2. Steel.
    3. Nickel.
    4. All of the above.
  3. Magnets can also conduct _______.
    1. Electricity.
    2. Thermal power.
    3. Search.
    4. None of the above.
  4. The two poles of a magnet are named as ______.
    1. South and north pole.
    2. South and east pole.
    3. East and west pole.
    4. North and west pole.
  5. Two opposite poles of two different magnets________.
    1. Attract each other.
    2. Repel each other.
    3. Do not show any reaction towards each other.
    4. None of the above.

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