When you were young, you may have remembered about trying to make objects stick together or move things, like metal paperclips, just by using a magnet. Back then, you probably thought that magnets’ only exist as play things. But, now that you’re older, you’ve realised that these objects play a significant role in day-to-day life.
In fact, everything that works around you makes use of the magnetic field. Although you cannot see it, you can be aware of it if you observe your surroundings. Magnets can be found in the simplest or the most complex devices you employ every day. From your home appliances like refrigerator, microwave oven and electric fan, to your business office equipment like computers and printers—all of these devices make use of magnets.
What is a magnet?
A magnet is a solid object, usually made of metal iron, which has the ability to attract other materials (e.g., iron, steel, cobalt and nickel) within a magnetic field.
How Magnets Work
A magnet has an invisible field that forces other objects to respond to its properties. This powerful force, which is referred to as the magnetic field, has particles called electrons that actively shift and move within the field. These electrons constantly revolve around the poles, thereby creating energy that attracts objects. Because of this, a magnet has the ability to draw objects towards itself. This ability, which is called magnetism, is caused by the force field that magnets create through its protons (positive charge) and electrons (negative charge).
The Two Poles
A magnet also has two poles, called the north pole and the south pole. Although these poles appear the same, they act differently. If two magnets are close together, you’ll observe that unlike poles attract each other, while identical poles repel each other. For example, if you place the north pole of a magnet beside the south pole of another magnet, they will stick together. However, putting two magnets (either north poles or south poles) facing each other will force them apart.
The Types of Magnets
Magnets also come in different sizes and shapes and can be classified into three types: temporary, permanent or electromagnet. Each type of magnet plays a valuable role in day-to-day life.
1. Temporary Magnets
These magnets act like permanent magnets when they are within the range of a strong magnetic field. But they tend to lose their magnetism once the magnetic field disappears. Common examples of temporary magnets are nails, paper clips and other soft iron items. Temporary magnets are generally used in electric motors and telephones.
2. Permanent Magnets
These magnets, which are made from ferromagnetic materials, create their own magnetic fields and react to other magnetic fields. Permanent magnets are those that people frequently use and interact with in their daily lives. They are known as permanent magnets because once they have been magnetised, they still retain a certain degree of magnetism. The following are the various...