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What is magnetism?

#1
We're all familiar with magnets, but what is magnetism? Perhaps there's some learned member on arrse who can explain it?

How is it combined with light to form electromagnetism? If light is an electromagnetic wave, then what's magnetic about it?

What is this strange force that we cannot see? Why do the atoms being aligned in certain materials have the effect of attraction on certain other materials yet not on stuff like stone or plastic?

Why are things magnetic even if the atoms are aligned, where does the force come from?

Answers on a magnetic postcard.


[video=youtube;wMFPe-DwULM]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMFPe-DwULM[/video]

DC
 
#7
It's like autism caused by being shot in the head with the world's most powerful handgun...................oh sorry that's magnumtism
 
#10
It's magic.

That explanation makes as much sense and contains about as many provable facts (that I can understand) as any other.

Sorry mssed a bit. :cyclops:
 
#11
You won't believe this but I am the only person in the whole world who actually knows what magnetism is. Well you see...
everything that exists came from the invisible place we call nothing....and there are invisible forces that act upon stuff to reverse the process. It's simple, magnetism and gravity can and will clump matter exponentially until it disappears down the (black) plug holes into another dimension from where it came. I tested this theory in my shed using an old vacuum cleaner and a tin of contact adhesive...to my surprise it worked. When I woke up, the fumes from the glue had completely vanished.
 
#12
You won't believe this but I am the only person in the whole world who actually knows what magnetism is. Well you see...
everything that exists came from the invisible place we call nothing....and there are invisible forces that act upon stuff to reverse the process. It's simple, magnetism and gravity can and will clump matter exponentially until it disappears down the (black) plug holes into another dimension from where it came. I tested this theory in my shed using an old vacuum cleaner and a tin of contact adhesive...to my surprise it worked. When I woke up, the fumes from the glue had completely vanished.
So in essence what you are saying is that:

The universe sucks!

Explains a lot does that.
 
#13
No....

It's not the universe that sucks. It's gravity that does that. It also makes pilots sweat. Just watch what happens to any pilot when the whirly air-con fan on the front stops going round - pilot sweats when gravity starts to suck.
 
#14
Most of us dashing chaps will have experienced the effects of "animal magnetism" at one time or another. Its effect is very similar to the Moon's gravitational pull on the Earth and its constant predictability of attraction. Although the effects of "animal magnetism" may be chronologically less predictable, its effect is just as certain. The only variation being, that the more desperate your need for an "emission", the stronger the certainty of attracting the aesthetically challenged bovine.
 
#15
No....

It's not the universe that sucks. It's gravity that does that. It also makes pilots sweat. Just watch what happens to any pilot when the whirly air-con fan on the front stops going round - pilot sweats when gravity starts to suck.
Not just gravity that sucks, lightbulbs do it also. It's a common misbelief that lightbulbs emit light. Bollocks, they suck in dark. just take a look at one when it's full and stops working. All black inside. See, told ya.
 

TheIronDuke

ADC
Book Reviewer
#19
I remember talking to a science chap about electricity and was told scientists couldn't explain what it is. They could describe its properties, control and predict it, but couldn't explain what it is.
 
#20
I remember talking to a science chap about electricity and was told scientists couldn't explain what it is. They could describe its properties, control and predict it, but couldn't explain what it is.
What he said.

Edited to add:

In answer to the OP's second question, the two travel together as an electromagnetic field, which are sort of at right angles to each other (see pic)

This picture was copied from
Nick Strobel's Astronomy Notes
Go to his site at www.astronomynotes.com
for the updated and corrected version.



As for why some materials are magnetic and some aren't: Basically, in most materials the atoms are magnetically dipolar (they have a North or South pole, just like a tiny bar magnet). For the majority of materials, these dipoles point in random directions. However, in a few "ferromagnetic" materials (principally Nickel, Cobalt, and Iron, but with some exceptions), the dipoles all point in the same direction, which causes a magnetic field to form, and that's what causes the magnetism that you have everyday knowledge of, and keeps the shopping list on your fridge door. There's also a phenomenon called Paramagnetism, and another called Diamagnetism, but those only work on really small scales, and I don't really know that much about them. Also, this Ferromagnetism only works below a certain temperature (called the "Curie Temperature", and different for each material), past which the magnetic moments break down.

So that's "why magnetism happens", but like His Grace said above me, I can't really answer the question in the thread title. My best answer is "the interaction of objects with a magnetic field", or on a sub-atomic scale "the exchange of photons between particles" (although that strictly speaking describes the electromagnetic force, rather than just the magnetic one). If you we're hoping for a philosophically interesting answer, I'm afraid you won't get one from me. Sorry.
 

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