Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

A few questions about a magnet and a paperclip:

  1. What do you call a material that attracts another material via magnetism? (i.e. the magnet)
  2. What do you call the material that is attracted in #1? (i.e. the paperclip)
  3. What properties make #1 (the magnet) and #2 (the paperclip) get along so well? Electron configurations?

These are pretty elementary...please be gentle.

I think I'm looking for basic answers that might be found in a level 200 course.

share|improve this question
    
Sorry, couldn't resist. –  Raskolnikov Dec 3 '10 at 14:06

2 Answers 2

  1. well, a magnet... If its magnetic properties are permanent it is called a permanent magnet.

  2. again just magnet or if you want to be more precise a magnetizable material. This material need not be a permanent magnet on its own but when external magnetic field is applied its internal magnetic configuration realigns with the external field and this makes the material exhibit its own magnetic field. When the external field is turned off, material may lose its magnetic properties (depending on precise material and temperature). You can see for yourself that if you magnetize the paperclip, it itself starts to act like a permanent magnet and you can attract other paperclips. But after a little while its magnetic field will fade away because the ordered internal configuration will slowly be disturbed by random thermal fluctuations.

  3. When put together, permanent magnet's field magnetizes the paperclip (as explained above). The rest is just a simple magnetic interaction.

share|improve this answer
    
Also, magnetic source could be appropriate as it would include both magnets and coils. –  Ebenezer Sklivvze Dec 2 '10 at 15:40
    
@Sklivvz: I think I never heard that term. Also, OP didn't mention anything about electromagnets. I assumed he wants to hear just about ferromagnetism. –  Marek Dec 2 '10 at 16:05
    
Thank you, @Marek. I found this supplementary article to be quite helpful, too –  Michael Haren Dec 2 '10 at 16:40
    
@Marek, I found it on Wikipedia. –  Ebenezer Sklivvze Dec 2 '10 at 19:35
    
@Sklivvz: sure, I wasn't arguing with you; it's perfectly possible that the term exists and is widely used. I was just stating the reason why I didn't include it in my answer :-) –  Marek Dec 2 '10 at 19:54
  1. Magnet
  2. A ferromagnetic material,more rarely a paramagnetic one. Other materials can be diamagnetic, antiferromagnetic. You can see Wikipedia for a review
  3. Actually, they go along so well because they interact the same way with the magnetic field, which mediates the interaction. As you guessed, it is related to their electronic configuration and how they interact inside the material. This interaction defines the nature of the magnetism of the material. If you have a diamagnetic material, for example, it is (slightly) repelled by a magnet. If you have a strong enough magnet, you can levitate a diamagnetic object (e.g. a frog).
share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.