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I was playing around with a 2x chain of bucky balls and winding it around itself. Suddenly several of the little balls went shooting like bullets across the room in 3 directions and now all of the balls seem substantially less magnetized. What happened?

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Some magnets get weaker if you hit them with something. Maybe the little balls hit a wall and got demagnetized. As to why they suddenly shot across the room, no idea. –  Florin Andrei Dec 2 '11 at 21:09
You should say exactly what you were doing. Was it two chains stuck together, wound by twisting? Were you winding one 2x chain in a spiral around another serving as a fixed axis? Or was it a haphazard turning motion? Can you make it happen again? How demagnetized were the balls? Were all the balls demagnetized by a significant amount? Without this data, one can only speculate, but it might be interesting physics. Maybe you can have a propagating magnetic domain wall in this system, which travels from ball to ball, randomly producing more domain walls as it goes, ... –  Ron Maimon Dec 3 '11 at 6:24
and getting more energy to propagate from the constantly reducing magnetic field, carrying growing amounts of mechanical energy and momentum, and then the final balls just were the terminal points of this chain reaction, and they got a significant fraction of the field energy as kinetic energy. Maybe these things are dangerous. Or maybe it was just a mechanical push, like squeezing a ball between your fingers, in which case it is much less interesting. If you could post a video showing the effect, it would help. You might have a real phenomenon worthy of investigating, you might not. –  Ron Maimon Dec 3 '11 at 6:27
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1 Answer

It's exceedingly unlikely that "all of the balls seem substantially less magnetized". While it is possible to reduce magnetism by shock it's not possible to be lucky enough to do this to all of the balls.

So I think that your observation of reduced magnetism is in error.

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Why is it so staistically unlikely? Don't you randomize magnetic domains by a shock? How would you know a-priori? –  Ron Maimon Dec 3 '11 at 6:07
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