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Why doesn't the two poles of a u-shaped magnet attract each other? Since opposite poles attract each other why cant the north and south pole of a u-shaped magnet collapseenter image description here by attracting each other?

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    $\begingroup$ They do. But the magnet is made of iron. It is pretty strong. It would take a much stronger force to bend it. $\endgroup$ – mmesser314 Jul 26 '15 at 5:36
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    $\begingroup$ If you had a soft magnet, it probably would attract, a little bit. Magnetism in hand held magnets is very weak from a distance. That's why you usually have to get a magnet quite close to something to pick it up. If you calculated the attractive force between the two ends in your diagram, it would be pretty tiny. $\endgroup$ – userLTK Jul 26 '15 at 5:40
  • $\begingroup$ More powerful horseshoe magnets may be encased in stainless steel to strengthen them, and also to prevent corrosion. $\endgroup$ – Ernie Jul 26 '15 at 6:33
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They do attract one another. Indeed one of the biggest engineering problems in the building of very large scale electrical power generation hardware is the construction of generator rotors and stators to withstand the enormous stresses put on them by the magnetostatic attraction / repulsion between neighboring currents. The yoke of any magnetic system is in a state of constant internal stress owing to self force between its parts.

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    $\begingroup$ And the same problem in spades for MRI magnets, cyclotron magnets, ... $\endgroup$ – Floris Jul 26 '15 at 13:28

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