My questions is on magnets, is the north pole being attracted to the south pole or is the south pole attracted to the north. Basically I am thinking as magnets as 2 pieces of matter with a tension between them. Which pole is causing the tension? For example when I go up to a door and push it open I am exerting the tension between myself and the door, even though the tension is the same on both the door and me, I exerted the force on the door. If the door was able to push the same amount of force onto me and I remained still the door would still push open with the same amount of force exerted on my body from the door. So basically what I am asking is with magnetism, how is the tension created between the north and south poles?

Another example is if I put force on a book sitting on a desk, the desk is pushing back with the same amount of force but the book is being pushed down creating the tension between the book and the desk, basically I am asking the same question in magnetism which pole is creating the tension between each other. Hopefully this makes sense.

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    $\begingroup$ Some commas would help for people reading the question $\endgroup$ – Run like hell Jan 7 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ I'm afraid this doesn't make sense. There are no single magnetic north or south poles to begin with. $\endgroup$ – Jasper Jan 7 at 15:44

You are mixing up cause and effect with action-reaction pairs.

You are right to say that when you push on the door with some force the door pushes back on you with the same magnitude of force. You are also right in saying that, in this scenario, you initiated this formation of the action-reaction force pair. However, at the interface between your hand and the door there is no "only one thing is pushing on something else and only one thing is being pushed on". Both objects push on each other. Yes through your own intentions you are causing this to happen, but your hand the the door still are pushing on each other "equally".

So in terms of your magnet there is no "which pole is attracting the other pole". They just have a force of attraction between them. That is it. (Note: I am choosing to neglect the sloppiness of this statement in talking about poles as single entities).

If instead you are just asking about "How magnets attract each other" then I would edit your question to ask this and not go into the other stuff about you pushing on doors, etc.


If you take an iron nail near any of the poles, it will get attracted. So I guess both of them exert a force on each other.

If you consider two bodies of mass m under gravitational attraction, which one exerts the force on the other?


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