8 Reasons Magnets Are The Most Amazing Thing In Your House


(Earth's Magnetic field courtesy of Nasa's AStronomy Picture of the Day)
Magnetism is as magical as any every day phenomenon gets. There is mystery surrounding them from the first instant you bring them together. Pick up two magnets and slowly move them towards each other. Unless there are markings, you only have a 50/50 chance of knowing what's going to happen.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, they are going to snap ferociously together, often pinching your fingers in the process. Other times they will resist all the force you can muster and remain just millimeters from contact. Every so often, you will loose your grip and one of the magnets will spin out of control and slam into the opposing side of the other magnet to literally join forces.

Below are the 8 reasons I think magnets are literally fantastic.

8. Magnetism is all around us. Pull out your compass and watch the needle spin. What the hell?

7. Rubbing magnets on certain objects lets you transfer the magic of magnetism.

6. Magnets work when they are cold, hot, wet, greasy, dirty, new and old.

5. Magnetism appears to be a transitory and finicky characteristic. You can pick up a steel fishing hook, but not an aluminum can. They work on some refrigerators and not others. They're attracted to chrome plated steel, but not brass, aluminum, or nickel.

4. Some are so strong you can't even get them apart without a pair of pliers, yet they are hardly bigger than a dime.

3. Magnets present the perfect contradiction. Sometimes they repel each other with an exponentially increasing force as they get closer, and other times they do the exact opposite and come together.

2. Magnets maintain a force you can't see or feel, and which, in general, you cannot change. That force seems to linger forever, unwavering.

1. Magnets are used to hold pictures of friends to the fridge in your house and to accelerate particles to the speed of light to study Einstienian predictions. They make the flap on a purse or money clip stay closed, and are pivotal in great containment vessels that hold plasma that's hotter than the sun in experimental nuclear fusion reactors.
There's nothing else in the world that's so common and at the same time so fantastically complex .

What engineering applications have you used magnets for?

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