A magnet is a material in which most of the atoms
have magnetic moments in the same direction. In
each atom, each of the electrons has a property
called quantum mechanical spin, which generates a
tiny magnetic moments in one of two directions:
"up" or "down". In most materials, the electrons
are in pairs with opposite spins, so the magnetic
moments cancel out each other. But in certain
materials such as iron, there is an unpaired
electron in each atom which leads to a net
magnetic moment, and furthermore, the magnetic
moments of each atom tend to align in the same
direction. These materials are called
ferromagnets. Normally in these materials, despite
the tendency for the magnetic moments to align,
there are regions with different magnetic moments.
But if they are exposed to a magnet, the magnetic
field from the existing magnet causes the magnetic
moments to align everywhere, turning the material
into a new magnet.
Magnets contain crystal domains of magnetic
solids, that produce virtual currents which
creates the magnetic field. That's about all I
know about them and if that isn't easy to
understand, it's because I don't understand them
that well either.
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