UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
I am doing a science experiment on magnets and magnetism. I was wondering: What affects magnetism? I was also wondering: What is attracted to magnets? My final question is: What makes objects attract to magnets?
Question Date: 2015-04-22
Answer 1:

Thank you for the question! There are 2 main types of magnetism, ferromagnetism and electromagnetism.

An example of a ferromagnet is a refrigerator magnet. Anything that is strongly attracted to that refrigerator magnet, such as the refrigerator door, is also a ferromagnet. This behavior is almost only seen in metals, and only in some metals. The number of electrons that certain metal atoms have creates a magnetic field in a complicated way. In some cases, the metal is a "permanent" magnet, and in other cases, such as the refrigerator door, the metal is not a permanent magnet. If the ferromagnet is not permanent, it means that its atoms will rearrange when it is near a magnetic field, which causes an attraction, but once the permanent magnet or magnetic field is removed, the material returns to its initial state.

Electromagnetism is caused by moving electric charge. You can think of this as moving electrons, or electricity. When you turn on an electrical appliance which is connected to an outlet by a cord, electrons move through the cord and actually generate a magnetic field, but typically the wires in the cord are twisted in such a way that the magnetic fields effectively "cancel out". Electromagnetic fields can be very strong in some instances, and certainly attract ferromagnets.


Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use