Magnet Facts

A magnet is a very special metal. When a magnet goes near a special kind of metal or other magnets, and the poles (sides) touching are opposite, it will pull, or attract the other metal or magnet closer. Also, if the two poles are the same, the two magnets will push away, or repel, from each other. See the fact file below for more information about magnets.
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  • The earliest magnets were referred to as lodestone or magnetite. There is a story that a shepherd from the island of Crete was the first to discover lodestone when his crook, which had an iron tip, was pulled towards a stone when he passed over it. The shepherd’s name was Magnes.
  • Another story is that Archimedes, a scientist from ancient Greece, is supposed to have pulled the nails out of enemy ships by using lodestone. The ships then came apart causing them to sink.
  • There are two kinds of magnets: Permanent Magnets, also called hard magnets, and Induced Magnets (called temporary or soft magnets). Permanent magnets always have their magnetic force. induced magnets are ones that become temporarily magnetized when brought near a permanent magnet. For example, if a magnet is used to pick up a paper clip, the paper clip will become magnetized too, and it will be able to pick up another paper clip. However, once the permanent magnet is removed, the paper clips lose their magnetic properties.
  • Each end of a magnet is known as a pole. The magnetism is concentrated at the poles. When the North Pole of one magnet is brought close to the South Pole of another magnet, they will attract each other. If the South Pole of one magnet close to the South Pole of another magnet, or the North Pole near the North Pole of another magnet, they push each other away.
  • Magnets are usually made from iron or steel, but aluminum, steel-iron, copper, nickel and cobalt can also be made into powerful magnets.
  • Magnets are found in telephones, stereos, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, televisions and many more things. Anyone that attaches paper to their refrigerator is probably using a magnet.
  • The Earth is a giant magnet. Its magnetic field is like a bar magnet at its center.
  • Superconductors for creating electricity are the strongest magnets that are made from coils of wire.
  • Sometimes veterinarians use magnets to retrieve wire and metal from the stomach of an animal.
  • Magnets can be made in any shape and size.