How do magnets work?

Magdom8

How do magnets work?

Questions that often come up are, “How do magnets work?”, or, “Why is iron magnetic?”, or, “What makes a magnet?”, or, “What is the magnetic field made of?”.

Those are good questions, and deserve a good answer.  However, did you know that there is a lot about magnets at the atomic level that isn’t known yet?  Just like with most of the other basic forces we are familiar with, such as gravity, electricity, mechanics and heat, scientists start by trying to understand how they work, what they do, are there any formulas that can be made to describe (and thus predict) their behavior so we can begin to control them, and so on. 

The work always starts by simple observation (that’s the fancy word for playing around with the stuff!).  That’s why it’s so important to have some “hands-on” experience with magnets.  Have you taken two magnets and tried to push like poles together?  How far away do you start to feel the repulsion?  How does the force vary with the distance between them?  When the magnets are moved off-axis to each other (moving them to the side and not head on) what does it feel like?  Could you describe it like trying to push two tennis balls together?  When you flip one around, what changes?  What about moving one around the other in a circle?  Try these things!  That’s how you learn!  Only when you play with (observe) them will you begin to understand how they work. This is the stuff great scientific pioneers did, like Faraday, Lenz, Gilbert, Henry and Fleming. 


Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in! adafruit.com/mastodon

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers – CircuitPython.org


Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !



No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.