Pocket Genius Science: Energy and forces – Magnetism

Facts At Your Fingertips: Energy and forces – Magnetism

Magnetism is a force that can attract (pull toward) or repel (push away). Materials that are strongly attracted to magnets, such as iron or nickel, are called ferromagnetic materials.

Some magnets are permanently charged with magnetism, while others are only magnetic when they are inside a coil of wire with an electrical current flowing in it.

Repel or attract

A magnet has two ends, or poles—a north pole and a south pole.

When two magnets are placed near each other with like (the same) poles facing, the two poles will push each other away. If a north pole is facing a south pole, they will pull toward each other.

Magnetic field

The area around a magnet where a magnetic force can be detected is called its magnetic field.

The magnetic field is strongest near the poles.

Dropping iron filings around a magnet reveals the shape of its magnetic field.

The stronger the magnet, the larger its magnetic field will be.