A Magnet Mystery

A Magnet Mystery I have always found magnets interesting. My bulletin board has magnets all over it. I own a journal that closes with a magnetic clasp. Now I have discovered how to make a magnet out of an ordinary nail. It sounds impossible, but anyone can get the same results! In its simplest form, a magnet is a metal object that can get a few other kinds of metal to stick to it. If you hold a metal paper clip near a magnet, you can feel how the magnet pulls at, or attracts, the clip. To make a magnet, I needed a magnet. So I searched for the largest, strongest one I could find. I also got an iron nail. No other metal can be magnetized as strongly as iron. Nonmetallic materials such as wood can’t be magnetized at all. I stroked the nail across the magnet in the same direction about 30 times. When I touched the nail to a paper clip, it attracted the clip. The nail had become a magnet. The secret behind magnetism is that everything is made up of pieces called atoms. Atoms are too tiny to see even with a regular microscope. Most atoms spin, and this spinning creates a small force. In an object such as an eraser, the atoms spin every which way. So you don’t feel any force outside the object. But when an object is magnetized, the atoms all spin in the same direction. All the little forces add up to create a powerful force. When you slide a nail across the magnet again and again, you are lining up all the nail’s atoms to spin in the same direction. This magnetizes the nail. A magnet you make from a nail won’t last long, though. You have to keep recharging it by stroking it on the real magnet. A rock called magnetite is the only permanent magnet. This rock has a special kind of iron in it. ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only.

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