The word “magnet” might have derived from Magnesia, in Greece, where a stone with a curious natural property was discovered in the Western world. It was a lodestone, and it attracted certain kinds of other metals. Navigators would hang a shaped lodestone on a string, and find that it was usually reliable in pointing North.
In most materials, the electrons in the atoms of the materials are arranged and misaligned so that the electro-magnetic properties, already potentially there, remain unrealized. In magnets, however, the atoms align so that each of the magnetic “moments” of each electron will more or less align. This produces a magnetic field around the object, always with opposite poles.
Magnets can stick to other magnets of opposite charge, and to some metals, without adhesive. When two magnets of the same charge are brought close to each other, they form an invisible force to repel each other. Magnets can come in soft pliable rubbery sheets or strips, or in hard metallic molded shapes. All of these properties can provide endless potential for ingenuity and amusement in designers and owners of magnetic toys. Buckyballs and other Neodymium magnet toys have gained great popularity since 2008.
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