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F***ing Magnets, How Do They Work?

by Kenny Hoeschen

British television host (Top Gear) writer, and all-around geek, James May, explains the workings and mysteries of magnets in this latest Head Squeeze video. Turns out, all objects, even non-metallic ones, are subject to magnetic forces to some degree. A magnet is simply an object with a particularly well organized magnetic field. Naturally occurring magnets, first discovered about 2,500 years ago, were too weak to be of much use except to performĀ parlorĀ tricks. Much later, smart people figured out that you can magnetize a piece of metal by running a magnet along it by aligning the new object’s magnetic domains.

The fact that the Earth is sort of a huge magnet means that magnets align with the Earth, thereby acting as a compass. Electromagnets, that can be switched on and off, have even more uses and can be very powerful.

In a second video (below), James explains the “danger magnet” he shares his house with.

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