Why is Iron bar Attracted to Either end of Magnet

Most recent answer: 02/28/2015

A magnet near another magnet will repel or attract another magnet depending on the direction the second magnet is facing. A iron bar near a magnet willbe attracted to the magnet regardless of the directionthe iron bar faces. Or, why will an iron bar be attracted to either end of a magnet, but a magnet will not be attracted to either end.thanks
- rdh (age 7-)
gv, ca, usa

The iron bar is filled with magnetic domains. Each is like a little magnet, but usually they point all different directions That means that their outside magnetic fields pretty much cancel, so the bar isn't a magnet itself. 

When the iron is near a permanent magnet, in which the domains are lined up, some of the domain magnetizations in the bar swing around and point in the low-energy direction. That's the direction that gets pulled in toward the magnet, to lower its energy even more. that works at either end, since the domains align whichever way works best at that end.

The other permanent magnet, however, has pretty much permanently aligned domains. If they're lined up the right way to get pulled in, it does. If they're lined up the other way, they don't turn around inside the magnet. Instead they get pushed away.

Mike W.

(published on 02/28/2015)