Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: magnetic Baloney

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 01/21/2011
Q:
http://answers.ask.com/Science/Physics/how_are_magnets_made
We're making an effort here to include samples from various major Q&A sites, so as not to pick on any one in particular. Today's question is "How are magnets made?"
- Mike W (age 61)
A:
The gave two answers.
The first was "... by aligning the orientation of similar molecules in the same direction. This cause a strengthening of electrical fields ...."

This is wrong on several levels. First (maybe not so important) ordinary magnets are not made of molecules at all, although molecular magnets do exist. Second, the "molecules" or whatever are not aligned. Only the magnetic spin of their electrons is, roughly speaking. Third, electrical fields generally have nothing direct to do with it. They are not "strengthened" by magnetizing a material, except in exotic cases of multi-ferroics.

The second answer says "
Magnets are made from lodestone...." Very few magnets that you are likely to encounter are made from lodestone. Specialized metallic alloys are most commonly used, e.g Alnico.

Mike W.

(published on 01/21/2011)

Follow-up on this answer.