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Q & A: specially paired magnets

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Most recent answer: 02/14/2015
Q:
Are there different types of magnets that will attract there same type but none other? meaning is there a magnet that will attract its pair but no other kind?
- joseph (age 21)
cambridge mn usa
A:

There isn't any pair of types of magnets that only attract the opposite type. Once you have magnetic fields, small magnets will always have a way of orienting to get pulled in by the magnetic fields. Nevertheless, you can make patterned magnets for which the force is especially strong for other magnets with the same pattern. For example, think of a magnet with a checkerboard pattern of field lines going into and out of a surface. Pair it up with a similar magnet in the right alignment and each little square will attract the other's square. Pair it up with some other pattern, say a checkerboard with different size squares, and the best alignment will still have a mixture of nearly equal amounts of attraction and repulsion. Something like this can be done for any complicated pattern. Again, it won't be that other patterns see no force, just that the matching pattern feels a much bigger force.

Mike W.


(published on 02/14/2015)

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