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Q & A: magnets and hot paperclips

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Most recent answer: 04/03/2015
Q:
I understand about cold magnets have more attraction. I am doing an experiment involving cold and hot magnets picking up hot and cold paper clips. The hot paperclips seemed to be easier to pick up from a higher distance. Any idea why? Thanks!
- Maddox (age 11)
Atlanta
A:

I can make a guess. Non-magnetized iron, like the paperclips, is attracted to a magnet because the magnetic domains tend to reorient so as to get attracted to the magnet. Maybe when the paperclips are warmer it's easier for those domains to reorient, so they magnetize more when they're near the magnet than when they're colder. So long as they don't get too hot, the magnetism of each  domain won't get much weaker, so only the ability to reorient changes much.

If this guess is right, you should find the effect only when heating the paperclips, not when heating the magnet.

I just tried repeating the measurement, but dodn't notice an effect. However, I did only a very crude version.

Mike W.


(published on 04/03/2015)

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