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Q & A: magnetic metals

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
I teach 2nd grade and my students want to know what metals (commonly found) are magnets attracted to?
- Lori (age 32)
Thunderbolt Elementary, Orange Park, FL
A:
Iron and many iron alloys are the most commonly encountered magnetic materials. Nickel and cobalt are other fairly common magnetic metals, along with some of their alloys. Some of the stronger magnets that you can buy use rare-earths, such as neodymium.

If you were to measure very carefully, you'd find that magnets are slightly attracted  to or repelled by all the ordinary 'non-magnetic' metals, such as copper, silver etc. However, those forces are quite weak.

Mike W.

(warning: U.S. nickels contain almost no nickel any more -- they are mostly zinc, a non-magnetic metal. Tom)

(published on 10/22/2007)

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