Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: magnetic force between pins

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 06/10/2016
Q:
I may have asked this three times as I'm not sure how this page works.When I pick up pins with a magnet (a great way to collect spilled pins) I notice that I can pull a pin off my magnet using another pin which suggests to me that the attraction between the two pins must be greater than that between the magnet and the first pin: Is this so and if so, why?
- Paddy Mendez (age 47)
Bishop Auckland, County Durham, United Kingdom
A:

I started to try to make up an explanation but realized it would be easier to repeat the experiment to get a feel for what's happening. I couldn't reproduce your results, either with two thin sewing needles or two little pin-like nails or two bigger nails. I tried a moderate strength magnet and a strong rare-earth magnet and still couldn't reproduce the result.  Is there something special about your pins? 

Mike W.


(published on 06/10/2016)

Follow-up on this answer.