Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Source of Magnetic Force

Name: Ashley
Status: educator
Grade: K-3
Location: AS
Country: Australia
Date: Spring 2012


Question:
What makes magnets push and pull against each other?

Replies:
Hi Ashley,

Magnets have an attraction and a repulsion force that we can see, measure and even use to better our living. We may also run experiments to see what it does and then use Science to explain what it does and how it behaves. It behaves so we may see attraction and repulsion; our fingertips can measure the strength of that. We run experiments that show electricity forces and magnetic forces are related. But what makes magnets do that?

We really do not know what makes a magnet push and pull, it just does. The magnetic force, what is it? It just β€œis”.

To quote physicist Richard Feynmann, β€œI really can't do a good job, any job, of explaining magnetic force in terms of something else you're more familiar with, because I don't understand it in terms of anything else you're more familiar with.”

Ashley, your curiosity is appreciated and you are in very good company! Keep asking the difficult question(s) !

Peter E. Hughes, Ph.D. Milford, NH


Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory