Mammoth Memory

Do both poles of a magnet attract a paperclip?

A magnet will attract iron, steel, cobalt and nickel. These are known as ferrous metals.

NOTE: Steel has iron in it


A magnet will not attract brass, copper, zinc or aluminium.

These four magnetic materials iron, steel, cobalt and nickel can become magnetic when they are in a magnetic field. This is a result of the magnetic field encouraging its electrons to align, forming north and south poles.

A paperclip is made of steel and so will be attracted to a magnet, but it also has low retainability for keeping its magnetism.

Paperclip in a magnetic field.

The paperclip is a magnetisable thing so when facing the south pole of a magnet the atoms of the paperclip re-align themselves and becomes a north south facing magnet.

Paperclip in opposite end of a magnetic field.

Because paperclips can be magnetised either way around when you change the pole of the magnet the paperclip will re-align its atoms.

In both stages the paperclip swaps sign so the force remains attractive.

This is why both ends of a magnet can attract a paperclip.

Paperclips attracted to bar magnet.

Just as both ends of a horse shoe magnet can attract paperclips.

Horse shoe magnet attracting paperclips.

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