How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 811

I have to do an experiment for school on the electromagnetic properties of iron, steel, and aluminum. The only problem is that I am not too sure what I should be testing. Any ideas? — CP, Nassau, Bahamas
Iron and steel (not stainless) are ferromagnetic metals, meaning that they are intrinsically magnetic. While this magnetism is normally hidden by the formation of millions of tiny, randomly oriented magnetic domains, it becomes apparent when you hold a magnet near the iron or steel: they are attracted! Aluminum has no intrinsic magnetism and is not attracted to a magnet. There are far more non-magnetic metals than magnetic ones. Why don't you try to see which metals will stick to a magnet. Only the ferromagnetic ones will. Even common stainless steel is non-ferromagnetic.

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