MLA Citation: Bloomfield, Louis A. "Question 1379"
How Everything Works 20 Oct 2017. 20 Oct 2017 <>.
1379. What is the difference between a magnet and an electromagnet? Why are some metals automatically magnetic?
Some metals are composed of microscopic permanent magnets, all lumped together. Such metals include iron, nickel, and cobalt. This magnetism is often masked by the fact that the tiny magnets in these metals are randomly oriented and cancel one another on a large scale. But the magnetism is revealed whenever you put one of these magnetic metals in an external magnetic field. The tiny magnets inside these metals then line up with the external field and the metal develops large scale magnetism.

However, most metals don't have any internal magnetic order at all and there is nothing to line up with an external field. Metals such as copper and aluminum have no magnetic order in them—they don't have any tiny magnets present. The only way to make aluminum or copper magnetic is to run a current through it.

Return to
Generated for printing on Friday, October 20, 2017 at 2:46:42 EDT
Copyright 1997-2017 © Louis A. Bloomfield, All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy