How Does a Magnet Attract Metal?

A magnet is a metal that can pull pieces of iron toward itself and make them cling to it. A horseshoe magnet pointed at a clip will make it jump up from a table and cling to the magnet until it is pulled off.

The horseshoe magnet has two poles, or ends, a positive and a negative one. If you put the two positive poles of two magnets together, nothing happens. But if you touch the positive pole of one magnet to the negative of the other, you feel a strong pull. This is because opposite poles attract each other.

The reason the magnet attracts iron objects is that it sets up an invisible atmosphere around itself called a magnetic field. When a pm or nail is in that field, it becomes a little magnet too.

Ordinarily, the billions of atoms in the nail are packed in a scattered way, but when the nail enters a magnetic field, more and more of its positive atom poles point in one direction, toward the negative pole of the big magnet, and more and more of its negative atom poles point the other way, to the big magnet’s positive pole.

Since these opposite poles attract each other, the nail will now jump up and cling to the magnet.

The largest magnet in the world is the earth itself, because the hot nickel and iron at its core pull everything towards it!

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

9 thoughts on “How Does a Magnet Attract Metal?”

  1. is it possible………..that metal Asteroids in our solar system be attracted to Earth when our magnetic field shift or reverse …..

    is it possible……nAsA is trying to cover stories……and media also…

  2. i was thinking how we can take advantage of earth magnet to go to space without using rockets at all . and if it works then we can do the same with all planets which have magnet field as well .
    a simple idea of magnet is that there is a negative and positive pole , one side attracts and the other opposes. i was thinking of a way to do this in reality.
    wether we make something that will be opposed by world gravity towards space exactly like when u grab to magents and get them close from each other , wether both will attract each other or oppose . we will care about opposing morelikely.
    im serious about this and im doing alot of research , plz be in touch if ur interested thx
    “qz006 at live dot com

  3. This is right but why like pole attract each other and it attracts each other and why not it attracts all the metals.

  4. You know the earth’s magnetic field. Earth is a magnet due to the in the magma contain iron and nickel in molten state so the earth having magnetic field, but suppose a planet do not contain iron and nickel in molten state so is it possible these planet having magnetic field. Please reply fast b’coz i’m confusing.

  5. How does the magnet exert this change on the iron, opposite to the pole of the magnet brought into proximity of the iron?

  6. that maybe the same as one electron and one proton attract each other. and may be that gravitational force is the same as magnet. because no body knows what is reason of acceleration due to gravity .may be we are also living in any strong magnetic field.

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