Fact Friday – Magnets

We were playing with a bracelet I got from Jill from JamTarts a few years back, the ends link together with magnets and Fysh was testing their strength. Trying to see through how much paper they would stick, watching them pull towards each other. Then I found one with that pushes the other away and he was fascinated.

I think we forget how small things like that are actually really delightful and  interesting and that just playing with them teaches us about physics. That’s the one thing I have come to love about homeschooling, we don’t have to stick to a book to learn things.

Five Fabulous Facts :

  • Legend has it that magnets were first discovered around 4000 years ago when a shepherd named Magnets got the nails in the sole of his shoe stuck to a magnetic rock, later called magnetite.
  • The Earth is like one big bar magnet. It has a magnetic north and a magnetic south, which is what the needle on a compass points to. However, this is geographically different than the actual north and south poles.
  • The two biggest magnets reside at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and Florida State University (FSU). The two sister laboratories have magnets that can reach 100 and 45 tesla, respectively.  By comparison, junkyard magnets — the ones that lift cars — are about 2 tesla.
  • The most powerful magnet in the universe is actually a star called a magnetar. These are stars that have died off and had a supernova explosion. The magnetars are what is left over, and they are strong enough to destroy small planets if they get close enough.
  • Animals sport magnets: Some animals and bacteria have magnetite in their bodies. A type of mollusk called a chiton even has magnetite in its “teeth,” which actually cover its tongue. The magnetite is abrasive and lets the animal scrape algae, but it might also provide a homing sense, enabling chitons to find their way back to certain places where they like to mate and feed.
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