What is magnetism?

Just like when the Greeks of the old times discovered the first naturally occurring magnetic stones, or natural magnets, you have been observing a property of matter called magnetism. Magnetism is the force of attraction or repulsion in a material. Certain materials such as iron, steel, nickel, or magnetite exhibit this force while most other materials do not.

What is a magnet?

A magnet is any piece of iron, steel, or magnetite that has the property of attracting iron or steel. Magnetite, also known as lodestone, is a naturally occurring rock that is a magnet. This natural magnet was first discovered in a region known as magnesia and was named after the area in which it was discovered. Magnetism may be naturally present in a material or the material may be artificially magnetized by various methods. Magnets may be permanent or temporary. After being magnetized, a permanent magnet will retain the properties of magnetism indefinitely. A temporary magnet is a magnet made of soft iron, that is usually easy to magnetize; however, temporary magnets lose most of their magnetic properties when the magnetizing cause is discontinued. Permanent magnets are usually more difficult to magnetize, but they remain magnetized. Materials which can be magnetized are called ferromagnetic materials. We will talk more about making a magnet later on.

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