About magnets

Is there an explanation or an accepted theory as to how magnetism actually works yet? I was under the impression it was one of those things, like gravity, where we’re like “it’s there, let’s hope it doesn’t go away”?

I understand the whole polarity bullshit but that doesn’t explain how it works, it just describes it.

All I know is that if you dump water on them, they don’t work. A former president of the United States of America said so.


Fucking magnets, how do they work?





Depends how far down the “how it works” rabbithole you want to go. Feynman tells you how it is:


Well, the water sucks out the magno.

I wound up watching the entire interview more or less. I like his ‘ways of thinking’ story where he can ‘count and read’ at the same time but he cant ‘count and talk’, meanwhile his friend can ‘count and talk’, but not ‘count and read’. Turns out he ‘counts’ by silently ‘talking’ internally, whereas his friend counts by ‘reading’ in his head. So that they are actually doing entirely different things when they are both ostensibly doing identical ‘counting’.

Presumably there is some difference in thinking like this that can explain why some people think Qr codes are ok.


I like mango. Do you like mango?

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Fucking mangos, how do they work?


Yeah, watching a Feynman video is a great way to pass the time. You get to the end feeling your IQ has gone up a couple of points, while simultaneously realising that you’re never going to be even half as clever as Feynman.

I can recommend his book on quantum electrodynamics. He’s so good at explaining things I actually understood it, or at least I thought I did.


It’s been an awful long time since my quantum mechanics class, but briefly, it comes down to the net quantity of unpaired electrons on the molecular to unit crystal scale of structure.

An atom with full valence, like a noble gas, will have multiple electrons at the same energy level, or orbital state; to exist in pairs, they spin in opposite directions. This ‘spin’, individually creates a magnetic force, as it is an electron in motion. In most cases, this spin induced magnetic force is negated, by the counter spin of the electron that completes the pair.

In magnetic alloys, there is often a high net positive number of unpaired electrons that create a magnetic force. Such an unpaired electron is termed a Bohr magneton.

There was a time when you could give me a stoichiometry, and I could calculate the theoretical number of Bohr magnetons it should support.

After you have a likely alloy, you just need to align the unpaired electrons.

In a soft magnet, you can put it in a coil of cable, dump a closet full of capacitors into the coil, and the massive mag field in the coil will yank all the spins into the axis of the coil.

In harder magnets, you have to align the bulk in powder form, compress that to lock a general orientation, then sinter. Once the crystal structure is there, you zap it, and you have a forever* magnet.

Not the cleanest treatise, but I wrote most of it while stuffing Costco pizza in my face after my first ever round of golf in Taiwan.



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Feynmann is the man.

This video is the go-to video for physics “why” questions and the fundamental forces.

His lecture series The Character of Physical Law is great, in particular the parts where he discusses the scientific method and what scientific thinking means

On the likelihood of flying saucers: https://youtu.be/wLaRXYai19A