This GIF is a good example of how magnets work. Permanent magnets (metal that is permanently, rather than temporarily magnetized) have two fields, north and south. As most of us know, if the north and south sides of two magnets will attract to each other, while opposite poles will repel.

  • In the gif we see magnets repelling(due to opposite poles)
  • The force between the repelling magnets transfers into the magnetic balls connected to the repelling magnets
  • This creates a chain reaction by turning the potential energy in the repelling force of the magnets into kinetic energy.

Don’t do this, btw.

Buckyballs used to be all-the-geek-rage until they were banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which shut down the company because, despite the warning labels, children were getting a hold of them and mistaking them for candy.

These tiny natural magnets are so powerful that if you swallow two of them seperately, they will find each other - no matter where they are - and tear your insides apart until they are reunited. Obviously, things didn’t end well for Buckyballs (or the 1,700 children that ended up in hospitals). 



Ferrofluids, how do they work? Above, TEDx speaker Fabian Oefner paints with ferrofluids and a magnet. 

This year at TEDGlobal, a crazy scene unfolded. Photographer/artist/TEDxWarwick speaker/science geek Fabian Oefner took to the stage with a magnet, plate, syringes, some watercolors, and … ferrofluid.

What’s ferrofluid? Ferrofluid is a type of strongly magnetic liquid that, when manipulated with magnets, does some crazy things – like build spikes, bubble up, and cluster into geometric patterns – all thanks to the attraction and the repulsion of the liquid’s individual particles, as Fabian explains in his talk, “Psychedelic science.”

Taking it a step further, Fabian added regular old watercolors to the magic magnetic gloop, and showed how, like oil, water and ferrofluid do not mix. “It doesn’t mix with the water,” he says in his talk, “and at the same time, it tries to maintain its position above the magnet, and therefore, it creates those amazing-looking structures of channels and tiny little ponds of colorful water paint.”

Amazing, indeed. A+, science.


How much does a falling magnet weigh?

If you drop a strong magnet down an aluminium tube, it falls surprisingly slowly. As it falls, it induces electrical currents in the tube. Those currents themselves have their own magnetic fields, which arrange themselves to resist the motion (Interested? Click here for a full explanation).

Watch the weighing scales as it falls. The weight of the magnet contributes to the weight of the tube as it falls, even though it’s not actually touching the sides of the tube.

As it falls, because it isn’t accelerating at full speed as it if it were falling normally, the tube must be supporting it. If there’s a force holding the magnet up, there must be an equal force acting downwards on the tube. That force is what the scales record. 

Click here to watch the full video.