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[mag-ni-tiz-uh m] /ˈmæg nɪˌtɪz əm/

the properties of attraction possessed by ; the molecular properties common to .
the agency producing phenomena.
the science dealing with phenomena.
strong attractive power or charm:
Everyone succumbed to the magnetism of his smile.
the property of attraction displayed by magnets
any of a class of phenomena in which a field of force is caused by a moving electric charge See also electromagnetism, ferromagnetism, diamagnetism, paramagnetism
the branch of physics concerned with magnetic phenomena
powerful attraction

1610s, from Modern Latin magnetismus (see magnet + -ism). Figurative sense of “personal charm” is from 1650s; in the hypnotic sense it is from Mesmer (see mesmerize). Meaning “science of magnetics” is recorded from early 19c.

Our Living Language : Magnetism is intimately linked with electricity, in that a magnetic field is established whenever electric charges are in motion, as in the flow of electrons in a wire, or the movement of electrons around an atomic nucleus. In atoms, this invisible field consists of closed loops called lines of force that surround and run through the atom. Magnetic regions where lines of force come together densely are called north and south poles. In substances in which the magnetic fields of each atom are aligned, the magnetic field causes the entire substance to act like single magnet—with north and south poles and a surrounding magnetic field. Permanent magnets are made of substances that retain this alignment. If a magnet is cut in two, each piece becomes a separate magnet with two poles. A coil of wire wrapped around an iron core can be made magnetic by running electric current through it; the looping electrons then create a magnetic field in just the same way as the spinning electrons in individual atoms. As long as current flows, the coil remains magnetized. Such magnets, called electromagnets, are used in many devices such as doorbells and switches. The connection between electric and magnetic fields is not one of cause and effect, however. Einstein showed that both the magnetic and electric fields are part of a single electromagnetic field, described by a single mathematical object called a tensor. Observers in different reference frames will not observe the same separate values for electric and magnetic fields, but will observe identical electromagnetic tensors. Whether or not magnetic monopoles (elementary particles carrying an isolated north or south magnetic “charge,” analogous to positive or negative electric charge) actually exist remains unknown; though they are predicted by some theories, none have been detected.

A fundamental property of some materials (for example, iron) and electrical currents by which they are capable of exerting a force on magnets. (See electromagnet, magnet, and magnetic field.)


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  • Magnetite

    [mag-ni-tahyt] /ˈmæg nɪˌtaɪt/ noun 1. a very common black iron oxide mineral, Fe 3 O 4 , that is strongly attracted by magnets: an important iron ore. /ˈmæɡnɪˌtaɪt/ noun 1. a black magnetic mineral, found in igneous and metamorphic rocks and as a separate deposit. It is a source of iron. Composition: iron oxide. Formula: […]

  • Magnetizable

    [mag-ni-tahy-zuh-buh l] /ˌmæg nɪˈtaɪ zə bəl/ adjective 1. susceptible to magnetization.

  • Magnetization

    [mag-ni-tuh-zey-shuh n] /ˌmæg nɪ təˈzeɪ ʃən/ noun 1. the process of or the state of being . 2. Electricity. the per unit volume induced by any external : measured in amperes per meter. Symbol: M. n. 1801, noun of action from magnetize.

  • Magnetize

    [mag-ni-tahyz] /ˈmæg nɪˌtaɪz/ verb (used with object), magnetized, magnetizing. 1. to make a of or impart the properties of a to. 2. to exert an attracting or compelling influence upon: The evangelist’s oratory magnetized his listeners. 3. Archaic. to mesmerize. /ˈmæɡnɪˌtaɪz/ verb (transitive) 1. to make (a substance or object) magnetic 2. to attract strongly […]

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