Tuesday, August 02, 2011

In Discover Magazine This Month: 20 Things You Didn't Know about Magnetism

In the July-August special issue of Discover Magazine:

1 Magnetism is familiar to every fifth grader, but describing it can confound even the most brilliant physicist.

2 Take the case of Richard Feynman. When asked to explain magnetism, he urged his BBC interviewer to take it on faith (video). After seven minutes of stonewalling, he finally said, “I really can’t do a good job, any job, of explaining magnetic force in terms of something else that you’re more familiar with because I don’t understand it in terms of anything else that you’re more familiar with.”

3 He did break down and try for a few seconds before abandoning the attempt. Those seconds were packed with oversimplifications: “All the electrons [in a magnet] are spinning in the same direction.”

See "things" 4-20.


  1. Anonymous2:18 PM

    Wait! How does a refrigerator magnet not repel the refrigerator?

  2. bbanks2:20 PM

    Even when Richard Feynman was confounded, I bet he looked damn good.