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Name: Chris
Status: student
Age: 14
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1/9/2004


Question:
Do the atoms in air have a magnetic charge?


Replies:
Chris,

Most atoms in the air are slightly magnetic, like a super-tiny bar magnets. We do not notice it much because they do not all point in the same direction. As they bounce around in the air, their directions are constantly changing. Still, the magnetism is there.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Physics Professor
Illinois Central College


The term "charge" is not the term usually used to describe the magnetic properties, since magnetism (so far as is known) is a dipole -- that is it has a North and South pole -- where electrical charge can be a "point" source (or almost). Some atoms, those with an unpaired electron. Such atoms and its electron can have a magnetic field from the non-spherically symmetric motion of the electron about the atomic nucleus and/or the intrinsic spin of the electron itself. It the atomic nucleus also has a net spin there is a further, but smaller contribution from it too.

Vince Calder



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