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Question:
Does a magnetic field affect all objects or does it only affect magnetic objects?



Replies:
Technically a magnetic field affects all atoms, but for "non-magnetic" atoms, the forces are randomly directed, and therefore cancel each other out. That means there is no macroscopic effect that would make us label the material as 'magnetic'. Atoms that are magnetic react in a uniform way that we can observe, and that is why we call them "magnetic".

I put "magnetic" in quotes because there are many different kinds of magnetism -- ferromagnetism, diamagnetism, paramagnetism, etc. -- all with different physical explanations. It turns out that for many items, it is not that they do not respond to the magnetic field, it is that the response is so small as to be negligible.

Hope this helps,

Burr Zimmerman



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