How do magnets attract themselves?

In Whizz Pop Bang: RADICAL ROMANS, our all-knowing robot, Y, answered a brilliant question from a reader:

How do magnets, if rotated correctly, attract themselves?

Alexandre, aged 11

Y answered:

Hi Alexandre!
Well, this is pretty complex, so let’s start with a simpler idea. When you stretch an elastic band, the work you do puts potential (stored) energy in the band. When you release the force, the elastic band snaps back, because things move in the direction which reduces the amount of potential energy. Pushing together like-poles (N-N or S-S) takes energy, so the magnets push each other apart (repel) to reduce the potential energy. When you put together two unlike poles (N-S), the potential energy in the magnetic field is reduced, pulling the magnets together (attraction).

Check out what happens if you cut a magnet in half here!


Our robot, Y, answers readers’ fantastic questions in every issue of Whizz Pop Bang! Email your questions to y@whizzpopbang.com and perhaps he’ll answer yours!


Whizz Pop Bang is a top-quality, gender-neutral, advert-free science magazine for families everywhere. Each issue is packed with experiments, activities, amazing facts, puzzles, jokes, riddles and more. Find out more here!


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