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Introduction to Magnetism and Electricity

As children, we like playing with toys and if the toys have magnets we love to play with them. We are familiar with magnets being used in simple toys and electric bells. It is also used in complex diagnostic tools such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). It was discovered, a long time ago, that a mineral found in various parts of the earth is capable of attracting iron. This mineral, which is actually an oxide of iron, was first discovered in a town called Magnesia in Asia minor.

The mineral was known as magnetite and hence the name magnet. Thin strips of magnetite align in a particular direction when suspended freely in air. For this property, it was given the name ‘Lodestone’ meaning ‘leading stone’, as it is used for leading or directing people in travel.

A substance that has the property of attracting iron and the property of aligning itself in the north–south direction when freely suspended is called a magnet.

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