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My chemistry book mentioned magnetic particles today when introducing electromagnetic radiation. It stated that a magnetic field is a region of space where magnetic particles "experience a force." In the same way that an electric field influences the movement of electrically charged particles. I've always had trouble understanding magnetic fields because of the ambiguity. Electrically charged particles have names (Protons and Neutrons among others) but what are the names for magnetic particles, and what are they? Are magnetic particles smaller than atoms?

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  • $\begingroup$ Pretty much all particles are magnetic, including protons and neutrons. (The latter, BTW, are not electrically charged.) $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Feb 13 '17 at 22:02
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I think that statement is misleading. Magnetic charge does not exist, so there is no equivalent to a magnetic electron or proton. Instead it acts on two major types of quantities:

  1. Moving charges or current. Magnetic fields cause charges to rotate around the direction of the field.

  2. Spin. Spin is a quantum phenomena where elementary particles like electrons and protons interact with magnetic fields as if they had tiny bar magnets inside of them. The spin aligns itself to try to be parallel to the magnetic field.

In the majority of cases, you can essentially think of the magnetic field as a force that acts on moving charges and permanent magnets (like spin). But there is no such thing as a fundamental magnetic particle with magnetic "charge".

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you tell me why the spin of charged particles are influenced by magnetic fields? Is it the charicteristic charge itself that the field interracts with, or is there something else about the proton or electron that is inherent within it that interracts with the field. In other words, what is the real science behind what you called the little bar magnets inside them? $\endgroup$ – Ashton Feb 15 '17 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ Spin is an intrinsic property of elementary particles. Electrons, protons, and neutrons all have spin. There honestly isn't a very good reason for spin that isn't circular reasoning. But, it eventually comes down to being an essential ingredient in making Quantum mechanics compatible with special relativity. $\endgroup$ – user157879 Feb 15 '17 at 3:41
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I've never hear of "magnetic particles" in conjunction with basic science. The term is, however, used to describe very small pieces of iron or iron oxide used in industry for finding defects in metal parts .https://www.nde-ed.org/EducationResources/CommunityCollege/MagParticle/Equipment/Particles.htm

More importantly, from a basic science perspective, is that electrons, protons, ions and other charged objects will experience a magnetic force when moving through a magnetic field, exception being if they are moving directly along the field lines. This is interesting because it shows a link between electricity, as in charge, and magnetism.

This is also important to a beginning Chemistry student because this relationship was instrumental in the discovery of the electron and developing early models of the atom.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you tell me why charged particles are influenced by magnetic fields? Is thethe charicteristic charge itself that the field interracts with, or is there something else about the proton or electron that is inherent within it that interracts with the field. $\endgroup$ – Ashton Feb 15 '17 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Ashton. Some folks can tell you more about this but I don't think anyone can say why at the most fundamental level. There are four force known in nature, a fifth if you include dark energy. Physisists have succeeded in showing that electricity and magnetism can be "unified" into one force, the electromagnetic force. Current moving in a wire creates a magnetic field. Magnetic fields exert forces on moving charges. Electricity and magnetism are "two sides of the sme coin". You might try your "why" question separately, see what you get. $\endgroup$ – bpedit Feb 15 '17 at 1:01

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