When you put two loose magnets close to each other, odds are that they will close the space between each other, usually quite quickly. But why? Because they attract? But don’t they also repel?
It is possible to align two loose magnets such that they have similar poles on their nearest sides. In this arrangement, you can carefully push one magnet and see that it repels the other one, pushing it in the same direction. But if you push too hard, or turn the magnet, they will stop repelling and start attracting, and snap together.
Based on this observation, it seems to me that magnetic attraction is effectively more powerful than magnetic repulsion. But my understanding is that the two behavior are equal components of the same force-thingy. If that makes any sense.
My co-worker has a theory that attraction is a function of surface area, while repulsion is a function of the magnetic field. I kind of think that’s hooey. If this were true, then you would see magnetic iron filings fly apart more frequently than fridge magnets. In my extensive electromagnetism laboratory background (i.e. 1 day in high school science class) I didn’t see this happen.
My argument is that repulsion is purely a function of the magnetic field, but attraction works both on the field and on the physical materials of the magnet - in much the same way that you can magnetically attract but cannot magnetically repel an otherwise ordinary piece of iron. My co-worker thinks that this combined with my profound dislike of country music is a sign of dementia, and has threatened to call the authorities.
So…my sanity is apparently on the line. Someone help me out here!