Freaking Magnets! How DO They Work? (vid)

Submitted by: 5cats 6 years ago Science

Physicist Richard Feynman tries to explain to a non-scientist just how magnets work, or does he? ICP was right!
There are 94 comments:
Female 16
He`s completely right.
The first thing I learnt in my first year physics course was that everything I learnt at school was lie, which is basically what he`s trying not to do.
It is not an easy thing to explain magnetic repulsion to someone who has no concept of electrons and force fields etc... And he didn`t want to lie or "cheat" to the man and possible viewers by comparing it to something familiar...because there is nothing familiar.
A very famour example of this situation is the structure of an atom. If everyone was asked to draw a picture of an atom, the majority of them would be the same (the Plum Pudding model)..but this would be incorrect. An atom is nothing like that, but we can relate to it and visualize it so it has become the norm, even if it is a lie.
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Male 96
i understand what this guys trying to say.. but next time just answer "forces exerted by a magnetic field" douche.
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Male 21
WHAT A DOUCHE
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Male 25,416
Ask a magnet person about magnets!
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Male 173
as someone starting college as a physics major, magnets are pretty easy to explain, but then the people that actually think like ICP would argue that the formulas that have been found are bullpoo and dont explain anything. in that case i would say magic, just like how despite my hard work through school i will probably never make as much money as ICP.MAGIC. i love this physics guy because he clearly hates this reporters guts (im guessing because from a physicist`s perspective, liberal arts majors can suck it)
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Male 298
so, did the poster actually watch the whole thing before posting?
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Male 703
haha brilliant. I sometimes think it would be great to unravel the universe to a point where there are no more "why" questions, but I think I would have to die as soon as I found the last one, else I think sh.it would get weird and possibly depressing.
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Male 349
He does understand magnetism you idiots. He was explaining that it was a stupid question as whenever you ask why, it is impossible to stop answering. When you actually get deep enough into a subject, especially Science and Mathematics, it inevitably starts sounding like philosophy. "Truth is not something that can be sought out, found or discovered. We must create it first."
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Male 1,299
I hate people that cop-out on answer a question on a philosophical basis... so weak. He knew perfectly well what the question was but got into the semantics of what exactly the question meant and what the possible intentions and implications could be...

Science or GTFO
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Male 660
Feynman`s apology for not being able to explain magnetism and the electro magnetic forces in term that we can easily understand is probably the best explanation I have heard!
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Male 2,592
ICP is always right. Always.
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Male 215
Feynman is right. You can`t really explain it. He`s just bad at explaining why you can`t explain it.
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Male 153
He is an ass hat
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Male 5,194
If you want Feynman to explain how magnets work, it`s in "The Feynman Lectures on Physics".

There`s also a very interesting part right in the middle of the second book. It`s prefaced as being "just for fun", but it was his secret weapon.
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Male 5,194
>>this is a great example of a charismatic idiot.

No, Feynman was one of the smartest men ever. He won a Nobel prize for quantum chromodynamics, a theory that has made predictions that turned out to be true, and gives the diagrams that predict particle interactions in accelerators. I learned calculus of variations reading one of his textbooks. This is the guy who figured out why the Challenger space shuttle exploded - when everybody else was wrong. He was one of the scientists that developed the atomic bomb at Los Alamos.
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Male 770
You can be so smart that your vast knowledge rotates around the universe of intellegence and you suddenly find yourself approaching stupidity.
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Male 6
"Friday, November 12, 2010 4:14:37 PM
there is an explanation for everything. this man went around in circles to sound wise when he simply did not know the answer. this is a great example of a charismatic idiot."

Richard Feynman is a quantum physicist. He may be a dick, but i`m pretty sure he knows how magnets work.
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Male 266
Okay, assume he asked "how" instead of "why." GAWD, this is ridiculous.
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Male 107
there is an explanation for everything. this man went around in circles to sound wise when he simply did not know the answer. this is a great example of a charismatic idiot.
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Female 1,356
at one point in the video I was compelled to yell out, "I already know all of that, and if I didn`t I wouldn`t care, so there`s no point in explaining! Just tell me how the freakin` magnets work in the best way you know possible, and when it comes to a point where you can no longer answer my questions, we`ll end the discussion." But I didn`t, because that would be weird.
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Male 772
Being a student of physics I loved the talk, but the entire time it almost seemed like he was saying "I can`t give you an answer cause you`re an idiot."
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Male 208
Wow at first I thought he was being a tard but it turned out he made perfect sense.
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Male 12,138
Excellent.

As a professional geoscientist, I feel the same exasperation when (certain) religious types challenge me how I know that the earth is billions of years old, or that evolution happens.
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Male 5,194
>>And rubber bands utilize potential energy, it has nothing to do with electricity

No, on a molecular level those forces are electrical. That`s what Feynman was trying to explain. But people like you, the reporter, and the juggalo`s can`t be bothered to learn any of this.
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Male 36,394
@puppies04 brought up a term: *Lies to Children* also called Wittgenstein`s Ladder, which explains WHY we believe things which are wrong.
It`s a short article, worth reading :)
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Male 514
This is mindboggling
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Male 36,394
@Duffytoler, a chair doesn`t "push back" it resists changing it`s position. The direction of that force of resistance is "up" to your sitting "down" but it in and of itself doesn`t DO anything.
See how messy things get when you pick them apart? lolz!
And rubber bands utilize potential energy, it has nothing to do with electricity (or "electrical forces" whatever those are...) which is the propensity of an object to maintain it`s shape. It`s mechanical, not electric.

Magnetic forces just ARE. Just like light, eh? We don`t KNOW what a photon is, but they shoot out of your monitor by the trillions! lolz!
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Female 3,001
I love his accent!
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Male 1,016
I am like most people ...I want to know how to work something not so much how it works...like a computer. I need to know how to work it I don`t need to know how it works, I trust there are others who are geeky enough to know make it work and I learn how to work it.
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Male 1,016
Scientist or politician?
Holy crap I am more confused that is was 7.5 minutes ago ! now i could care less about magnets!
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Male 122
Trust the force, young Jedi. Or read the Feynman lectures.

Of course, he could have explained it in terms of boson exchange. He rightfully assumed that that would not have helped the average viewer at all.
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Male 5,194
ICP doesn`t ask why the chair pushes back when you push down to get up, they don`t ask why the rubberband pulls back when you stretch it - yet these are the same electrical forces at work. Neither ICP nor this reporter want to spend the effort to understand any of it, they just want a simple-stupid answer. Not going to happen.
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Male 4
Feynman is brilliant nonetheless. If it weren`t for his creativity, nanotechnology may have never been proposed. This dude was thinking of nanoscale workings in the 60`s!
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Male 2,868
This is lulzy, but it`s also pretty awesome.
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Male 3,076
haha nice way to sneak your way out of the question :-P
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Male 2,290
I wonder what he would say if you asked him to define the word "succinct"?

Why not use a proper analogy instead? Ask him why we use the word succinct, and then we would fall into the dizzying spirals of whys, yet again.
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Male 4,547
I`ve been saying this for years about the difference between why and how.

I always called it the Eatern why, and the Western how.
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Male 2,690
He seems happy about delivering that little lecture. I liked it.
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Male 2,855
"they do"

you f u c k i n g dumbass
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Male 2,290
Corpsecrank: Your 9th grade understanding doesn`t trump his PhD understanding. So you will begin to see the gaps once you realize that--and then you may realize that he accepts gaps in his knowledge, and that asking why of anything is absurd because you need a FRAMEWORK in order to ask why of anything--the what is assumed, and the why follows. That`s what he is saying. There is no what for the electrical force yet. IT IS NOT UNDERSTOOD as well as anything else in everyday life.
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Female 13
1st comment ever but I really wanna know...
I wonder what he would say if you asked him to define the word "succinct"?
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Male 30
i love how he took all that time to explain how the reporter was a dumbass...
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Male 12,138
Man, I`m raped from both dirextions.

It`s all good.
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Male 318
ಠ_ಠ still doesn`t answer the question/
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Male 2,402
Apparently he never had a 3 year old.

3 year old - Daddy why does it rain?
daddy - To water the crops

3 yr old - Why?
daddy - So they can feed to grow

3 yr old - why?
daddy- so that we can harvest food to eat

3 yr old - why?
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Male 446
I think he devised this way of answering questions just to get his wife off his back.

Wife - "Richard...did you pick up some cantaloupes on your way back from the campus?
Richard - "No"
Wife - "Why not ?"
Richard - "Well, to properly frame this question....."
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Male 257
this man is a genius ! love feynman
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Male 446
Somebody better go check on Aunt Minnie instead of yappin` about magnets.
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Male 928
Is this guy fking serious? Something tells me there was a lot more to this video in the beginning and that there were some type of limitation on how he could explain things but that doesn`t make him sound any less insane. And I do understand magnetic force because it was explained to us very clearly in like what 9th grade phys science lol.
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Male 1,196
This is actually brilliant. It reminds me of GK chesterton when he said "why does a pumpkin remain a pumpkin?"


This link is really cool so check it out.
GK CHESTERTON MIRACLE DEBATE
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Female 3,598
MIRACLES!!!
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Male 40
Start listening at the 5:00 mark.
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Male 4,290
That was actually a really good answer. He did talk about the fundamental forces, but also explained why different levels of expertise require different answers to a question.

[quote]IPC was right, it`s a freaking miracle![/quote]
If you define miracle as "something we do not yet fully understand", then yes, it is a miracle.
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Male 96
the first minute or so of this thing is like the beginning of the old Abbott & Costello "who`s on first" routine
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Male 452
I`m often paralyzed by the why sequence of questioning. Eventually, you throw up your hands and say "I don`t know" every time. The whole "I`m a physicist and you just wouldn`t get it sufficiently" response is pretty lame.
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Male 5,006
Hmm is a miracle until we don`t discover the truth. Human history if full of miracles that today we can explain with science, maybe is just not our time to discover the secret of magnetism. Science had an impresiive acceleration in last 2 centuries but this don`t mean that we have discovered all. Science stand untill secrets are up, when all will be discovered science will die.
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Male 4,746
Actually, quantum physics has some interesting theories on how magnets work. But if I told you, I`d have to explain why your Grandmother broke her hip...
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Male 36,394
Oh, for those in a hurry, it take him a good 4 minutes to get rolling...

Yup, Spartakitty and rainbowfarts: a magical miracle.
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Male 36,394
@patchouly Nope! No one "knows how" they only know what they do, not why. Since it`s a "fundamental force" there is nothing AT ALL like it in the universe. Even gravity is way different. Why metals, not wood? What has electricity got to do with it? IDK! No one knows!

IPC was right, it`s a freaking miracle!
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Male 4,807

7 minutes for him to finally say he won`t explain/asnwers the question.

A$$hole
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Male 1,929
5:42 answered the question for me.
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Male 2,422
E.O. Wilson came to our university to have a panel discussion with local science writer David Quammen and he is a lot like Richard Feynman in terms of his good humor. But one thing you have to do in talking to these kinds of people is to actually have a coherent question that they can answer. Otherwise, you waste a bunch of time trying to figure out what it is that you are really asking them and they don`t like that. He`s a really cool guy though. If you`ve never had the opportunity to listen to a lecture of his you should really go. He totally signed my copy of There`s a Hair in My Dirt by Gary Larson which he wrote the forward to way back when. He thought that was hilarious.
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Male 4,746
So he doesn`t know then?
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Male 686
Why magnets behave the way they do
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Male 686
*Hang on, there`s actually people out there that don`t know how magnets work? Did you avoid every high school science class?*

Buiadh you need to read some of Terry Pratchets non-fiction. There is a lovely term he uses ( i am not sure if he is the creator of the term) called *lies to children*.

If you think that you understand why magnets behave the way they do after attending high school you are sadly mistaken. A brilliant example of a *lie to children* is this.

Child- what makes rainbows
Teacher- Ah good question it is the sunlight shining through water droplets
Child- Oh cool i understand rainbows now.

If you think about it you dont have any freaking idea why rainbows form even though you were taught about them in highschool, as the explanation you were given doesnt make sense, why are they semi circular??? you have absolutly no idea how to answer that unless you have attended 50 hours of lectures on the subject the same as you have no idea
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Male 202
im gonna re-watch this when im high.... i have a feeling it will be very very interesting
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Male 202
my head hurts
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Male 707
i love the satisfied smirk at the end
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Male 840
I think they put a post about "Freaking Magnets" too close to that last gif.
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Female 728
This closely parallels the discussion of first causes and principles in Aristotle`s Metaphysics, which we`re currently talking about in one of my philosophy classes. I seem to be encountering the concept all over the place lately.
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Female 2,120
So miracles then?
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Male 1,920
Just think the problem the greatest scientist ever would have explaining how he created the universe, and why the answers he has given sound like magic.
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Male 349
I love him
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Male 496
That was the best explanation of anything ever.
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Male 34
I love Feynmans diagrams. They make particle physics much easier to understand.
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Male 719
In fact, it`s a bit like someone asking a mathematician why 2+2=4.

The response will likely be "well, if you take two things, then take two more, you have four."

This is because it will take a long time to explain/define set theory, logic, proof, the Peano axioms, functions, binary operations, etc., and why we need them to prove 2+2=4.
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Male 36
He answered the question completely and perfectly.
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Female 1,894
use the force luke
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Male 719
"oh for god sake shut up and say you dont know!"

The problem is not that he doesn`t know, but rather it`s that he doesn`t know how to explain it without a few hundred hours of lectures (as a physics student would need to understand it).

In his explanation, he`s trying to explain that simple questions only have simple answers if you`re willing to ignore the details, and there is a point where it`s impossible or disingenuous to ignore the details.
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Male 639
Well he`s right, we don`t know what gives rise to any of the fundamental forces. And relatively recently we discovered that the electromagnetic force and weak force are the same at superhigh temperatures. But yeah if anyone can give me an actual reason as to why magnets repel, beyond spin, I got it up to that part, but I don`t think anyone else has an answer beyond that.
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Male 6,737
Hang on, there`s actually people out there that don`t know how magnets work? Did you avoid every high school science class?
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Male 4
He rightfully explained that the magnetic forces of atom repel other atoms, which is why you can not push your hand into/through the chair. The same force that stops you from being able to smash atoms together, that makes the atoms repel each other, is more present in magnets, the same force that repels and attracts magnets
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Female 798
Magic, got it.
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Male 131
I would absolutely LOVE to hear Christopher Walken redo this answer verbatim, but in his own style.
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Female 1,589
Slippery ice! How does it WORK?!
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Male 784
Makes sense - even if he is a bit self-centered and a fan of his own voice.
It`s all about context and methodology.

Still, would be fun to pair him up in an interview with Ali G.
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Female 1,435
oh for god sake shut up and say you dont know!
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Male 141
I actually liked very much his response!
I liked speccialy that the way the answer is presented is deeply connected to the fact that Richard Feynman is a physicist.
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Male 15,510
LSD
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Male 757
He dosn`t kbow either.
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Male 41
All ICP comments aside, I really enjoyed listening to him. Seems as if he used a bit of the Socratic method in his line of reasoning, and it held up pretty well. Would be interesting to hear some counter-arguments on the subject.
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Male 9
i just got stupider...
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Male 282
Quack!
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Male 36,394
Link: Freaking Magnets! How DO They Work? (vid) [Rate Link] - Physicist Richard Feynman tries to explain to a non-scientist just how magnets work, or does he? ICP was right!
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