The humble refrigerator magnet is apparently more useful than pinning up the shopping list and giving your fridge a personality. Every time we pick it up and pin it up, we demonstrate the Special Theory of Relativity. The magnet has helped prove at least one modern science theory in Quantum Mechanics. Yes, it was the magnet that made it stick!
The next time you put up your child’s artwork with your refrigerator magnets, say, “Eureka!” because you have just demonstrated the Special Theory of Relativity.
That’s right, Einstein
When two magnets (your fridge magnet and the magnetic refrigerator lining) come closer together, the charged particles in the magnet move faster than the magnet in your hand. According to Einstein’s famous theory, time and space warp as the magnet comes closer to the fridge, creating two different speeds from two points of view. To the charged particles rushing towards the fridge surface, the magnet is hardly moving. To the magnet, the particles are speeding towards it. It’s all relative!
Quantum Physics too?
In an experiment using magnets in 1922, physicists Otto Stern and Walter Gerlach proved how Quantum Mechanics worked. They fired atoms through a magnetic field created by two long magnets to hit a target in between. Instead of hitting the one target, they witnessed two clusters of hits away from the target. The magnetic field had split and spun the atoms away from the intended target. The experiment proved how particle spins were quantified.
It was the magnet that made it stick
You’ll probably never look at your fridge magnet the same way again. Thanks to magnets, a scientific theory was demonstrated and proven. The pillar of modern science was forged.
For the most of us, big science concepts like this may fly over our heads. But if by any chance your child happens to get it because you happen to explain it to them while putting up their art class masterpiece, your child might likely want to be a scientist than an artist.