Magnetic fields are generated in space around electric currents. And, like negative and positive electric charges, magnetic fields have two poles: north-and south-seeking. At the atomic level, electric current is generated by electrons and protons (electrically charged particles) as they spin. As each particle spins, a small magnetic field is generated whose effect is cancelled out on the super-atomic scale because in most materials these particles spin in random orientations. In magnetized materials, however, electron spins are organized and aligned to reinforce each other resulting in an observable magnetic field. Some materials, noticeably iron and its alloys, are more prone to magnetic effects than others.
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