Will a neodymium magnet lose its power when dropped in water? The simple answer is no. In fact, magnets are sometimes used for underwater recovery. Boaters and fisherman may use a magnet retrieval tool to recover some lost items such as keys or magnetic fishing gear that have been dropped in the water. However, one concern is that the magnets will begin to corrode, especially if they are made of materials like neodymium. On the other hand, water has shown diamagnetic properties.

Diamagnetism: Frog Experiment

Diamagnetism occurs when certain nonmagnetic substances come in contact with a strong magnetic field. The diamagnetism means they will repel an applied magnetic field.

In 1997 a physicist by the name of Andre Giem, with the help of Michael Berry, conducted the first experiment that magnetically levitated a frog. This may sound like a magic trick but the frog did in fact levitate when interacting with a magnet. Here is the science behind it: Frogs are made up of a large percentage of water. The shifts of electrons within atoms in water create their very own magnetic fields and when a strong magnet is applied the diamagnetism of the water in the frog caused it to repel the magnet’s field.

Because water and other diamagnetic substances are found in the human body, one can hypothesize that the human body can also be levitated. Other examples of diamagnetic materials include: strawberries, gold, bones and wood.

Magnet Experiments: The Effect of Water on Magnetism

You can also test the relationship between magnets and water yourself in less than a minute with a simple experiment.

Supplies

Steps

  1. Fill a clear plastic cup up about ½ with water.
  2. Drop a magnet in and watch for any reactions.
  3. Test whether or not the water affects its magnetic pull by placing another magnet near the cup. The magnets will attract one another.

The relationship between magnets and water is definitely an intriguing one. This experiment works best with room temperature water, but you can also try a more extensive experiment to test how the results may change as the water temperature increases or decreases!

Photo by Brian Gatwicke