Atomic Attraction Explains the Forces You Experience Everyday

The same principle that allows you to push your fingers against the keys of your computer is the one that pushes opposing magnets apart from each other. According to legendary physicist, Richard Feynman, the best explanation starts at your fingertip. If your finger is made of atoms, between those atoms exists spaces. When you push your finger against something, you are pushing atoms, but instead of compounding against each other like train cars after a brake has been pulled, certain forces require them to maintain the space inbetween.

In the case of two opposing magnets, the situation is merely on a bigger scale, but the same forces are at work. You could view the magnets as atoms, able to be pushed forward, but not wanting to collide the the atom next to them, and thus being repelled.

When you comb your hair and place the comb near a sheet of paper, the static electricity resulting is strong enough to move the paper. This is because (according to Feynman) the comb merely took off a few of the extra protons and electrons that weren’t bound to partners within the atoms that make up your hair. Those extra electrons and protons have such a powerful force that they are able to be attracted to extra protons and electrons (whichever is opposite for the given sub-atomic particle) in the paper, and even move that paper at a proportionally huge distance. This phenomenon boils down to the innate nature of these sub-atomic particles to bind with those opposite, and create a more neutral configuration. Within your individual hair strands, the protons and electrons that have found an opposing partner are held together so tightly with the same force that made that paper jump to your comb. This is essentially why everything in your body is held together!