Experiments You Can Do at Home - But Probably Shouldn't

Chapter 6
Natural Wonders »
Uncovering a Natural (Magnetic) Attraction

Uncovering a Natural (Magnetic) Attraction

Find magnetite hiding in plain sight and use it to see Earth's magnetic fields. You know that episode of Star Trek where Kirk is on some planet battling a lizardman and he just happens to find the ingredients for gunpowder lying on the ground? Nature doesn't usually give up elements that easily, but there are a few wonderful exceptions.

Take, for example, the many seemingly ordinary white-sand beaches that actually contain quite a bit of black magnetite, which is washed down from deposits in the hills and ground into sand by water. (Ironically, black volcanic beaches usually contain little or no magnetite.)

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