What is a magnet?
A magnet is an object that has magnetic poles and therefore exerts forces or torques (twists) on other magnets. There are two types of these magnetic poles—called, for historical reasons, north and south. Like poles repel (north repels north and south repels south) while opposite poles attract (north attracts south). Since isolated north and south magnetic poles have never been found in nature, magnets always have equal amounts of north and south magnetic poles, making them magnetically neutral overall. In a permanent magnet, the magnetism originates in the electrons from which the magnet is formed. Electrons are intrinsically magnetic, each with its own north and south magnetic poles, and they give the permanent magnet its overall north and south poles.