Magnets have both a north and south pole; whichever pole of one magnet faces a pole of the other determines whether the magnets attract or not. Iron is a common material used as a magnet.
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The magnetised needle of a compass points northward because the Earth itself is a magnet, due to electric currents in the liquid part of the Earth's core.
Similar poles repel, while opposite poles attract. This is why disk magnets will make each other flip around, so the opposite poles are facing each other.
No Medium Required
Contact is not needed for magnets to attract; they are able to act on each other at a distance, even in a vacuum.
Source of Magnetism
All magnetic fields are the result of the motion of electric charges. For example, in electromagnets, the field is made by electric currents going around in circles. In atoms, it arises from the orientation of electron orbits.
Magnets are made up of many smaller magnets. If you cut one in half, each half will have its own north and south pole. No matter how much you cut a magnet up, each piece will have both poles.
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