Did you know that the name “magnet” was first used by the Greeks as early as 600 B.C. for describing a mysterious stone that attracted iron and other pieces of the same material? According to one Greek legend, the name magnet was taken from the shepherd Magnes who discovered the magnetic stone by accident when his staff was mysteriously attracted to the force of the stone. Another, and perhaps more believable, theory says that the word magnet came from a city in Asia Minor, called Magnesia, where many of these mysterious magnetic stones were found.
During the Middle Ages, this stone became known as lodestone, which is the magnetic form of magnetite. Today, magnets are available in all sorts of shapes including discs, rings, blocks, rectangles, arcs, rods, and bars. They are made out of materials such as ceramic (strontium ferrite), alnico (aluminum, nickel, and cobalt), rare earth (samarium cobalt and neodymium) and flexible, rubber-like material.