Giving a look into literature about magnetism, one may ask a question: Which comes first? The new naming of the phenomenon, or the use of an already existing word adapted in order to describe the phenomenon?

Enjoy the paper written by Grazia Biorci from CNR-IRCrES, where she analyses the term “magnetism” in the language and literature and gives some hints on how the linguistic transmission runs along two parallel paths, in balance between the progress of scientific knowledge and the specialization of its language.

This article has been inspired by a collaboration between Grazia Biorci and the OXiNEMS project in the framework of the 20th edition of the Genoa Science Festival for the exhibition “we are all magnetic”, dealing with magnetometers for consumer applications and biomagnetism. The OXiNEMS team acknowledge Grazia for her precious support!

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A non-uniform magnetic field is generated by a permanent magnet fixed on the moving support. The resonating metallic bar is fixed at one end (cantilever) and two NdFeB magnets (which work as a one bigger magnet) are placed in contact creating a strong magnetic field in the surrounding.

We are all surrounded by oxides. Oxygen is the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and is highly reactive. This also means that many minerals are oxide minerals; oxides are employed to extract, for example, metals like iron. Many oxides are also of particular interest for their physical properties. Magnetite (Fe3O4) is a well-known magnetic (precisely a ferrimagnet) compound that has been employed in the ancient history for the fabrication of the first compasses. Silicon oxide, in its amorphous phase is used as insulating (dielectric) material in current transistors technology. In one of its crystalline phase, known as Quartz, silicon oxide is employed as mechanical oscillator for clocks and timing components. Its status of crystalline material allows exploiting an important feature of Quartz: piezoelectricity, or the properties to generate a voltage when deformed by an external pressure.