Here, you faggots, is the very most basic explanation I can give for exactly how fucking magnets work. I'm a goddamn pro at dumbing shit down for you stupid fucks, but I gotta say, this one is tricky.
Why is it tricky? Well, see, the reason there's actually very few people who can give a detailed and specific answer of how magnets work is because you need a fucking degree in physics, or at least an interest. Just like I couldn't explain to you why "KEYBOARD" represents the concept of something you type on or play music on. I couldn't explain that to you unless you already understood some basic things first. You'd have to know, first of all, what letters are. Then you need to know how letters represent certain sounds. Then you have to know about letter combinations to form cetain sounds. These are called "blends" (like the "er" blend in "lower" making the ER sound). Then you'd have to understand how letter sounds (including vowels) and blends come together to form one coherent representation of a real life thing, person, thought, emotion, etc.
So explaining magnets in detail suffers the same problem. To get a REAL explanation, you need an understanding of physics that most people simply do not have. INSERT LORD GALEN to dumb it down for your fucktarded asses.
That being said, I want to make it clear to all those people out there who DO understand it that this is an explanation like I would give to one of my elementary school students. Don't fucking e-mail me to tell me how I "got it wrong" or didn't explain it well enough or forgot this detail, that detail, the other detail, WHATEVER. This is a 5th grade level explanation, at best. I have to dumb it down because people are stupid. Got it? Good.
First, one of those basic concepts you need to understand. Have you ever wondered just why you can't walk through walls like Patrick Swayze did in Ghost? I mean, just what IS it that makes solid matter SOLID. Why can't you phase through shit? Why does that chair you're sitting in hold your hefty ass up instead of letting it hit the fucking floor? For that matter, why would the floor stop you? Why don't you just go through the Earth the way you'd go through fog?
The answer is: Electrons.
You may remember from elementary school that atoms (the basic building blocks of matter) are kinda like a solar system. At least, that's how it's taught in elementary science. The electrons are the little "planets" orbiting the nucleus (center) of the atom. Only your 5th grade text book vastly misrepresented the orbit of those electrons. You look at that shit, you're thinking that the electron is just taking its sweet fucking time like a planet would. NO. In fact, the electrons are move so goddamn fast that the atom appears to be a solid shell.
Turn on a fan. It might have 4 individual blades, but when you put the fan on high, you get the illusion of a solid disk spinning in front of you. If the blades could spin fast enough, you wouldn't even have an "illusion" you would have an actual SOLID surface in front of you (or at least the appearance of one). That is, in fact, what everything SOLID actually IS - an illusion of soilidity.
The electrons in atoms are moving so fast that you couldn't put anything between then to touch the nucleus. Just like you couldn't put your hand between the blades of a fan that's moving so fast it appears solid. You couldn't even lose a hand because your hand wouldn't be able to get between the blades to get injured. Same thing with atoms. They bounce off each other and roll around each other because the electrons create a literal "force field" that acts like a solid shell around the atom.
Try this mind-bending shit on for size: The only reason that you (or anything else) exists at all is because electrons move rapidly around the nucleus of an atom. If every electron in your body suddenly stopped moving, you would simply wink out of existence. There wouldn't be anything left of you because, at the most basic level, spinning electrons are all the fuck you are.
So, why can't you walk through walls? Because the atoms in your body and the atoms in the wall repel each other thanks to that spinning "force field" shell of electrons.
"But Galen, I can put my hand through WATER! And you mentioned FOG which I can walk right through, motherfucker!"
And those are not SOLIDS are they, dumbfuck? More elementary science:
The atoms in a solid are very tightly packed together. So tightly packed (and, as mentioned, knocking each other around like bumper cars because of those electron shells that repel each other just like my fist repels your face) that if you try to move them out of the way, it would take significant force. More force than your dumb ass going "I'm Patrick Swayze!" when you try to walk through a closed door. The kind of force like, say, that produced by the rotating blade of a skill saw. That moves the atoms of some solids (wood, mostly) out of the way so that little pieces come flying off (sawdust). The more densely packed the atoms are in something, the harder it is to move them out of the way.
Liquids and gases have very loosely packed atoms. There's enough empty space in these forms of matter that they have room to move around. So when you dive into a pool, you're NOT "going through" the water, the more densely packed atoms in your body are pushing the loosely packed atoms in the water out of the way. Same with gases, which are even easier to move out of the way since they're even more loosely packed.
Now that I've answered stupid questions that I knew you'd have, let's get back to the central topic that all of this is supposed to be explaining. Just how DO those fucking magnets work?!
Ok, so the electrical force in solid matter keeps two solids from going through each other. You can't walk through a wall because the atoms repel one another. That very simple and easily understood concept (that you can't walk through walls, stupid) is the same thing as why magnets repel each other.
See, the atoms in magnetic iron are all sort of lined up and spinning in the same direction. This causes the repelling effect of electrons to be magnified. When you try to put two magnets together and they push against each other, the force you're feeling push against the magnets is the exact same electrical force (those spinning goddamn electron force fields) that you feel push against you when you try to walk through a wall! IT'S THE SAME BASIC FORCE OF NATURE that you are already familiar with and already understand! The only real difference is that when you touch something, you can't SEE the space between atoms because it's too small. Lay your hand on your desk right now and your atoms are not REALLY "touching" the atoms of the desk at the atomic level, they are being REPELLED by the atoms of the desk! When a magnet magnifies the effect, the distance of the repelling effect increases A LOT. So much so that you can actually SEE the distance!
Getting it now? Magnets aren't "magic" or a "miracle" or any kind of mystery at all! They're just the magnified effect of something you experience every single second of every single day of your fucking life!
Ah, but what about the attractive force of magnets? I explained how they repel, but how does that shit stick to your fridge? Well, use some common sense here. If atoms lined up and all spinning the same way repel each other, then what do you think happens if atoms are all lined up and spinning in the opposite direction from each other? The goddamn opposite happens, that's what! Instead of repelling, they attract! All iron is inherently magnetic, so any metal with at least some iron in it has some magnetic force. Refrigerator doors have iron in them so magnets stick to them due to the opposite-rotating electrons in the (naturally magnetic) iron and in the magnet attracting each other.
And that's how fucking magnets work! I want to strongly reiterate that this was an elementary explanation. I can't possibly dumb it down any further than this shit right here. I stress this for 2 reasons. First, if you're a physicist (or a chemist), you'll see all kinds of technical inaccuracies in my explanation. You can add or subtract electrons to form new chemical compounds, for example, which means atoms CAN penetrate each others' force fields. However, that's way beyond the scope of an elementary lesson in magnetism, so fuck off. Do NOT send me your fucking e-mails about what I got "wrong." I didn't get it wrong, I just dumbed it down so far that it makes lots of tiny little technicalities wrong, which are things that nobody besides an expert gives a shit about or would even understand (or have any NEED to understand). If anybody wants a more in-depth explanation, well, I never fucking promised one, so fuck off. The second reason for stressing that this is the very most basic kindergarten way of explaining this shit is so that you know that if you have read this and STILL don't "get it" then you are just too stupid and you're not ever going to "get it." So, yeah, fuck off.
This has been a Lord Galen Educational Production. In case you missed the subtle hint: Fuck off!