But seriously, f*ckin' magnets, how do they work?
It's a very good question, but the truth, according to none other than Richard Feynman, is that it's also a very hard question to give non-scientists an answer on. The trouble: Magnetism is one of those things that's just damn difficult to understand in terms of analogy to stuff the average person already knows. The only way to answer this kind of reductive "why" question, Feynman says, is to put the questioner through an elaborate education in physics, at which point they will emerge—like a hobbled butterfly—equally unable to answer the question in a simple way.
Basically, ICP is doomed to receive nothing but unsatisfying answers on this topic until they enroll themselves in an evil clown Ph.D. program.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.