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Vik

scene-stealers

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case 1: Neodymium magnets (Nd2Fe14B magnets) are much stronger (ferromagnetically) than other commercially available permanent magnets. Neodymium and boron aren't ferromagnetic by themselves, but they make the material ferromagnetic.  In this manner, they "steal the scene" of the neodymium magnet.  It turns out that the ferromagnetic effect arises from the crystalline structure which makes it a certain type of material object. We explain that ferromagnetism with reference to structural properties.

case 2: Hydrogen peroxide decomposes into atmospheric oxygen and water. But if you add manganese dioxide, the recombinations of chemical constituents happens faster.  What's interesting is that the manganese dioxide is not actually consumed.  The manganese dioxide "steals the scene" by increasing the rate of a reaction without being consumed. We explain that "acceleration" with reference to chemical properties.

In both cases, something perceptible "steals the scene".  We use our conceptual faculty to discover the important change happening at the level of imperceptible constituents.  But are all such "scene-stealers" indicative of subtle aspects?

I'd like to hear a counter-example from any field of science.

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