Monday, 23 May 2011

Misleading Magnetism

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Recently a 6 year old boy called Ivan Stojiljkovic from Koprivnica, Croatia is being hailed as “Magnet Boy”, because apparently metal objects can stick to him. This story has been picked up by a variety of news providers including CBS 1 Reuters 2 and The Daily Mail 3. The same images and information are used by almost every version of this story, and it did initially look impressive. 
However, the claims made are illogical at best. Firstly, many of the objects he is seen being magnetized to are non magnetic. Secondly, apparently he can only magnetize objects if they are in direct contact with his skin, but that doesn’t make sense, because magnets are able to be attracted to metal even if there is thin cloth or paper in the way (and one would assume that this ‘magnetism’ was already traveling through his skin, so it shouldn’t make any difference if he wore a shirt). Thirdly, when looking up this story on the JREF website 4, it outlines how this effect has been repeated by many people due to the natural oils in the skin building up and becoming sticky if a person sweats and goes without washing for a while. The ‘magnetism’ effect can be cured by the application of talcum powder to the skin.
E Markham (2011). Misleading magnetism Blogspot

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