Sunday, June 02, 2013

Stupid Human Tricks: The Digital Magnet

Maybe it's just a symptom of their being too many people in the world: if someone can think it, someone will do it. How else to explain the digital magnet?

New York City writer Dann Berg decided to get a magnet implant about three years ago after reading about the trend online. The article described an implant gone wrong complete with graphic images of a magnet decomposing under flesh. Initially put off by the gory details, he decided to go for it anyway...

"I had a curiosity to explore the world in a completely different way," he explained.


As Jon Stewart would say at this point, "Go onnn...?"

Gradually his finger began to develop a "sixth sense" around any object that gave off electromagnetic waves.

"There is a half dome of vibration that surrounds the object almost like a tennis ball cut in half," he said. "The vibrations vary in strength depending on where I hold my finger and it's almost like the finger itself is vibrating against an invisible field of energy."

Well now the poor sod has my sympathy. A finger that jiggles when in proximity to objects that gives off electromagnetic waves? My my my. That's got to be rough since EVERYTHING GIVES OFF ELECTROMAGNETIC WAVES. Everything with a temperature greater than absolute zero, that is. So... everything. There may be some ideomotor effect going on here, but I doubt anything real is going on.

Physics teachers who stick to mechanics all year (by choice) must shoulder some blame for this story being floated as plausible. Magnets remain objects of mystery and imagination to those who have absolutely no understanding of how they work. Let's cut that population down wherever we get the chance, lest there be a resurgence in the sales of magnetic bracelets.

Implanting a magnet is certainly up there with getting a tattoo in terms of unnecessary body mutilation. Experts will likely disagree on which one requires the lesser threshold of good judgment.

UPDATE: Interesting comments, including some rebuttal from Dann Berg. Without an implant, I cannot argue what an implantee feels or when s/he feels it. He mentions a strong sensation near an operating microwave. There is reason to believe such magnetic fields are strong. And that they oscillate, so as to produce a vibrational sensation.

But here's the thing.

If you want to experience such vibrations, you don't need a rare earth magnet. All you need is a ferromagnetic object. A steel washer would work just fine. Upside? Your finger won't stick to an iPad (or earbuds, I imagine). Downside? You can't dangle a paperclip from your pinky.

Here's a simple demonstration showing the magnetism generated by a microwave transformer.



The wrench and razor knife are steel. They are not magnets.

8 comments:

Tim Erickson said...

One wonders how he fares in TSA screening.

A possible upside: at the hardware store recently, I saw some small tools secured to the wall by some red plastic gizmos I had not seen before (maybe you have), but clearly you needed a salesperson to release them if you wanted to buy one. When the guy came up and swiped a metal cylinder over it, and it popped open, I said, "oh! I could have just opened these with a neodymium magnet!"

He looked crushed. Another high-security anti-theft device thwarted.

bc said...

EVERYTHING GIVES OFF ELECTROMAGNETIC WAVES. Everything with a temperature greater than absolute zero, that is.
=============
No E-M radiation at zero K? Classically yes. --in reality no. zero point energy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-point_energy


bc

Anonymous said...

This article seems a bit narrow minded and uneducated.
I've had a magnetic implant for about 2 months, and I did a year of research before taking the plunge. I wish I had gotten a 2nd, and I think this is something that will gain popularity in the decades to come.

"That's got to be rough since EVERYTHING GIVES OFF ELECTROMAGNETIC WAVES." This is technically true, but that's like saying EVERYTHING GIVES OFF GRAVITY. You really only detect objects with a strong alternating field. Your finger doesn't 'jiggle' constantly, nothing of the sort. Your argument is like a deaf person not wanting to hear because you constantly have to listen to everyone within 20 yards. It just doesn't work that way.
The sensation is like a tingling, something that becomes just another sensory input with experience. You can almost compare it to holding your hand near something extremely cold. You can tell it's very cold, more so as you get closer, but it's never unpleasant.

Decomposition was an issue with the older silicon-dipped implants because the coating was thin around the edges and could tear. The current generation of molded parylene coatings are far more reliable and have been proven for years. Even if there is an issue, it's at-most outpatient surgery to have it removed.

"Physics teachers who stick to mechanics all year (by choice) must shoulder some blame for this story being floated as plausible." then you go on to mention magnetic bracelets. How is this story being "floated as plausible" when it clearly is plausible? It's something anyone can get done. Comparing it to a magnetic bracelet is a fallacy, they're not marketed as something that'll boost your health. They're not sold under promises of magic or any other silliness.

It is a conversation piece, it's like a tattoo. It also happens to give you some amazing abilities for a very low risk.

This article is written from the standpoint of a cynic but no solid arguments against have been given.

So what are the down-sides? There are 2.
1) I wear a medical dog-tag in case I have to get an MRI. In the case I'm knocked unconscious - the tag requests my hand is shielded, or the magnet is removed.
2) If the coating is breached, I'd have to have the magnet removed. This can be done by any surgeon in a matter of minutes.

Metal detectors, TSA, etc - are *not* a problem, the magnet is too small to be picked up unless they put a wand on your hand.

To anyone considering the implant, this owner highly recommends it!

Anonymous said...

In Berg's article, he mentions that “the dome of vibration” is from a fan in a cash register. This makes more sense than Neporent's out-of-context quote.

Dean Baird said...

@Anonymous
All objects with mass do attract each other via gravitational force. But I don't need an implant to sense my interaction with the Earth, and there is no implant that will allow me to sense my gravitational attraction to anything else.

A surgeon could remove the magnet in a matter of minutes. But (and excuse my narrow-minded uneducatedness here) a licensed surgeon would never implant one. Rather, this must be done by a "local implantation expert".

Anyone sporting an injected magnet can make any claim they like regarding the sensory-expanding nature of the result. And they can naysay every sensible skeptic by virtue of possessing the implanted object.

But the human mind is a powerful thing, and self-deception is commonplace. Someone who has willingly mutilated their body has a strong desire to imagine they've derived some benefit.

Why is it that rare-earth magnets, themselves, show no motion or vibration in the presence of electronic devices that implantees claim generate a sensation? Are the sensations psychosomatic? I get that a magnet-finger can sense another magnet. But the "vibrations" or "tingling"? If it were physical (not psychosomatic), then an unimplanted magnet would vibrate in the same space.

Please provide an example of magnet-finger vibrational sensation induced by an electronic device (rather than the presence of a strong permanent magnet).

"Amazing abilities"? You can stick ferromagnetic objects to yourself. Maybe we have different definitions of the word "amazing".

@bc
Radiation at absolute zero? I suppose I was thinking of the Stefan-Boltzmann law:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stefan-Boltzmann_law

If my understanding here is in error, I stand corrected.

Dann Berg said...

Simply regarding your comment: "But the human mind is a powerful thing, and self-deception is commonplace. Someone who has willingly mutilated their body has a strong desire to imagine they've derived some benefit."

I often like to have my friends come and touch my finger when I'm holding it close to a microwave or some other object that I can feel with my magnet. Every person has felt the same "vibration" as I have.

I'm also happy to answer any specific questions you might have. I can't go into detail about the science behind what I'm feeling, but I can definitely talk about the experience of having a magnet implant.

Dean Baird said...

A microwave transformer can generate a strong magnetic field. Turns out, you could sense that with a steel washer or BB implant. No need for a neodymium magnet. I updated the post with a video showing as much.

Magnets In Motion said...

New York City writer Dann Berg decided to get a magnet implant about ... magnetsmotion.blogspot.com