Following on from a few threads about superpowers and extra sense that humans can try to acquire; I have always been interested in the idea of putting a magnet in my finger for the benefits of extra-sensory perception.
Stories (occasional news articles) imply that having a magnet implanted in a finger in a place surrounded by nerves imparts a power of electric-sensation. The ability to feel when there are electric fields around. So that’s pretty neat. Only I don’t really like the idea of cutting into myself (even if its done by a professional piercing artist).
Only recently did I come across the suggestion that a magnetic ring could impart similar abilities and properties. I was delighted at the idea of a similar and non-invasive version of the magnetic-implant (people with magnetic implants are commonly known as grinders within the community). I was so keen on trying it that I went out and purchased a few magnetic rings of different styles and different properties.
Interestingly the direction that a magnetisation can be imparted to a ring-shaped object can be selected from 2 general types. Magnetised across the diameter, or across the height of the cylinder shape. (there is a 3rd type which is a ring consisting of 4 [or more] outwardly magnetised 1/4 arcs of magnetic metal suspended in a ring-casing. and a few orientations of that system).
I have now been wearing a Neodymium ND50 magnetic ring from supermagnetman.com for around two months. The following is a description of my experiences with it.
When I first got the rings, I tried wearing more than one ring on each hand, I very quickly found out what happens when you wear two magnets close to each other. AKA they attract. Within a day I was wearing one magnet on each hand. What is interesting is what happens when you move two very strong magnets within each other’s magnetic field. You get the ability to feel a magnetic field, and roll it around in your hands. I found myself taking typing breaks to play with the magnetic field between my fingers. It was an interesting experience to be able to do that. I also found I liked the snap as the two magnets pulled towards each other and regularly would play with them by moving them near each other. For my experiences here I would encourage others to use magnets as a socially acceptable way to hide an ADHD twitch (known as stimming) – or just a way to keep yourself amused if you don’t have a phone to pull out and if you ever needed a reason to move. I have previously used elastic bands around my wrist for a similar purpose.
The next thing that is interesting to note is what is or is not ferrous. Fridges are made of ferrous metal but not on the inside. Door handles are not usually ferrous, but the tongue and groove of the latch is. metal railings are common, as are metal nails in wood. Elevators and escalators have some metallic parts. Light switches are often plastic but there is a metal screw holding them into the wall. Tennis fencing is ferrous, the ends of usb cables are sometimes ferrous and sometimes not. The cables are not ferrous. except one I found. (they are probably made of copper)
I had a concern that I would break my technology. That would be bad. overall I found zero broken pieces of technology. In theory if you take a speaker which consists of a magnet and an electric coil and you mess around with its magnetic field it will be unhappy and maybe break. That has not happened yet. The same can be said for hard drives, magnetic memory devices, phone technology and other things that rely on electricity. So far nothing has broken. What I did notice is that my phone has a magnetic-sleep function on the top left. i.e. it turns the screen off to hold the ring near that point. For both benefit and detriment depending on where I am wearing the ring.
Update: These devices are designed to deal with the fact that they will be used in environments with varying and changing magnetic fields. Not quite the same as, “I wave my magnets over my phone all day every day” but it’s clearly not an issue for my phone. My phone also has a magnetic sleep sensor, so it’s gotta deal with not breaking from that magnet either.
I spend some of my time in industrial workshops that have metal shards lying around. sometimes they are sharp, sometimes they are more like dust. They end up coating the magnetic ring. The sharp ones end up jabbing you, and the dust just looks like dirt on your skin. in a few hours they tend to go away anyways, but it is something I have noticed.
Over the time I have been wearing the magnets their strength has dropped off significantly. I am considering building a remagnetisation jig (to raise the magnet up to the curie point and then cool it in an electromagnetic field), but have not started any work on it. obviously every time I ding something against it, every time I drop them – the magnetisation decreases a bit as the magnetic dipoles reorganise.
I cook a lot. Which means I find myself holding sharp knives fairly often. The most dangerous thing that I noticed about these rings is that when I hold a ferrous knife in the normal way I hold a knife, the magnet has a tendency to shift the knife slightly or at a time when I don’t want it to. That sucks. Don’t wear them while playing with sharp objects like knives. the last think you want to do is accidentally have your carrot-cutting turn into a finger-cutting event. What is interesting as well is that some cutlery is made of ferrous metal and some is not. also sometimes parts of a piece of cutlery are ferrous and some are non-ferrous. i.e. my normal food-eating knife set has a ferrous blade part and a non-ferrous handle part. I always figured they were the same, but the magnet says they are different magnetisms. Which is pretty neat. I have found the same thing with spoons sometimes. the scoop is ferrous and the handle is not. I assume it would be because the scoop/blade parts need extra forming steps so need to be a more work-able metal. Cheaper cutlery is not like this, and would be case from a mould without reshaping.
The same applies to hot pieces of metal. Ovens, stoves, kettles, soldering irons… When they accidentally move towards your fingers, or your fingers are compelled to be attracted to them. Thats a slightly unsafe experience.
You know how when you run a microwave it buzzes, in a *vibrating* sorta way. if you put your hand against the outside of a microwave you will feel the motor going. Yea cool. So having a magnetic ring means you can feel that without touching the microwave from about 20cm away. There is a variability to it, better microwaves have more shielding on their motors and are leak less. I tried to feel the electric field around power tools like a drill press, handheld tools like an orbital sander, computers, cars, appliances, which pretty much covers everything. I also tried servers and the only thing that really had a buzzing field was a UPS machine (uninterupted power supply). Which was cool. Only other people had reported that any transformer – i.e. a computer charger would make that buzz. I also carry a battery block with me and that had no interesting fields. Totally not exciting. As for moving electrical charge. Cant feel it. If powerpoints are receiving power – nope. not dying by electrocution – no change.
Update: In Australia we have a test-and-tag procedure for electrical products. The Portable appliance tester seems to put a massive jolt of electricity through a device to make sure it’s not going to short or anything. This can be felt via magnetic ring. If you imagine a phone’s vibrate function. It basically does a short dzzzzz.
There is a reason I call magnetic rings a boring superpower. The only real super-power I have been imparted is the power to pick up my keys without using my fingers. and also maybe hold my keys without trying to. As superpowers go – thats pretty lame. But kinda nifty. I don’t know. I wouldn’t insist people do it for the life-changing purposes.
Did I find a human-superpower? No. But I am glad I tried it.
Update: My original rings wore out over a period of a few months and I purchased new ebay-rings. They are not as strong but good enough for my fun purposes.
Any questions? Any experimenting I should try?
Original post: http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/mjs/