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human magnets

In a nutshell: Some people claim that the reason metal knives and forks stick to their skin is that they are human magnets. Is there a better explanation?

Some people claim they are magnetic. Metal objects like knives, the human magnetforks, and spoons stick to their skin. They say the reason these metal things stick to their skin is that they have magnetic bodies. Do they? Not likely. If they were magnetic, think what might happen to them when they walked down the aisle of a hardware store. Nuts and bolts might fly off the shelves and cover them from head to toe.

man with many piercingsOn the bright side, a human magnet could wear metal piercings without having to get pierced! And you could change your look every day by just popping off the old decorations and sticking new rings and balls on your face or wherever.

Imagine what it would be like to be a human magnet walking through the kitchen when dinner was being prepared. Pots and pans, ladles and colanders would go flying about toward the human magnet. Such creatures would have a hard time eating unless they used plastic forks and spoons.

Speaking of plastic. Guess what else sticks to the skin of these "human magnets"? You guessed it: small plastic forks and knives stick to their skin, too. Wooden things and non-magnetic metals stick to them, too. Why? Because their skin is sticky!

You, too, can make small metal things stick to your chest, belly, or forehead. Lick a coin and stick it on your forehead. It will probably stay there for a short while. Sweat a lot and a kitchen spoon might stick to your chest or belly. A little clear oil will help you do the trick as well.

magnetic manYou may not have to put anything on your skin to make it sticky, though. All mammals have glands that secrete some oily/waxy stuff called sebum. Some people might secrete a lot of sebum, which might let them stick things to their skin as long as they don't wash themselves.

If you ever meet someone who does this human magnet trick, ask them to put on a shirt or a little talcum powder on their skin before sticking on the metal things. Guess what? Now metal won't stick to them. It will slide right off. Put a cloth or talcum powder on a magnet and it has no effect on its magnetic power. Metal things still stick to the magnet even if covered in cloth or dipped in powder.

further reading

Learn how spinning electrons produce magnetism

More pictures of "human magnets": 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Same Old Magnetic Flummery by James Randi

Talcum Powder Cures Magnetism! by James Randi

Are Serbian Cousins Human Magnets? by Ben Radford

Last updated 27-Nov-2012

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