Recommendations for Magnetic Fun!

edited October 2011 in Magnets
I had an experience a little while back that got me thinking about the world of experiences out there for people with magnetic implants. I was taking a chemistry course, and on the last day of class, the professor decided to show off various chemistry reactions/"tricks". He ended with demonstrating a superconductor - and I guess I didn't know that much about them, because I had never heard of the Meissner effect. For those who don't know what that is, when a material cools to the point that it transitions to a superconducting state, it excludes its magnetic field. I'm not good at explaining it, so look it up on Wikipedia. The cool part is that high temperature superconductors (like the one demonstrated) can cause permanent magnets to levitate if placed above the superconductor.

I went up to the professor as soon as class ended, asked if he could demonstrate it again, and explained that I have a magnet in my finger and wanted to see if I could feel what was going on. He got the material down to superconducting temperature, and I slowly moved my finger toward it.

And I didn't feel a thing. This could have been because my hands were shaky (I was oddly nervous) but in any case, I couldn't tell that anything at all was going on. I was disappointed, but at the same time, it's rather exciting - I might be the only person to have ever had that opportunity. And that makes me wonder how many other things there are out there that I haven't thought to try that others have discovered/experienced.

I later had another interesting experience. In what was probably the first and only practical use of my magnet, I was helping a person at a gas station who asked if I could jump his car since his battery had died. I went over, set everything up, waited, and his car still wouldn't start. We waited some more, but it still wouldn't start. I decided to check to see if the connection on the cables was no good by putting my finger near the wiring. Nothing. I moved one of the clamps (please forgive me if I use the wrong terminology) around and felt a spike of magnetism in my finger... but then nothing. I repeated this a couple of times, and then I realized that it wasn't the connection - it was that his battery was already charged, so no electricity was flowing between the two car batteries. I was able to problem-solve with my magnet, and that makes me feel a little like a superhero. A pretty mundane superhero, but still!

So. What are the coolest things you've done with your magnet, and what would you recommend other people try? What are you interested in trying (whether you have a magnet in your finger or not)? A bunch of us have magnets, so we should be sharing about them!


  • edited October 2011
    Hmm, I would think someone would have experienced this before. I'm a high school student in Australia, and I'm pretty sure that everyone that does physics has to see a demo of superconductors as part of the course.

    Now for as you why didn't feel anything. Superconducting materials below critical temperature undergo the Meissner effect, as you said. Perhaps it has something to do with the exclusion of the magnetic field? Perhaps the loop currents formed by the semiconductor are insufficient for you to feel a significant tug. After all, its not the fact that superconductors have a particularly stronger magnetic field that makes levitation possible, its due to the difference in the mechanics of traditional magnetic attraction repulsion with the Meissner effect.

    For example, theoretically you can also levitate one magnet above the other, but in reality, the pole on the opposite side becomes attracted, you get a small initial rotational momentum, and then bam, it gets stuck to the magnet. With the Meissner effect, it is able to actively oppose the magnetic field, regardless of pole, which is why the magnet can spin (and usually does) above the superconductor without falling.

    I haven't got a magnet yet, but I'm pretty stumped for ideas on what to do with it once I get one, besides the usual.

    Sorry, that was a bit long-winded...
  • @totemboy814 Good points. Perhaps it a large enough superconductor were used, it might produce something noticeable... maybe?

    And I don't necessarily think that I am the first person to have tried it out. I've just never heard of anyone doing it before, and I don't think that there's even more than a hundred people with implants right now. Certainly not a thousand - and a lot of people getting the implants have already finished their educations or are long done with nifty demos in courses. Don't spoil my fun! :)
  • Haha, certainly didn't mean to spoil your fun, I'm just saying that the number of people with the implant might be a lot more than you think, perhaps even in the vicinity of a thousand. I would have thought there would be a lot of curious college students who might have done it.

    The thing is, I'm pretty sure the size of the current generated by the superconductor is proportional to the magnetic field it is excluding, so I guess you wouldn't feel anything unless you had a stronger implant? Not sure on this one. But regardless, I'm not sure if it would produce a particularly interesting sensation.
  • I think that there are a lot of people who would gladly get magnetic implants... if they knew about them. I've talked to a lot of people (college students and otherwise) about my implant, and only one person had heard of it before. As far as I can tell, knowledge of these implants is mostly relegated to body mod circles (even more so with grinding). Aside from Kevin Warwick, there doesn't seem to be any academic interest or discussion at all, and news publications haven't really picked it up. I think that this whole thing won't really achieve broad public awareness until someone shows off his or her magnet in a video that goes viral on YouTube or something. Also, most people are really squeamish regarding the idea of grinding (specifically self-surgery), and would prefer to get it professionally done. This rules out most college students, as the costs are usually somewhat prohibitive. But I'm just talking out of my ass here.

    You're right. Even if one could get a superconductor to generate a literally tangible effect, the sensation would probably be unremarkable. It would still be awesome, though, even if just because of the idea of touching it.
  • Yeah, I'm getting it professionally done as well. I was initially going to do self-surgery, but then after working out the things I would need to get, some of them difficult because of my age, and working out the prices, it seemed a better deal to just get it done professionally, especially since I happen to be going to london for christmas. Also the hassle with medical stuff if it screws up (which it probably would have). I wouldn't have minded the experience though, and if the professional one goes well, then I'll definitely do the next one myself.

    Induction keeps popping into my head as an idea, but as of this moment, I have no idea how to implement it in any fun/practical/cool way.
  • I would be more than happy to pay 200 dollars to get it done, if there was a place to do it at.  Flying to Arizona to have it done by Steve makes it more like $500+, which is a lot less forgiving.  Like Oak said, self surgery is not particularly appealing to me, but having a magnetic implant is.  Alas.
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