Magnets and the Concept of Magnetism: The Modern Day Magic?

By: James Arikpo

The increasing use of magnets in modern technological gadgets has made magnetism one of the topics that need to be given more attention than they currently enjoy. At this point, we can’t help but talk about magnetism, and its use in technological gadgets should get us wondering if it doesn’t affect our health. As you read this piece, you have more than ten items made of magnets around you. If I am right, you are holding your phone; the strap on your wallets and bags contain magnets; your earphones; your headset; your ATM card, speakers, television, laptop, generators, motorcycle, fan and lots more introduce you to magnetism. And if you are a movie lover like me, you probably might have watched 6 Underground, or more recently, Fast and Furious 9 to see the astounding things magnets can do and then wonder if it wasn’t the same magnet you played with as a kid. 

What Do You Know About Magnets?

Prior to the 16th century, you could have been one of those fellas who saw the awe of the wonder stone and called it magic. Well, only a matter of time before the magic stone was demystified. As science will see it, they are objects that attract or repel each other due to the field forces around their poles. Field forces because they don’t need to be in contact to have an influence on a second party. Then, why are they all around us? It’s because of the essential part they play in technology, and we are the end-users of these devices.

Among other uses, magnets are widely known as a means of storing information. Data is stored in the hard disk drive of your system on the basis of magnetism, that is the surface of the disk is coated with magnetic material that consists of billions of tiny magnets.

Your ATM cards have a dark magnetic strip at the back which contains your data written in magnetic codes that could be decrypted by the electronic card reader. It is exciting to know that magnetic storage could take up capacity, ranging from byte to several terabytes. A terabyte magnetic storage chip, which you could wrap up in your palm, has enough capacity play music non-stop for a whole year!

We could talk about the use of magnets in the medical sphere, where one of the strongest magnetic fields is generated in the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine, which creates a radar-like radio signal from inside the body, and produces a detailed picture of bones, organs and tissues.

ALSO READ: Technology: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Another application of this magic stone is in coils. Every electricity-generating plant has coils in it. Your earpiece and speakers convert magnetic waves to sound. Your vacuum cleaner has a motor that runs by magnetism. In fact, it is only realistic to associate magnetism with electricity and electronics.

But then, we are concerned if our daily interaction with these magnetic devices do not affect us. It will be a half truth to say bluntly that they do not, and on the other hand, a lack of sufficient knowledge to say they do. Just like the water we take, is it good? Yes. Can it affect us? Yes, if a contaminated portion is taken. Should we then stop taking water? No. We can only take precautions based on awareness.

So, the magnets around most often do not affect our health because the devices we use are made of weak magnets, that is, their magnetic field strengths are not powerful enough to cause health hazards. A human friendly portion is usually what we interact with. On the other hand, magnets like Neodymium (Nd) magnets, which are some of the most powerful magnets in the world, could be quite dangerous as they have intense forces. Also, it is believed that a field strength above 3, 000 Gauss could be harmful to the human body; this weight is so small that it isn’t sufficient to lift a 9-kg metal. According to research, it does subtly affect our vision and also has the ability to affect the heart’s performance by increasing the T-waves, one of the waves the heartbeat produces. Because blood conducts electricity, its flow through a very powerful magnetic field generates current which could cause a high-velocity ejection of blood. This, however, doesn’t change much of what goes on in the heart.

In all, we’ve seen that magnetic tech is good, and demystifying this magic stone only leaves room for us to think of what possible magic and inventions could come next, or perhaps, magnetism isn’t the real modern day magic, it is only the rib bone of the magic we expect.

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