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Finally, A Way To Feel Magnetic Fields Without Implants

Illustration for article titled Finally, A Way To Feel Magnetic Fields Without Implants

I've always been captivated by biohackers who implant tiny magnets under their skin, giving themselves the ability to physically feel magnetic fields. However, I'm not quite dedicated enough to go through the hassle (or commitment) of actually going under the knife.

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In this month's Nature Communications, a team of scientists have published something that could offer a magnetic sense to those of us who don't want surgery: a thin, flexible foil that can sense magnetic fields. In theory, you could stick this on like a plaster, and tap into the invisible magnet world surrounding our dull daily lives.

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Acquiring a magnetic sense is more than just a party trick for biohackers: it's a form of sensory augmentation. Since everything with an electric current generates a magnetic field of some size, it can prove useful for people who work with electronics, allowing them to separate live and dead wires by feel.

Sadly, it'll be a while until you can stick a magnetic band-aid on and sense electric motors: while the foil is great for detecting magnetic fields, feedback is currently relegated to a screen. But it's a promising step along my lifelong desire to get shark-like senses. [Nature via Gizmag]

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DISCUSSION

Just get a small neodymium magnet and super glue it to end of your finger. You won't get nearly as much sensation, but you can get a feel for the sense.

Because this always happens in these posts, everyone who wants to hate on people with magnets in their fingers can just not reply. Anyone who wants to ask questions to someone who has magnets in their fingers, ask away.

BTW I'll answer a few-

No they don't wipe credit cards or hard drives. I'm a comp scientist and regularly deal with building computers etc. They are awesome for picking up tiny screws if you drop one in a case.

No MRI's have little to no effect. I do programming for radiology department, and have had the opportunity to be in a room setting up and running tests with a 1.5T MRI. It felt like a super strong magnet, was a little uncomfortable but did not hurt. It certainly did not extract the magnet. There is one procedure that would lead to artifacts in the image, a hand scan. After speaking with a few radiologists you basically only get hand scans if you have diabetes and are losing the hand. In which case they have alternate methods to diagnose this.