Monday, March 09, 2009

handling magnets: here's a couple of tips

Remember the magic pixie dust severed finger miracle cure story? Here's a similar one - similar in that the "after" pictures are remarkable in the degree of regeneration that's happened (with no magic being involved). The original accident is a bit more interesting, though - the older story had the unlucky bloke sticking his hand into a model aeroplane propellor; this one was a far more spectacular accident with a pair of bulky neodymium magnets.

The problem with these, and the reason even the pretty well-informed get into trouble with them, is the counter-intuitive strength the big ones have - we tend to think of magnets as being just about strong enough to do amusing tricks with iron filings and paper clips with, or to stick postcards of the Eiffel Tower to the door of your fridge with, but step out of line with the big rare-earth magnets and they can and will mash various sensitive and vital parts of your anatomy into pâté before you have time to blink. As a gentleman called Dirk discovered when he handled a couple of big chunky blocks with insufficient respect and had the end of his finger flattened to a fraction of a millimetre thick. Exaggeration? Take a look at this:

The pink matter trapped between the magnets is the remains of Dirk's fingertip - the thing that looks like a little sliver of metal is his fingernail. Some more graphic and gruesome pictures, as well as a fuller description of the accident, can be found here. Scroll down to the bottom, though, and you'll see some pictures from a few months later. I mean, it's not the prettiest finger in the world, but it's quite a remarkable improvement nonetheless.

As ever, Dan has more informative and educational detail. You should be careful following any of the links in the comments section here, though, as there seems to be a bit of disgusting image oneupmanship going on. Don't say you weren't warned.

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