We’ve all seen huge magnets do really incredible, showy things in TV and film. They helped to get Walter and Jesse out of a pinch in Breaking Bad, they made Bender Bending Rodriguez sing “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” with gusto in Futurama, and literally everything Magneto has ever done has been half crazy spectacle. But in reality, magnets and the fundamental force of electromagnetism also work in subtle, mysterious ways.
For example, magnetic fields can push your blood around, in what is a surprisingly haunting display of how we biological beings are affected by unseen physical forces.
The strange, almost surreal display of electromagnetism and blood was created by YouTuber and self-described amateur scientist, Brainiac75. Brainiac75 said he conducted the test because the question he had been asked most often by fans when working with magnets was whether or not they pulled on the iron in his blood — a bit like that Magneto escape scene in X2. (And yes, we know Mystique put metal in that security guard’s blood.)
But in fact, it turns out that being around huge magnets doesn’t rip our blood out from under our skin at all. This is because the iron in our blood isn’t made of extra small metallic filings of the element. Instead, the iron atoms are constituent members of the metalloprotein, hemoglobin, which is found in the red blood cells of all vertebrates, and used to carry oxygen from our respiratory organs to the rest of our bodies.
As Brainiac explains, when the hemoglobin molecules are oxygenated, they aren’t attracted to the massive magnet because they’re diamagnetic. This means the hemoglobin molecules are weakly repelled by a magnetic field due to their lack of unpaired electrons. Hemoglobin molecules that haven’t been oxygenated on the other hand, have four unpaired electrons, making them slightly paramagnetic, or weakly attracted to a magnetic field. But because most of the blood in our bodies is made up of water (which is also diamagnetic) and oxygenated hemoglobin, our blood is, overall, diamagnetic, and therefore subtly repelled by magnetic fields.
What do you think about this bloody electromagnetic experiment? Give us your thoughts in the comments below!
Attracted to More Magnetic Stories?
- Electromagnets can straight-up explode soda cans
- Delightfully simple Rube Goldberg machine uses tiny magnets
- Watch magnets create wonderfully geometric patterns in the sand
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