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Magnetic rings (the most mediocre superpower) A review.

26 Post author: Elo 30 July 2015 01:23PM

Following on from a few threads about superpowers and extra sense that humans can try to get; I have always been interested in the idea of putting a magnet in my finger for the benefits of extra-sensory perception.

Stories (occasional news articles) imply that having a magnet implanted in a finger in a place surrounded by nerves imparts a power of electric-sensation.  The ability to feel when there are electric fields around.  So that's pretty neat.  Only I don't really like the idea of cutting into myself (even if its done by a professional piercing artist).  

Only recently did I come across the suggestion that a magnetic ring could impart similar abilities and properties.  I was delighted at the idea of a similar and non-invasive version of the magnetic-implant (people with magnetic implants are commonly known as grinders within the community).  I was so keen on trying it that I went out and purchased a few magnetic rings of different styles and different properties.

Interestingly the direction that a magnetisation can be imparted to a ring-shaped object can be selected from 2 general types.  Magnetised across the diameter, or across the height of the cylinder shape.  (there is a 3rd type which is a ring consisting of 4 outwardly magnetised 1/4 arcs of magnetic metal suspended in a ring-casing. and a few orientations of that system).

I have now been wearing a Neodymium ND50 magnetic ring from supermagnetman.com for around two months.  The following is a description of my experiences with it.

When I first got the rings, I tried wearing more than one ring on each hand, I very quickly found out what happens when you wear two magnets close to each other. AKA they attract.  Within a day I was wearing one magnet on each hand.  What is interesting is what happens when you move two very strong magnets within each other's magnetic field.  You get the ability to feel a magnetic field, and roll it around in your hands.  I found myself taking typing breaks to play with the magnetic field between my fingers.  It was an interesting experience to be able to do that.  I also found I liked the snap as the two magnets pulled towards each other and regularly would play with them by moving them near each other.  For my experiences here I would encourage others to use magnets as a socially acceptable way to hide an ADHD twitch - or just a way to keep yourself amused if you don't have a phone to pull out and if you ever needed a reason to move.  I have previously used elastic bands around my wrist for a similar purpose.

The next thing that is interesting to note is what is or is not ferrous.  Fridges are made of ferrous metal but not on the inside.  Door handles are not usually ferrous, but the tongue and groove of the latch is.  metal railings are common, as are metal nails in wood.  Elevators and escalators have some metallic parts.  Light switches are often plastic but there is a metal screw holding them into the wall.  Tennis fencing is ferrous, the ends of usb cables are sometimes ferrous and sometimes not.  The cables are not ferrous.  except one I found. (they are probably made of copper)


Breaking technology

I had a concern that I would break my technology.  That would be bad.  overall I found zero broken pieces of technology.  In theory if you take a speaker which consists of a magnet and an electric coil and you mess around with its magnetic field it will be unhappy and maybe break.  That has not happened yet.  The same can be said for hard drives, magnetic memory devices, phone technology and other things that rely on electricity.  So far nothing has broken.  What I did notice is that my phone has a magnetic-sleep function on the top left.  i.e. it turns the screen off to hold the ring near that point.  For both benefit and detriment depending on where I am wearing the ring.

Metal shards

I spend some of my time in workshops that have metal shards lying around.  sometimes they are sharp, sometimes they are more like dust.  They end up coating the magnetic ring.  The sharp ones end up jabbing you, and the dust just looks like dirt on your skin.  in a few hours they tend to go away anyways, but it is something I have noticed

magnetic strength

Over the time I have been wearing the magnets their strength has dropped off significantly.  I am considering building a remagnetisation jig, but have not started any work on it.  obviously every time I ding something against it, every time I drop them - the magnetisation decreases a bit as the magnetic dipoles reorganise.


I cook a lot.  Which means I find myself holding sharp knives fairly often.  The most dangerous thing that I noticed about these rings is that when I hold a ferrous knife in the normal way I hold a knife, the magnet has a tendency to shift the knife slightly or at a time when I don't want it to.  That sucks.  Don't wear them while playing with sharp objects like knives.  the last think you want to do is accidentally have your carrot-cutting turn into a finger-cutting event.  What is interesting as well is that some cutlery is made of ferrous metal and some is not.  also sometimes parts of a piece of cutlery are ferrous and some are non-ferrous.  i.e. my normal food-eating knife set has a ferrous blade part and a non-ferrous handle part.  I always figured they were the same, but the magnet says they are different materials.  Which is pretty neat.  I have found the same thing with spoons sometimes.  the scoop is ferrous and the handle is not.  I assume it would be because the scoop/blade parts need extra forming steps so need to be a more work-able metal.  Cheaper cutlery is not like this.

The same applies to hot pieces of metal.  Ovens, stoves, kettles, soldering irons...  When they accidentally move towards your fingers, or your fingers are compelled to be attracted to them.  Thats a slightly unsafe experience.


You know how when you run a microwave it buzzes, in a *vibrating* sorta way.  if you put your hand against the outside of a microwave you will feel the motor going.  Yea cool.  So having a magnetic ring means you can feel that without touching the microwave from about 20cm away.  There is a variability to it, better microwaves have more shielding on their motors and are leak less.  I tried to feel the electric field around power tools like a drill press, handheld tools like an orbital sander, computers, cars, appliances, which pretty much covers everything.  I also tried servers and the only thing that really had a buzzing field was a UPS machine (uninterupted power supply).  Which was cool.  Only other people had reported that any transformer - i.e. a computer charger would make that buzz.  I also carry a battery block with me and that had no interesting fields.  Totally not exciting.  As for moving electrical charge.  Cant feel it.  If powerpoints are receiving power - nope.  not dying by electrocution - no change.

boring superpower

There is a reason I call magnetic rings a boring superpower.  The only real super-power I have been imparted is the power to pick up my keys without using my fingers.  and also maybe hold my keys without trying to.  As superpowers go - thats pretty lame.  But kinda nifty.  I don't know. I wouldn't insist people do it for the life-changing purposes.


Did I find a human-superpower?  No.  But I am glad I tried it.


Any questions?  Any experimenting I should try?

Comments (33)

Comment author: ZeitPolizei 30 July 2015 02:06:33PM 4 points [-]

Do you continue to wear them on a regular basis? Overall, recommend it, yes or no?

Comment author: Elo 31 July 2015 01:21:13AM 2 points [-]

For now I am still wearing them. I noticed I make more typing errors when wearing a ring on my fingers. but that's more about wearing a ring than it being a magnet.

I would say it was a neat experience but not one that is required to be carried out personally. similar to a rollercoaster - its possible to know a lot of what it feels like without going on one. (overall no)

Comment author: [deleted] 01 August 2015 01:40:47AM 1 point [-]

Dude, are these rings as awesome as rollercoasters? I totally need to get one.

Comment author: Elo 01 August 2015 08:59:40AM 2 points [-]

I would consider it the kind of thing you want to leave in a science museum. so people can try them and go "thats how it works!" then get over it and go about their lives. not something worth spending money on for yourself.

A novelty thats cool to try, not one each person need own. Another example might be a lava lamp. after owning one for a while you stop bothering to turn it on.

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 01 August 2015 08:12:11PM 0 points [-]

A science museum amortizes the cost of the demonstration across many people, but that only works for short demonstrations. If you need to play with the rings for a week or a month, they don't fit in a museum. But you can amortize the cost of lava lamp with your friends: after you get bored of it, pass it on. This is harder with a ring because of sizing. Also, if they weaken after two months.

Comment author: Pfft 02 August 2015 01:51:53AM 1 point [-]

How about amortizing it among LessWrong users? If there are enough interested people we can pool up to buy a pair, each one in the pool gets to keep it for (say) a month, and then mails it in an envelope to the next guy. Maybe everyone has to write an experience report as a Less Wrong comment, too.

Comment author: Elo 02 August 2015 10:35:50PM 1 point [-]

I am not against the idea but also in the US they are quite reasonably priced. I had to pay shipping to far away, shipping was almost as much as the rings.

The point of my post was a that its a null-experiment (AKA - don't bother trying it because it wasn't that exciting). If I don't share the fact that it was actually not worthwhile, someone else motivated to do it won't know it has already been reported on.

Comment author: Elo 02 August 2015 10:37:25PM 0 points [-]

I would have said a set or so for 10mins would show you some of the fun stuff, but also should be enough. Heck - a "rent them" sorta policy. two rings, $5 to play, $50 deposit. You can keep the rings but you can also give them back for the deposit.

Comment author: bbleeker 31 July 2015 06:44:43AM 3 points [-]

I've been wearing a magnetic ring for a long time now, and my experiences are more or less the same. I have only one though; maybe I'll buy one for my other hand so I can play with the magnetic field too.

One thing to watch out for is magnetic keycards. My debit card doesn't have any problems (yet), and it's several years old; but the last 2 summers I've had to get the keycard for my hotel door remagnetized a few times. And yeah, if you're cleaning things with steel wool, you get tiny sharp pieces of it stuck on the ring, that are quite difficult to get off. I also take my ring off in bed, because our headboard consists of metal bars, and the ring tended to be attracted to it with a loud *ting* and wake up my husband.

Comment author: Elo 01 August 2015 09:09:38AM 1 point [-]

glad I am not the only one. I have not noticed the keycards problem yet. I take the rings off for metal shards when I know I am about to work around them.

Comment author: Dagon 30 July 2015 05:11:54PM 2 points [-]

Have you found any change in your sense of orientation or direction? Can you identify which way is North better with the rings?

Comment author: Elo 31 July 2015 01:21:42AM 3 points [-]

absolutely none at all. makes no difference.

Comment author: advancedatheist 31 July 2015 04:06:17AM 4 points [-]

You are an insect among gods. Never let anyone tell you different.

Comment author: Elo 31 July 2015 06:42:20AM 1 point [-]

ahahaa. Thank you! I am enjoying my science!

Comment author: Alicorn 31 July 2015 10:41:10PM 1 point [-]

I wanted to go buy some rings to play with, but they don't come in a full range of sizes (the smallest one is a size and a half bigger than my wedding ring) and also the shopping cart doesn't seem to work. Is there anyplace else that sells them?

Comment author: Elo 01 August 2015 09:12:02AM 1 point [-]

I didn't want to be an advertisement so I didn't (mean to) link. (woops). Try ebay for magic rings, or magnetic rings, also aliexpress, also you can email the guy at supermagnetman and ask for other sizes. I would suggest going on the tight-side of sizes because they like to pull themselves off when they find metal to attract to.

I have been wearing a black epoxy coated and a silver one, and I do a hell of a lot with my hands, so I expected the coatings to come off. which happened. I figured this would happen, so FYI.

Comment author: Alicorn 02 September 2015 07:46:51PM 0 points [-]

Update: I bought some rings. They're okay. It's pretty hard to play with them and keep them from snapping to surfaces, and their sensitivity is pretty low - to get them close enough to stuff that you can feel them pulling is to get them about half an inch from the point where they'll hit the thing they're grabbing. My coating hasn't come off yet but I've only had them for a couple hours. They can make my computer go to sleep, which I already knew was a magnets thing because I wear magnetically clasped watches. I don't feel like I have an interesting new sense, but I have an interesting if alas delicate fidget toy, and my roommates have played with them too. Would not buy again, do not plan to go through the hassle of figuring out how to return.

Comment author: taygetea 05 August 2015 08:05:58AM 0 points [-]

Does anyone have or know anyone with a magnetic finger implant who can compare experiences? I've been considering the implant. If the ring isn't much weaker, that would be a good alternative.

Comment author: Username 08 August 2015 05:20:37PM 1 point [-]

I have two magnetic implants, and would be happy to answer questions (see also the AMA I did about two years ago: https://reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1vvg7j/ ).

The sensations are as OP described, though mine are small enough that I don't have any issues with knives/ferrous materials moving to stick to my fingers. Judging by OP's 20cm range on microwaves, this smaller size is negated by the fact that my magnets sit a lot closer to the nerves - I believe we feel just about the same strength of fields.

Comment author: Elo 05 August 2015 12:35:30PM 0 points [-]

I have asked two to comment. will post up their replies.

Comment author: [deleted] 01 August 2015 04:22:58PM 0 points [-]

Some friends of my are into dancing holding objects burning on the other side - fans, pendulums and sticks - sorry, don't know what you call it in English:( Fire shows? Burning oneself is always a threat. Would you think it is possible to make safer (or showier) equipment using weak magnet shapes and crowns? To repel the lighted ends from the person's head, for example.

Comment author: Lumifer 01 August 2015 11:41:36PM 1 point [-]

sorry, don't know what you call it in English

Fire spinning or poi spinning.

Comment author: Thomas 31 July 2015 06:22:15AM 0 points [-]

Play with some (pure) golden items. Is there a way to sense them? Is there a way to influence them even?

Perhaps some prospectors will be interested in your findings.

Comment author: Elo 31 July 2015 06:42:56AM 2 points [-]

I have been near golden items. Nothing exciting happens. unfortunately.

Comment author: bbleeker 31 July 2015 06:42:54AM 0 points [-]

Nope, that doesn't work. Only metals that have iron in them are attracted to magnets.

Comment author: Thomas 31 July 2015 11:02:43AM *  1 point [-]
Comment author: bbleeker 01 August 2015 07:19:38AM 1 point [-]

Interesting! It's not the same thing as what happens when a magnet is attracted to a ferrous metal, though. As they explain in the comments, the magnet falling through the pipe creates a current in the copper, making it an electromagnet. That should work with *any * metal, also gold; but it identifies a metal only as a metal, you wouldn't be able to tell which one (maybe if you made sufficiently precise measurements you could tell by the strength of the magnetic field, but we're talking about someone wearing a magnetic ring, not about lab setups). You couldn't use it to tell if some ore contained gold.

But now I'm wondering what would happen if you drop a piece of non-ferrous metal through a magnetic pipe... A ring is a very short pipe though; to see any effects you'd probably have to film it and play it in slow motion, so it wouldn't be very useful for prospecting either.

Comment author: Thomas 01 August 2015 08:26:53AM *  2 points [-]

This is the basis for metal detectors, anyway. Golden pieces should have been detectable (and movable) by magnets, provided there is magnetic field, strong enough.

Some calculations just how strong and what the whole structure should have been - are necessary. But it should have been possible to make some magnetic gadget for gold "panning".

Comment author: Lumifer 01 August 2015 11:48:05PM 1 point [-]

it should have been possible to make some magnetic gadget for gold "panning".

Provided that gold is the only metal in your ore. That is usually not the case.

Comment author: Thomas 02 August 2015 07:21:38AM 1 point [-]

You are wrong here. Wikipedia has this to say:

Gold occurs principally as a native metal, usually alloyed to a greater or lesser extent with silver (as electrum), or sometimes with mercury (as an amalgam). Native gold can occur as sizeable nuggets, as fine grains or flakes in alluvial deposits, or as grains or microscopic particles embedded in other rocks.


Comment author: Elo 01 August 2015 09:04:21AM 1 point [-]

To form eddy currents you need enough metal in which to form them. If you have ever seen the experiment with the pipe above - vs the same with a slit in the pipe to lower the number of currents that can form - there is a considerable loss of currents forming.

Compared to natural ores - to be able to produce currents that can be felt is going to be difficult.

I have a few iron ore rocks that midly stick the the rings. but they barely support their own mass against gravity.

Comment author: Thomas 01 August 2015 09:52:38AM 0 points [-]

Compared to natural ores

Gold comes mostly in elementary gold particles, nuggets. That's why it's probably possible to fish it this way. (Perhaps a few people do just that and don't talk too much about it from obvious reasons.)

Comment author: Elo 01 August 2015 10:02:48AM 0 points [-]

Its possible. Seems like too much effort to get anything of worth.