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Magnetic Fields - Electricity


by Roland Michel Tremblay


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Magnetic Fields Introduction


Magneto – X-Men

Charging Someone


Dispersing Energy

Moving Objects Around

Popping Popcorn

Interference with Computers, Cell Phones, TV, etc.

Least Conductive Materials

Definitions Related to Magnetic Fields : Ion (short version), Ion, Electricity (short version), Electricity, Electricity 2, Proton, Electron, Positron, Magnet, Electromagnetism, Magnetic Field, Circuit, Static Electricity, Static

Types of energy that people and objects have

     Kinetic Energy


     Potential Energy

     Rest Energy

Ideas about what a Magneto type of person could do in a story


Technology Related to Magnetic Fields

     Jacob's Ladder Devices (energy generator devices)


     Hall Effect

Comments – How to discharge Magneto




Magnetic Fields Introduction


This report is about magnetic fields and their interaction with humans and the environment. It will review the vocabulary and the importance of magnetic fields in science fiction.


mag·net·ism - noun

1.  PHYSICS attraction of magnets for iron: the phenomenon of physical attraction for iron, inherent in magnets or induced by a moving electric charge or current

2.  PHYSICS magnetic field force: the force exerted by a magnetic field

3. Attraction: the strong attractiveness of something, for example, the power of somebody's personality to influence others "He was a born boon companion, with a magnetism which drew good humor from all around him." Arthur Conan Doyle The Valley of Fear (1915)


Magneto – X-Men


I have not read the X-Men comic books but I watched the movie X-Men something like 10 times. I hope this is not by lack of attention but I cannot remember the script telling us anything about how Magneto got his power, which can be resumed as being able to create powerful magnetic fields and move around metal, even bend it relatively easily. Has he been subjected to a very powerful magnetic field in the first place? Possible. Is he made of metal himself, is he a magnet? Or else, how could he be able to create such strong magnetic fields?


Charging Someone


Question: Can someone become charged to a point that he or she can move metallic objects around and disperse energy?

I suspect that if someone was so charged with electrons that he would develop a magnetic field around his body powerful enough to send electric currents around and attract iron and steel, he would not survive. I guess we can bend the rules for a story, but let's keep that in mind. One of the characters must suggest that this is highly improbable, and then we should try to explain how this is possible. Now, that is a good question: How is this possible?


Let's see what the X-Files did. In the episode 3X03 D.P.O., a kid can conduct lightning and either kill people or cure them. He is usually strike by lightning and then he is fully charged. He can then kill at will or cure at will be conducting this energy that he controls. I do not believe they explain how this is possible. In the episode 6X07 Rain King, a weather man controls the weather depending on his moods and cannot control it. He is not charged or anything, and no explanation is given as to why suddenly it is snowing during summer and raining in the desert because of his temper and mood. So, no help from the X-Files, but at least we know that these episodes exist. What I can keep from it though is that a character could be causing lightning, even inside buildings, but he should not make it rain in the building because you would need clouds charged with electricity and filled with water/vapor. The atmospheric discharge could then make it rain, but outside.



light·ning - noun

Flash of light in the sky: flashes of light seen in the sky when there is a discharge of atmospheric electricity in the clouds or between clouds and the earth, usually occurring during a thunderstorm


fast:  very fast and often very sudden


But here I am getting away from the subject, and I do that because often it strikes inspiration. The question was: how could we explain that someone becomes electrically charged and how is this possible? Maybe that someone should be walking outside, perhaps at night, and suddenly a big fire ball (like in Tin Tin) or lightning from the sky should strike him and then he would be charged. The fire ball is better, it could come out of nowhere in the distance and come towards him as he would be trying to avoid it. Why is he still alive? Because it was not that strong a shock even though he is now electrified.

I guess that many other ways are possible, any electric shock, anything electrical exploding, any discharge from power stations or other could charge someone.


Dispersing Energy


How can he be dispersing energy? By passing close to other sources of electricity, any exchange of electricity between him and some objects would do. You need to take into account that another source of electricity needs to be involved. Either it is an object that is plugged in, or the power lines outside or attached to the building, or anything else that is a source of electricity. An exchange of electricity between two sources is necessary (our hero being one). Lightning or an electric current comes from an exchange of electrons (or more specifically of ions) going from a positive to a negative pole and vice versa. That is what can cause a magnetic field, the circuit or exchange of electrons (ions) from one pole to the other. When an object is fully charged with positive or negative energy, that object becomes a magnet (usually a metallic object).


Moving Objects Around


In order for someone to be magnetic (which is difficult to justify because that person is not metallic), he needs to have a negative pole and a positive pole, and energy going from one pole to the other around him. Any iron or steel object caught in that field will be attracted to him. He could also be completely positively charged or negatively charged. And it is by coming into contact with something charged negatively or positively, depending, that suddenly a repulsive or attractive field could be created, pushing objects around.

I suspect you won't have to explain too much of this in your story, but that should help to describe what happens and how it should happen. It could also be triggered by the moods of the character (highly interesting for the plot). If he is not happy, suddenly all hell breaks loose and electric currents goes in every directions where there is an electrical power source. If he is happy, he attracts things and they are coming from nowhere to hit him. He could even attract close to him someone he might like (he or she could be wearing iron jewelry or something made of metal).

It is quite important to be familiar with what is an electrical circuit, particularly that it cannot be wireless, and that it is different from a magnetic field capable of attracting and repulsing objects. You will find below some more definitions and vocabulary to use in your story (ion, electricity, magnet, electromagnetism, magnetic field, circuit, static electricity, static).


Popping Popcorn


To pop popcorn these days you need to heat them with hot air, hot plates, hot oil or butter, or microwaves (radiation/light). The popcorn needs to be heated and could also be heated by electrical currents. Therefore the popcorn could be either in a popcorn machine that would overheat because the charged person would have stroked at the power source, or, more difficult to justify, an electrical current travelling from our hero to a power source happens to strike a pot of popcorn somewhere in between. What is important here, is that the strike or lightning cannot just come out of the character and go directly to the popcorn or any other object. The popcorn will need to be near a source of electricity. The electrical current could not go to a metallic pot containing the popcorn, there is no electrical charge contained in that metallic pot. The metallic pot can only be caught in the magnetic field created by the electrical current/circuit and then move around. 


Interference with Computers, Cell Phones, TV, etc.


Our Magneto could interfere with TVs and computers at two levels. Because it is electric and plugged in, the exchange of electricity would make the TV or the computer explode or short circuit. The second level that concerns all three (including mobile phones), the magnetic field created by this constant exchange of ions could interfere with the radio-waves that the phone and the TV are using. The magnetic field could also interfere with the frequency at which the computer monitor is broadcasting its images and you would see the monitor screen flicker. Note that the mobile phones would not explode or short circuit as they are not connected to any electrical source. At the very least the character would interfere with the radio-waves, so the reception of a signal. If really necessary the mobile phone could overheat and melt (the radio-waves would have then reach the frequency used by microwaves oven and the cell phones would become small microwaves, which is at the center of the debate right now about if cell phones are safe or not for the people).


Least Conductive Materials


Here is what we usually use to isolate electrical objects: porcelain, ceramic and rubber. They are the least conductive materials of all.


Definitions Related to Magnetic Fields


The particles in the body of our hero are charged with positive or negative ions. We should be talking about electrons and ions. Please read the definitions below to help you better understand and give you some vocabulary.


Ion (short version)

i·on (plural i·ons) noun

electrically charged atom or atom group:  an atom or group of atoms that has acquired an electric charge by losing or gaining one or more electrons

[Mid-19th century. From Greek ion, literally "moving thing," from the present participle of ienai "to go," from the movement of any ion toward the electrode of opposite charge.]



Section: Positive and Negative Electric Charges

    A neutral atom or group of atoms becomes an ion by gaining or losing one or more electrons or protons. Since the electron and proton have equal but opposite unit charges, the charge of an ion is always expressed as a whole number of unit charges and is either positive or negative. A simple ion consists of only one charged atom; a complex ion consists of an aggregate of atoms with a net charge. If an atom or group loses electrons or gains protons, it will have a net positive charge and is called a cation. If an atom or group gains electrons or loses protons, it will have a net negative charge and is called an anion.

    Since ordinary matter is electrically neutral, ions normally exist as groups of cations and anions such that the sum total of positive and negative charges is zero. In common table salt, or sodium chloride, NaCl, the sodium cations, Na +, are neutralized by chlorine anions, Cl. In the salt sodium carbonate, Na2 CO3, two sodium cations are needed to neutralize each carbonate anion, CO 32, because its charge is twice that of the sodium ion.


Electricity (short version)

e·lec·tric·i·ty - noun

1.  PHYSICS energy created by moving charged particles:  a fundamental form of kinetic or potential energy created by the free or controlled movement of charged particles such as electrons, positrons, and ions

2.  ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING electric current:  electric current, especially when used as a source of power

3.  anticipation or tension:  a feeling or atmosphere of excited anticipation or tension



Section: Properties of Charges in Motion

   Electrodynamics is the study of charges in motion. A flow of electric charge constitutes an electric current. Historically, the direction of current was described in terms of the motion of imaginary positive charges; this convention is still used by many scientists, although it is directly opposite to the direction of electron flow, which is now known to be the basis of electric current in solids. Current considered to be composed of imaginary positive charges is often called conventional current. In order for a current to exist in a conductor, there must be an electromotive force (emf), or potential difference, between the conductor's ends. An electric cell, a battery of cells, and a generator are all sources of electromotive force; any such source with an external conductor connected from one of the source's two terminals to the other constitutes an electric circuit. If the source is a battery, the current is in one direction only and is called direct current (DC). If the source is a generator without a commutator, the current direction reverses twice during each rotation of the armature, passing first in one direction and then in the other; such current is called alternating current (AC). The number of times alternating current makes a double reversal of direction each second is called the frequency of the current; the frequency of ordinary household current in the U.S. is 60 cycles per sec (60 Hz), and electric devices must be designed to operate at this frequency.

    In a solid the current consists not of a few electrons moving rapidly but of many electrons moving slowly; although this drift of electrons is slow, the impulse that causes it when the circuit is completed moves through the circuit at nearly the speed of light. The movement of electrons in a current is not steady; each electron moves in a series of stops and starts. In a direct current, the electrons are spread evenly through the conductor; in an alternating current, the electrons tend to congregate along the surface of the conductor. In liquids and gases, the current carriers are not only electrons but also positive and negative ions.


Electricity 2

Section: Properties of Electric Charges

    According to modern theory, most elementary particles of matter possess charge, either positive or negative. Two particles with like charges, both positive or both negative, repel each other, while two particles with unlike charges are attracted (see Coulomb's law). The electric force between two charged particles is much greater than the gravitational force between the particles. The negatively charged electrons in an atom are held near the nucleus because of their attraction for the positively charged protons in the nucleus.

    If the numbers of electrons and protons are equal, the atom is electrically neutral; if there is an excess of electrons, it is a negative ion; and if there is a deficiency of electrons, it is a positive ion. Under various circumstances, the number of electrons associated with a given atom may change; chemical bonding results from such changes, with electrons being shared by more than one atom in covalent bonds or being transferred from one atom to another in ionic bonds (see chemical bond). Thus many of the bulk properties of matter ultimately are due to the electric forces among the particles of which the substance is composed. Materials differ in their ability to allow charge to flow through them (see conduction; insulation); materials that allow charge to pass easily are called conductors, while those that do not are called insulators, or dielectrics. A third class of materials, called semiconductors, conduct charge under some conditions but not under others.



pro·ton (plural pro·tons) noun

stable nuclear particle:  a stable elementary particle of the baryon family that is a component of all atomic nuclei and carries a positive charge equal to that of the electron's negative charge. Symbol p

[Late 19th century. From Greek proton, a form of protos "first, elementary."]



e·lec·tron (plural e·lec·trons) noun

elementary particle:  a stable negatively charged elementary particle with a small mass that is a fundamental constituent of matter and orbits the nucleus of an atom



pos·i·tron (plural pos·i·trons) noun

electron antiparticle:  an elementary particle of antimatter that has the same mass as an electron but the opposite electrical charge. Also called antielectron

[Mid-20th century. Coined from positive + electron.]



mag·net (plural mag·nets) noun

1.  piece of metal that attracts metal:  a piece of metal, often bar-shaped or U-shaped, that has the power to draw iron or steel objects toward it and to hold or move them

2.  electromagnet:  an electromagnet

3.  source of great attraction:  somebody or something that has a great power of attraction over people

[15th century. Directly or via Old French magnete , from Latin magnete , from Greek Magns lithis "stone from Magnesia," an ancient city in Asia Minor at which magnetic stone was mined.]



e·lec·tro·mag·net·ism - noun

1.  magnetism from electric currents:  magnetism produced by an electric current

2.  interaction of electromagnetic forces:  the branch of physics concerned with the interaction of electric and magnetic fields and with electromagnetism


Magnetic Field

mag·net·ic field (plural mag·net·ic fields) noun

magnetized region of space:  a region of space surrounding a magnetized body or current-carrying circuit in which the resulting magnetic force can be detected



cir·cuit - noun (plural cir·cuits)

1.  circular path:  a route or path that follows a curved course and finishes at the point at which it began

8.  ELECTRICITY route for electricity:  a route around which an electrical current can flow, beginning and ending at the same point


Static Electricity

stat·ic e·lec·tric·i·ty noun

stationary electric charge:  a stationary electric charge that builds up on an insulated object, for example, on a capacitor or a thundercloud. Also called static



stat·ic adjective

1.  motionless:  not moving or changing, or fixed in position

2.  PHYSICS of forces not causing movement:  relating to forces, weight, or pressures that act without causing movement

3.  PHYSICS involving statics:  relating to, involving, or characteristic of statics

4.  ELECTRICITY involving stationary electric charges:  relating to, involving, or characteristic of stationary electric charges

5.  BROADCASTING caused by electrical interference:  relating to or caused by electrical interference in a radio or television broadcast

6.  COMPUTING not needing to be refreshed:  retaining its contents without having to be refreshed by the central processor (refers to a random-access-memory computer chip)


1.  BROADCASTING electrical interference:  electrical interference in a radio or television broadcast, causing a random crackling noise or disruption of a picture

2.  ELECTRICITY See static electricity

3.  opposition or interference:  criticism, opposition, or unwanted interference by somebody else (informal) - getting a lot of static from the boss

[Mid-19th century. Via modern Latin from Greek statikos "causing to stand," from statos "standing" (see stato- ).]

-stat·i·cal·ly adverb


Types of energy that people and objects have


If someone is to be charged with energy, it helps to know what types of energy a body can have. Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. Only moving objects have kinetic energy. Potential energy is the energy something possesses by virtue of its position (we all have potential energy). And rest energy is the energy something possesses by virtue of its mass (we also all have rest energy). Please see the definitions below.


Kinetic Energy

ki·net·ic en·er·gy noun

energy of a body caused by motion:  the energy that a body or system has because of its motion. Symbol T Symbol Ek



ki·net·ic  adjective

relating to motion:  relating to, caused by, or producing motion

[Mid-19th century. From Greek kinētikos , "for putting in motion," from kinein , "to move" (see kinesis ).]


Potential Energy

po·ten·tial en·er·gy noun

energy stored in body or system:  the energy that a body or system has stored because of its position in an electric, magnetic, or gravitational field, or because of its configuration. Symbol V Symbol Ep


Rest Energy

en·er·gy noun

energy equivalent to rest mass:  the amount of energy that is equivalent to the rest mass of a particle or object, usually given in electron volts


Ideas about what a Magneto type of person could do in a story


Someone charged with energy and electricity to the point that this person could create magnetic fields could do many things like:

- Juggling with metallic objects without touching them.




tel·e·ki·ne·sis  noun

power to move things:  the supposed psychic power to move or deform inanimate objects without the use of physical force

-tel·e·ki·net·ic  adjective

-tel·e·ki·net·i·cal·ly adverb


-Finding a light bulb from a flashlight or other and light it just by holding it in his hands. (The analogy are those two metallic filaments that you insert in an apple or a citrus and the light lights because of the acidity of the fruit)

-The person is filled with energy, perhaps positive in one hand and negative in the other. He can power anything that uses batteries or electricity. The magnetic field generated by this makes him a magnet. So he can also move any metallic object.


Technology Related to Magnetic Fields


Jacob's Ladder Devices (energy generator devices)


And a nice image on this page (they are selling them!):



A Jacob's Ladder is the type of high voltage display seen in many old (and usually bad) sci-fi movies. Jacob's Ladder come in all shapes, styles, and sizes. Here is info on a common type that is easy to construct with readily available parts. However, read the section: Jacob's Ladder SAFETY before attempting to power any high voltage project of this type.

Basic Components

There are only two major parts to a basic Jacob's Ladder: a high voltage power source and a pair of wires or rods arranged in a narrow V configuration on an insulated and fire proof support. You will need 12 to 15 KV AC at 20 to 30 mA. However, the exact values are not at all critical. A neon sign (luminous tube) transformer is the usual source for this power though an oil burner ignition transformer will work in a pinch (some say better and cheaper) or you could build an inverter type power supply.



Theory of what it would take for a human to become “magnetic.” Discuss Hall Effect – but so far only documented in transducers. Never humans.

trans·duc·er  (plural trans·duc·ers) noun

1.  PHYSICS device that converts energy:  a device that transforms one type of energy into another, for example, a microphone, a photoelectric cell, or an automobile horn

2.  BIOLOGY biological converter of energy:  a biological entity that converts energy in one form to another, for example, the rods and cones of the eye or the hair cells of the ear

[Early 20th century. Formed from Latin transducere "to lead across, transfer" (see traduce ).]


Hall Effect

Interesting page about Hall Effect:

Related: Physics

Experiment that shows the sign of the charge carriers in a conductor. In 1879 E. H. Hall discovered that when he placed a metal strip carrying a current in a magnetic field, a voltage difference was produced across the strip. The side of the strip that is at the higher voltage depends on the sign of the charge carrier; Hall's work demonstrated that in metals the charge carriers are negative. Today it is known that this negative charge carrier is the electron. The Hall effect has again become an active area of research with the discovery of the quantized Hall effect, for which Klaus von Klitzing was awarded the 1985 Nobel Prize in physics. Before von Klitzing's work it was thought that the amount of voltage difference across the strip varied in direct proportion to the strength of the magnetic field the greater the magnetic field, the greater the voltage difference. Von Klitzing showed that under the special conditions of low temperature, high magnetic field, and two-dimensional electronic systems (in which the electrons are confined to move in planes), the voltage difference increases as a series of steps with increasing magnetic field.


Comments – How to discharge Magneto


We cannot really say that the energy in Magneto's body has been converted, because the energy in our body is electrical. I suppose that we could talk about the fact that the energy in Magneto's body has been amplified, he is now very conductive, and this high level of electrical energy has created a magnetic field around him that gives him the chance to act like a magnet. That could be used to explain what happened to him.

How that happened? A big electrical boost, that's all. Now, to get him back to normal, we need to find a way to discharge him. When an object is full of energy, we usually ground that energy into the soil.


12.  ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING electrical connection to ground for safety:  an electrical connection to the ground intended to carry current safely away from a circuit in the event of a fault, or a wire that makes such a connection. U.K. term earth n.6

But I think we just send the big burst of energy into the soil when the boost happens. I am not certain about if the energy is already there in him. Perhaps he just needs to canalize this energy somewhere else. I thought that perhaps they could place him in a machine that is a huge magnet. By running the machine it could zap all the surplus of energy out of his body.

Perhaps he should just be suffering from a high dose of energy, so he can have formed an electrical circuit all by himself. I would not say that he is positively or negatively ion charged, just that he is charged. So he can actually be attracting and repulsing objects, which he could not really do if he was only positively charged. To complete the circuit we would need a negative pole somewhere.

Another solution: he is full of energy? Let him drain himself through a lot of physical exercises. He could run until the energy is out, he must be hyperactive too. This solution could at the very least be suggested by someone. It is not interesting because it has nothing to do with science.

Otherwise, we need to operate a transfer of energy from Magneto to something absorbing energy. Any idea? Let's plug him into a machine that uses energy, like if he was a power generator. We need to simply get that energy out of him like for any old charged battery that keeps going and going. (We should compare him to a big battery at some point!)


Roland Michel Tremblay

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