Seven Weird and Wonderful Ways we use Magnets
1. MRI Scanners
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging and these are devices used in hospitals to create images of what's going on inside our bodies. It's the combination of a strong magnetic field in conjunction with radio waves that allows us to get much more detailed images of areas such as cartilage, our joints and muscles, and it's become a powerful diagnostic tool that has helped save many lives.
- Killing Germs
Germs that cause problems such as MRSA can certainly be life threatening. New research has produced a coating with magnet like properties that are able to attract dangerous bacteria and kill them. This is proving useful for everyday things like contact lenses but could also, in the future, help stop surgical tools and other hospital equipment from becoming tainted with germs, something that could have a huge impact on patient welfare.
- Making Better Computers
Our computers and smartphones nowadays use silicon and information is transmitted via electrons but it has limitations. Spinotronics uses the inbuilt magnetism of these electrons and is set to revolutionize computers and take us to the next stage of development. We've gone as far as we can with silicon and the technology of the future may well be driven by entirely different systems which not only make our devices work faster but greatly improves what they can do.
- Magnetic Micro-bots
Scientists are also creating mini-robots that are capable of capturing and transporting single cells. These microscopic manmade entities can be triggered by a magnetic field and are able to mimic the shape and behavior of certain things like amino acids which could be useful in understanding the response of certain cells. It's early days but this could have a major impact on how we deal with conditions such as cancer and other diseases.
- Helping Produce Clean Energy
There's been a huge revolution in the last couple of decades with clean energy. In some states, you can't travel too far without seeing a wind turbine turning on the horizon. We're now developing more efficient tidal energy plants as well and it might not be too long before we see these being built around coastal areas.
- Origami Robots
Robots that can fold themselves into different shapes have been an obsession for many researchers around the world. In the past, these robots needed to be connected to a reliable electricity supply in order for them to work which naturally reduced their effectiveness. Now scientists have found a way to get robots to fold using magnetism, independent of an electricity supply.
- Magnetic Security
Finally, not everything to do with magnets is hi-tech. A magnetic stud has been developed for bikes that can help stop individual parts being stolen, it can be inserted into bolts and prevents a tool being inserted to disconnect and steel a wheel or seat. The stud is easily removed with a small key in a matter of seconds. It's hoped that the simple, magnetic device will reduce parts thefts which are becoming more prevalent particularly in city areas.