Magnetic field musings

Every so often, I start reading about magnetic fields and thinking about science fiction concepts.

I was reading this article about what might happen to the animals if the magnetic poles reverse, and I found this interesting tidbit:

Numerous experiments undertaken by him and others since then have shown that many living things avail themselves of the magnetic field. Organisms as diverse as hamsters, salamanders, sparrows, rainbow trout, spiny lobsters, and bacteria all do it. “I would go so far as to say that it’s nearly ubiquitous,” says John Phillips, a behavioral biologist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University who himself has detected this ability in everything from fruit flies to frogs. (There’s no scientific evidence that humans have this “sixth sense,” though curiously, our brains do contain magnetite, the mineral thought to aid other animals’ brains in detecting the field.) (Emphasis mine)

I started poking around, looking for articles about what magnetic fields do to the human body. This article says generally, nothing, but there has been some correlation between sickness in humans and living in proximity to high-tension powerlines.

There’s also problems with what happens if people move too much during an MRI:

An MRI scanner is essentially a big magnet that produces a powerful magnetic field of around 3 tesla (or 3 million microtesla) — millions of times larger than the fields we’re normally exposed to. But because it’s a static magnetic field, MRI scanners don’t exert any noticeable effect on the body. That would change, however, if the patient inside the scanner were to rapidly move his or her head back and forth.

“Moving quickly induces a time-varying field, so by doing that you are inducing currents in different structures of your brain,” says Legros. Those currents may lead to nausea, loss of balance, a metallic taste in your mouth, or in some cases, magnetophosphenes.

I’ve heard other stuff about humans and magnetic fields, but I’ll be darned if I can find any sources for it. I’ll list it here, and just take it with a grain of salt.

Apparently humans get headaches and nausea if they’re isolated from the earth’s magnetic field for too long.

I saw a video of a fox pouncing in the snow to find mice. The photographer observed that the fox had better luck catching mice when he was oriented north/south.

Mammal brains have a particular electronic resonance at a certain frequency. This resonance is compatible with plant life and makes plants grow better when they are around animals and people. This seems to be what’s happening in the Mythbuster episode Talking to Plants, where they had greenhouses with recordings of voices talking nice to plants, voices cursing plants, heavy metal music, and silence. Heavy metal grew the biggest plants, but the ones with voices also thrived more than the ones with silence.

(And not being able to find sources for this is driving me nuts, but the internet is a cesspool of new agers selling magnetic bracelets, or SEO farms with AI-generated articles.)

Anyway, all this is more or less a springboard for some science fiction worldbuilding. Just say, in general, humans are attuned to Earth’s magnetic field and we need it to live and be healthy. Now, let’s talking about Jupiter’s magnetic field.

There’s a band of red near the north pole where the force lines emerge, but there are two blue areas, one near the equator that researchers dubbed “The Great Blue Spot” where they re-enter as well as another blue area near the south pole, in essence giving it two south poles. A large part of the magnetic field also appears to be concentrated in the northern hemisphere instead of being evenly distributed between the poles.

“It’s a baffling puzzle,” Kimberly Moore, a planetary scientist at Harvard University and first author of the study tells Ryan F. Mandelbaum at Gizmodo. “Why is it so complicated in the northern hemisphere but so simple in the southern hemisphere?”

Jupiter’s magnetic field is super weird and has two south poles

Jupiter’s field is so strong that it tends to short out probes we send to check it out. That’s why NASA tends to send more probes to Saturn than Jupiter, even though Jupiter is closer.

What might that do to humans who colonized those moons? Would a stronger field drive us mad or give us cancer? What if it made us smarter and stronger?

Now extrapolate that out. There’s lots of gas giants in the neighborhood of our solar system, and they all have loads of moons to live on. Imagine one gas giant that makes people super smart, and we built universities there. Imagine there was one that granted superpowers. Imagine there was one that enabled us to teleport, or “go between” as they did in Dragonriders of Pern. Imagine there was one planet that caused humans to go mad, without exception, and people avoided it like the plague.

Has anybody written books like this? And if not, I think I might have to write them.


3 thoughts on “Magnetic field musings

  1. Let’s see….random research/factoids/musings:

    1. I once watched an episode of “Home Improvement” that related to this, sort of. The neighbor explained to Tim Allen about why men rarely ask for directions–it had to do with men having more iron deposits in the nose than women, which leads them to think they know where they’re going. That comes back to me at odd moments.

    2. Listening to a sermon the other day, the prophet speaking was talking about the importance of speaking, because the earth is made to resonate to frequencies. There was a lot more on this, and he wasn’t really speaking about magnetic fields. But I know just enough about fields to start putting pieces together.

    3. There’s a film, either on Netflix or Prime, called “The Space Between Us” which I think is based on a YA book. Asa Butterfield, Gary Oldman. About a boy who gestated in space and was born on Mars, how being away from Earth impacted him.

    I am not, at this time, writing about magnetic fields and superpowers. But I have a scifi project I’m not ready to write, that will draw on some of this.


    1. That’s really interesting. I feel like we kind of sense magnetic fields, but we don’t really understand them. Like, a lot of it comes into folklore and stuff. But finding any scientific research on it is almost impossible because the search engines are flooded with junk articles that just repeat each other. Ugh.


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