Every once in a while you find out something that you are amazed you didn't know.
Yesterday the thing I was stunned to find out I didn't know was that the "Big Island" of Hawaii is, in fact, huge! Hawaii and Alaska are never drawn to scale on the maps I grew up with, so I seem to have assumed Hawaii was Bermuda-sized (about 20 square miles). Quite to the contrary, Hawaii is 200x larger! At about 4,000 square miles it is about 3/4 the size of a state I'm more familiar with, Connecticut.
And just the day before I was reading an article about Columbia and was appalled to see they had identified the wrong country in the accompanying inset map. When I double checked with a little Googling I was horrified to see it was I who was in error. For some reason I'd thought Columbia was not coastal, and was in fact more where the Amazonas province of Brazil is.
While I can't say I've ever made errant decisions as a result of these areas of ignorance, I must confess feel a deep chagrin that I could be so wrong about such a thing.
I just stumbled across an article on the Daily Mail (in the UK) about The Human Magnet, a mother who allegedly has a power to attract metal and set off nearby car alarms. I thought it must have been an April Fool's Day story, but unless the Brits celebrate that day on the 22nd of August, this is frighteningly intended as serious journalism. The reporter is however only the second stupidest human involved in the story, the doctors and "eletrotherapists" involved are collectively tied for first place, and the human magnet herself comes in third (since her stupidity is at least not professionally endorsed). It beggars belief that all these idiots can entertain this nonsense for even a moment.
Many of the objects which are clinging to her are clearly non-ferrous (no iron)! Aluminum, brass, and other metals which do not contain iron are not attracted by magnets! And while non-ferrous material can certainly be magnetized it requires a monstrously powerful magnet such as is used in an MRI machine to achieve the brief feat of re-orienting the electron spins of every atom in that object! Even if we entertained for a moment that her body was somehow capable of doing such a thing, one could hardly escape noticing rather more dramatic side-effects than she has reported. Car alarms, cash registers, and coins that stay attached to her for 45 minutes while she's dancing would be the least of it.
And of course one can't help but notice that every item which is "magnetically" attached to her in the provided photo is on a slope where friction can act! Objects are on her sloping forehead, not hanging under her chin. Objects are on her sloping bosom, not hanging off her dangling arm. She may be a lady with particularly sticky sweat, akin to an ant's or salamander's ability to climb a wall, but a magnet she ain't! And anyone who is slightly more intelligent than an idiot could take a $0.10 Cracker Jack's compass and 1.5 seconds to rule out magnetism. Of course if you did that I'm sure the explanation would magically shift to some sort of electrostatic attraction or some sort of previously unrecognized nuclear bonding force.
Anyway... Scientific outrage cycle complete. I can enjoy and stomach a lot of fringe science and wild claims, where real phenomena is being observed and we just haven't been able to fully establish the cause. But many a sensible 12 year old has the scientific background to disprove this story in minutes, so why can't these people???