Why Astrophysicists Shouldn’t Build Things

Astrophysicist Daniel Reardon

Australian astrophysicist Daniel Reardon thought he’d turn his inventiveness to help humanity by inventing a device to help people learn not to inadvertently touch their faces.  His idea was to build a necklace with sensors which would respond to magnets worn on the wrists and buzz to alert the wearer when their hands approached the face.

Experimenting with neodymium magnets, clipping them to his earlobes and nostrils, he placed two magnets inside and outside each of his nostrils.  So far, so good.  But when he removed the magnets from the outside of the nostrils, the two inside attached to one another with his septum in the middle.  If you have played with these rare earth magnets, you know how strong they are and difficult to separate if they become stuck together.

Reardon tried to dislodge the magnets with pliers, but the pliers became magnetised  and shifted his entire nose toward them and stuck to the magnets.  He tried using another magnet to counter the attraction of the two stuck together, but it was pulled out of his fingers and stuck to one of the magnets in his nose.  He now had two magnets in one nostril, one in another, and was out of magnets.

He ended up in hospital, where doctors applied an anæsthetic spray and pulled out the magnets, filing this report.

Magnet noseman emergency room report

Here is the full story from the Guardian Australia, including the detail that he abandoned his invention when he couldn’t figure out how to invert the signal from the sensor in the necklace, which behaved opposite from the desired way.  Perhaps in the future he should stick to pulsars and gravitational waves, which are less prone to getting stuck up your nose.

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Author: John Walker

Founder of Ratburger.org, Autodesk, Inc., and Marinchip Systems. Author of The Hacker's Diet. Creator of www.fourmilab.ch.

10 thoughts on “Why Astrophysicists Shouldn’t Build Things”

  1. John Walker:
    Experimenting with neodymium magnets

    What could possibly go wrong?

    This illustrates why I never let theorists touch anything in the lab. To be on the safe side, they probably should be allowed in the room at all. Always be mindful of the Pauli Effect.

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  2. Obviously NOT a rocket scientist.

    Little kids and astrophysicists should be kept away from magnets and pieces small enough to be swallowed or inserted into body orifices.

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  3. The important thing in science is that the results are repeatable. If these results can be repeated this guy has a chance at the 2020 Nobel Prize.

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  4. Imagine if they had bee Tic-Tacs.  They could be anywhere by now!

    When I was a kid, my little sister and I decided that putting Pez in our (respective) noses was how to play at being dinosaurs.  Easier to put in than to get out.  I remember Dad calming Mom, telling her that it’s ust sugar and will ooze out as they melt away.  Sho ’nuff.

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  5. Haakon Dahl:
    Imagine if they had bee Tic-Tacs.  They could be anywhere by now!

    When I was a kid, my little sister and I decided that putting Pez in our (respective) noses was how to play at being dinosaurs.  Easier to put in than to get out.  I remember Dad calming Mom, telling her that it’s ust sugar and will ooze out as they melt away.  Sho ’nuff.

    How old were you?

    0

  6. Haakon Dahl:
    Imagine if they had bee Tic-Tacs.  They could be anywhere by now!

    When I was a kid, my little sister and I decided that putting Pez in our (respective) noses was how to play at being dinosaurs.  Easier to put in than to get out.  I remember Dad calming Mom, telling her that it’s ust sugar and will ooze out as they melt away.  Sho ’nuff.

    Gives a whole new meaning to the word mucopolysaccharides. Some sweet snot!

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  7. 10 Cents:

    Haakon Dahl:
    Imagine if they had bee Tic-Tacs.  They could be anywhere by now!

    When I was a kid, my little sister and I decided that putting Pez in our (respective) noses was how to play at being dinosaurs.  Easier to put in than to get out.  I remember Dad calming Mom, telling her that it’s ust sugar and will ooze out as they melt away.  Sho ’nuff.

    How old were you?

    It probably happened a couple of weeks ago.

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  8. drlorentz:

    10 Cents:

    Haakon Dahl:
    Imagine if they had bee Tic-Tacs.  They could be anywhere by now!

    When I was a kid, my little sister and I decided that putting Pez in our (respective) noses was how to play at being dinosaurs.  Easier to put in than to get out.  I remember Dad calming Mom, telling her that it’s ust sugar and will ooze out as they melt away.  Sho ’nuff.

    How old were you?

    It probably happened a couple of weeks ago.

    You are cruel.

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