A London mum's magnetic field apparently causes her grief in all walks of life. The photographic evidence is a little suspect, however.
Today's Mail runs a cracking story - the human magnet. Brenda Allison of North London has such a strong magnetic field that she interferes with electrical equipment and can even stick metal objects to her skin. There's even a brilliant photo of her with a spanner, a key, hairclips and a selection of coins stuck to her body.
At this point I hold up my little card with "BLUFF" written on it. This page 5 lead story is a bit suspicious.
Putting aside whether humans can generate electric and magnetic fields strong enough to interact with their environment in meaningful ways, the photo itself is a bit of a giveaway. Fortunately it's chemistry that can explain this pretty easily.
Magnetism arises from the electrons in atoms of certain materials. Each electron has its own magnetic field, but they have to pair up whenever possible. These pairs move in opposite ways from each other, meaning their magnetic fields cancel out.
Some materials, however, have a single lone electron that can't pair. When this moves into a magnetic field, it aligns itself and reinforces the field - this is called paramagnetism, which is what makes materials like steel magnetic.
So if there are no unpaired electrons, you get an (almost) zero magnetic effect. One example of this is brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, and what £1 and £2 coins are made of.
Back to the photo: what coins are those stuck to the human magnet? This photo goes against the laws of... err... chemistry, as the brass coins are apparently interacting with a magnetic field. Same with the brass-looking key and picture hook.
I'm gobsmacked by this apparent disproval of quantum mechanic. Should this photo be real, it seems to sweep away established scientific theory. I'd be about as surprised as if someone actually claimed the £1m pound prize for a chemical-free product.
Comment in the Mail story about this phenomenon is provided entirely by one person: Kathy Geminiani, an electrotherapy expert, director of the Bemer Health Centre in Surrey. Bemer, or BEMER as it's known elsewhere on the net, stands for Bio-Electro-Magnetic Energy Regulation. The explanation from the Bemer Health Centre's website:
The fundamental principle of BEMER therapy is that the signal influences electrically charged particles, or ions, which are found in all living organisms. A properly pulsed electro magnetic field interacts with the cells in such a way that the cells are energetically enabled to do what they were meant to in the first place.
Once the body has the energy available to heal itself - incredible results are possible.
I strove to find definitive testing of the BEMER theory and could find none in the established literature. I couldn't tell you it doesn't work as I don't have proof. What I can say is that according to science as we understand it, I suspect the only attractive force sticking coins to Brenda Allison of North London is glue.