Magnets have been around for hundreds of years. The naturally occurring magnetic stone, lodestone, has been linked as far back as 600 B.C., and magnetic compasses appeared around 4th century B.C. China. Magnets and their uses have greatly evolved since those times, however. Now, magnets are stronger, more versatile and more common━appearing in almost every piece of technology that exists today. Looking back on 2014, we can’t help but remember some of the innovative and interesting magnetic developments that have happened. In honor of this past year, we have compiled a list of the most interesting magnetic developments of 2014.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation isn’t technically an emerging magnetic development for 2014. In fact, this non-invasive form or therapy that uses electromagnetic pulses to targeted regions of the brain has been around for centuries. However, how it is being used did evolve this past year. Recent studies have suggested that this form of magnetic therapy may be an effective way to treat some cases of depression and to improve memory.

Magnets in Football Helmets

Head-to-head collisions account for roughly 60% of concussions in football. The high-contact sport is often plagued by player concussions even with helmet protection. Raymond Colello, a researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University has been experimenting with ways to make football helmets more effective in preventing head injuries. Colello is experimenting with neodymium magnets in helmets, making them act like repellants that will lessen the force of impact when players collide.

Magnets and Cleaning up Oil Spills

Another innovative and beneficial use of magnets, is Arden Warner’s magnetic oil spill cleanup solution. Oil is toxic to wildlife and ecosystems when spilled and finding an efficient and effective method to clean them up without harming the ecosystem is a challenge. Warner’s method would use magnetic oil and high powered magnets to pull oil out of water and other contaminated areas.

Magnets and Nanotechnology in Medicine

Earlier this year, Google’s secret lab, Google X revealed one of its new and innovative projects━a device that would use magnets and magnetic nanoparticles to diagnose and treat diseases faster. Magnetic nanoparticles would be placed in the bloodstream and the magnetic wearable device would quickly detect and alert you if anything in your body changed, signalling a possible illness.

With these four magnetic developments emerging in 2014, one can only imagine what we’ll see next in 2015. Are there any magnetic or scientific innovations that you think should be added to this list. And what are your scientific predictions for the new year? Feel free to share them with us in the comments!