Quick — think of a magnet! Chances are, you pictured your fridge adorned with postcards and letters. Or maybe you thought about snapping a magnetic pen on a dry erase board. These common uses are only the beginning when it comes to magnets! Below, we’re sharing some of the most unusual ways magnets are used all around us. 

Defoaming a Beer 

Did you know the foam you see is a result of fungi infecting the barley grains at the beer’s malt base along with surface proteins called hydrophobins; these hydrophobins are what latch to the barley making the drink bubbly! When hops, an antifoaming agent, are added, the hydrophobins bind to the hops before getting to the barley. Scientists found that when they applied a magnetic field to malt beer infused with hops, the magnetism caused the hops to spread out into smaller particles, making it an even more effective antifoaming agent. Although it’s a pretty cool process, you probably won’t see it being used at your local bar. 

Studying Honeybees 

In a honeybee sleep study, which you can read all about here, Dr. Barrett Klein, an animal behaviorist, created what he calls the “insominator” by attaching tiny, magnetic pieces of steel to one group of bees and placing them in a glass walled hive. He then put a panel of magnets on the wall, so that he could slide the magnet up the wall, waking up tired bees. Another group of bees served as the control group, or the well-rested insects, with nonmagnetic attachments. Researchers not only found that the magnet group woke up more often, but also found that these social insects are affected by lack of sleep in a way that is similar to humans their motor skills and ability to perform were highly affected. 

Getting Rid of “Off-Tasting” Wine

That unpleasant aroma or flavor you may experience with leftover or expired wine may be caused by a chemical compound called methoxypyrazine. A group of researchers were curious as to whether or not this compound could be taken out of the wine, so they experimented. By using bar magnets, magnetic nanoparticles were attached to the researchers’ polymers. Simply put, those polymers were then manipulated to target and remove the methoxypyrazine compounds. You can read about the whole experiment here

Keeping Cows Safe 

Did you know magnets are commonly used by farmers and ranchers to prevent Hardware disease, also called bovine traumatic reticuloperitonitis. When cows eat, they do not discern objects with their mouth leaving them prone to swallowing dangerous metal objects like nails or wire. If one of these sharp objects were to pass through the reticulum it can puncture vital organs, like the heart, causing pain and even death depending on where and how far the object travels. 

To prevent cows from developing Hardware Disease, farmers will place a single “cow magnet” in the stomach of a cow. The magnet will attract any metal objects to prevent them from travelling further through the body. However, this isn’t the only method of prevention. Beef Magazine says that the most important step, “is to keep wire and other metal objects out of feed.” In order to do this, many animal food processing systems use a magnetic device to filter out any possible metal debris. 

 Although we are sharing how magnets are being put in cows, magnets should never be ingested by humans. Even when it comes to cows or any other animal, a veterinary professional should be consulted before doing anything with a magnet. 

Creating a Magnetic Shark Barrier 

Scientists from the University of Stellenbosch have been searching for alternative ways to protect swimmers and sharks without harming them or other marine life. One way they’ve found is through a magnetic barrier that they call SharkSafe. The barrier would be made of a shield of permanent magnets placed in protective tubes and disguised as a kelp forest. When sharks tried to cross over it, they would be repelled by the applied magnetic field. According to a research fellow at Stellenbosch, the repulsion would cause no harm to the sharks, just momentary discomfort that is comparable to a human hearing a horn. The theory is that certain species of sharks are repelled by magnetic fields. This is reportedly due to the sensory organs that they have called the ampullae of Lumpini. The ampullae of Lumpini are a series of electroreceptors that line the head of sharks and detect electromagnetic fields.

Discover More with Apex Magnets

For some more fun, check out our article on some of the ways magnets have been misinterpreted in the media. For more magnet facts, crafts, and hacks, check out Apex Magnets’ blog!
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