Sometimes all it takes is a little child-like wonder to remind you just how freaking cool magnetic fields are. We all use magnets daily in our cars and computers, but when was the last time you stopped to consider the awesome tricks they can perform? Like the one young science-lover Garrett introduces to Destin from Smarter Every Day at the start of this video, where you take a line of magnets and flip one to make the whole chain leap up and jump together instantly.
But if you think that's impressive, just wait until you see the kind of sorcery you can do with a brand new type of magnets, called polymagnets.
You know how in conventional magnets there's a north and a south side? Well, polymagnets are printed with a customisable pattern of both north and south ON THE SAME SIDE.
That means that while conventional magnets have a simple magnetic field looping round from the north pole to the south pole, polymagnets can create all kinds of detailed and complex magnetic fields with just a single magnet. And I know people say this all the time, but our minds are kinda blown by the possibilities.
The science behind the new magnets is lot easier to understand when you watch the video above, but basically, the fields look a little something like the image below, with a conventional magnet on the left and two different types of polymagnets on the right:
That sounds cool, but the reality is that these magnets are so new, that we're only just beginning to get an understanding of what they're capable of, and what their potential applications could be - not to mention all the inspiring tricks we can perform with them, like creating entire images out of magnetic fields (like the Smarter Every Day logo).
What's really impressive is that you can give these magnets puzzling abilities. For example, the spring latch, which is a set of two polymagnets that have been printed with specific north/south patterns so they can attract each other, but then at the last minute repel and can't meet.
That in itself is pretty awesome, but then if you twist one of the magnets, it suddenly snaps into the other one with such impressive force that it acts as a type of lock. Not only is that fun to freak out your engineering friends with, as Destin does in this video (nope, sorry engineers, it's not magic), but it could also make an incredibly futuristic door handle that shuts softly, but then closes firmly with a twist.
Polymagnets also happen to be pretty cheap to make and buy, and they could do some incredible things for medical research, physics, and chemistry. As Destin explains: "This technology is a fundamental breakthrough in manufacturing. This is a big deal."
Check out the video above to see the spring latch in action, so you can start to wrap your head around the possibilities of polymagnets. And get excited, because we're pretty sure we just witnessed the start of something really important.