Do I have magnetic superpowers?
May 28, 2008 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Do I have magnetic superpowers?

So, when I go to a restaurant, I often find that by touching my fork and knife together on the table and pulling on one, it drags the other one along with a light magnetic attraction. I ask my table companions to try theirs and their utensils are not magnetized. The first few times this seemed like a weird little fluke, but it has now happened consistently for several years. It always happens that the silverware in front of ME is magnetized, but not that of my table companions. This has happened in various restaurants in various US states, various seating arrangements, with small and large groups of companions.

So, um, what's up? Can someone explain this to me scientifically or should I start avoiding kryptonite?
posted by Alabaster to Science & Nature (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Are yours magnetized every time? Do you ask them to try it when yours are NOT magnetized? If yours are only magnetized say, one out of ten times, and you eat with 3 other people, chances are that if you only ask them to test when you've found yours to be magnetized, theirs will rarely be magnetized.
posted by duckstab at 4:47 PM on May 28, 2008

So if you touch a knife and fork, you magnetize them? What happens if you get a little tiny fridge magnet - does it stick to you? Can you make paper clips jump from the desk into the palm of your hand? Or is it just restaurant cutlery?
posted by PercussivePaul at 4:47 PM on May 28, 2008

Data point: I recently noticed this about myself, although just at one restaurant so far. (I also made choo choo train sounds while pulling the cutlery across the table.) No one else at the table had silverware capable of this.
posted by emelenjr at 5:21 PM on May 28, 2008

Response by poster: Emelenjr, do you have the other half of this amulet?
posted by Alabaster at 5:23 PM on May 28, 2008 [8 favorites]

Just so you know, you're not the only one: Kyle & the Magnetized Fork

Do you wear any kind of ring or watch? When you're at a restaurant, are we talking about tables with tablecloths? You mentioned that it's been happening consistently - does this mean you can do it on command (as in, "yo Alabaster, do that flatware trick you always do")? Lastly, does this only happen with flatware? As PercussivePaul asked, do you ever magnetize other metal objects?

By the way, when you decide to conquer the world, your costume is all ready
posted by jammy at 5:25 PM on May 28, 2008

The next step, scientifically, would be to record what happens at every restaurant you eat at to see how often it is. Make sure you check with your companions even when yours is not magnetized. When yours is and theirs is not, try your hand with theirs to see if it is you, or simply your cutlery. Keep a record of every meal, put it in a spreadsheet.

Discard any data that doesn't support your case, and then you're a proven Magneto Warrior.
posted by twirlypen at 5:28 PM on May 28, 2008

The only way to accurately answer your question is to set up a controlled experiment. It would have to be devised and carried out by an impartial party. Maybe your local college has a class that would do something like this as part of the curriculum.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 5:42 PM on May 28, 2008

A google search for "magnetized silverware restaurant" turns up US Patent 6667689,
"A silverware detector for detecting magnetized silverware in refuse ..." Perhaps your silverware was mechanically rescued from the trash.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 6:08 PM on May 28, 2008 [3 favorites]

About 10 years ago, I was in a restaurant and noticed this same phenomenon happening to my fork and knife. I asked the server about it. They mentioned to me that they had a large magnet in their trash chute that catches all of the silverware when they scrape the plates off. Over time, this causes some of the older silverware in their arsenal to become magnetized. Newer silverware has to take several trips down the chute and onto the magnet in order to become magnetized, and it does not come magnetized from the factory.
posted by xotis at 6:21 PM on May 28, 2008 [10 favorites]

What everyone else has said about the fact that you likely only check when you've already noticed your silverware is magnetized is dead-on. I only write to add that I too have witnessed this phenomenon at least once before (maybe twice, but I don't remember clearly enough), though I don't usually check.
posted by ErWenn at 7:53 PM on May 28, 2008

If it is coming from YOU then you should be able to magnetize everyone's silverware at the table, right? Next time it happens and you notice the silverware is magnetized ask the person to you left to switch places with you and observe the results. Otherwise you are just getting the lucky magnetic knife and fork.

Heres a deeper question, do you think that a knife and fork that are oppositely charged have a greater chance at being placed together at the table?
posted by outsider at 11:10 PM on May 28, 2008

I used to work in a restaurant and I also remember the giant magnet in the trash thing to keep from losing the silverware. That could be the culprit. Do you magnetize anything but silverware?
posted by fructose at 9:58 AM on May 29, 2008

*we also had one of those magnets in the trash in the school cafeteria growing up.
posted by fructose at 9:58 AM on May 29, 2008

I first noticed my ability to magetise things about ten years ago. My job involved working with small metal probes and I noticed that mine was magnetised while nobody elses was. Since then, I've noticed that any steel tool that I use for any length of time becomes magnetised. I magnetise screwdrivers and scissors. I was using scissors one day and placed them in the desk drawer and when I pulled them back out, a chain of twenty or so paperclips was dangling off of them. My co workers were baffled. Does this happen to anybody else? I also tend to erase any floppy disks that I handle. I discovered this the hard way after losing lots of valuable information. I was also wondering, if magnets supposedly have healing powers, might I have a healing touch? Just a thought.
posted by eraser at 9:21 PM on January 9, 2009

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