There exists a curious and consistent trend of prepubescent boys claiming to be magnetic. In 2011, there was six-year-old Ivan Stoiljkovic of Croatia, and before that, there was seven-year-old Kolya Kruglyachenko of Russia. On Monday, Bosnia’s own “magnet man,” a five-year-old named Erman Delic, joined the club.
Like all of the boys — and hairless men, for that matter — who claim to be magnetic, young Delic is decidedly not.
Human magnetism, while it would be amazing, is not real. Think of the last time you hung a spoon off your nose: It was a mixture of adhesion and gravity that relies on the stickiness of skin and the angle of your posture that held it up — not your innate magnetism.
In 2011, Benjamin Radford, author of “Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries,” told *NBC that hairless skin and a bit of sweat does not a magnetic boy make. “When you look at the things involved in these cases, they’re all smooth,” Radford said. “They’re glass, they’re plates, they’re metal. You don’t see rough surfaces. You don’t see steel wool.”
Besides having smooth, sticky skin there’s not much of an explanation for Delic’s abilities. There’s no material in a human that has the potential to be magnetic; even surgical implants, though metallic, are made with non-magnetic materials, such as titanium. Extra stickiness might be observed on people who sweat more, who experience more shots of adrenaline, are less fit, or have overactive glands.
A demonstrated way to defeat these real-life Magnetos among us, is to use talcum powder. A mineral made from magnesium, oxygen, and silicon, talcum absorbs moisture, and cuts down friction. It’s good for keeping the skin dry, and bad for retaining magnetic powers.