Magnetic fields in unexpected places

Howard Kaplan hkaplan at UDCVAX.BITNET
Fri Nov 5 16:49:32 EST 1993

This is a cautionary tale posted by a colleague of mine.  While it
isn't a research note, it certainly could impact the research of
many people.
                                Howard Kaplan
Description: Magnetic Fields in Subway Cars
Commuting on the Washington, D.C. Red Line this morning, I noticed, out of the
corner of my eye, something on the floor flash. As I looked closer, I
understood that what I saw was a paper clip. But I could have sworn that it
moved. A minute later, it did. It stood up on end, about 60 degrees from the
plane of the floor. It did this for about 5 seconds, and then fell to the
floor again. I watched this go on for about a half an hour... every time the
train would accelerate or decelerate, the paper clip would stand up at a rigid
60 degree angle until the train operator disengaged the (electric) drive
motors. It probably did this 50 times during my trip. Given that I had some
floppy disks in my pack, it made me kind of nervous. And knowing that I have
many times, under more crowded circumstances, stood just where that paper clip
was (almost exactly in the center of the rail car's floor) with my pack on
resting on the floor, I was kind of dismayed. And here I always blamed the
cheap floppies my office buys.

So I guess... well, you've been warned.

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