Magneto is the arch enemy of the X Men, as portrayed in the Marvel comics and in the series of blockbuster movies.  The arch villain’s powers focus on his ability to generate and control magnetic fields.   But how true is this?

Controlling magnetic fields and magnetism is notoriously difficult.  Unlike radiation, you cannot put a block of metal in front of a magnetic field to stop it.  It may help deflect some of the magnetism, but then the block, which would have to be steel, would itself become magnetic.

Companies manufacturing equipment utilising Magnets, like Bunting Magnetics Europe, commonly design the circuitry to focus the field in a specific direction.  This then enables the separation of magnetically attracted materials such as steel cans.  The video on Bunting’s YouTube channel shows an Overband Magnet picking up a small steel bolt.

So, in theory, if Magneto was a variable pillar of pure steel, there may be some chance of him being able to channel magnetic fields.  It would help if he was also in the shape of a flat steel slab, but then his costume might not fit as well.

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The ability to generate magnetic fields is something really special.  The most amazing magnetic field is generated by a core of molten rock at the centre of the Earth.  Also, very strong magnetic fields are generated by superconducting magnets like the MRI scanner.

But, for a magnetic field you need:

  • An electric current passing through a coil to produce an electro magnetic field;
  • A material like Neodymium Iron Boron that is able to retain magnetism when charged via and electromagnetic charger;

Unless Magneto has something hidden under his costume, I don’t think he has either.

I suppose that, sadly, Magneto’s powers are pure science fiction, but I still wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley.  Thank goodness for the X-Men!

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