Joyce Saves the Day – Again – Thanks to Her Refrigerator Magnets

Image courtesy of BuzzFeed

Image courtesy of BuzzFeed

Fans of the Netflix original series Stranger Things know there’s nothing Joyce Byers won’t do to keep her son Will safe and sound. In season three of the smash hit, she couldn’t have done that without the help of her demagnetized refrigerator magnets (and a seriously succinct lesson on electro-magnetic fields from the boys’ science teacher, Mr. Clarke).

So what, aside from a huge electro-magnetic pulse specifically designed to re-open the gate to the Upside Down, could cause magnets like Joyce’s to lose their magnetism? We’re glad you asked! There are actually a few things that can cause a magnet to become demagnetized, which we’ve outlined below, but first a quick lesson in magnets:

Remember that everything around you is made of molecules, which are made of atoms, which, in turn are comprised of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Electrons generate a magnetic field, but they usually spin in pairs, with each one spinning in the opposite direction of the other, cancelling out their magnetism. In magnetic materials, some of the atoms include unpaired electrons that can line up with each other and turn the whole atom into a mini-magnet. To learn more about How Magnets Work, you can visit our blog, but now let’s get back to demagnetiziation.

Three things can cause a permanent magnet to lose its magnetization:

  1. Heating a magnet above its Curie temperature changes the structure of the magnet, pumping it full of energy and causing the unpaired, aligned electrons to spin out of alignment. This loss of alignment causes demagnetization.
  1. Dropping or smashing certain types of magnets, including Alnico and magnetic steel, sends so much energy through the electrons inside are forced out of alignment, demagnetizing the material.
  1. Exposure to a strong magnetic field. Yup, this is what happened to Joyce’s fridge magnets. See, some magnetic materials can withstand exposure to magnetic fields without becoming demagnetized. Others, like Alnico and ceramic magnets, can lose their magnetism when exposed to electromagnets and coils (like the one the Russians were using on the show). Magnets can also lose their magnetism when stored improperly, with the repelling forces too close together.

So how do you prevent your magnets from becoming demagnetized? First, turn down any relocation offers that would land you in Hawkins, Indiana. Also, you might consider a magnet keeper that attaches to the magnetic ends of your magnets. And always store your magnets “paired” with opposite poles touching each other.

alnico storage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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