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The Courts News Idle

Ohio Supreme Court Drawn Into Magnetic Homes Case 462

The Ohio Supreme Court will decide if a builder will have to replace magnetized parts of two couples' homes, even though they signed a limited warranty which did not specifically cover replacing positively- or negatively-charged building materials. After moving into the homes the couples found that something was not quite right. Their TV screens were distorted. Cordless phones ran into interference. Computer hard drives were corrupted. Soon after, it was discovered that steel joists in the homes had become magnetized."
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Ohio Supreme Court Drawn Into Magnetic Homes Case

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  • I have to wonder... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kiralan ( 765796 ) * on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:13PM (#37633830) Journal
    ... just how strong the magnetic field is, for it to affect the hard drive of a computer at any likely distance. It seems like metal objects would be flying through the air and sticking to the floor. Also, I have to wonder how a static magnetic field would affect most phones. Seems there would have to be an alternating field of some sort to do so. Finally, any links to the 'numbers' (field strength, gauss, whatever the proper term is)?
  • Re:Why replace? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:22PM (#37633890)

    No shit.

    The navy used to degauss whole fucking battleships in the second world war.

    You can even buy commerical degaussing wands for repairing old crt deflection plates reasonably cheap, now that crt is essentially a dead technology. My old employer had several for just this purpose.

    What I want to know is how the hell the joists picked up such a magnetic potential in the first place.

  • degauss it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bork ( 115412 ) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:25PM (#37633922) Homepage

    If its just a couple of beams, it can be degaussed using a arc-welded and a few wraps of the arc-welds cables around the beam. There is a more to the procedure but the tools are easy to obtain. Did this in the Navy, wrap a submarine in about 300 turns of cable and run a few thousand amps through them.

  • HDD BS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by retech ( 1228598 ) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @08:48PM (#37634078)
    I've got a bulk tape eraser. Which is an electro-magnet. Tried to erase a few laptop and 3.5 hdds with it. I could pick the drives up by it holding onto the scant bits of ferrous metal in them but was unable to blank any of them. I tried one drive for 3 minutes and it still booted an OS just fine. If they had beams that could corrupt their drives their keys, belts, zippers, furniture and every damn thing in the house with metal would be stuck to that wall before that drive got nailed. It's just normal lifetime use/failure of the drive.
  • Re:Why replace? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @09:20PM (#37634304) Homepage Journal

    Hmm. I lined my last house with tongue and groove pine boards and noticed that adjacent boards contained slices through imperfections in the original trees. This is because the boards are produced, processed, transported and installed serially. So maybe the metal structural components of the house have a shared history? If they get heated in a foundry the magnetic poles will be free to align against the prevailing field, which could be quite strong if there is a lot of DC current around. Then they get stacked and installed in the house, still in the same orientation relative to each other.

  • Re:Why replace? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by plover ( 150551 ) * on Thursday October 06, 2011 @09:53PM (#37634496) Homepage Journal

    And this would affect their hard drives and TV how, exactly?

    Seriously, if the beams were magnetic enough to cause the claimed damage to the contents of the house, they wouldn't have been able to separate them from each other in this construction pile you've theoretically stacked up. They wouldn't even have been delivered, because they wouldn't have been able to scrape them off the forklifts, or lift them from the truck beds. Other vehicles passing them on the roads would have been stuck to the sides of their trailers. Once delivered, the carpenters' hammers would have flown through the air, heads permanently affixed to the beams.

    Yes, they could be magnetic enough to disrupt a compass reading. The earth's field is maybe 60 microteslas, so it's not a high bar to pass. But strong enough to erase a bit in a hard drive? The coercivity of the media is about 1700 Oe for cobalt, which takes a lot stronger field than that.

  • Re:Why replace? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @10:20PM (#37634654) Homepage Journal

    A magnetized hull is detrimental to a number of electronic warfare devices. We're not so worried about mines, or even being detected, so much as we're concerned about the proper functioning of sonar, radar, gunplot, computers, etc ad nauseum.

    I have little idea whether TFS and TFA are accurate portrayals of the situation in Ohio, but I can say that the ships I served aboard had some interesting anomalies in navigation gear, tracking gear, and computers when the hull was highly magnetized.

    And, that doesn't touch on preservation. A steel hull, and an aluminum superstructure poses a real challenge in the prevention of corrosion. Shipbuilders use a bimetal thing to join the aluminum to the steel, but even so magnetic and electrical charges in the hull tend to cause problems. Electrical more than magnetic, but still, the magnetism is something that they take into account.

    To bad I didn't really study all this stuff when I was in. I am merely aware of the concern that the ship's officers and the hull tech people had about this stuff.

    TL/DR part - all that I'm certain of, is that we routinely passed through a degausing station when we returned to port. A couple times, we turned around and passed through it again.

  • Re:Why replace? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tragedy ( 27079 ) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @11:25PM (#37635064)

    I think checking alleged haunted houses for magnetic fields is standard procedure. The problem is, when they find the field, they decide it's evidence of paranormal activity.

  • Re:Why replace? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Friday October 07, 2011 @02:59AM (#37636118) Homepage Journal

    I bet magnetic crane abuse. A crane with strong electromagnet instead of hook is normally used to transport beams and other heavy elements between storage and cargo, but the duration is not enough to magnetize the beams. But if the operator decided to "have some fun" and waved the electromagnet above the beams in one direction several times, or otherwise abused the process - say, moving the "head" over the same bundle of beams multiple times on return trip after loading a bundle on a trach and going back for another, they could have become magnetized.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford