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News Could We Stop ISIS with Magnets?

  1. Oct 6, 2014 #1
    Hi people,

    so i literally made an account to ask this question, i know many of you might think what i am going to ask is incredibly inane, but i just have to know.

    Is it conceivable, or even in the realm of possibility, that we could fly an incredibly strong magnet over areas where ISIS is fighting, and, quite simply, suck the guns out of their hands? I guess my question, then, is, can guns be pulled by magnets (if magnetic strength was not an issue)?

    Also, assume that the incredibly strong magnet isn't shot down by any soldier.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 6, 2014 #2


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    Staff Emeritus
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    Welcome to PF, ACuriousChild!

    I understand the intention behind your question. But, unfortunately, the answer is no. Strong magnets would not work like you think they would, for many reasons. Like, even if such a magnet existed (it doesn't) and we could somehow get it to fly, how would it not suck itself to the ground when flying over ferrous material?

    But I appreciate your thinking. If only it were so easy to deal with ISIS!
  4. Oct 6, 2014 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    The main problem is that the force from the magnetic field decreases as the distance from the magnet increases. And not only does the force decrease, it decreases extremely quickly, following what's known as the inverse-cube law. In a nutshell, this means that if you have an object 10 feet away from a magnet, and you move that object out to 20 feet, the object will only feel 1/8th of the force that it felt at 10 feet. Move it to 40 feet and it only feels 1/8th of 1/8th, or 1/64th the strength that it felt at 10 feet. So even with an extremely powerful magnet, you'd still need to be terribly close to them for it to work.

    Of course, this all assumes that the guns are magnetic in the first place. I don't know if they are or aren't.
  5. Oct 6, 2014 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    With the answers given, the thread is closed.
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