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What is the strongest magnetic field a human could survive?

  1. Jun 13, 2015 #1
    So i was reading about how the magnetic fields of a neutron star are so strong that they would kill you at a certain range because it would affect the shape of atoms and mess with body chemistry.

    So what is the maximum number of teslas before a human would die, and how many teslas before you start to become ill? I imagine it would kill you by messing with your brain first.

    I realize I wont get a precise number but i am looking for educated guesses, so thanks in advance
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  3. Jun 14, 2015 #2


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    It depends on what you are doing. Moving through magnetic fields induces electric currents, those become an issue before a static magnetic field leads to issues.
    MRI systems go up to ~7-10 Tesla. Moving through/in that field too fast or even being in there can lead to dizziness.
    Relevant article

    The frog levitation experiments work with fields of ~15 tesla, apparently without serious problems for the frogs. Hard to ask them how they feel, however.
  4. Jun 14, 2015 #3

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    I don't think anyone knows. Fields we can generate today in the laboratory are not fatal, and it's not obvious that they produce any health affects whatever.
  5. Jun 14, 2015 #4


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  6. Jun 14, 2015 #5


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    Based on figure 1 (the first four data points), I think this conclusion is questionable.
  7. Jun 17, 2015 #6
    First of all thanks for the responses so far. However, I meant when not moving through the magnetic field. However, the electrical currents caused by magnetic induction brings up another question--mainly what magnitude field could you survive if you were moving through it, and what part of your body would fail first? Would the electrical currents generated cause cardiac arrest by damaging nerves?

    Also I have been doing some reading about the effect of magnetism on chemical processes. It seems likely that if you were exposed to a powerful magnetic field for a long duration, it would start to affect the operation of enzymes in your body or perhaps even lead to replication errors. A powerful enough magnetic field, like 10-20 T, could affect the electrons in molecules during reactions and lead to a different probability distribution of chemical byproducts, although this is just a hypothesis. Any thoughts?

    http://pac.iupac.org/publications/pac/pdf/2009/pdf/8101x0019.pdf [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  8. Jun 17, 2015 #7


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    I don't think it is possible. Blood flow is up to 40 cm/s. I would be more inclined to think physical effect would kill you before chemical ones.
    I also am thinking of the heart, not only its movement, but all the bio electric signals it depends on (synapse and so forth).
    A huge magnetic field is likely to break all these subtle equilibrium.
  9. Jun 17, 2015 #8
    Thats a fair point although the neurons arent moving so really only the blood will be affected by the induction, unless you're saying that electric current will travel from the blood, through the nerver, to ground thus creating a voltage potential across the body. But blood has fairly high resistance so not much current is going to be travelling through the body. And realistically 40cm/s isnt that fast, since walking speed is like 2m/s. A very high magnetic field could polarize neurons though.
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