Over the past few months, an amazing story about a little Croation boy who appears to be magnetic, seemingly able to lug around up to 55 lbs of metal objects clung to his body, has been making it’s rounds on the internet. But don’t call Professor Xavier yet, because the
league of evil mutants skeptics have a few things to say first.
Six year old Ivan Stoiljkovic, a pudgy little boy from the Northern Croatia city of Koprivnica, quickly became the talk of the town after his family discovered that their child was special. Ivan could hold silverware, cell phones, and even frying pans against his body, stuck there by some bizarre human magnetism. As if that wasn’t weird enough, his family also claimed that he possessed not only the powers of healing, but incredible strength, to boot.
‘When something hurts us, we ask Ivan to put his hands on the sore and the pain disappears in a flash,’ said Dragica, Ivan’s grandmother.
It didn’t take long before word of Ivan’s special talents spread, and soon he was a featured story in the UK’s Daily Mail, CBS News, MSNBC, and other mainstream news outlets. A video featuring Ivan displaying his talent, taken from a Russian news broadcast, has racked up half a million views on YouTube less than two weeks since being posted.
But there are many who aren’t quite so amazed.
Nature‘s Barbara Ferreira noted that in the popular YouTube video Ivan is seen “magnetically holding” a television remote control and a cell phone against his bare chest. Ferreira deduced that since both of these objects are plastic, which is obviously not magnetic, Ivan’s abilities have nothing to do with magnetism at all.
The cause of the young Croation’s amazing abilities? He’s just sweaty.
“If Ivan had indeed magnetic powers, he wouldn’t have the need to bend slightly backwards to keep the items stuck to his body. In fact, he could bend forwards and they wouldn’t fall,” Ferreira wrote.
She goes on to suggest that due to the natural oils of the human body creating a large, smooth surface area for chemical bonds, this kind of “magnetism” is something we’ve all experienced when pulling ourselves out of a leather or plastic seat.
“This is exactly what’s happening with Ivan. The skin on his young, hairless chest is very smooth and stickier than usual. Furthermore, all the objects he holds to his body, particularly the heavier ones, have very smooth surfaces. So they stick.”
This could easily explain why Ivan’s powers are said to be strongest in the early morning, when he’s covered with sweat and oil after a long night’s sleep.
Bummer. But hey, while little Ivan is may not be the real-life incarnate of the X-Men’s Magneto, he’s certainly on the fast track to becoming a different Marvel super-villain..
Visit Barbara Ferreira’s blog for more of her thoughts on magnetic children.