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It might be better to just get another gerbil.
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From the troubles of the world I turn to ... trivia, as so many 'Bakers do.
Button-up shirts have withstood change for thousands of years.
They have held on to us against attacks from zips, Velcro, T-shirts, press-studs, all of which have their weaknesses compared with cheap small buttons.
littlies and oldies, the disabled, and all-thumbs last-minute dressers have to accept zips etc on some or all occasions.
No sweat - but I visualise a magnetised plastic button in two halves.
In every other way except use, the system would resemble present shirt-buttons, including low cost, ease of sewing on etc. except that the lower half would be sewn on in place of the buttonhole.
An adhesive attaching system would be cheaper than sewing because a magnetic system would not require a "neck" of thread.
In effect the system would be a soft-touch press-stud system [SofTouch?]
I know of current-carrying plastic and of course flexible magnetised cards, and I know about ceramic magnets.
Cheap enough plastic to plastic magnets I haven't seen ... yet. They'll have many applications.
Australian Magnet Technology
Scroll to the bottom. "Switchable Permanent Magnet -- perfect Lifting Tool" [egnor, May 29 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]
Applied Magnetic Systems
"Electronically Switchable Permanent Magnets" in several flavors. [egnor, May 29 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]
Smaller (but not small enough for this purpose). "Models E900/1/3/8 are equipped with a push button 'on/off' control." [egnor, May 29 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]
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||I had already looked at these and similar sites. They offer metal to metal using rubberised granules, whereas I had plastic to plastic in mind. I suspect it hasn't arrived yet.
||Actually, I don't think buttons are all that old an invention. There's a reason the wealthy had other people to dress them: it's hardly practical for a woman to do up a drawstring on her own back!
||Believe it or not, there are switchable permanent magnets; see links. (I've seen one; they really do work. No, they can't be used to make a perpetual motion machine.) If they could be miniaturized...
||Thanks all. "Always a learner; seldom an earner."
||When you put the shirt in the washing machine, won't it stick to the side of the steel drum?
||If I hug someone similarly attired, how do I let go?
||Am I in danger of not being able to get out of a steel-lined elevator?
||Won't it be a bugger to iron? Clinging to the soleplate no matter how hard I shake it?
||If a large crowd of us wearing such shirts race around in a circle, could we generate a current?