Science: Magnetism
Nano-magnets   (+4, -2)  [vote for, against]
Not the mythical little automatons, just plain ol' magnets, really small.

I have no idea what good they would do, but a collection of a few million nanometer-scale bar magnets, what with their attract/repel action, might be real interesting.
-- absterge, Mar 22 2001

Nanotech magazine
[cheeselikesubstance, Mar 22 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004] for anyone who wants to invest in nanotechnology [cheeselikesubstance, Mar 22 2001]

movie of a nickel nanowire magnet
you can shove single cells around... [xxxppp1, Oct 14 2005]

Nanometer-scale objects are atoms, and you wouldn't even notice a few million atoms (it would take a very strong microscope to see it). Besides, many atoms are already magnetized; what we think of as a "permanent magnet" is just a substance where all the little atomic magnets are lined up.
-- egnor, Mar 22 2001

hmm. ok, that's what I was wondering, if it were even possible to magnetize things that small. Maybe larger scale, then? like, millimeter magnets? individually, large enough to be (barely) visible, and able to hold a small magnetic charge. It'd just be neat to see how the entire soup of them behaves.
-- absterge, Mar 22 2001

Yes... soup! Mix them into someone's soup, and then see what happens when he or she eats it and then walks past metal objects.
-- PotatoStew, Mar 22 2001

this technique might be helpful in furthering TonicString Bodyfloss.
-- gnormal, Mar 22 2001

what about water? you do know each water molecule is polarized, having a positive and negatively charged ends. so, basically, the effect of these "nano-magnets" would be a skewed idea of the way water flows.

this is also why water has a skin.
-- ironfroggy, Mar 22 2001

Discover, or SciAm, ran an article about some guy who had the privilege of playing around with this black liquid that contained tiny magnets. He could pour it into a special tank that had electromagnets under it and then control the electromagnets via computer (natch) to make this liquid swirl and dance and slosh. It's very expensive, though, and as of that writing they hadn't come up with a good use for it.
-- centauri, Mar 22 2001, last modified Mar 23 2001

Water is indeed diamagnetic (though I've never seen it move in response to a magnet), but please note that magnetism and electric charge are very different; "having positive and negatively charged ends" does not make something a magnet, or magnetically susceptible.
-- egnor, Mar 22 2001

This would be fantastically useful, absterge - think nanocomputers! The idea is that atoms could be flipped to their positive or negative side to represent the binary 1 or 0. If that could be done with great accuracy, then we could have supercomputers so powerful they would make Deep Blue look like your old 16-bit Texas Instruments job AND be so small that they could fit inside a human cell. They would also process several hundred times faster than today's best chips. This is already pretty well baked in theory, but still soggy dough in practice.
-- cheeselikesubstance, Jul 16 2001

Another application: smart paper. This is another one already in the pipes of several companies, and we might see it out soon. Micromagnets (on the order of 1/1000 of a millimetre; nanomagnets would be 1/1000 of a micromagnet) are embedded on a page. Their positive sides are painted black, their negative sides white. Download your text, and the magnets roll over to show their black tops ("ink") or white bottoms ("paper"). Bind several hundred such pages together and you have a smart book. Text can be imported and exported at will. The idea is to make an e-book that really is a book. Few people want to balance their notebook PC on their knees when they're taking a bath. The Economist reviewed the present state of this technology in an article some months ago.
-- cheeselikesubstance, Jul 16 2001

I'd mix the stuff with paint to reduce the need for nailing things to my walls (you could also change the wallpaper, on a whim, in 15 minutes). Perhaps sheathing an electrical conductor in with NM would have some interesting consequences. Any ideas?
-- phoenix, Jul 16 2001

RE: Peter sealy Not just believed, proved. They even examined some microscopic bacteria and found a "magnetic spine" made up of 8 small magnetites in a sequence to form a mini bar magnet. They have also found the same hermetite in our own spines, in small quantities. Suggesting that at some stage we used to have the ability to navigate via a sort of sixth sense. But to make it work you would need to have your spine parrelel to the earths magnetic field and about 100 times more magnetite apparently. But all sorts of animals use it, from crabs to seagulls, pretty much any migratory animal uses it's own mental compass.
-- renwald, Jan 14 2002

Who are "They"?
-- thumbwax, Jan 14 2002

'Hermetite' is an instant-gasket material. I hope there's none of *that* in my spine.
-- angel, Jan 14 2002

I liked this idea better when it was called the "hard disk drive."
-- rapid transit, May 14 2003

'That black liquid' and possible 'hermatite' as well, are (i think) ferrofuid.
-- Herbicide, Apr 29 2004

I've compressed my extensive comments into this full stop.
-- xenzag, Oct 14 2005

random, halfbakery