Minion #462.5 writes in with something that almost succeeds, except it fails, and fails quite badly.
Oh most dread and awful Czar (may thine enemies low-crawl naked across a mile of broken glass to pay homage to your shadow),
Fearing that the tide of media scientific ignorance waxes most annoyingly to you of late, I hesitate to point out the most recent bit of it…
ANTI-MAGNETS???!!! OMFG and WTF. No, really. (Apologies oh lord, for the caps!) I often fail to understand how journalists manage to dress themselves and successfully get to work every day.
Anti-freaking-magnets. I have this feeling that we’ll be seeing them on an infomercial soon, between the ShamWow and the Ronco Turnip Twaddler (which, by the way, was a lovely Christmas gift last year, sire, we still use it daily. On the cat.)
Working feverishly to expand the Greater Southeast Georgia Co-Prosperity Sphere
Hello, Minion! And good morning.
For people afraid to click on the story, here is the actual news within it. Following about two centuries worth of understanding on electromagnetism, some Spanish scientists took a break from being unemployed in their green economy to create a simple magnetic shield. By creating an electromagnetic field that radiates from an object, they can create a magnetic field that repulses rather than attracts. This has been in the works for some time, in fact, and one of the necessities for space travel, your species will soon find, is using just such a magnetic field to curve interstellar particles around space craft so that its occupants are not fried. The sun and Jupiter and Earth each have magnetic fields that help protect us here on the ground. This is hardly earth-shattering news.
No, the news is that a couple of guys claim to have figured out how to make a small one of their own. We shall see.
There, the whole story in a couple of sentences. This of course is not good enough for FoxNews, who really needs a longer story here to fill up the webpage with ads. So here are some elements that they added in:
- A photo, from Wikipedia, of a horseshoe magnet picking up a piece of metal. This is because few humans have ever seen a magnet in use. By the way, the story has nothing to do with horseshoe magnets.
- An opening sentence that references Magneto of the X-Men. This of course is here to advertise that Fox owns the movie rights to the X-Men. It fails to mention that Magneto is not actually one of the X-Men, but is generally opposed to them. It also states that he can shield magnetic fields, which is also incorrect based on the Czars having actually seen the X-Men movies.
- Examples of what conceptually related technology could do. One day, maybe. Except the story does not tell you exactly what the Spanish guys developed. Is it a field generator? A handheld device? A massive thing several hundred tons in weight? Who knows? Not the author, for sure. We do not actually know if this invention…or discovery…can do any of these things.
- Classic fearmongering…by God, if this incredibly helpful technology ever fell into the wrong hands, bad guys could use it to mess with credit cards or confuse security scanners in airports! Oddly, the author did not mention that people could use it to turn the Statue of Liberty into a mutagenic weapon…but then, the author evidently never saw the X-Men movies. Incidentally, this device would not deter magnetometers in airports, which shows a fundamental lack of understanding about magnetism.
- A small comment that the work is purely theoretical, and details will be published in a heavily technical journal that Fox will neither follow up on later or remotely even read.
- A reminder that you have lots of magnets in your home.
Of course, this is a classic editor-driven story. Hey, there is some RSS feed about a magnetic cloaking device or something, he emails, Get a story, and make it about 1,000 words long. Fine, says author Loren Grushknown for such quality work as announcing Star Wars is real, because Tatooine was discoveredand knowing that the Spanish scientists would only provide about 400 useable words, set about using Wikipedia to get 600 more.
By the way, you can read that story about Tatooine, and see almost the exact same template at work: an opening reference to a Fox movie, a short description of the actual news, a terse admission we lack anything more exciting, 60% filler material, and a few key movie facts wrong (Star Trek uses warp drive; Star Wars uses hyperspace). And a reminder you probably saw Star Wars, which was quite popular 30 years ago.
It is so easy to write science stories, eh?