You know those bumper stickers that say “My kid is an honor student”? Well Ivan Stoiljkovic’s parents need one that says: “Our child’s remarkably attractive.” Because the Croatian couple’s six-year-old supposedly has magnetic powers. Whenever he takes off his shirt, family members claim that metallic objects ranging from forks to frying pans stick to the youth’s chest.
Really? I wondered skeptically as I began the story.
Really. At least according to the Daily Mail. And, sure enough, when I clicked “play” on the accompanying video, there stood Ivan with an assortment of eating utensils sticking to this chest. The chubby boy reminded me of Gibby from iCarly. Only younger.
Ivan’s grandmother says that it all started as a joke after they saw a story about another supposed magnetic boy on TV. His grandfather adds that Ivan’s always been different.
But that different? After all, I’ve met plenty of attractive kids in my life, but none of them are actually magnetic. Could Ivan really take the place of the family fridge when it comes to displaying the artwork he likely creates in school?
I decided to google “magnetic boy” to see if I could learn more. One of the first links that popped up was to a piece on Discovery.com that featured another little boy, this one a seven-year-old Serbian child named Bogdan. I immediately wondered if that was the story that prompted Ivan’s claim to magnetism. Same kind of situation—silverware and the like sticking to a chubby boy’s chest. Only Bogdan’s parents took the story a bit further. They claim that the child can’t even go near items such as computers, because if he does, they’ll stop working.
Like his parents want to do once Bogdan becomes rich and famous thanks to his “magnetic” abilities? I wondered.
Apparently, I’m not the only one who’s skeptical. The Discovery article said that understanding this phenomenon does not require in-depth knowledge of magnetism, but rather a simple understanding of the physics of friction. For that’s what’s really behind both situations.
“So-called magnetic people have a few characteristics in common. First, they have very little hair on their bodies… This is important because any hair that comes between the skin and an object placed on the skin will reduce the friction.
“Second, magnetic people seen in photographs and videos with objects on their body tend to lean back slightly, or stand more or less perpendicular to the ground. If there really was some sort of unknown or magnetic force holding the objects to the body, the person should be able to lean over. It’s also true that Bogdan is a bit chubby, and thus some of the weight of the spoons and other objects on his chest is actually resting on the upper part of his protruding stomach.”
That’s certainly what seems to be the case with Ivan, especially with the frying pan stunt. I’m not sure how I feel about the parents of such children. Are they exploiting their kids, or simply having fun and getting them their 15 minutes of fame?
Either way, the video is one I watched more than once. But not because I was trying to discern whether or not Ivan was really magnetic. But because it’s not every day you see a kid holding a skillet on his chest. With 25 kilograms of weight inside of it!
Check it out for yourself.