Out of boredom stemming from self-isolation, a research fellow at Melbourne's Swinburne University decided to invent a device that would stop people from touching their face. All he had were four powerful neodymium magnets.
"I have some electronic equipment but really no experience or expertise in building circuits or things", said Dr. Daniel Reardon, the 27-year old physicist studying pulsars and gravitational waves.
"I had a part that detects magnetic fields. I thought that if I built a circuit that could detect the magnetic field, and we wore magnets on our wrists, then it could set off an alarm if you brought it too close to your face. A bit of boredom in isolation made me think of that", he told Guardian Australia.
However, he built the opposite --"a necklace" that would buzz continuously, unless "you move your hand close to your face".
Out pf boredom he started playing with magnets. "I clipped them to my earlobes and then clipped them to my nostril and things went downhill pretty quickly when I clipped the magnets to my other nostril".
He placed two magnets inside his nostrils, and two on the outside. When he removed the outer magnets, the two inside got stuck together. The physicist then tried to employ the remaining magnets to pull out the two, stuck inside his nostrils.
"At this point, my partner who works at a hospital was laughing at me", he said. "I was trying to pull them out but there is a ridge at the bottom of my nose you can't get past".
"After struggling for 20 minutes, I decided to Google the problem and found an article about an 11-year-old boy who had the same problem. The solution in that was more magnets. To put on the outside to offset the pull from the ones inside".
"As I was pulling downwards to try and remove the magnets, they clipped on to each other and I lost my grip. And those two magnets ended up in my left nostril while the other one was in my right. At this point I ran out of magnets", the astrophysicist said.
Dr. Reardon had another idea--to use pliers to pull the magnets out, but, those too got magnetized.
"Every time I brought the pliers close to my nose, my entire nose would shift towards the pliers and then the pliers would stick to the magnet", he said. "It was a little bit painful at this point".
"My partner took me to the hospital that she works in because she wanted all her colleagues to laugh at me. The doctors thought it was quite funny, making comments like 'This is an injury due to self-isolation and boredom'".
The doctors applied an anaesthetic spray and manually removed the magnets from Reardon's nose.
"When they got the three out from the left nostril, the last one fell down my throat". "That could have been a bit of a problem if I swallowed or breathed it in, but I was thankfully able to lean forward and cough it out", he said.
"Needless to say I am not going to play with the magnets any more", the 27-year old astrophysicist said.