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The Downfall of Buckyballs


How Buckyballs Fell Apart

Source: http://gizmodo.com/how-buckyballs-fell-a...

The magnets are powerful enough that if you ingest two balls separately they're going find each other no matter what, ripping you apart like slow-moving magnetic bullets if necessary to do so.

Stashed in: Magnets!

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Some children thought they look like candy. They are very dangerous when ingested:

The CPSC recently told the New York Times that since 2009 some 1700 children went to the hospital after swallowing high-powered magnets. Each one of those stories is horrifying.

As it turns out, the powerful magnetic forces that make the balls so much fun to tinker with also make them absurdly dangerous if they end up inside your body. As gastroenterologist Bryan Vartabendian explains on his blog:

When two are ingested they have a way of finding one another. When they catch a loop of intestine, the pressure leads to loss of blood supply, tissue rot, perforation and potentially death.

If that sounds bad, it's really a very mild, clinical description when compared to the reality. The magnets are powerful enough that if you ingest two balls separately they're going find each other no matter what, ripping you apart like slow-moving magnetic bullets if necessary to do so.

If warnings don't work—why do we put warning labels on anything?

This time, Maxfield & Oberton CEO Craig Zucker refused to roll over. Instead, he launched an aggressive Save Our Balls campaign to try to keep the business alive.

The CPSC's appeal to children's health was strong, so Zucker would need to win over public support with an ultra-libertarian view of personal responsibility and government regulation. Not only did Zucker refuse to stop selling his magnets, even as they'd been a proven menace, but he took an antagonistic stance against the government, comparing the dangers of Buckyballs to those of ridiculous targets like hippos and beds. Hippos kill 2900 people a year. 1600 die falling out of bed. Why don't we ban hippos and beds?

How Buckyballs Fell Apart

Amusing, sure, but profoundly tone-deaf given the effect his product was having on children. Still, Zucker continued this line of attack in an interview with Esquire last December:

The CPSC's argument is that warnings don't work. If that's the case, then we need to think of all of the current products on the market that are intended for adults that come with warning labels. Laundry detergent pods, adult-sized ATVs, balloons…

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