back to article 'Magnet boy' freezes Xbox

Most kids dream of having a superpower, but we've never heard of any who actually had one. Until now. One 12-year-old boy claims to be magnetised and can zap games consoles and PCs. Can't see the video? Download Flash Player from Although he styled himself 'Magneto Man', Joe Falciatano from New York appears to be …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Waiting for the fanboys

    How long before a PS3 owner claims that BluRay is invunerable to static discharge?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Not unique

    Every sysadmin has dealt at least once in his career with a collegue who has tendency towards cheep synthetic underware with something equally synthetic and cheap on top. All of that washed without using a softener (most softeners like Lenor are antistatics as well). For added bonus a wooly jumper on top in winter.

    Secretary + nylon + wooly jumper = 5Kv+ static charge. Zzzzzzzzzzzzap and here goes another computer.

    His parents should change the washing powder and learn about the wonders of Lenor and other softeners.

    Paris, as the symbol of cheesy nylon underware

  3. Paul Durrant
    Dead Vulture


    I was reading this story and my computer froze - no mouse movement, nothing. It seems Joe's powers extend across the Internet....

  4. Daniel Wilkie

    "Funnier Consequences"

    Have you SEEN the movie? The only funny bits where the bits you saw in the trailer, if you haven't seen it save yourself while you still can and just watch the trailer instead :D

  5. Anonymous Coward

    I have special powers too.

    I have zapped 7 Xbox360's. All of them have started coming up with RROD after playing them.

    Looking on the internet, millions of other users have these same special powers.

  6. Glenn Alexander

    Personal bests...

    I was quite good at popping street lamps when I walked under them as a teenager :-(

    First time it happened it freaked me out quite a bit.

    The second time it happened some months later I was also rather unnerved. The third time it happened was the very next streetlamp after the second. Needless to say at that point I ran! Happily the rest of the streetlamps on the 4km route from my school to the train station were all fine. I was quite sympathetic to the worse-suffering main female character in Douglas Adams' "Long Dark Teatime of the Soul" when I read it several years after.

    I have since met two other people who have had one streetlamp blow as they passed under, buy my two-in-a-row still stands as a record amongst everyone I have ever met in person.

    My other favorite personal coincidence was when I was a teacher and pointed out the classroom window at the construction site across the road (forget exactly what I was pointing at or why) just as a gas cylinder on the site blew up in a bright, noisy but (happily, for the construction workers) harmless way. I never did manage to convince that class I didn't do it but at least they were easy to manage for the rest of the day!

  7. randomtask


    ...a load of shite!

    Tell him to lift his feet when he's walking.

  8. Ian Yates
    Paris Hilton

    Call me sceptical...

    but I don't believe the video.

    I'm sure it is possible for human's to hold unusual magnetic/electric charges, but that video just looks like a hoax.

    The keyboard is a bog-standard plastic one - how would his supposed magnetism affect his typing?

    If he was really that much of an affect on the computer, why doesn't it affect the notoriously sensitive CRT?

    Paris, because of her magnetic affects.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At risk of upsetting the fanboys...

    I'd have to save having the ability to stop an Xbox 360 working isn't exactly a superpower, myself and all of my friends with them all seem to have it too.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Taking bets

    If "magnet boy" crosses the room towards his 360, what are the chances that it RRODs before he gets there?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    You stewards of the local drinking establishment! From the title I thought this was about someone who had put a 360 in the freezer as a way of shutting those stupid bloody fans up inside it. Or frozen it so future man could work out why it does make such a racket! As for the hair raising gaming bit, maybe it had cooled so much it worked 20 times better than normal! God is it only 10am? No wonder I'm confused!

    As the 360 is a Microsoft product, and due to Redmond = hell, would an Xbox actually freeze???

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's his clothes

    Most likely his shoes; perhaps a loose insole that is rubbing and generating static charge when he walks.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Sticky Keys?

    Just seen in another forum but the kid keeps on pressing the ctrl key, and the keys are sticking, he even says Look Caps Lock isnt on...

    Its amazing that he fooled so many people for so long

  14. Adam Reiniger
    Paris Hilton

    Lamest superpower yet

    Meet "MagnetoMan"... a normal schoolboy by day, a kid who crashes his school's PCs by night.

    That is the lamest superpower to date. Although, give him a few years, a government controller person, and he'll be bringing evil regimes down. Unless, of course, he turns to the dark side.

    (listening to Virgin Radio this morning, they were talking to a woman on air who had so much static electricity that she set a petrol station on fire. Now that's an awesome superpower, although I'd hate to have to refill my car...)

    PH icon, cause I'd like to be magnetically attached to her.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    RE: Not unique

    Amen to that! When working for one company, I was always dealing with a user which had magic powers and could destroy a PC only by touching it. I sat and watched them work one day, and within 30 minutes of using said PC, it died. Moved him onto another, half hour later, it died too. The user was not doing anything unusual.

    Paris because she likes to watch the users.

  16. adnim

    @Paul Spooky

    Is Windows your OS? Is IE your browser?

    As sure as eggs is eggs is hardly spooky.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Definitely his clothes/shoes

    Yep, I used to get that too and it was shoes in my case, especially after walking on carpet. The static that leapt across my finger to whatever's grounded was unpleasant enough to force me to shell out for an expensive decent pair in the end.

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. this

    carbon based life form

    static electricity - possibly. magnetism? - definitely not.

  20. Robert Ryan


    I call shenanigans! There's no way that a static charge could have that kind of effect on a computer, you would be seeing the computer crash or at the very least the I/O circuit for the keyboard would get fried.

    And as Ian stated, what about the CRT? If the kid were really affecting things the way they were talking the CRT would definitely be reacting!

  21. Dave

    When I worked in IT I had the opposite power

    Everytime I was there the user couldn't make their computer which is 'completely broken' show any faults at all. Funny that.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I did this yesterday

    When I wear a particular pair of shoes to the office, I'm forever getting shocks off door handles. Yesterday I touched my laptop in its docking station in preparation for plugging in a USB key, and it had an immediate BSOD (happened before I plugged in the key!). Could be pure coincidence though, but I know I build up a lot of static in those shoes.

    Either way, anyone remember the kid in the movie D.A.R.Y.L. doing this?? Suspicious...

  23. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  24. Daniel


    I believe i've killed atleast 5 laptops doing this now, tried to wake from standby using the touchpad and ZAP! never worked again.

  25. Tim

    I remember D.A.R.Y.L.

    He could network with other computers wirelessly before wireless networking was invented! Oooh, clever!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Floppy Disk Destroyers

    My current BF has a similar power. He can erase/corrupt floppies just by touching them. He wears cotton clothes and doesn't get electric shocks so I'm guessing it's not an e.s.d. problem. He is also in IT and often would have to make 3 floppies to guarantee by the time he walked across the room one would still work. He doesn't have the problem with USB sticks so thankfully it's not much of a problem any more.

  27. Louis Cowan

    re: floppy disk destroyers

    When you say your BF touches the disk, do you mean he touches them with his hands, or a big spiky hammer?

  28. Funky Dennis

    @Floppy Disk Destroyers

    So your boyfriend has a floppy problem. Ooo-er missus!

  29. JK
    Thumb Down

    Everyone forgets...

    1) The computers never crashed

    2) Shouldn't the computers he used before be fried, not 'crashed' ?

    3) The only symptoms of his amazing powers were that SHIFT was constantly stuck.

    4) Plastic does not conduct electricity. Hence static should not affect the keyboard. Not unless you had enough static charge to say, take down an adult man, or something similar.

    5) The computers are using custom software. What prevents someone from just tampering with that so that 'magical' powers are displayed?

    Sorry, but this is just stupid. I love you El Reg, I do. But passing this off as anything more than complete BS is bad :(

  30. Eddie Johnson
    Paris Hilton

    Video rentals?

    Are there still video tape rental shops? I can't believe with $20 DVD players anyone still wastes their time rewinding videocasette. Ah, well, I guess there's always Appalachia.

    Paris. Because in addition to owning a DVD player she undoubtedly owns a DVD cam too, and even better, she knows what its for.

  31. Anne van der Bom

    Magnetism, static charge. Who cares?

    If you don't know your subject - don't write about it. Magnetism is not static electricity.

  32. Cameron Colley

    I have a similar power.

    I can make the image on a TV screen go blurry just by humming...

  33. Haku

    Static power

    Summertime + cars + me = zzzap, I've often in past summertimes gotten out of a car, gone to lock it up and got a nasty zap from the lock, to avoid this I would hold onto the key and let the spark jump from the lock to the key instead of me, however it's not funny when you go to fill the car up and get a zap from the fuel cap... I mostly ride an electric bike now (no, not static powered)

    I remember a few years ago seeing a news piece about a woman who would trigger store security alarms, her body would act like those magnetic security strips.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    When I was deathly hungover...

    ...and being a glutton for punishment, back at the bar again, I couldn't get the capacitive touchscreen games to recognize my touch unless I pressed really hard... Kind of spooky, like being half-dead. (Which is how I felt anyway) It's happened to me more than once, although I don't indulge like that anymore. So I suppose weird things can happen to the electric field that our bodies all have... I also remember having a surge of anger when I was a kid and having the light bulb in the lamp next to me explode... Coincidence? Probably, but it still freaked me out...

  35. fluffy
    Thumb Down

    @ Glenn Alexander

    You might want to read up on statistics, notably the Poisson distribution. The chances of any random event occurring during a limited time frame is greater than zero, and the more time frames you observe, the chances of observing the event go up to 1. So the more street lamps you walk under, the more likely it is to observe a street lamp popping.

    You only remember the time the lamp pops, not the 99.999% of lamps you walk under without popping.

  36. Charles Manning

    Shoes the most likely culprit

    I do a lot of work with static sensitive stuff and am well versed in the use of static mats, wrist straps etc. Last year I bought a new pair of running shoes with plastic soles. Whever I wear these I get static zaps all over the place. I've never had a problem when wearing other shoes. Luckily my work area is tolerant of working shoeless.

    People will blame their nylon undies, buit I really doubt that's going to be a problem. Stuff that is close to the skin is typically in a high humidity environment which neutralises statis. Nylon outer clothing is another thing entirely.

    For the paranoid, you can get ankle strap things that earth your skin to the ground by bypassing the sole.

  37. Chad H.

    @ waiting for the fanboys

    it seems you're already here, waits over

  38. Anonymous Coward

    @Shoes the most likely culprit

    I agree. It seems that all the time I get nasty shocks from doorknobs, I'm wearing a droid suit with matching black leather shoes.

    As for my special powers, well, Computer Empathy. And probably the ability to hear high-pitched sounds like the mosquito ringtone despite my age, and uncanny ability to recognize patterns.

  39. Seán
    Dead Vulture

    It's in the blood

    A guy who used to work for me has excessive iron in his haemoglobin to such an extent that the docs bleed him every month or so (like in the middle ages). He messes up watches and mashes anything static sensitive, as do his brothers. It's rare but not unheard of.

  40. Richard Hodgson

    Since when does...

    ...magnetic/electrical interference make the font in his office program huge and put up symbolic characters only?

    Seems a little 'made for cinema' to me.

  41. Echowitch
    Paris Hilton


    "I can make the image on a TV screen go blurry just by humming..."

    Yep we can all do that lol its because humming causes vibrations in your vision and et voila the tv appears to go blurry when in fact its just your vision :)

    Paris because she'd fall for that too :)

  42. Jonathan Richards

    @How would his supposed magnetism affect his typing?

    I can shed some light. I used to have a PC that would lock up when I discharged a static charge by touching the metal-framed desk upon which it sat. It was not necessary to touch any part of the PC, and experiment showed that if one lifted the keyboard away from the steel frame of the desk, the lockup didn't happen. I concluded that the keyboard circuitry was acting as an antenna, picking up the pulse from the discharge and channelling it into the PS/2 socket, causing the lockup (but no permanent damage).

  43. Tania

    @ Echowitch

    Are you American by any chance?

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