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Key Words: Astrophysicist hospitalized after getting four magnets stuck in his nose while making a coronavirus device

Do not try this at home.

An Australian astrophysicist put himself in the hospital last week after he got four magnets stuck up his nose while trying to invent a device to stop people from touching their faces during this pandemic.

COVID-19 has been commonly spread by close personal contact, such as shaking hands followed by touching your face, or by touching an object or surface that contains the virus, and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands. So Dr. Daniel Reardon, a research fellow at a Melbourne university, told the Guardian that he came up with the bright idea to create something to stop face-touching during “a bit of boredom in isolation.”

“I have some electronic equipment but really no experience or expertise in building circuits or things,” he admitted. But he had a piece of equipment that detects magnetic fields. And he reasoned that if he could create such a charged field around his head, and then wear magnets on his wrist, “it could set off an alarm if you brought [your hand] too close to your face.”

Instead, he accidentally created a necklace “that buzzes continuously unless you move your hand close to your face,” he said.

But Reardon, 27, wasn’t deterred just yet. So he continued “playing with the magnets,” such as clipping them to his earlobes.

And then he tried his nostrils.

“Things went downhill pretty quickly when I clipped the magnets to my other nostril.”

He explained that he put a magnet inside each of his nostrils, and then attached a magnet on the outside of each nostril — but once he removed the outer magnets, the two magnets inside of his nose stuck together, and refused to come out.

So then he tried to use his remaining magnets to extract them, and ended up with all four in his nose.

“At this point I ran out of magnets,” he said.

And when he tried to use (metal) pliers to pull them out, the pliers also became 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.”

So his partner took him to the hospital “because she wanted all her colleagues to laugh at me,” he continued. Two doctors were able to manually remove the magnets from his nose after treating him with pain-numbing anesthetic spray.

“Needless to say, I am not going to play with the magnets anymore.”

There was a minor complication during the procedure, however: after the doctors got the three magnets out of his left nostril, the fourth one in the other nostril fell down his throat. Fortunately, he leaned forward and coughed it out before he swallowed it.

“Needless to say, I am not going to play with the magnets anymore,” he said.

Consumer Reports warned about the dangerous attraction to magnets earlier this year, particularly among children. An estimated 2,900 people who swallowed magnets from magnet sets were treated in U.S. emergency rooms between 2009 and 2013, and 1,900 of the victims were ages 4 through 12.

Granted, not touching your face in order to avoid catching or spreading the coronavirus is indeed quite difficult, as the average person touches his or her face nine to 23 times an hour. But there are much easier ways to stop this unconscious habit than sticking magnets up your nose. Read some tips on how you can stop touching your face so often here.

And to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news, follow MarketWatch’s coverage here.