You already know the strange powers
of Stephin Merritt, but today we're talking about real
magnetic fields. Powerful electromagnets, it turns out, can do remarkable things to the brain -- in this case, prevent a volunteer from reciting "Humpty Dumpty." The carefully directed magnets temporarily disrupt the brain's speech centers; the volunteer can still sing
the rhyme using different areas of the brain, but simply can't overcome a series of stammers when trying to merely recite it. Of course, it's not all mad scientist applications: the UK team experimenting with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) thinks it can help us understand and treat migraines (as we've seen before with the Migraine Zapper
, and ADHD, among other ailments. But improving physical well-being doesn't make for nearly as entertaining media -- see the British inflict some involuntary quiet time in the video above.