This logbook entry from Destiny 2 states that

WARNING. Novel prion detected in body collagen. Hypothesis: Jovian magnetosphere promotes highly abnormal protein folding. Prognosis: massive sloughing/fraying of basement membranes, Loss of tissue binding, inhibited durotaxis of new cells, delamination of all body tissues into thin sheets. You will fall apart Like an old book.

In other words, Jupiter's magnetic field is causing the body to misfold proteins, resulting in what sounds like an even-nastier-than-normal prion disease - in other words, a misfolded protein that turns other proteins into misfolded proteins. Imagine a zombie apocalypse, but with the building blocks of your body.

While I'm unsure as to whether Jupiter's magnetic field is strong enough to do something like this, I am interested in the concept. Is it possible for a magnetic field to cause proteins to misfold in a way that makes those misfolded proteins capable of misfolding other proteins?

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    $\begingroup$ I plan to cancel my MRI schedule regardless doctors assurance ;p $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Dec 3 '21 at 1:19
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    $\begingroup$ No. Almost any chemical interaction will be vastly more likely to result in abnormal protein folding, and I've never heard of anyone getting a prion from drinking coffee (for example). MAYBE if there were large metallic cofactors. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Dec 3 '21 at 2:17
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    $\begingroup$ On further review, forget about cofactors. Just no. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Dec 3 '21 at 3:54

YT How Much Power Does Magneto Need to Rip Iron from Blood? - pretty entertaining to watch without sacrificing science

Fun fact, mentioned in the clip, moving inside the 7T field of a RMI makes you taste metal (by creating currents in your body strong enough to excite the nerves). Remember kids, if you ever wake up inside an MRI machine that you don't want to be in, moooove awaaaaay sloooowly!

"Human blood and human tissues is in the $-10^{-6}$ to $10^{-6}$ magnetic susceptibility" - that is, ignorable weak. So weak that, before any effects of the magnetic field start to manifest on the protein (and their folding), you will get intensities of the magnetic field that will make the actual chemistry of the elements in your body impossible (by modifying the shape and the energy of the electron shells)

  • $\begingroup$ And will likely give anyone a (likel fatal) seizure from random nerve activations. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Dec 3 '21 at 12:34

Probably it won't do harm.. at least not very quickly.. a few years ago some mad scientist won the IG Nobel for physics with levitation experiments in a magnetic field. The field applied was a lot stronger than Jupiter's, which is about 470 micro tesla at the equator. It took 16 Tesla's (!) to lift a live frog.. it survived the experiment,

enter image description here



  • $\begingroup$ I'm going to be a devil's advocate and point out that the frog was only alive at the time of the levitation, and it sounds like it was only "none the worse for wear" immediately prior to it. Prion diseases don't kill you quickly. $\endgroup$
    Dec 3 '21 at 0:59
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    $\begingroup$ LOL yeah it was the IG Nobel prize, not the real one. I also doubt, if the animal was observed systematically after the experiment. But it did not cause the animal to cook, or explode.. there were no drastic effects in a field 10e4 times as strong as Jupiter's.. Maybe that is because the frog does not consist of material that can be magnetized. Living tissue, mainly consisting of water. The molecules won't get aligned to the magnetic field lines, forcing deformation. Apparently you need 16 Tesla to let water react to a magnetic field.. and integrity of the tissue is preserved. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Dec 3 '21 at 1:06

Unfolding a protein it's pretty easy: a change to the environmental condition of that protein can do it, be the change temperature, pH, water concentration, etc.

Unfolding a protein in way that it keeps it active and even capable of transmitting that unfolding to other similar proteins is a completely different game. Since we have prions we know it can happen, but since we don't have as many prions as we have viruses (to the best of our knowledge) it's safe to conclude it is something very rare.

Therefore I doubt a random strong magnetic field can result in the right modification in the right place to achieve this result.


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