Every kid grows up around magnets, so they're no big deal. Magnetism itself, and the ways in which we harness it (from the tiny, weak ones we put on our refrigerators to the tiny, scary neodymium magnets that can crush your bones from 6 inches away) are more or less taken for granted as well-trod scientific territory. Ho-hum.
But maybe that's just because unlike electricity, which manifests itself impressively, on a large scale in the form of lightning, or hydrodynamics, which frightens us daily with the ever-present threat of rogue waves, magnetism is completely invisible. And seeing the objects it has put in motion doesn't count. As such, we never get a sense of how dynamic, ever-morphing and, frankly, wild, magnetic fields really are. If we could see magnetism at work in its bare, physical sense, it would look astonishing...and kind of dangerous!
Check out this video, shot at UC Berkeley's NASA Space Sciences Laboratory in 2007. It features recordings of scientists from around the lab discussing their observations about magentism and magnetic fields, as well as actual audio of the electrons, set in motion by magnetic fields, chirping and whistling as they zoom around in infinitely fluid and changing geometric patterns.
Magnetic Movie from Semiconductor on Vimeo.
Enhanced with illustrations of what scientists think magnetic fields look like, the magnetic fields seem whimsical and deadly at the same time. Kind of like this thing.