The building blocks of resistive magnets are Bitter disks, also called Bitter plates. Named after their inventor, Francis Bitter, these round, CD-thick plates of copper alloy are stacked by the hundreds into cylindrical coils that conduct electricity and generate high magnetic fields.
But to those with a little imagination, these artful medallions have endless other uses. Thanks to their variety of sizes (from a few centimeters to about a meter wide), patterns (each disk is peppered with holes and slits that accommodate tie rods or allow cooling water to flow through) and colors (silver or copper, which oxides beautifully with age), they inspire applications in the home, the yard, on sports fields and elsewhere. Almost anything can be better with a Bitter!
Here are a few of our ideas. Tell us about your own inventions by tweeting us @NationalMagLab.
Need to prevent your post-surgical pooch from pulling out stitches? Save the expense (not to mention the canine embarrassment) of those clunky, plastic abominations and outfit Fido with a Bitter disk collar. Just because your furry friend is recovering from surgery doesn’t mean he needs to look like a Conehead!
$19.55 | €18.21
Your loved ones’ lovely smiles will shine all the brighter surrounded by the metallic glow of a Bitter disk! Just tape the photo to the back of the plate, positioning faces appropriately inside the hole of the disk. Insert a nail or tack through one of the handy cooling holes, attach to the wall and voilà!
$39.95 | €37.22
Why use the same old, boring squares to play hopscotch? Put a new, circular twist on this age-old pastime by laying down a trail of large Bitter disks instead of those démodé chalk squares. Fussy children will also be able to keep their fingers clean. Toss your stone and hop away! Act now, and receive a FREE tossing rock!
$29.95 | €28.03
On your next taco night, wow the family with this impressive taco holder. This disc has been artfully crafted into a wavy shape to create the perfect receptacle for this corn-based cuisine. Everything tastes better on a Bitter!
$42.35 | €39.46
Move over, Horseshoes, and make way for the Bitter Toss. Drive a couple of poles into the ground and compete with friends and family to see who will be the first to get a ringer. The smaller your disk, the more points you earn.
$99.95 | €93.12
When that frozen pizza comes out of the oven, there's just one more step between it and your family's gaping maws: Divide it into slices! Just roll a small Bitter disk across that cheesy expanse and problem solved. It's as simple as pizza pie!
$19.95 | €18.21
Have you done something virtuous today? Don't wait for your inattentive spouse or boss to notice. Crown yourself with a Bitter disk halo so all may know of your noble righteousness.
$13.55 | €12.62
Keep pests (both furry and scaly) out of the bird feeder by attaching a Bitter disk to the bottom and top. Hours of peaceful bird watching guaranteed!
$39.95 | €37.22
Make a fashion statement with a hoop earring made from a small Bitter disk. Those staid designers at Tiffany & Co. can only dream of being so creative! Available in silver or gold.
$31.35 | €29.21
Move over, Givenchy and Burberry! Step out in style with this handbag worthy of a spot at opening night, on a hot date, or even in the Louvre. Bedecked with Bitters, it catches city lights and spotlights in the most fetching fashion. This elegant receptacle stands out from those dull designer purses. Pure Bitter bling!
$599 | €566.89
"Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak." As true today as when that famous line was penned some 300 years ago! Let the gentle jingle-jangle of Bitter disks bandied about in the breeze placate your soul. With just a little craftiness, you can assemble your own custom wind chime. Hang it on your porch and boost its soothing powers with a cocktail of your choice.
What says "Welcome" better than a hand-crafted wreath on your front door? Impress your guests with a modern Bitter disk wreath that you can update with the seasons. Use pipe cleaners or wire to attach fresh or plastic flowers, festive evergreen branches and other embellishments.
For all you bibliophiles out there, here's a solution to that aggravating problem of keeping literary genres organized in your personal library: Just slide a conveniently slim Bitter disk between them! Now you can keep poetry separate from the novels, and nonfiction away from the science fiction!
Bitter disks are also called Bitter plates … why not take that literally? A plate rimmed by a glittering Bitter disk (a wee bit of duct tape may be required here) makes an attractive addition to any dinner table.
Photos by: Stephen Bilenky. Text by Kristen Coyne