2944: Magnet Fishing

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Magnet Fishing
The ten-way tie was judged a ten-way tie, so no one won the grand prize, a rare fishing monopole.
Title text: The ten-way tie was judged a ten-way tie, so no one won the grand prize, a rare fishing monopole.


Magnet fishing is the act of using a magnet to find ferrometallic objects in a body of water. It can be used to recover specific lost items, help to clear a stretch of water of dumped items and/or simply to see what interesting (perhaps valuable, occasionally dangerous) items can be found. This is reminiscent of magnetic fishing games (such as "Let's Go Fishing" and "Go Fishing") where players use fishing rods with small magnets on the ends to "catch" fish.

The comic imagines a World Magnet Fishing Championship, apparently only held once, because of the contestants' magnets getting stuck together. This resulted in the fishing lines becoming tangled together, or "tied", for a pun on the competition being declared "tied". It also looks like a tautology, though the first "ten-way tie" depicts how the ten lines are 'knotted' together, and the second indicates the equality of the final score. This suggests that nobody 'fished' anything other than "all the other nine magnets", prior to the inevitable conclusion.

It's unclear why the World Magnet Fishing Championship has contestants competing simultaneously. Participants go one at a time in a great variety of sporting competitions where the arena or venue only suits one competitor at a time -- such as diving, figure skating, gymnastics, equestrian -- and the individual performances are graded and compared to determine a winner. If the World Magnet Fishing Championship contestants took turns fishing from the bridge, it wouldn't have to be cancelled.

The title text states that the competition's prize would have been a "fishing monopole" which could refer to a fishing rod, also called a fishing pole, with only a single rod rather than multiple. Most fishing rods only have a single pole so this would not be considered rare. It could also refer to a magnet fishing rod where the magnet is a magnetic monopole rather than a magnetic dipole like all known magnets. This would certainly be rare since no magnetic monopoles have been found and thus would be a certainly be a valuable prize for a competition. The irony of this is that such a magnet would have alleviated the issue of the magnets attracting while fishing. The currently known laws of physics require that if magnetic monopoles exist, electric charge must be quantized. Electric charge is quantized which is consistent with (but does not prove) magnetic monopoles existing. Finally, 'pole position' (usually in Motorsport) is awarded to the first place qualifier in a competition. With all competitors coming joint first, this is a 'monopole' result.


[Ten people are standing on a bridge connecting the steep banks on either side of a body of water. They have all cast strings with magnets over the edge and are holding on to them. All their magnets have, however, got stuck together and as they are pulling them up they hang in a bunch above the water under the middle of the bridge, with all ten lines going out from the bunch of magnets. The characters from left to right are: Hairbun, a person with white hair, Cueball, Megan, another Cueball, White Hat, another Megan, a guy with spiky hair, Ponytail, and Hairy.]
[Caption below the panel:]
The first, and last, World Magnet Fishing Championship

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Isn't the solution to make the competition like skiing: The participants take turns fishing, instead of all fishing at the same time? And they're judged on how quickly they can "catch" a magnet in the water. Barmar (talk) 15:44, 10 June 2024 (UTC)

Same reason why (some) slalom competitions are held with two racers going downhill at the same time: it's more exciting! ;) -- 21:08, 11 June 2024 (UTC)
It's also possible that Magnet Fishing is scored in a way where earlier competitors' actions can affect the scoring of later competitors. For instance, if they're scored on the number of objects dredged up, later contestants could have an unfair disadvantage if the objects were not replaced or an unfair advantage if they knew where the objects were replaced. (Or if those objects were originally tangled up in weeds or half-covered in silt, but were now sitting on top of everything.) Of course, this just raises the question of how Magnet Fishing competitions are prepared and scored. GreatWyrmGold (talk) 13:25, 12 June 2024 (UTC)

This comic made me cackle. My cat is hiding under my bed now. Psychoticpotato (talk) 21:30, 10 June 2024 (UTC)

There's various degrees of what you might hope to find, when fishing, and what you might find, whilst magnet-fishing... (Also note, in that first link the "groups of 50-60" who gather – maybe multiple people per magnet – and the picture of at least three magnets being simultaneously worked from the same bridge. But not to dismiss the comic's humour, of course.)
I think the problem for the comic was siting the competition in a natural watercourse with a too obviously V-shaped bed. Everyone lowered their magnets straight down into the water, no problem, as even a powerful magnet can't overcome gravity-induced of hanging at that sort of scale of hanging. But then all magnets not already over the thalweg slide away from the bank into it, close enough to start clumping. As the 'prizes'/scorable-finds will also have probably migrated down the benthic slopes, over time, it's in everyone's personal interest to let their magnet tumble that way, if they weren't given 'pole position' directly over the (or 'a') deepest point. If the stream's cut goes significently non-perpendicular to the bridge that crosses it, or it has multiple (low-water) channels dug into its sediment, possibly sensible coordination could allow parallel fishing. Or the rules state that minimal slack be allowed when dipping the magnet-'hook' into the water, and no lateral dragging or swinging allowed, with (judged) penalties for any who cause an 'out of line' contact to occur. I think the second world championships are entirely feasible, just needs some rethinking of the setting, conditions and competition regulations. 09:47, 11 June 2024 (UTC)

"Unfinished" text archive: "This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a NONWORKING MAGNETIC FORCE - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon. If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks."

I don't think it's a coincidence that this comic came out just a few days after this June 6 news article: a couple in New York City went magnet fishing and brought up a safe containing tens of thousands of dollars in cash. 23:57, 12 June 2024 (UTC)

Title text[edit]

I believe the first "ten-way tie" refers to calling the competition a "tie" between ten competitors. It's more common in British English, but can be used as a synonym for game/match/etc. So it's saying "the ten-person match was judged a ten-way draw". -- MightyP (talk) 16:36, 10 June 2024 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

It's a pun on tie meaning to knot/tangle the lines, and tie in the sense of competitors finishing equally. 18:29, 10 June 2024 (UTC)
As a British Englisher(!) myself, I think "cup tie" (e.g. the final culmination of a knockout competition) tends to be what "breaks the tie" between the two teams that have each reached this stage equally successful against all other opponents. (Also "3rd/4th-place tie", etc.) You don't tend to get N-way competitions called a 'tie' (though, theoretically, a trifurcated bracketing system could bring 27 teams in nine games teams could become nine teams in three games, then three three teams producing the winner, etc).
Tie/tangle and tie/equally-scored is going to be good enough. If Randall had thought of the "cup tie"-type usage, he could have easily made a tripled-pun version with that and the two more obvious versions. 21:30, 10 June 2024 (UTC)
Is it more common in British English? I'm American and I usually say "tie" to refer to a draw. I also see it be used frequently in American media. GreyFox (talk) 21:53, 11 June 2024 (UTC)
Unless you're using "draw" as in the randomised pairing of competitors (prior to the match), that's not the issue. Tie-as-in-equally-scoring and Tie-as-in-knotted seem (mostly) unambiuous, here. Tie-as-in-knockout-game (early rounds perhaps being arranged by being drawn, by ballot, so "tied by a draw" in a different sense) seems to be the one mentioned as being British-usage biased. 09:19, 12 June 2024 (UTC)

The prize is also a bit of wordplay. It refers to a magnetic monopole as already noted, but is also a joke, as a regular fishing pole is technically a "monopole". I've never personally seen a fishing dipole, but I suppose they could exist! -- MightyP (talk) 16:49, 10 June 2024 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Triple pun for some speakers[edit]

I found it funny that in Austrian, monopole is "Monopol", and we use the same word for monopole and monopoly! The prize also feels special if you have a monopoly on magnet fishing - without all the others interfering with your magnet like in the comic.

First time ever posting here. Keep up the good spirit! 20:45, 10 June 2024 (UTC)

Quadruple pun: I (german) thought for the same reason, that the prize is the exclusive right for (magnetic) fishing at a certain (rare implies very good) spot. Indeed, that might be a very valuable entitlement and plausible prize in a fishing championship.


If you did have a magnetic monopole... Would the field lines look a lot like the strings in this comic?

It could in the Arctic ocean with a south monopole! Near the monopole the field lines point inward but far away they point in the direction of Earth's field. There are parts of the Arctic ocean with a 90 degree inclination and the lines are vertical instead of north-to-south. Monopoles also have two advantages: The field drops off inverse-square instead of of inverse-cube, giving the "hook" a longer range. Also, if all contestants have the same kind of monopole they will repel instead of sticking to each-other. 00:17, 11 June 2024 (UTC)
If the contestans' monopoles repelled each other, things could get pretty chaotic with so many of them in close proximity. None of the monopoles would be in a stable position, so the fishing lines would tangle up even worse than if they were all dipoles attracted to each other. 05:36, 11 June 2024 (UTC)

The picture obviously shows a Tenpole Tudor. <runs for his life> 06:19, 11 June 2024 (UTC)

The magnetic field lines coming out of a magnetic monopole look very much like the fishing lines coming away from the magnets all stuck together in the comic. The first thing I thought when I saw the title and the picture was that Randell was drawing a magnetic monopole. Warm regards, Rick. (talk) 06:50, 11 June 2024 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

If the lures are magnetic because the fish (as in commercial magnetic fishing games) contain magnets, a monopole lure only solves half the problem: The fish either need their fields to be kept separated or they need (the opposite) monopoles, too? ProphetZarquon (talk) 15:39, 11 June 2024 (UTC)