‘Mysterious attraction?’ considers the history of our understanding of magnetism and its uses. The discovery of magnetism began with a rock — Magnetite, which gets its name from Magnesia, in central Greece. It is often naturally magnetized and will pick up bits of iron. This mysterious property of ‘magnets’ was noted by the Greeks in the 6th century BCE and the use of magnets for navigation is recorded in Chinese literature in the 11th century. The story of magnetic healing and the notorious 18th-century physician, Franz Mesmer, are also considered. Mesmer's cult was eventually discredited by a group that included Benjamin Franklin, the inventor of the lightning conductor.