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Scientists Invent Electronics That Dissolve In the Body

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the going-going-gone dept.

Medicine 69

An anonymous reader writes in with a story about some new electronics that are designed to melt in your body not in your hand. "Scientists have created ultra-thin electronic devices that can 'melt away' in the body once their job is done. A new study published in the journal Science, details how scientists have created a tiny, fully functional electronic device capable of vanishing within their environment, like in the body or in water, once they are no longer needed or useful. There are already implants that dispense drugs or provide electrical stimulation but they do not dissolve. The latest creation is an early step in a technology that may benefit not only medicine, like enabling the development of medical implants that don't need to be surgically removed or the risk of long-term side effects, but also electronic waste disposal."

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69 comments

Medical applications? Nope. (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#41483683)

I predict the first practical use of these devices will be for surveillance.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (5, Interesting)

JustOK (667959) | about a year and a half ago | (#41483737)

I predict it's been done already.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41483757)

Yes, but only by aliens, not government organisations.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41484509)

To misquote Whitehead, "Great ideas always enter the world with disgusting alliances."

Yes, there are evil people in the world and yes, they will use this technology for evil purposes. But that does not change the fact that the very useful and beneficial applications are now a possibility where they were not before.

I also submit that, despite the lies and secrets, we have a more transparent government now than ever before in human history. The technologies they use against us we also use against them.

Though corruption will always be with us, the ability to keep it contained to workable levels will always tag along.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (1)

lightknight (213164) | about a year and a half ago | (#41485615)

I find it surprising how easily 'teh evil' manages to acquire funding in this world. You'd think it'd be easier to fund a charity that gives food to blind orphans in some remote country than it is to put together a tiny empire hell-bent on rendering a fair portion of the world uninhabitable, but you might be wrong. It's...well, it's almost embarrassing.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41483749)

A device that delivers drugs and then melts away to leave no evidence?

The second practical use will certainly be assassination.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (1)

lightknight (213164) | about a year and a half ago | (#41485621)

Why assassinate when a subcutaneous speaker and some mind-enhancing drugs can make someone your willing pawn?

They'll even believe they're doing your bidding of their own free will...

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41496995)

Why use drugs and high tech then you can threaten them with an accusation of CP or sexual aggression?

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41504221)

Only works on 4chan. Cuz 1/2 of the tards would be guilty as charged...

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (1)

Metabolife (961249) | about a year and a half ago | (#41487367)

This will be even more effective because it can gradually bring someone to the verge of death, then disappear weeks before they die.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (1, Interesting)

one eyed kangaroo (215202) | about a year and a half ago | (#41483795)

I predict that the *same* dissolvable device that retails for $1200 in the US will retail for a tenth of that in Canada, Europe, Australia, etc.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41484109)

Actually, that's partially canceled out -- it's an electronic device, so instead of $120, it'll be priced at 120EUR.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (0, Offtopic)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#41484269)

Or instead of $US0.99 it'll be $AU1.29, despite the AU dollar being worth more than the US dollar.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about a year and a half ago | (#41484423)

The AUD/USD parity is only in the last year or so (and just wait, I am sure the USD will get cheaper later...) However, that is not the whole story. I don't know if it is the case in AU -- but I know it is for many items in places like Canada... sometimes those price differences have to do with tariffs and such, so you might check if your government is pocketing the difference in MSRP.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year and a half ago | (#41485527)

Yes, I was just reading an article about some people who were caught smuggling cheese from the US to Canada, because Milk Boards in Canada keep prices high to make sure milk processors can get all the profit for milk while ensuring actual milk producers still can barely make a living.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (2)

Foxhoundz (2015516) | about a year and a half ago | (#41483807)

Don't mind the miserable pessimists here on Slashdot. I think the medicinal breakthroughs will have more of an impact on humanity than all of the shady applications for this innovation combined.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (5, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | about a year and a half ago | (#41484187)

Oh Slashdot, news for luddites, as always. Just once I'd like to see a story about a new technology in which there isn't an immediate upmodded post about how it's so scary and awful.

Tell me, how does the dissolvability of this new tech make it ideal for surveillance? Are you one of those tin foil nutcases who thinks the US is implanting tracking devices in people? If so, why do they want those devices (which are already so well hidden that they've never been found) to dissolve? If not, how exactly are they going to surreptitiously get these scary tracking devices into people?

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41484337)

It's not just Slashdot, man. It's science fiction in general. Watch a horror movie once in a while.

It's not just us. This is one of the few websites though, that has mastered the ability to retain a sardonic, but technically skilled audience, while preventing it from descending into darker or uglier/childish territory (the "childish" part may be arguable, but compare /. to some of the true failures out there and get back to me). Keeping the respect of intelligent people, while making enough money to keep your head above water is no easy task. There really aren't very many websites that can claim the same, which is why Slashdot has persisted and gotten pretty big over the years.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41484365)

One thing I don't understand, though, is why these people don't simply support the technology but discourage abuses of it? I mean, government surveillance is evil, but I think it would be absolutely stupid to ban/discourage the technology just because it could be abused. Just keep your government under control!

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (1)

jmerlin (1010641) | about a year and a half ago | (#41484745)

Well electronics tend to show up in medical scans. If a device dissolves, however, and is then excreted, it doesn't. Just a thought.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#41485603)

Whatever, you doubter. They're going to embed it in tinfoil, so it disolves through our skin when we put it on our heads. Duh.

We need open source tin mines!! Of course if the government weren't stopping us we'd already have flying cars.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41504247)

But nanotechnology inside the tinfoil's packaging will tunnel into our bodies unbeknownst to us while we are checking to make sure the tinfoil is safe. :)

Full surveillance will take place in the year 201984! bwahaha.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (1)

KramberryKoncerto (2552046) | about a year and a half ago | (#41487013)

Tell me, how does the dissolvability of this new tech make it ideal for surveillance?

Clearing evidence of surveillance? For sidestepping the need for warrants.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41490181)

Your lack of imagination is not a limitation for actual, practical, and previously developed uses for this type of device.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#41484417)

I predict the first practical use of these devices will be for surveillance.

Until they become cheap enough... then you can swallow something like a dozen of Tor bridges/exist points at your breakfast to keep you connected for the day.

Re:Medical applications? Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41486063)

Not to mention built in obsolescence for all devices. Your TV/Computer/Fridge etc. will now last for 2 years after which it will dissolve forcing you to buy a new one.

We are the Borg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41483739)

You will be assimilated

I predict... the iGimme! (1)

swschrad (312009) | about a year and a half ago | (#41483797)

who needs to push for obsolescence, for prettier casing, for newer features and faster operation. with the iGimme! the market is endless! just as you're listening to your favorite song, glub, and the device is gone! the repeat sales will be ginormous! order now, and we will send TWO iGimme!s for the price of one, plus shipping and handling... .

Recreational use possibilities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41483825)

Awesome! Just think of the possibilities if you could infuse these devices with recreational drugs like THC, Ecstasy, mushrooms...
Probably not detectable by drug dogs either...

also electronic waste disposal (1)

jamesh (87723) | about a year and a half ago | (#41483845)

also electronic waste disposal.

So if I upgrade my computer I just eat the old one?

Re:also electronic waste disposal (4, Interesting)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year and a half ago | (#41483917)

I was thinking the same thing. Even with medical implants, electronic waste disposal is a problem because of the materials used, not the fact that they need to be removed. Even a more literal reading of TFS implies that our bodies will just absorb mercury, gold, silicon, lead, and so on from these new implants. (Awkward.)

Re:also electronic waste disposal (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about a year and a half ago | (#41484211)

Presumably the new implants wouldn't be made of lead and mercury and such. According to the fine article, they contain silicon, magnesium, and oxygen, all of which are naturally found in the body and play a positive role. Silicon is the only questionable one, since the human body normally only has around a gram of the stuff, but if the circuits are sufficiently tiny, they won't make much difference.

Re:also electronic waste disposal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41488099)

wow. Or you could ACTUALLY READ the article to determine the composition of the electronics used. Yes, they researchers working on this problem are actually that stupid to use toxic material. Re: silicon, the semi-conductor portion of the implants uses ultra-thin applications that actually DISSOLVE in bio fluids.

Why has this site suddenly become dumb?

On a tangent, I've seen more rage replies in the last week than in any other time. Profanity and vitriol have their place, but a significant percentage of the site's membership is actually smart. Therefore, they tend to not use gratuitous profanity or and it seems they value cerebral discourse over emotional arguments.

Re:also electronic waste disposal (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year and a half ago | (#41488513)

Silly. I was talking about the summary and the summary only. Obviously they're not actually constructed that way. Keep working on those reading comprehension skills!

Okay... now why did my brain.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#41483875)

... go to the scene in "My Stepmother is an Alien" where she's eating batteries like candy?

Impossible, I say (4, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#41483893)

That's hogwash! I depend on a little device in my heart to keep me alive. They would never make it just dissol^ `~ & # [NO CARRIER]

Re:Impossible, I say (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | about a year and a half ago | (#41486393)

Why would your heart giving out cause your modem to hang up?

Re:Impossible, I say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41495855)

Because he has probably never used a modem and doesn't actually understand the reference he used.

Re:Impossible, I say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41503923)

It's a joke; relax. You are acting like a bunch of geeks......oh, wait

Perfect assassins. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41483977)

Really? No one is thinking the obvious here? Perfect assassins. Cause an aneurysm or worse and disappear.

Re:Perfect assassins. (1)

crossmr (957846) | about a year and a half ago | (#41484549)

There are already drugs which leave the body extremely quickly and leave no trace.

Re:Perfect assassins. (1)

pokoteng (2729771) | about a year and a half ago | (#41484899)

But now we can have it inside the person for months/years, and just wait for the perfect moment for the poison to be released. Might even have people go through mandated health care including vaccination, and anyone who steps out of line is just quietly killed off.

use in drugs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41484025)

NOW they will give you narcotic meds and make sure YOUR taking them and not selling
this is actually old news they already are doing this in the USA.
ALSO great for spying ...give dummy some food and watch what he does then go what you talking about we don't have any spy devices on you......now i need a metal detector for food LOL

I guess that's one way... (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year and a half ago | (#41484053)

...but also electronic waste disposal."

I guess that's one way of getting rid of old electronics... :p

I see a problem (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#41484303)

When part of the device dissolves before the rest of it, will it malfunction? Especially if its one of these devices that provide electrical stimulation.

it'll be a bitch to swallow that hard drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41484361)

...when the feds barges through my windows and door but as long as it's doable.

Your Insurance Agent: (1)

mbstone (457308) | about a year and a half ago | (#41484575)

Unfortunately, while you're covered for the equipment rental, you failed to return the unit as agreed, and we'll have to bill you $32,768.

Interactive food! Yummy! (1)

Maintenance Goof (1487053) | about a year and a half ago | (#41484781)

Remember when your Mom used to tell you not to talk to your food? That day is over! The best thing since toast is talking toast! Kids, tell Mom to get you some breakfast boats, the only cereal that putters around the bowl! (This product contains compounds that the state of California has determined may cause open weeping sores.)

This is a nightmare for testing (1)

muhula (621678) | about a year and a half ago | (#41484881)

Dissolving electronics will have unpredictable, and non-reproducible failure conditions. Can you imagine designing a medical device in such a way that any random part of your circuit could be randomly destroyed and yet fail in a graceful manner? It seems there's enough difficulty as it is with non-dissolving electronics.

precedent (3, Funny)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year and a half ago | (#41485031)

There's that one guy in India or whatever that ate an entire airplane over like 30 years or something so "invent" might be a little much, lol.

Next logical step (1)

mapkinase (958129) | about a year and a half ago | (#41486525)

Electronics that dissolves in the body ... and keeps working in that state. Try to remove the RFID tag put on you by Big Brother now, champ.

I thought the headline said it dissolves bodies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41487465)

I thought it was some new electronic device that dissolves bodies much like a Star Trek Phaser can dissolve a body. Nevermind.

It's much more sinister (1)

ZeroMS (2725031) | about a year and a half ago | (#41502633)

Other posters are thinking it might be used for assassination. It's much MUCH more subtle than that. If I were a pharmaceutical, I'd create epidemics. New diseases even. That would reap in billions.

it's tapeworms all the way down... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41508781)

What's next, nano-tapeworms for spies which contain a time released or specific in the future timed event release of something bad? For remote tracking? To drive someone insane by using voice to skull from within the body?

should my wife be concerned when she finds me running a freq sweep over my urine and feces in a bucket?

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