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Medicine Science

Scientists Invent Electronics That Dissolve In the Body 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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Scientists Invent Electronics That Dissolve In the Body

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  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @06:25PM (#41483683)

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

    • by JustOK (667959) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @06:33PM (#41483737) Journal

      I predict it's been done already.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Yes, but only by aliens, not government organisations.
      • I predict it's been done already.

        Then how can you predict it?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 27, 2012 @06:34PM (#41483749)

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

      The second practical use will certainly be assassination.

      • by Ferzerp (83619)

        You mean like a gel-cap? :P

      • 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...

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

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      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.

      • by Anonymous Coward

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

        • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

          by viperidaenz (2515578)
          Or instead of $US0.99 it'll be $AU1.29, despite the AU dollar being worth more than the US dollar.
          • 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.
            • 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.

            • AU charge 10% tax on most items.
    • 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.
    • by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @07:47PM (#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?

      • by jmerlin (1010641)
        Well electronics tend to show up in medical scans. If a device dissolves, however, and is then excreted, it doesn't. Just a thought.
      • 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.
      • 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.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      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.

    • by mars64 (2740799)
      Neal Stephenson predicts ... []
    • by serutan (259622)

      Exactly - don't poison your enemy, spy on his colon!

  • 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... .

  • also electronic waste disposal.

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

    • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @06:58PM (#41483917) Homepage Journal
      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.)
      • by artor3 (1344997)

        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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by teknx (2547472)
      Dude, if your not going to eat those expired chrome cookies, can I have them?
  • Scientists Invent Electronics That Dissolve In the Body... ...and then kill you.

  • ... go to the scene in "My Stepmother is an Alien" where she's eating batteries like candy?
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @06:55PM (#41483893) Journal

    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]

  • by confused one (671304) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @07:03PM (#41483939)

    que Homer voice:

    Mmmmmmm. Electronics.

    • by kova.lee (2650343)
      Now available at McDonalds: the McTransistor! Gives a whole new meaning to term "artificial flavor."
  • by Anonymous Coward

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

    • by crossmr (957846)

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

      • by pokoteng (2729771)

        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.

  • ...but also electronic waste disposal."

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

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @08:03PM (#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.
  • 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.

  • ... electronics melt YOU!

  • 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.)
  • by rossdee (243626) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @10:04PM (#41484827)

    Toddlers have been doing this for decades

  • 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 (Score:4, Funny)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @11:09PM (#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.
  • "Out of my cold, lead hands ..." :)

  • 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.

  • 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.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.