A concise blog reporting on articles of importance to the future of human and social development.

Monday, April 7, 2008

A new update on magnetic implants.

Recently, I added a link to the blog of a friend of mine to my sidebar. Nate at Feeling Waves has finally posted an update on the procedure he received on Saturday.

(Note: This is terribly dangerous and essentially amounts to human experimentation. Nate has done his research and understands that this may result in surgery to remove the implant, or worse. Neither Nate nor I are responsible if you're stupid enough to attempt this yourself.)

The procedure in question is a new kind of implant dreamed up in the body mod community by Jesse Jarrell and Steve Haworth of BME fame. While subdermal implants have gotten fairly popular, they are all basically the same thing as a silicone breast implant. A small object, coated in a biologically compatible substance such as teflon, surgical steel, or silicone is inserted beneath the skin to create a raised shape (see the BME Encyclopedia article for more info). This new implant, however, is derivative of a magnetic implant Sampaa von Cyborg had installed in his arm to hang metallic objects from. That earlier experiment turned out to be a failure when it was realized that the skin pinched between the magnet and the outside object would die.

Jesse and Steve turned that idea completely around. Rather than use the magnet as a glorified message board, why not use it to detect where other magnetic fields are? Thus, the Magnetic Sense Implant (MSI) was invented. They created tiny rare-earth magnets coated in silicone and implanted them in the ends of fingers where the nerve density is high enough to pick up the small vibration due to magnetic fields.

The result? The MSI implant gave it's owners "Magnetic vision", a sixth sense never before experienced by humans. Quinn Norton of Wired Magazine wrote a lengthy article describing her experience receiving her new sensory organ.

Unfortunately, this was destined to be short lived. Due to a defect in design and construction, the tiny magnets had a tendency to break out of their protective silicone sheathes. Most famously, Shannon Larratt's experience with the failing implants spread almost as fast as word of the concept itself.

Recently, when he discovered the articles and began his research, Nate contacted me regarding the idea. We started brainstorming and discovered that silicone, teflon, and steel aren't the only things medical science has cleared for implantation. You can read about the research and more in Feeling Waves' archives.

As for me, I'm planning on getting one of these myself. Just as soon as Nate's human guinea-pig trick confirms that there isn't too much risk.

Nate has added some pictures to the last few posts on his blog; be sure to check it out again if they weren't there before!

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