Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Computers catching colds?

  1. Aug 9, 2004 #1

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Does anyone foresee the possibility for a human disease or parasites to affect computers? Considering the size of the circuitry etched into chips now - with the Base of transistors only 3 atoms thick - it would seem that if some bacteria or virus were to mutate in just the right way it might find a diet or home of micro circuitry agreeable thus damaging sensitive traces and junctions. Could or is this prevented by the plastics used to protect the circuitry, or could some viruses, for example, still get through to the circuits?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 9, 2004 #2

    chroot

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    1) How would an organic object like a virus or bacterium get in there in the first place? Semiconductors are made in a very strict cleanrooms -- even a tiny piece of dust destroys an IC. The UV light and etchants used during manufacture would kill anything that got in there anyway. The packages are hermetically sealed after manufacture, too.

    2) How would it grow? All known organisms require water, and there's no water inside an IC. There also isn't any chemical energy source in there -- it's just bulk silicon (doped with a few other elements), silicon dioxide, and metal. Even the extremophiles that thrive on the deep-sea vents require a steady source of chemical energy.

    I don't see how this could even conceivably happen. Are you thinking too much about your ladybug incident? :P

    - Warren
     
  4. Aug 9, 2004 #3

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member


    LOL! No I was thinking more of the integration of electronics with biology; as with implants and other "Borg" technology in the works.
     
  5. Aug 10, 2004 #4

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Don't we find a bacteria or two that thrive on a metal of some sort? I know that some do live on unusual food sources, like cyanide for example. Also, what about the hydrocarbons used in the plastics?
     
  6. Aug 10, 2004 #5

    Monique

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I've heard of a bacterium that was slowly eating up airplanes.. anyone else hear that? But without water, no life.. there is not much moisture in computers..
     
  7. Aug 10, 2004 #6

    iansmith

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

  8. Aug 10, 2004 #7

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Keep in mind that I am thinking of situations in which we have circuitry implanted in the human body; sometimes even with nerves in direct contact with live circuits. For example, optical interfaces that promise to end blindness [in many cases] are being used. These have direct electrical contact with the optic nerve. Also, I have seen work for numerous types of brain implants - one that hopes to replace lost memory function. Pace makers and artificial hearts are another consideration. Our future is Borg! :biggrin:
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2004
  9. Aug 10, 2004 #8

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Thanks iansmith. Do you know if the "iron eating bacteria" are any relation to the so called "iron bacteria" that are sometimes found in well water having a high iron content? I am only asking because I have a well and have battled these little beasties in the past. They are a fairly common problem in the area around my home.
     
  10. Aug 16, 2004 #9
    If we switch to organic computing (e.g. DNA-based or similar), I guess this could be a problem...
     
  11. Aug 16, 2004 #10

    chroot

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Organic computing (based on chemical reactions) would necessarily be much slower than existing electronic computing, so I strongly doubt there will be such a switch.

    - Warren
     
  12. Aug 16, 2004 #11
    The major advantage of organic computing, if done properly, is that it can have an enormous amount of paralelism. So perhaps it can actually be faster than what we have today. Granted though, quantum computing seems far more promissing at the moment. And a quantum computer will probably not be affected by microorganisms.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Computers catching colds?
  1. The feeling of cold. (Replies: 7)

  2. Flu VS Catch a cold (Replies: 2)

  3. Mouse and cold (Replies: 1)

  4. Cold Mint (Replies: 13)

Loading...