Computers catching colds?

  • #1
Ivan Seeking
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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?
 

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  • #2
chroot
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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
 
  • #3
Ivan Seeking
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chroot said:
I don't see how this could even conceivably happen. Are you thinking too much about your ladybug incident? :P

- Warren

LOL! No I was thinking more of the integration of electronics with biology; as with implants and other "Borg" technology in the works.
 
  • #4
Ivan Seeking
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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.- Warren
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?
 
  • #5
Monique
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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..
 
  • #6
iansmith
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Iron eating bacteria
http://www.biomedcentral.com/news/20040226/01 [Broken]

Cyanide eating bacteria
http://www.csiro.au/communication/mediarel/mr1997/mr97096.htm [Broken]

Bacteria are also in biodegredation of oil fields but it cannot use the hydrocarbon in plastic.
 
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  • #7
Ivan Seeking
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there is not much moisture in computers
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:
 
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  • #8
Ivan Seeking
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iansmith said:
Bacteria are also in biodegredation of oil fields but it cannot use the hydrocarbon in plastic.
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.
 
  • #9
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If we switch to organic computing (e.g. DNA-based or similar), I guess this could be a problem...
 
  • #10
chroot
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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
 
  • #11
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chroot said:
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
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.
 

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