The Strange New World of Body Hacking

It's one thing to hack a hardware, but it's quite another to hack wetware. But in a way, hacking the human body has become quite commonplace (I mean, how many people with body modifications - tattoos and piercings - do you know?)

But hacking the body to add an extra sense to our five senses - namely, the ability to sense electromagnetic fields by virtue of embedding a neodymium magnet into one's fingertips - is still very unusual.

Ben Popper of The Verge takes us on a journey exploring the "strange new world of basement body hackers":

Tim, the proprietor of Hot Rod Piercing in downtown Pittsburgh, put down the scalpel and picked up an instrument called an elevator, which he used to separate the flesh inside in Sarver’s finger, creating a small empty pocket of space. Then, with practiced hands, he slid a tiny rare earth metal inside the open wound, the width of a pencil eraser and thinner than a dime. When he tried to remove his tool, however, the metal disc stuck to the tweezers. “Let’s try this again,” Tim said. “Almost done.”

The implant stayed put the second time. Tim quickly stitched the cut shut, and cleaned off the blood. “Want to try it out?” he asked Sarver, who nodded with excitement. Tim dangled the needle from a string of suture next to Sarver’s finger, closer and closer, until suddenly, it jumped through the air and stuck to his flesh, attracted by the magnetic pull of the mineral implant.

“I’m a cyborg!” Sarver cried, getting up to join his friends in the waiting room outside. Tim started prepping a new tray of clean surgical tools. Now it was my turn.


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Do a search for the people who've had the magnets go bad. BME used to have a rather detailed post about it. But they don't seem to enjoy the negative publicity. The magnets are perhaps one of the dumbest ideas out there. Mind you, I have no issue with modding, but this one is one of the most dangerous out there. Not counting the fact that you can never have an MRI, PET or CAT scan with them in. You cannot go through an airport or any other security check point. You will wipe your credit cards and other magnetic strips by touching them. And it's a blood poison when the casing on the magnet fractures.

But each to their own.
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