Jan 23, 2020 I Paul Seaburn

Chinese Scientists Invent Robotic Worm That Will Burrow Into Your Brain

"You see, their young enter through the ears and wrap themselves around the cerebral cortex. This has the effect of rendering the victim extremely susceptible to suggestion... Later, as they grow, follows madness and death..."
- Khan Noonien Singh

Anyone who has ever seen Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, the second movie in the series, can still remember the horror of Khan releasing larvae of Ceti eels into the ears of Reliant officers Commander Pavel Chekov and Captain Clark Terrell, where they wormed their way into their brains, wrapping themselves around the cerebral cortex to cause brain control, pain, madness and eventual death. It’s nice to know that’s pure fiction, right? RIGHT?

“Once you consume them, they can move throughout your body -- your eyes, your tissues and most commonly your brain. They leave doctors puzzled in their wake as they migrate and settle to feed on the body they're invading; a classic parasite, but this one can get into your head.”

According to CNN, in 2013 a British man of Chinese was found to have a tapeworm moving inside his brain in 2013 – a parasite known as Spirometra erinaceieuropaei. It’s extremely rare and found mostly in Asia – the adult parasite lives in dog and cat intestines, but the eggs can be spread via fecal matter, particularly in water, which appears to be how the man contracted it. In 2018, a man in India died after his brain, brain stem, and cerebellum were infected by the tapeworm Taenia solium. It’s a good thing these worms are rare and no one is trying to make robotic versions of them, right? RIGHT?

“It could also be implanted into the brain because its high mobility and ability to transform means it can survive in this harsh environment where there are rapid blood flows and tiny blood vessels.”

The South China Morning Post reports that scientists in Shenzhen have developed a tiny robot worm that can enter the human body, swim through along blood vessels and hook up to neurons in the brain. The 1mm-by-3mm (.04 in by .12 in) robots are powered externally by a magnetic field generator and use infrared radiation to contract their size by up to a third to squeeze through tight spots. On the noble cause side, Xu Tiantian -- lead scientist for the project at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences – says the robot worms will allow doctors to deliver drugs directly to a specific tumor and then exit the body when done.

“But our purpose is not developing a biological weapon. It’s the opposite.”

Needless to say, using the robot worm as a weapon is entirely possible as soon as a more powerful electric field generator with a longer effective range is available and the robot worms obtain the ability to move while the host human is in motion – they currently have to be lying perfectly still. If he were around today, robot designer Khan Noonien Singh might say: “Piece of cake.”

Xu agrees.

“We just hope that day will never come.”

Or is it already here? Mr. Chekov, care to comment?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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