Researcher: 'Magnetic Turd' Is No April Fool's Joke

'Magnetic slime robot' could be used for minimally invasive surgery
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2022 4:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – Yes, it's April Fools Day and, no, this is not a joke—at least according to the inventors of what has been dubbed "magnetic turd." A study published last week in Advanced Functional Materials instead refers to a "magnetic slime robot," a dark-colored, goo-like blob that can move through tight spaces and grasp small objects in its path when external magnets are applied, the Guardian reports. It can also repair itself when cut in two. "It's like 'Venom' or 'Flubber' come to life," per Futurism.com. Did we mention it's apparently destined for use in the human body?

"Magnetic miniature soft-bodied robots allow non-invasive access to restricted spaces and provide ideal solutions for minimally invasive surgery, micromanipulation, and targeted drug delivery," according to the study, whose author, co-creator Li Zhang of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. This new "non-Newtonian fluid-based magnetically actuated slime robot," as the study describes it, can reportedly move through gaps as small as 1.5 millimetres and at speeds up to 30 millimetres per second, per ABC Australia.

It's already been shown to retrieve a battery in a diagram of a stomach, per Futurism.com. Researchers, who note they're still trying to understand exactly how it works, believe the robot could some day be used in an actual human body. However, the safety would "strongly depend on how long you would keep them inside of your body," Zhang tells the Guardian. (Read more inventions stories.)

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