Cloaca No. 5 Bionic Bowel, At Last

Bionic arms? Got'em. Robotic hands? Got'em. Robotic legs? You bet. Mechanical heart? Temporary replacement version, check. How about an artificial, mechanical gut?

Cloaca No. 5 is just what we've all been waiting for. No more dependence on our own digestive systems. Cloaca No. 5 is a bionic bowel, a mechanical gut. Behold the future of digestive mechanics.


(Cloaca No. 5, the bionic bowel)

An art project created by Wim Delvoye, Cloaca No. 5 takes leftovers from museum and gallery cafeterias, and does what you and I do best - turn whatever it consumes into fecal matter. Which it presents in packaged form.

There is actually a more serious side to this device. Cancers of the stomach, colon and intestine are very serious; there is no real replacement for these organs. Might this be an early step towards a solution to the problem?

Update 05-Feb-2009: Moved by the peristalsis-like proddings of readers, I did some more looking and found an artificial stomach created several years ago in 2006.


(Norwich's Institute of Food Research artificial stomach)

This device was constructed at Norwich's Institute of Food Research; the intent is to spur the development of foods. It has about half the capacity of a typical human stomach, and seems to be a vegetarian so far.

Software sets the parameters of the artificial gut — how long food remains in a particular part of the stomach, predicted hormone responses at various stages, and whether it is an infant or adult gut.

Unlike previous gut models, Wickham's model incorporates the physiological elements of digestion, including the stomach contractions that break up food and move it along the assembly line of human digestion.

"There have been lots of jam-jar models of digestion before," said Dr. Martin Wickham of Norwich's Institute of Food Research. "This model is important because it gets the science of digestion right."

End update.

As far as I know, even Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man, never had any bionic replacements for this organ. Truly, the future is here today.

From Wim Delvoye via Gizmodo.

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