One of the settings I've been working on is a retro-futuristic world with a technology level and aesthetic of the early cold war era, something quite similar to the setting of the Alien franchise in terms of technology.

One of the reasons that technology has changed so much since then is the rapid development of computer chips. If they had never been developed, or were impossible to use, we might be very close to that technology level today.

If computer chips were prevented through the use of a 'suppression field' by malevolent aliens, could this have negative impacts on human biology? The field would work by interfering with, or preventing, the n-p junction interactions in computer chips. I don't have enough knowledge of the human nervous system to be sure, so any info will be appreciated.


Does it have to be a suppression field or is any effort by aliens to screw up computer tech ok?

Computer chips are difficult and expensive to make. Chip fabs cost billions to build. They're also easily contaminated. Quantities of copper vapor too low to quickly detect with the best instruments can be enough to destroy chips partially through fabrication.

So what if instead of trying to violate/suppress the laws of physics the aliens simply released swarms of little nanobots which attempt to contaminate any high tech production facilities and sabotage any working high tech devices?

If they encounter a chip fab or something that might be a chip fab they crawl into the machines and release metal dusts of many elements and/or gum up the works any way they can.

More clunky, bulky technology is mostly unaffected while the more precise and delicate the device the more easily destroyed.

If they encounter something that may be a computer they try to lay down metal whiskers across junctions to short circuit them.

Computer chips work for a little while if you're lucky but sooner or later some of these bots burrow into them and kill them.

This would pretty much destroy the computer industry. Some organizations might be able to build small scale fabs in sealed locations and keep a small number of machines running but it would mean almost zero computers in everyday life.

The effects on health would then be easier to guess. Lots of nanobots would probably be bad for your health, especially breathing them in. It could even make being around high-tech devices hazardous for humans if they swarm towards them.

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First, we must help the aliens a little, by figuring out how such chip suppression can be done, in order to have a way to find out the possible health effects. There does indeed exist a way to mess up the n-p junctions: Silicon doping, the proses of creating either n-silicon or p-silicon, is an extremely fragile process, as the required concentration of impurities is very low. Imagine to try make a chip somewhere with a tiny but constant influx of neutrons. Even though you can temporarily create a working chip, it degrades rather quickly, because the impurities caused by the neutron collisions destroy the carefully calibrated junctions. There are of course problems with how strong the neutron beam has to be depending of the actual chip design, so the aliens must be able to regulate the strength of it.

Does this constant radiation also affect humans? In the same way as it causes tiny impurities in the silicon, it also does the same with the human body. The biggest problem with that would be degeneration of DNA, inflicting a permanent and generally not curable damage to our, as well as other species.

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