Behold the boldest medical steampunk from yesterday’s bright future. Courtesy of the National Heart Institute and the Atomic Energy Agency, and in a story relayed by Shelley McKellar in journal Technology and Culture, two parallel projects between 1967 and 1977 were attempting to design a nuclear powered artificial heart. Using essentially the same radioisotope thermoelectric generator engine technology that powers NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover, a mechanical heart may be made to power the human body for many years without swapping out the batteries. But plutonium-238, sadly, has other uses such as terrorism, making the thought of such devices a pipe dream for today’s future.
Study abstract in Technology and Culture: Negotiating Risk: The Failed Development of Atomic Hearts in America, 1967-1977
More at The Atlantic: The True Story of the Government Programs That Tried to Build an Atomic Heart