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World’s Fastest Computer Will Operate Like a Human Brain

World’s Fastest Computer Will Operate Like a Human Brain 86

A large group of scientists and researchers is working to develop the fastest computer known to man that would operate much like the human brain.

The Human Brain Project, which this month (October 2013) at a conference in Switzerland, combines the brainpower of 135 science institutions and government entities to create the computer brain. The project will cost about $1.6 billion.

The human brain is the most complex machine in existence, so it seems almost natural that technology would want to replicate its powers. The computer in development would be 1,000 times faster than even the fastest ones we use today.

Before you start picturing 2001: A Space Odyssey, know that these computers aren’t HALs in the making.

The first phases of the project, which is expected to last about a decade, is meant to better understand the functions of the human brain.

BrainConnections

Next, the researchers are hoping to grasp how we learn, think, see and hear.

Currently, the hardware inside a computer reaches performance speeds of one quadrillion operations per second. But Henry Markram, the director of the Human Brain Project, has his sights set even higher.

“Well-known manufacturers of supercomputers like IBM, Cray, Intel and Bull are committed to building the first exascale machines by approximately 2020,” he told Fox News.

“So we are confident we will have the machines we need.”

These unbelievably fast computers will require new forms of memory and force scientists to develop new storage techniques.

The overarching goal of the project, as outlined on its website, is “to piece together our rapidly growing knowledge of the human brain.” Simulating the human brain provides insights into the brain’s inner workings and where our thoughts and emotions originate.

The implications reach beyond technology; such a simulation could help us learn how to heal the human brain, giving us a tangible model of its functions.

The project is still in its initial planning stages. The brain is about as complex as the universe; its three pounds of mass contains a comparable number of neurons as the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy. How’s that for brain power?

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Are There Really as Many Neurons in the Human Brain as Stars in the Milky Way?

This is a phrase a lot of science communicators like to use because giving people a sense of scale when it comes to large numbers is so difficult.

That’s why journalists report distances as number of football fields, mass as number of fully-loaded 747s, energy in terms of Hiroshima bombs, etc.

Even though we can’t conceive of the number of stars in the Milky Way or the number of neurons in the human brain, equating the two gives people a sense of enormity

. And as conscious beings we like to find patterns, and we find equivalencies interesting, especially when the things being equated are “important” or “epic” (like neurons and stars).

MiklyWayGalaxy

For a long time, neuroscientists would say that there are about 100 billion neurons in the human brain.

Interestingly, no one has ever published a peer-reviewed scientific paper supporting that count. Rather it’s been informally interpolated from other measurements. Arecent study from 2009 published by Azevedo and colleagues took a crack at a more precise estimate. Their answer?

Approximately 86 billion neurons in the human brain. The latest estimates for the number of stars in the Milky Way is somewhere between 200 and 400 billion. So close, but the human brain certainly doesn’t quite stack up!

But why do scientists think there are 86 billion neurons? How did they get that number? Well the easiest way to estimate the number of neurons in the brain is to count how many are in one part of the brain and then extrapolate out for the rest of the brain’s volume.

human_Brain

Interestingly, this method can also be used to estimate how many stars are in the Milky Way!

But the method has a few issues:

1. The brain’s neuronal density isn’t uniform. For example, the cerebellum (the artificially purple-colored structure in the bottom back in the image to the left (source: wikipedia)) contains about half of all the neurons in the central nervous system, but it is well below half the volume.

2. It’s hard to get an estimate even for one brain region, because the neurons are so dense and intertwined (and mostly clear!) that they’re hard to count separably. One method is to use a staining technique to make neurons visible enough to count them. A classic method is the “Golgi stain” (named after Nobel prize winner Camillo Golgi). This method stains only a few percent of neurons (no one’s quite sure why). So in the stain below (source: Scholarpedia), even though only one neuron is visible, there may be hundreds more in that space that you can’t see because they didn’t stain.

neurons

Using this method, you can estimate what proportion of neurons gets stained, count the number in some patch of brain, then extrapolate. But you’re introducing two variables for your guess here! Not very accurate.

The new method that gives us the 86 billion figure is… clever and unique.

The method involves dissolving the cell membranes of cells within the brain and creating a homogeneous mixture of the whole soup. The nuclei of these cells are stained using different markers to differentiate neurons from glia, allowing you to count the number of cell nuclei belonging to neurons (as opposed to other cells in the brain such as glia) and then scale up to get the overall number. The great advantage of this method is that unlike counting the number of neurons in one part of the brain and then extrapolating from that, it gets over the problem that different brain regions may have more or less densely packed neurons.

There you go! This is the latest plausible estimate. But you notice that to do this, the researchers are still using the extrapolation method.

Maybe soon, new crowd-sourced efforts such as the Human Connectome Project Eyewire game will eventually provide us with a more accurate number that doesn’t rely so heavily on estimation.

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Science & Technology

Cyberfarm 2077. YouTuber showed what a Russian cyber village could look like

Cyberfarm 2077. YouTuber showed what a Russian cyber village could look like 99
Photo: video screenshot youtube.com/birchpunk

On November 19, the day the Cyberpunk 2077 video game was supposed to be released, a five-minute video about a Russian cyber village appeared on YouTube. It combines the aesthetics of cyberpunk with the life of the Russian provinces.

Cyberfarm 2077. YouTuber showed what a Russian cyber village could look like 100

Russian director and blogger Sergei Vasiliev made a short film that is an excerpt from the life of a fictional Russian village with the technologies of the future. The short film was shot in the style of a video blog. 

“They say that Russia is a technically backward country, there are no roads, no robotics, rockets do not fly, and mail takes too long. [This is not true],” the creators say.

The main character, a farmer called Nikolai, talks about his cyber farm, where three androids work, and invites new workers to his business. The robots milk the cows, walk them and go to fetch water. Instead of a cesspool, there is a black hole in the toilets, and mail is delivered by flying wagons of the Russian Post. New technologies have also solved the problem of Russian roads – cars now fly over it, but even there are holes in the air.

The authors of the short film said that a “creative association of enthusiasts” worked on the creative, and now they “plan to release further videos in the same universe.”

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Science & Technology

German scientists have found a drink that kills coronavirus in five minutes

German scientists have found a drink that kills coronavirus in five minutes 101

German scientists from the University of Ulm have discovered a natural product that kills up to 97% of the coronavirus in the body. The researchers published their work in the journal bioRxiv.  

During the study, experts mixed juices with viruses at room temperature and monitored the results. It turned out that black chokeberry juice most effectively suppresses the activity of the virus in the human body – it destroys up to 97% of COVID-19 pathogens in just five minutes.

Scientists have discovered a product that kills coronavirus by 97%

In addition, pomegranate juice can kill up to 80% of the coronavirus pathogens. The rest of natural juices and green tea can also weaken the disease, since they have an acidic environment and plant polyphenols that negatively affect the virus.

Scientists have discovered a product that kills coronavirus by 97% in 5 minutes

In order to get rid of 80% of COVID-19 pathogens, scientists recommended that patients rinse the oropharynx with these solutions and rinse the nasopharynx. The study adds that plant polyphenols and acidic environments have a damaging effect on viral proteins.

During the study, scientists mixed drinks with viral particles and influenza A virus (IAV), adenovirus 5 (AdV5) and SARS-CoV-2. The observation was carried out under room temperature conditions. The experts also worked on swine flu with different juices and teas.

“Preventing the initial infection or reducing the viral load of an infection can relieve symptoms, prevent spread to the lower respiratory tract or transmission to another person,” the study said.

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Science & Technology

Netflix sci-fi show about life on other planets kicks off in December

Netflix sci-fi show about life on other planets kicks off in December 102

In early December, Netflix is ​​launching a new show, Alien Worlds, dedicated to alien planets and the life that might have developed on them.

The show’s creators relied on real facts and astrobiology to imagine creatures that could inhabit the exoplanets that support life in our modern sense.

Naturally, all this is nothing more than speculation. We do not have the opportunity to send missions to these worlds, and even if we build an apparatus for flying to neighboring systems, the journey will take hundreds of years. 

Therefore, scientists are counting on a new generation of telescopes and analysis systems to determine the composition of the atmosphere of exoplanets. Next year, the launch of the James Webb Telescope will take place, which will allow you to look deeper into space. 

Alien Worlds premieres on December 2.

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