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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

World’s Fastest Computer Will Operate Like a Human Brain



World’s Fastest Computer Will Operate Like a Human Brain





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World’s Fastest Computer Will Operate Like a Human Brain

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?


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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What are your thoughts on building a computer brain? Let us know in the comments below.

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SUBTITLES IN ENGLISH, ESPAÑOL, PORTUGUÊS

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How to Digitally Record/Video a UFO sighting:


Como registar digitalmente ou gravar um vídeo de um avistamento de um UFO:




Stabilize the camera on a tripod. If there is no tripod, then set it on top of a stable, flat surface. If that is not possible lean against a wall to stabilize your body and prevent the camera from filming in a shaky, unsteady manner.

Estabilize a camera com um tripé. Se não tiver um tripé, então coloque-a em cima de uma superfície estável. Se não for possível, então encoste-se a uma parede para estabilizar o corpo e evitar que a camera registe de maneira tremida e instável.

Provide visual reference points for comparison. This includes the horizon, treetops, lampposts, houses, and geographical landmarks (i.e., Horsetooth Reservoir, Mt. Adams, etc.) Provide this in the video whenever is appropriate and doesn’t detract from what your focus is, the UFO.

Forneça pontos visuais de referência para comparação. Isso inclui o horizonte, cimo das árvores, postes de iluminação, pontos de referência geográficos (como o Reservatório de Horsetooth, Mone Adams, etc) Forneça esses pontos no vídeo sempre que for apropriado e não se distraia do que é o seu foco, o UFO/a Nave.

Narrate your videotape. Provide details of the date, time, location, and direction (N,S,E,W) you are looking in. Provide your observations on the weather, including approximate temperature, windspeed, any visible cloud cover or noticeable weather anomalies or events. Narrate on the shape, size, color, movements, approximate altitude of the UFO, etc and what it appears to be doing. Also include any unusual physical, psychological or emotional sensations you might have. Narrate any visual reference points on camera so they correlate with what the viewer will see, and thereby will be better able to understand.

Faça a narração do vídeo. Forneça pormenores sobre a data, hora, local e direcção (Norte, Sul, Este, Oeste) que está a observar. Faça observações sobre as condições atmosféricas, incluindo a temperatura aproximada, velocidade do vento, quantidade de nuvens, anomalias ou acontecimentos meteorológicos evidentes. Descreva a forma, o tamanho, a cor, os movimentos, a altitude aproximada onde se encontra o UFO/nave, etc e o que aparenta estar a fazer. Inclua também quaisquer aspectos pouco habituais de sensações físicas, psicológicas ou emocionais que possa ter. Faça a narração de todos os pontos de referência visual que o espectador irá ver e que, deste modo, será capaz de compreender melhor.

Be persistent and consistent. Return to the scene to videotape and record at this same location. If you have been successful once, the UFO sightings may be occurring in this region regularly, perhaps for specific reasons unknown, and you may be successful again. You may also wish to return to the same location at a different time of day (daylight hours) for better orientation and reference. Film just a minute or two under “normal” circumstances for comparison. Write down what you remember immediately after. As soon as you are done recording the experience/event, immediately write down your impressions, memories, thoughts, emotions, etc. so it is on the record in writing. If there were other witnesses, have them independently record their own impressions, thoughts, etc. Include in this exercise any drawings, sketches, or diagrams. Make sure you date and sign your documentation.

Seja persistente e não contraditório. Volte ao local da cena e registe o mesmo local. Se foi bem sucedido uma vez, pode ser que nessa região ocorram avistamentos de UFOs/naves com regularidade, talvez por razões específicas desconhecidas, e talvez possa ser novamente bem sucedido. Pode também desejar voltar ao mesmo lugar a horas diferentes do dia (durante as horas de luz)para ter uma orientação e referência melhor. Filme apenas um ,inuto ou dois em circunstâncias “normais” para ter um termo de comparação. Escreva tudo o que viu imediatamente após o acontecimento. Logo após ter feito o registo da experiência/acontecimento, escreva imediatamente as impressões, memórias, pensamentos, emoções, etc para que fiquem registadas por escrito. Se houver outras testemunhas, peça-lhes para registar independentemente as suas próprias impressões, pensamentos, etc. Inclua quaisquer desenhos, esbolos, diagramas. Certifique-se que data e assina o seu documento/testemunho.

Always be prepared. Have a digital camera or better yet a video camera with you, charged and ready to go, at all times. Make sure you know how to use your camera (and your cell phone video/photo camera) quickly and properly. These events can occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and often quite randomly, so you will need to be prepared.

Esteja sempre preparado, Tenha sempre uma camera digital, melhor ainda, uma camera vídeo consigo, carregada e pronta a usar sempre que necessário. Certifique-se que sabe como lidar com a sua camera (ou com o seu celular/camera fotográfica) rápida e adequadamente. Esses acontecimentos podem acontecer súbita e inesperadamente e, por vezes, acidentalmente, por isso, necessita estar preparado.

Look up. Be prepared. Report. Share.

Olhe para cima, Esteja preparado, Relate, Partilhe.

MUFON.COM

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