Mouse Brain Simulated By Supercomputer

A team of researchers from the IBM Almaden Research Lab and the University of Nevada successfully simulated the neural activity of half of a mouse brain on a BlueGene L supercomputer that had 4,096 processors, each one of which used 256MB of memory.

James Frye, Rajagopal Ananthanarayanan, and Dharmendra S Modha set forth their methods in a provocatively titled research note "Towards Real-Time, Mouse-Scale Cortical Simulations".

What is a mouse brain, that we should wish to move towards simulating it? One half of a real mouse brain has about eight million neurons, each of which has up to eight thousand connections with other neurons; it's a very complex system, with a staggering amount of processing power.

The simulation was so computationally intensive that the supercomputer could not even handle real-time mouse cogitation. The researchers ran the simulation at one-tenth speed for only ten seconds.

The researchers say that the simulation does not model the real structures of a mouse brain, although in smaller scale tests they had seen "biologically consistent dynamical properties" in the simulations.

Science fiction fans have been waiting for this one, because it proves that even the most fanciful ideas of sf writers can have value. In his 1962 short story Think Blue, Count Two, Cordwainer Smith wrote about an interstellar space craft that used an enormous light sail to move from star to star over centuries. No human pilot could live long enough; the ship with its miles of sails was controlled by a computer. But what computing device could possibly be found that would be powerful, small and light - because every pound mattered?

Laminated mouse brains, of course.

"This brain isn't frozen," said Tiga-belas indignantly. "It's been laminated. We stiffened it with celluprime and then we veneered it down, about seven thousand layers. Each one has plastic of at least two molecules thickness. This mouse can't spoil. As a matter of fact, this mouse is going to keep on thinking forever. He won't think much, unless we put the voltage on him, but he'll think. And he can't spoil..."
(Read more about the Laminated Mouse Brain Computer)

There are some scientists who are working on harnessing the power of the living brain cells of small mammals. Dr. Yael Hanein of Tel Aviv University is working on Brain Chips With Uniform Self-Organized Neurons. Dr. Thomas DeMarse has created a "brain in a dish" that can play games - see Rat Neurons In A Dish Now Playing Flight Simulator. DeMarse's work was presaged by science fiction writer Peter Watts, who wrote about cultured brains (he called them head cheese) in his 1999 novel Starfish.

Don't miss these other science-fiction, science-fact mouse brain articles:

Read more about the simulation at the BBC.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/30/2007)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Computer ")

String Art Courtesy Of Robot Artist
The number of different ways to span a thread between a larger number of hooks is astronomical.

Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
Well, just speaking brain-to-computer...

IBM's Grain Of Sand Computer
'Our ancestors... thought to make the very sand beneath their feet intelligent...' - Stanislaw Lem, 1965.

Can An Entire Brain Be Simulated In A Computer?
'The miles of relays and photocells had given way to the spongy globe of platinum iridium about the size of the human brain.' - Isaac Asimov, 1941.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Superstrong Multilayer Metal-Graphene Composite Material
Negligible increase in weight increased material strength by hundreds of times.

Deepfakes Imperil Democracy (George Orwell, Right Again)
'All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.'

String Art Courtesy Of Robot Artist
The number of different ways to span a thread between a larger number of hooks is astronomical.

Still Wondering If You'd Work For A Robot Boss?
'This is all coming to you courtesy of the simstim unit wired into your deck, of course.'

World's First Autonomous Tram In Germany
What's it like for autonomous trams when they're turned off at night?

Sleeep PRO Earplug For Maximum Rest
'Merton... placed the electrodes of the sleep-inducer on his forehead.'

Inspired By Japan, Nap Pods For Hajj
It's always a good time for a nap.

Amphibio 3D Printed Gill Shirt
'... we can descend and live down there at one of those year-round aquatic resorts.'

How Do You Put An Asteroid Into Earth Orbit? Carefully!
'...she would have to be coaxed by another series of pats into a circular orbit.'

PD Aerospace Space Plane By 2023
'The sleek, tapered space shuttle lay immobile upon the private landing field...'

Foldimate Folds Your Clothes Perfectly
Look ma, my room is clean! I can hear you now.

Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.

International Space Station Leak Plugged - With Finger
'These tag-alongs search out stray leaks.'

Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but still amazing.

IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...'

ZKZM-500 LASER Assault Rifle
'The Iranian reached back into the locker and got a pair of laserifles.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.