Soren Wheeler, Senior Producer
Soren Wheeler is the Senior Producer at Radiolab, where he plays a variety of roles, including producer, editor, and reporter. He also manages the production staff, and oversees the development of future content.
Scientists like to make computer models of really complicated stuff, like economic markets, global weather, and the beginning of the universe. Now they’ve made a computer model of what might be the most complicated and mysterious object we know of: the brain.
The Blue Brain Project is a collaboration between IBM and a group of scientists in Switzerland. Lead researcher Henry Markram spent 15 years meticulously mapping each and every neuron in the neocortical column of a rat. Now he has a biologically accurate computer model of those 10,000 neurons and the 30 million connections between them. Tests run last November showed that the model really does mimic the behavior of a real brain.
For now, it’s just one part of a rat brain, but it’s a pretty complicated part. And Markram hopes to someday have a similar model of the human brain—100 billion neurons and some ridiculously huge number of connections between them. Blue Brain will likely be used to simulate how a brain might react to drugs or other treatments. But there’s an outside chance that such a model might someday have 'thoughts' of its own.