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Blue Brain

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - 11:55 AM

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.

One of our favorite science writers, Jonah Lehrer, has an in-depth story about Blue Brain on the cover of this month’s Seed Magazine. You might remember Jonah from our show on Musical Language.


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Comments [1]

bill d

This is the premise behind:
The Terminator
The Matric
the tv show Battlestar Gallactica

How long before the machines see us as the other, and decide to enslave us in a science fictiony way?

By the way I love Radiolab, I am on my third listening of most of the programs.

Feb. 15 2008 09:18 PM

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