The Blue Brain isn’t really a brain: it just acts exactly like one. Ever since Henry Markram, a neuroscientist at the EPFL, decided that he wanted to build a cortex from scratch on a supercomputer, a dozen researchers have been toiling away, carefully programming thousands of IBM microchips to behave just like real neurons in a human brain. Last year, the Blue Brain team announced that they had successfully completed the first stage of the project: constructing an accurate circuit of 10,000 cells. (Many scientists said this couldn’t be done.) When the supercomputer is turned on, these simulated cells weave themselves into meaningful patterns of activity?they fire and wire together?just like your own brain cells are doing right now.
The team has now posted a series of gorgeous videos online, as they explore their three-dimensional circuit with the help of a powerful SGI supercomputer. The clips are like an Imax movie, except instead of zooming across the Serengeti you get to travel through your own dendritic forest.
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