background preloader

Bioengineers Build Circuit Board Modeled On The Human Brain

Bioengineers Build Circuit Board Modeled On The Human Brain
Stanford scientists have generated a hardware system based on the human brain that is capable of simulating, in real-time, a million neurons with billions of synaptic connections using only a similar amount of power to what is required to run a tablet computer. The results have been published in Proceedings of the IEEE. Generating models that can simulate brain activity is tricky business. In this study scientists generated system that they are calling Neurogrid, which is comprised of 16 “Neurocore” chips integrated together on a circuit board. This new system could open up new doors in robotics and brain modeling, and the scientists hope that it may eventually be transitioned into an affordable system which can be widely used by researchers without requiring extensive knowledge of the workings of the brain. Unfortunately a drawback at the moment is the high costs involved in development; each Neurogrid costs around $40,000. Related:  Synthetic Biology and metabolic engineeringInfoTech Advances

If synthetic biologists think like scientists, they may miss their eureka moment Synthetic biology is an emerging discipline, but paradoxically it is not particularly new. Since the mid-1970s we have been developing ways of instructing pieces of biology to perform useful tasks in an ever more efficient and sustainable way. Much of this has found its expression in industrial biotechnology, manufacturing things like drugs, enzymes and proteins. You could conceive of synthetic biology as writing little DNA programs that instruct cell behaviour, like a little genetic app. We borrow the cell’s machinery, its metabolism, and run the app. First base In first-generation biotech, the instructions were very simple, such as, “make drug”. Now most of it is manufactured by genetically modified yeast. Click to enlarge Contemporary first-generation biotech has become very good at instructions like, “make lots of drug” or “make lots of enzyme”. One that is hypothesised is to reprogramme bacteria that could be introduced into the body. The known unknowns

DNA Hard Drive Could Store Data For Millions Of Years Inspired by fossilized bones, researchers say they’ve found a way to preserve data in the form of DNA encased in silica. The findings, published in Angewandte Chemie this week, could lead to a way of preserving digital information permanently, or for a few millennia. Compared to ancient scrolls that have survived for thousands of years, the information written on servers and hard drives will last for a surprisingly short amount of time: 50 years or so. The latest development in long-term, error-free DNA storage comes from an ETH Zurich team led by Robert Grass. The team encoded Switzerland's Federal Charter of 1291 and “The Methods of Mechanical Theorems” by Archimedes in DNA (that’s about 83 kilobytes of data). To simulate data-destroying conditions over hundreds of years, they stored the DNA sheathed in glass at 60 to 70 degrees Celsius for up to a month. Additionally, to help keep errors low, the team also developed an algorithm to correct mistakes in the data.

Bio-inspired transparent synthetic materials could protect cars and people A Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) image of the region surrounding an indentation the researchers made in a piece of shell from Placuna placenta. The image shows the localization of damage to the area immediately surrounding the stress. (Credit: Ling Li and James C. Weaver) MIT researchers have analyzed the shells of a sea creature, the mollusk Placuna placenta to determine exactly why they are so resistant to penetration and damage — even though they are 99 percent calcite, a weak, brittle mineral. The properties of this natural armor make it a promising template for the development of bio-inspired synthetic materials for both commercial and military applications — such as windows and windshields, eye and face protection for soldiers, and blast shields, says Christine Ortiz, the MIT Morris Cohen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. How natural exoskeletons withstand attacks Broken windshield (credit: Daniel Ramirez/Wikimedia Commons) Abstract of Nature Materials paper

Stanford engineers invent radical ‘high-rise’ 3D chips A four-layer prototype high-rise chip built by Stanford engineers. The bottom and top layers are logic transistors. Sandwiched between them are two layers of memory. The vertical tubes are nanoscale electronic “elevators” that connect logic and memory, allowing them to work together efficiently. (Credit: Max Shulaker, Stanford) Stanford engineers have build 3D “high-rise” chips that could leapfrog the performance of the single-story logic and memory chips on today’s circuit cards, which are subject to frequent traffic jams between logic and memory. The Stanford approach would attempt to end these jams by building layers of logic atop layers of memory to create a tightly interconnected high-rise chip. The work is led by Subhasish Mitra, a Stanford associate professor of electrical engineering and of computer science, and H. “This research is at an early stage, but our design and fabrication techniques are scalable,” Mitra said. Overcoming silicon heat RRAM memory Interconnected layers

Scientists Engineer First Bone Marrow-On-A-Chip Scientists from Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have described a method for producing a device which closely mimics the composition and architecture of actual bone marrow. This bone marrow-on-a-chip is the first of its kind and adds to the growing repertoire of organs-on-a-chip that this institute has developed. The study has been published in Nature Methods. This new device could have numerous important applications in medicine. At the forefront of this pioneering technology is Don Ingber, Founding Director of the Wyss Institute. This new device, however, may finally allow scientists to move away from a dependence on in vivo models. In order to make these devices in the past, scientists combined numerous different cell types from a particular organ on a microfluidic chip and supplied it with nutrients whilst removing waste products. If you'd like to find out more, check out this video from the Wyss Institute:

Can We Make the Hardware Necessary for Artificial Intelligence? My POV is hardware driven, I do electronic design. I don’t present myself as “an authority” on Artificial Intelligence, much less “an authority” on sentient artificial intelligence, until they are Real Things, there is no such thing as an authority in that field. That said, if the hardware doesn’t exist to support sentient AI, doesn’t matter how wonderful the software is.

Biodegradable Plastic Option From Shrimp Shells From the depths of the oceans to stomachs of whales waste plastics are out of control. Now there is a new entry in the quest for an alternative that won't require us to get more responsible about littering, although vegetarians may have very mixed feelings. Plastic waste is a classic tragedy of the commons problem. Even if we were able to get 90% of the people who currently dump products without thinking to mend their ways, the rest would still end up destroying marine life the rest of us love, just a little more slowly. Twenty years ago there were hopes that starch or cellulose-based plastics would solve the problem. So the Harvard Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering went looking for a different bioplastic base. The Institute's substitute for plastic bags is a product made by combining chitosan with a protein from silk, which has been named Shrilk. Photo Gallery

A New Circuit Board Mimics Billions of Brain Synapses at Once The human brain is a pretty sweet organ to have working for us. It's fun to think that, as we push harder and harder into the computing future, we just have this biological thing as a default: the fastest processor(s), the most intelligent AI, and I/O capabilities to put your Oculus Rift to shame and really any future Oculus Rift as well. And it was free! OK, sort of free, anyhow: the upkeep can be intense, and if you have to send it in for repairs, well, good luck. Scientists and computer engineers recognized a long time ago that successfully emulating the brain would win computing. To put the relative limits of technological computing into perspective, consider that the cortex of a mere mouse brain operates 9,000 times faster than the fastest computer simulation of that cortex. The board, the product of a team based at Stanford University, consists of 16 custom-designed "Neurocore" chips combined into one board about the size of an iPad known as the Neurogrid.

Two New Letters for the DNA Alphabet Scientists keep getting better at rewriting the book of life. Adding, deleting, and splicing genes has become routine, and some researchers are now even designing DNA for creatures. While many are hard at work rearranging letters on the page, a new experiment is redefining the concept of synthetic biology by writing new letters. As they reported today in the journal Nature, a team of biologists led by Floyd Romesberg at the Scripps Research Institute have expanded the genetic alphabet of DNA—the As, Cs, Gs, and Ts that write the book of life—to include two new letters. “This is a very major accomplishment in our efforts to inch towards a synthetic biology," says Steven Benner, a synthetic biologist at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution who was not involved in the study. With a Little Help From My Fungus The history of these new letters—which the scientists call X and Y—can be traced back to 1998 when Rosmeberg and his colleagues first tinkered with the idea. Credit: Synthorx

Google has developed a technology to tell whether 'facts' on the Internet are true - Futurism | Futurism Synopsis A team of computer scientists at Google has proposed a way to rank search results not by how popular Web pages are, but by their factual accuracy. Summary Basically, to evaluate a stated fact, you only need two things: the fact and a reference work to compare it to. DNA nanobots deliver drugs in living cockroaches - health - 08 April 2014 It's a computer – inside a cockroach. Nano-sized entities made of DNA that are able to perform the same kind of logic operations as a silicon-based computer have been introduced into a living animal. The DNA computers – known as origami robots because they work by folding and unfolding strands of DNA – travel around the insect's body and interact with each other, as well as the insect's cells. When they uncurl, they can dispense drugs carried in their folds. "DNA nanorobots could potentially carry out complex programs that could one day be used to diagnose or treat diseases with unprecedented sophistication," says Daniel Levner, a bioengineer at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University. Levner and his colleagues at Bar Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel, made the nanobots by exploiting the binding properties of DNA. A bug's life The team has now injected various kinds of nanobots into cockroaches. Commodore cockroach Journal reference: Nature Nanotechnology, DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2014.58

DARPA, IBM Neurosynaptic Chip and Programming Language Mimic the Brain DARPA, IBM Neurosynaptic Chip and Programming Language Mimic the Brain Engineering is often inspired by nature—the hooks in velcro or dermal denticles in sharkskin swimsuits. Then there’s Darpa's SyNAPSE project. Not content with current computer architecture, SyNAPSE is building a new kind of computer based on the brain. Last year, scientists working on SyNAPSE announced they’d simulated 100 trillion synapses from a monkey brain on Sequoia, one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. Now, instead of simply writing brain-inspired algorithms for traditional systems, they’ve invented an entirely new "neuromorphic" chip, True North, and an accompanying programming language to build applications on it. IBM’s Dharmendra S. The way computers currently manipulate information, shuttling it back and forth between memory and processor, is named after the early computer scientist John von Neumann. But the classical approach isn't well suited for creative, adaptive intelligence.

Self-healing engineered muscle grown in ‘bionic mouse’ Engineered muscle fiber stained to observe growth after implantation into a mouse (credit: Duke University) Duke University biomedical engineers have grown living skeletal muscle that resembles the real thing. It contracts powerfully and rapidly, integrates into mice quickly, and for the first time, demonstrates the ability to heal itself both inside the laboratory and inside an animal. The researchers watched the muscle growth in real time through a window on the back of a living, walking mouse. Both the lab-grown muscle and experimental techniques are important steps toward growing viable muscle for studying diseases and treating injuries, said Nenad Bursac, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Duke. The results appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition March 31. “The muscle we have made represents an important advance for the field,” Bursac said. “Simply implanting satellite cells or less-developed muscle doesn’t work as well,” said Juhas.