18 November 2010

The Human Brain

From cnet news comes a story about the human brain. Well, it's really a mouse brain that was experimented on, and not even a real mouse, a chimera created by combining DNA from a mouse and a jelly fish.

In the story we learn that "A typical, healthy one houses some 200 billion nerve cells, which are connected to one another via hundreds of trillions of synapses. Each synapse functions like a microprocessor, and tens of thousands of them can connect a single neuron to other nerve cells. In the cerebral cortex alone, there are roughly 125 trillion synapses, which is about how many stars fill 1,500 Milky Way galaxies."

Not only are there hundreds of trillions of synapses, but each synapse has around 1,000 "molecular-scale switches," more than all the computers on earth. Once again we are shown how the human brain is the most complex thing in the known universe and that the ideas certain people ("transhumanists" and such) entertain regarding the possibility, or certainty, of artificial intelligence, or of downloading minds onto computers, are patently absurd.

The story also included a video where some scientists used new imaging technology to view the workings of the chimera neurons.