Previously a 3D map of a small piece of mouse brain was simulated based on slices. New much larger expensive simulations are ongoing. The largest European computer simulation project is , times larger; its first publication was this week. The large European project funded for a billion dollars has just produced its first major paper with a presentation of a brain simulation. This project constructs a supercomputer simulation of a small region of the mouse brain 0.
It has been praised by some and, recently, publicly, attacked by neuroscientists in a letter to a journal as a waste of money. It was produced over twenty years with existing data by 82 scientists in 12 institutions. It simulates 31, neurons and their 37 million synapses using different types of brain cells and millions of connections. An algorithm was built predicting how synapses would form and work. The first neurons were produced by actual recorded data and then the algorithm produced the 31, other neurons and their connections.
The algorithm predicted locations of 40 million synapses and then calculated pruning. The project takes models of different kinds of neurons and their shapes; it positions them at different depths.
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It calculates where they would all touch each other. It first produced million touches. Synapses are given a stimulating or inhibiting character. Five rules of connectivity decide which touches are reasonable and then the algorithm pruned deletes the rest. The result after pruning is 37 million touches or synapses. Experiments with several simulations were performed with these synapses.
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Possible ion flow through the 37 million synapses was calculated from data for a small number of the neurons. The data was extrapolated to all of the neurons in the simulation. This was then compared with electron microscope data. Another simulation studied possible calcium effects. Previous simulations showed bursts similar to sleep not asynchronous awake behavior.
When the simulation calculated calcium for awake animals, it became asynchronous like real brains. Another simulation was of sensory fibers coming into the cortex such as touch information. Neurons were found that fired in three beats or triplets. All of this type of activity has been observed before in the real brain and the simulation identified specific neuron types for the activity.
It is an expensive, interesting project. It is not clear if the assumptions of the algorithm are accurate, nor the results.
Progress and Problems in Brain Mapping
Each will have to be tested over time. Some scientists feel it is a beginning of something. Others feel nothing is learned and it is an expensive waste. Some problems are obvious even to the directors of the project—no glia, complex neuroplasticity, brain waves, cytokines or blood vessels. While neuronal connections are fascinating and fantastic, they are hardly the entire story.
Many posts have been written about the fantastic dynamic levels of activity with astrocytes, microglia, oligodendrocytes and immune cells. The hope for the connectome researchers is that mind is a creation of brain, which is thought to be a computer of some type.
It is spurred by the philosophy that there is no mind and no meaning in the universe, but rather only random molecules bumping into each other and creating an illusion of mind through physical forces.
The latest and best current science shows a large amount of evidence consistent with the new paradigm that mind exists as an integral part of nature like matter and forms of energy. While the work being done to map the brain is extremely valuable and interesting, it is necessary to point out dramatic and potentially insurmountable obstacles in this quest to reduce mind to neural connections. Searching for the Mind with Jon Lieff, M. Skip to content.
Progress and Problems in Brain Mapping. October 11, Each dot of light on fMRI voxel measures average blood flow activity in a region of 80, neurons and 4 million synapses over a second.
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Blood flow is determined by astrocytes. More detailed study showed many small regions all over the brain. Each test was different because of learning effects from one trial to the next The new diffusion MRI techniques measure water, possibly inside and outside the membrane. It is not, yet, clear what this measurement means.
Different types of dendritic spines affect firing Many different kinds of neurons more than a thousand types fire differently in at least 40 different types of regions with unique properties Many different kinds of synapses and post synaptic densities exist throughout the brain Postsynaptic densities are different in different regions and each include thousands of various large complex interlocking proteins.
Individual neurons participate in different neuron subgroup circuits for different tasks.
Small RNA molecules are transported in exoxome sacs from neurons and picked up, like a virus, by other neurons, even quite far away where they are able to alter function. Information transfer between neurons is both hard wired and by wireless cytokine signals and synchronous oscillations.
Detailed study shows most of the brain is used for most mental activities and events. There are no modules, but rather many hubs that are very internally connected and very connected to other distant hubs. Relation between brain circuits, behavior and subjective experience not really known Many Other Problems Brain wave studies show rolling effects all over brain not one region.
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Russell's view is initially purely scientific but in time comes to blend with the views of Hiroko Ai, the chief of the Agricultural Team who assembles a new belief system the "Areophany" devoted to the appreciation and furthering of life "viriditas" ; these views are collectively known as the "Green" position, while Clayborne's naturalist stance comes to be known as "Red.
Additional steps are taken to connect Mars more closely with Earth, including the insertion of an Areosynchronous asteroid " Clarke " to which a space elevator cable is tethered. Against the backdrop of this development is another debate, one whose principal instigator is Arkady Bogdanov of the Russian contingent possibly named in homage to the Russian polymath and science fiction writer Alexander Bogdanov - it is later revealed in Blue Mars that Alexander Bogdanov is an ancestor of Arkady's.
Bogdanov argues that Mars need not and should not be subject to Earth traditions, limitations, or authority. He is to some extent joined in this position by John Boone, famous as the "First Man on Mars" from a preceding expedition and rival to Frank Chalmers, the technical leader of the American contingent. Their rivalry is further exacerbated by competing romantic interest in Maya Katarina Toitovna, the leader of the Russian contingent. In the opening of the book, Chalmers instigates a sequence of events that leads to Boone being assassinated; much of what follows is a retrospective examination of what led to that point.
Earth meanwhile increasingly falls under the control of transnational corporations transnats that come to dominate its governments, particularly smaller nations adopted as "flags of convenience" for extending their influence into Martian affairs. As UNOMA's power erodes, the Mars treaty is renegotiated in a move led by Frank Chalmers; the outcome is impressive but proves short-lived as the transnats find ways around it through loop-holes. Things get worse as the nations of Earth start to clash over limited resources, expanding debt, and population growth as well as restrictions on access to a new longevity treatment developed by Martian science—one that holds the promise of lifespans into the hundreds of years.
In , with Boone dead and exploding immigration threatening the fabric of Martian society, Bogdanov launches a revolution against what many now view as occupying transnat troops operating only loosely under an UNOMA rubber-stamp approval. Initially successful, the revolution proves infeasible on the basis of both a greater-than-expected willingness of the Earth troops to use violence and the extreme vulnerability of life on a planet without a habitable atmosphere.
A series of exchanges sees the cutting of the space elevator, bombardment of several Martian cities including the city where Bogdanov is himself organizing the rebellion; he is killed , the destruction of Phobos and its military complex, and the unleashing of a great flood of torrential groundwater freed by nuclear detonations. By the end, most of the First Hundred are dead, and virtually all who remain have fled to a hidden refuge established years earlier by Ai and her followers.
One exception is Phyllis Boyle, who has allied herself with the transnats; she is on Clarke when the space elevator cable is cut and sent flying out of orbit to a fate unknown by the conclusion of the book. The revolution dies and life on Mars returns to a sense of stability under heavy transnat control. The clash over resources on Earth breaks out into a full-blown world war leaving hundreds of millions dead, but cease-fire arrangements are reached when the transnats flee to the safety of the developed nations, which use their huge militaries to restore order, forming police-states.
But a new generation of humans born on Mars holds the promise of change. In the meantime, the remaining First Hundred —including Russell, Clayborne, Toitovna, and Cherneshevsky— settle into life in Hiroko Ai's refuge called Zygote, hidden under the Martian south pole. Green Mars takes its title from the stage of terraforming that has allowed plants to grow. It picks up the story 50 years after the events of Red Mars in the dawn of the 22nd century, following the lives of the remaining First Hundred and their children and grandchildren. Hiroko Ai's base under the south pole is attacked by UN Transitional Authority UNTA forces, and the survivors are forced to escape into a less literal underground organization known as the Demimonde.
Among the expanded group are the First Hundred's children, the Nisei , a number of whom live in Hiroko's second secret base, Gamete. As unrest in the multinational control over Mars's affairs grows, various groups start to form with different aims and methods. Watching these groups evolve from Earth, the CEO of the Praxis Corporation sends a representative, Arthur Randolph, to organize the resistance movements.
This culminates into the Dorsa Brevia agreement, in which nearly all the underground factions take part. Preparations are made for a second revolution beginning in the s, from converting moholes to missiles silos or hidden bases, sabotaging orbital mirrors, to propelling Deimos out of Mars' gravity well and out into deep space so it could never be used as a weapons platform as Phobos was.
The book follows the characters across the Martian landscape, which is explained in detail. Russell's character infiltrates the transnat terraforming project, with a carefully crafted fake identity as Stephen Lindholm. The newly evolving Martian biosphere is described at great length and with more profound changes mostly aimed at warming up the surface of Mars to the brink of making it habitable, from continent-sized orbital mirrors , another space elevator built using another anchored asteroid that is dubbed "New Clarke" , to melting the northern polar ice cap, and digging moholes deep enough to form volcanoes.
A mainstay of the novel is a detailed analysis of philosophical, political, personal, economic, and geological experiences of the characters. The story weaves back and forth from character to character, providing a picture of Mars as seen by them. Sax, alias Stephen, eventually becomes romantically involved with Phyllis, who had survived the events of from the end of the first novel, but she discovers his true identity and has him arrested.
Members of the underground launch a daring rescue from the prison facility where Sax suffers torture and interrogation that causes him to have a stroke; Maya kills Phyllis in the process of the rescue.
The book ends on a major event which is a sudden catastrophic rise in Earth's global sea levels not caused primarily by any greenhouse effect but by the eruption of a chain of volcanoes underneath the ice of West Antarctica , disintegrating the ice sheet and displacing the fragments into the ocean. The resultant flooding causes global chaos on Earth, creating the perfect moment for the Martian underground to seize control of Martian society from Earth.
Following a series of largely bloodless coups, an extremist faction of Reds bombs a dam near Burroughs, the major city where the remaining United Nations forces have concentrated, in order to force the security forces to evacuate. The entire city is flooded and the population of the city has to walk a staggeringly long distance in the open Martian atmosphere which just barely has the temperature, atmospheric pressure, and gas mixture to support human life to Libya Station, in order to resettle in other locations.
With this, control of Mars is finally wrested away from Earth with minimal loss of life, leaving the weary survivors hopeful about the prospects of their newfound political autonomy. Blue Mars takes its title from the stage of terraforming that has allowed atmospheric pressure and temperature to increase so that liquid water can exist on the planet's surface, forming rivers and seas.
It follows closely in time from the end of Green Mars and has a much wider scope than the previous two books, covering an entire century after the second revolution. As Earth is heavily flooded by the sudden melting of the Antarctic ice cap, the once mighty metanats are brought to their knees; as the Praxis Corporation paves a new way of "democratic businesses". Mars becomes the "Head" of the system, giving universal healthcare, free education, and an abundance of food.
However, this sparks illegal immigration from Earth, so to ease the population strain on the Blue Planet, Martian scientists and engineers are soon put to the task of creating asteroid cities; where small planetoids of the Belt are hollowed out, given a spin to produce gravity , and a mini-sun is created to produce light and heat.
With a vast increase in sciences, technologies, and spacecraft manufacturing, this begins the "Accelerando"; where humankind spreads its civilization throughout the Solar System, and eventually beyond.