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Can we use neurons?

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April 6, 2008 1:33:06 PM

I was wondering if anyone has come across any credible information regarding a departure from silicon/transistors in the development of cpu's? Perhaps an ambitious research project somewhere in the world?

More about : neurons

April 6, 2008 3:48:13 PM

referring to the subject line, I'd say about half the people on this forum can't use their neurons.
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April 6, 2008 4:28:15 PM

There is a good book that I recommend reading called Visions by Michio Kaku, He talks about such topics and other avenues. He also wrote Hyperspace.
April 6, 2008 4:32:30 PM

thematrixhazuneo said:
There is a good book that I recommend reading called Visions by Michio Kaku, He talks about such topics and other avenues. He also wrote Hyperspace.


and (this is irrelevant) built his own 'atom smasher' in high school!! :o 
April 6, 2008 4:48:12 PM

I have seen combinational approaches:

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=step-toward-neuro-m...
http://www.livescience.com/health/060327_neuro_chips.ht...

Most envision the addition of cells as biosensors for quick detection of compounds.

I don't think we will see a pure living chip that can out perform a solid state chip, due to size constraints. A neuron can be 10's of microns in size, and is axons maybe down to 100's of nm. Then there are the problems of providing the proper culture/living conditions.
April 6, 2008 6:29:35 PM

I think a chemical/electric comunication is more diverse, but how one would get the most out of that is really the question
April 6, 2008 11:23:03 PM

This is probably way over anyone's head but is really cool when looking at neurons and how they signal.

Neurons use a process called saltatory conduction to speed up signaling. There are insulating coatings called mylen sheaths, which are made up of mainly of fat, that run down the length of the axon. The sheaths create nodes (see the picture in this wiki link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwann_cell) along the axon surface. The electrical signal jumps from node to node instead of traveling down the entire axon. This node to node behavior speeds up signaling tremendously opposed to traveling down the entire axon. Lack of saltatory conduction is actually the cause of MS. The mylen sheaths degrade and force signals to travel down the entire axon and considerably slows down signaling.

With the use of nanotechnology / nanobiology, it would be interesting to see if saltatory conduction could be mimicked and applied to current technology to speed up signaling. Imagine a wire that was a synthetic axon with mylen-like sheaths that forced electrons to travel faster via nodes rather than down the entire length of the wire. Faster signals and less heat is always a good thing. Someone should get on that. [:wr2]
April 7, 2008 12:18:58 AM

I think the best option might be to copy some of the abilities of neurons, but as far as building a processor out of them it seems like it would be the wrong option.
a b à CPUs
April 7, 2008 12:52:03 AM

Why would you want to when you can exploit quantum mechanics instead?
a b à CPUs
April 7, 2008 1:24:57 AM

My brain is too fast, it will fry any computer system.
April 7, 2008 1:31:07 AM

Who knows? Maybe we will have Flux-capacitors in our PC's soon that run on old banana peels and beer. But we might need some of that nano tech in order to produce the 1.21 Jigawatts without mounting the PC on a Delorean and affixing a lighting rod to it.


By the way, where is Biff now anyways?
April 7, 2008 2:11:01 AM

Neu-what?
a b à CPUs
April 7, 2008 2:18:49 AM

When you crazy mofo's create skynet, I'm gonna kick your arses
April 7, 2008 4:20:34 AM

The beast, and the image of the beast
April 7, 2008 5:20:53 AM

sun microsystems is trying lasers. to badgtx1969: neurons are less than 20 nm. maybe you can use atomic or sub-atomic level precision for this and get almost the speed of light. -or if you use charged photons instead of transistors, the information would travel at the speed of light.
April 7, 2008 5:27:01 AM

I can see it now, " My rig is sloooow" Answer: Have you fed your processor? Or, "Cant wait for my dual purpose water cooling/ processor feeding unit to come in from the egg"
April 7, 2008 4:49:13 PM

hahaha. screw wiki. They have been successful in building logic gates with neurons, however, it's quite hard to get them to grow that way. So there will be scalability issues. Not to mention that nobody knows how to program them properly, or that neurons' axio-dendrite interface is way too analog to encode anything. Oh, and don't forget to install the latest microsoft patches with your handy dandy icepick.
April 8, 2008 1:42:49 PM

Mathos said:
referring to the subject line, I'd say about half the people on this forum can't use their neurons.


bingo!
a c 126 à CPUs
April 8, 2008 3:03:01 PM

Hmmm. Lets see. Bio computers. Fun times. Next thing you know there will be premium computer food that you feed for better performance. No more heat really. I would be using more of a Miracle Grow plant stick for my MS updates. Seems more appropriate. Then it dies when I go on vacation.
April 8, 2008 3:40:01 PM

SpinachEater said:
Lack of saltatory conduction is actually the cause of MS. The mylen sheaths degrade and force signals to travel down the entire axon and considerably slows down signaling.


You got that almost right, but you missed. The cause of MS is a presumed to be a virus that infects and makes a T cell rearrangement. These modified T-cells in turn falsely identify the myelin sheath as a foreign body and they attack it, thus exposing the nerve itself, which they then attack as well. Depending on the ferocity of the attack, the nerve may be damaged, thus causing only partital conduction through the axion, or it may be severed entirely. The lack of saltatory conduction is the result of the MS attack, not the cause of it. There's a lot more resaerch going on into the causes and treatments of MS, but so far its remained elusive as far as the actual original cause and thus treatment and either a cure or a vacination remain in the future.

I know a fair amount about MS, as I've had it since 1970, am a member of the NARCOMS research team, and am a doctor, or rather a retired doctor, as the effects of MS long ago ended my career.
April 9, 2008 12:10:19 AM

Sailor, is folding doing anything towards MS?
April 9, 2008 3:11:55 AM

Folding is running a lot of simulations, but the real problem is going through the live patient trials and separating the stuff that works from the stuff that gives a placebo effect. Over 90% of what is tried doesn't make it through live trials for one reason or another. I took some liver damage myself a couple years back from a new drug. The best I know, some, possibly most, of the Folding concentrates on DNA analysis and trying to separate the exact genes involved in MS, verses random defects. One of the things that has been found is that there are a number of subtypes of MS, which is impeding a specific vacination. Things are far better now than they were 30 years ago, and I think that Folding has been helping a lot. If nothing else, it helps keep us from persueing wrong leads.
April 9, 2008 5:16:20 AM

sailer said:
The lack of saltatory conduction is the result of the MS attack, not the cause of it.


Absolutely correct, thanks for catching that. I misspoke by saying cause of MS. I meant the cause of the symptoms associated with MS but in my attempt to oversimplify, I got careless.

I am sorry to hear that it has affected your career in such a way. Hopefully your contributions to the research group will help lead to future treatments and preventions.
April 9, 2008 12:40:27 PM

How much can I OC my neurons before I experience instability?
April 9, 2008 12:47:40 PM

All the more reason to start Folding
April 9, 2008 1:34:01 PM

Can you imagine the boost folding will get when everyone has 16 threaded Nahelems and 8 core gpu's... !

Is folding the one that uses gpu or cpu ?
April 9, 2008 1:39:47 PM

Both, and consoles as well
April 10, 2008 2:37:00 PM

I just wanted to thank everyone who contributed to the thread, my appologies I have had to travel interstate and have been unable to respond. I will investigate every link and ponder every idea, thank you.
a c 126 à CPUs
April 10, 2008 3:40:31 PM

Personally I am iterested in holographics technology. Such as HDDs and so on. Maybe even a 3D based CPU might be interesting. And at the speed of light.
April 14, 2008 5:14:53 AM

unless you have a mass of zero, you cant have the velocity of light
a b à CPUs
April 14, 2008 11:50:59 AM

imrul said:
unless you have a mass of zero, you cant have the velocity of light


very true grasshoppa, very true
April 14, 2008 3:28:09 PM

imrul said:
unless you have a mass of zero, you cant have the velocity of light


Pure conjecture. Tachyons have long been shown to be able to move at speeds beyond that of light. Further, the speed of light is a speed, nothing more. It should be remembered that in times past, many scientists have named speeds that could not be exceeded for one reason or another. Such speeds have included; 35 mph (would cause heart attack), 60 mph (faster than clock measurements), 100 mph, the speed of sound, and others. Not long ago, many people said that the land speed record would never break the speed of sound. Then someone did just that in the Black Rock desert of northern Nevada. The speed of light is just that, a speed, and whether or not it is ever broken depends on whether or not a machine is ever invented that can do it.

Further, as to the speed of light, it is simply a measurement of the speed attained by visible light along the electromagnetic spectrum, with various types of radiation having speeds both below and above what we refer to as the speed of light. Ultra-violet, X-ray and Gamma ray all exhibit speeds that are above that of the speed of visible light. I remember that Carl Sagan once lectured about the problems of going faster than the speed of light, the obstacles of which included difficulties of navigation (can't see where you're going) and the fact that at such velocity, the tiniest particle of dust could prove fatal. While I doubt that anyone will ever break the speed of light, beyond those people within the works of science fiction, the possibility that it could be accomplished should remain open.
April 14, 2008 3:50:46 PM

JAYDEEJOHN said:
I can see it now, " My rig is sloooow" Answer: Have you fed your processor? Or, "Cant wait for my dual purpose water cooling/ processor feeding unit to come in from the egg"


With a neuron CPU, my PC can finally run on Dr. Pepper just like I do.

Does anyone remember an old Eyebeam strip where the lawyers were ecstatic over finding a vending machine with cola free caffeine and sugar?
April 14, 2008 6:06:36 PM

:heink:  . o O (Can we use neurons?)

Sound painful... leave my neurons out of this. I use up plenty of aspirin, no need to buy more. [:mousemonkey:4]
April 14, 2008 6:54:11 PM

snarfies1 said:
FYI, tachyons are theoretical. Nobody has ever, like, SEEN one.

http://www.upscale.utoronto.ca/GeneralInterest/Harrison... is a good explanation of all these subjects.


True enough, nobody has ever "SEEN" one, but the effects have been observed. As to the article you post, it notes that there has been further controversy on the subject of tachyons, light packets (or wave packets). But largely, the whole subject of traveling faster than the speed of light has been argued for around a hundred years and no one can either prove or disprove the possibility. That was the intent of my post, that though traveling faster than the speed of light is argued one way or another, the speed of light is nothing more than a measurement of speed. Perhaps it will someday be broken, perhaps never. But since scientists have been proven wrong a great number of times in the past involving the possibility of going faster than a given speed, they may very well be wrong about concerning the speed of light. At the moment, no one, including myself, has the answer to the question.
April 14, 2008 7:29:41 PM

When you approach the speed of light you weight increases exponentially. The closer you get, the more energy you need to not only maintain speed but to accelerate to the speed of light.

This is one of the hurdles standing in the way...

I remember studying that in Physics II in college.
April 14, 2008 7:39:26 PM

deuce271 said:
When you approach the speed of light you weight increases exponentially. The closer you get, the more energy you need to not only maintain speed but to accelerate to the speed of light.

This is one of the hurdles standing in the way...

I remember studying that in Physics II in college.


That assumes gravitational effects. In deep space, weight in and of itself might not be a problem. But the energy requirement for acceleration remains very high, even without having to overcome the friction from air. There are a great number of theoretical troubles, but no one yet has real answers to all this. Its probably best to leave the matter in the hands and minds of science fiction writers and PC game companies.

On a side note, even if it became possible to attain the speed of light, the closest star that I know of which appears to have a planet is about 100 light years away. The time required to make even that short journey would prevent any real exploration or practical use of light speed.
April 14, 2008 8:00:17 PM

Why not? Blue tooth would be the obvious interface. I could spare a tooth for it! :D 
April 14, 2008 8:19:27 PM

Ummm... okay, I can see the problem getting to the speed of light... but what about the other problem.... STOPPING!!!

WOHHHH Horsie... I said WOHHHHH!!!
April 14, 2008 8:44:31 PM

The amount of energy needed for a space craft to go the speed of light would be so tremendous that it would be impossible. Stopping would be a problem yes.......I think there must be other forms of life that are not bound to the phycical world that can travel the speed of light or faster. But being bound to the the physical world makes a lot of things impossible for us puny humans.
April 14, 2008 8:52:38 PM

Quite right, as Grimmy stated. Even if it was possible to attain such a speed, how long would it take to slow down? I hate to be the subject in such an experiment. Too soon, you're floating in space, toolate, you end up someplace else, perhaps in a black hole?

And yes, bound by the physical world we have to face physical problems. If there is a non-physical world, or as some quantum physics studies suggest, other worlds, then who knows what's possible? I won't give speculation on that. At the moment, I'm more interested in what to eat for lunch. Humm, how about a quick trip to Alpha Centauri, and perhaps find an interstellar Burger King already set up and waiting?
April 14, 2008 9:23:11 PM

If you believe Einstein, the combination of our physical speed through space and speed through time adds up to C (the speed of light in vacuum). So the fastest you can move through space is C, and at that speed time doesnt pass for you. So you don't age, but i guess you wouldnt be able to think or anything either.
Also, xrays, gamma rays, and all light travel at the same speed, just have different frequencies. The speed depends on the medium, but its never faster than c.
April 14, 2008 10:00:02 PM

But even Einstein wasn't sure of his accuracy. And his later studies in quantum physics caused him to question many things that he had previously believed. But all this, of which we may speculate, means nothing in the long run. If you were to talk to a scientist from around 1899 and tell him that in 1999, moving pictures would be transmitted to homes all over the world, that we could see something in America that was happening in China only a few seconds after the fact, that people would travel all over the world at speeds approaching that of sound, that satellites would encircle the earth or any of the other things that we take for granted, he would have laughed himself silly and thought us lunatics. And if you said such things in the 1600s, you might have been burned at the stake, especially if you had a couple battery powered telephones to demonstrate that what you described was real.

I have little doubt that a hundred years from now, people will take for granted things that we can only dream about. Either that, or society will have pretty much destroyed itself and people will wish they had things that we take for granted. As for the speed of light, I maintain that its only a speed and nothing more. Whether it ever can be attained or broken is something that the future will answer. Who knows whether at some point in time someone will make a breakthrough that makes it possible.
April 14, 2008 10:37:57 PM

Einstein was a fraud. He believed in false things such as 'time'. Bam! false pretense. Oh, how about black holes for stopping light speed?
a b à CPUs
April 15, 2008 12:19:14 AM

laxmidd50 said:
So you don't age, but i guess you wouldnt be able to think or anything either.


You do age you just age slower relative to someone traveling slower than you, like the people left behind on our blue orb.
April 15, 2008 2:44:04 AM

to add to the destination question.
if an object is 100 light years away, we are seeing a 100 year old image, taking off towards it, blind, for another 100 years and expecting to get close to it? the odds of it even being the same object that we believed it was 200 years ago is a stretch. i wish i had taken physics though...
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