Supercomputer Aurora 21 will map the human brain, starting in 2021

Between your ears lies a miracle of nature, with more connections than our galaxy has stars. In the past, the idea of mapping the connectome—or the interconnected neuronal pathways of the brain (the white matter), was thought impossible. Now, a group of scientists are planning to do just that. How? They plan on using an oncoming supercomputer with tremendous power. Should they be successful, it could stand as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science. And that’s just one of the project’s scientists at Argonne National Laboratory are planning, with Aurora 21 (A21).

Intel, IBM, and other tech giants are currently working together to create this mind-blowing supercomputer that’ll run a quintillion operations simultaneously. This will be the first exascale supercomputer in the US. It’s set to go live in 2021. Originally, the US Department of Energy (DOE) reported a 2023 unveiling. But when China announced it was to have its own (exascale supercomputer) by 2020, the DOE stepped up its schedule. Those involved with the project say it’s humming along and should be completed on time.

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In quantum entanglement first, scientists link distant large objects

Light goes through the atomic cloud in the center and falls onto the membrane on the left. Because of the interaction with light the precession of atomic spins and vibration of the membrane become quantum correlated. Credit: Niels Bohr Institute

Researchers accomplished quantum entanglement between a mechanical oscillator and a cloud of atoms.The feat promises application in quantum communication and quantum sensors.Quantum entanglement involves linking two objects, making them behave as one at a distance.

Scientists entangled two large quantum objects, both at different locations from each other, in a quantum mechanics first. The feat is a step towards practical application of a rather counterintuitive phenomenon and was accomplished by a team from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.

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Unraveling the Potential of the Unconscious Mind

People can learn to use the non-conscious content in their brains to make profitable decisions. Findings suggest a novel form of non-conscious metacognition.

Source: ATR Brain Information Communications Research Laboratory Group

We are conscious beings, yet most of the activity in our brains remains nonconscious. Can we harness this hidden pool of information? Notably, one important challenge is the astronomical vastness and complexity of such nonconscious information. How can the human brain ‘know’ what aspects of such complex activity may be relevant, given that it is by definition nonconscious and thereby ‘unknown’? There is no magic formula to solve this problem, and research in artificial intelligence suggests that even the best of our current algorithms struggle to handle this vastness of dimensionality in everyday, real-life problems.

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Quantum Physics May Upend Our Macroscopic Reality In The Universe

If a tree falls in the forest and someone is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Perhaps not.

Once again, quantum physics is calling our concept of reality into question.

If you are familiar with quantum physics, you know that on very tiny scales, the Universe is very weird. Particles act like particles and waves at the same time. An electron may be in one location, and then suddenly in another location, without ever passing through a point between those two spots. Or even a single particle can interact with itself.

But on the macroscopic scale, things are more “normal”. At least, we think. But perhaps quantum physics also affects us, as macroscopic observers. And recent research published in Nature Physics says for even macroscopic observers, quantum physics may call our reality into question.

Tenets Of Reality That Are True… Or Are They?

As macroscopic observers, we can say three things about reality.

  1. If you see an event happening, it really happened.
  2. You can make free choices. Particles can make “free choices” too, which are statistically probabilistic.
  3. If something happens, it can’t instantaneously affect something far away. Information can only travel so fast, normally governed by the universal speed limit – the speed of light.

Let’s compare these with reality on a quantum level.

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This brain balancing act allows consciousness

Two types of thinking have a time-sharing deal going on in your brain.

  • Your DMN and DAT neural networks cooperate by staying out of each other’s way.
  • FMRI scans reveal a surprising temporal dance.
  • When both systems are at the same activity level, boom, you’re unconscious.

While consciousness remains “the hard problem” — as in what exactly is it? Where is it? — a new study published in Science Advances sheds surprising light on how the brain switches us from conscious to unconscious states and vice versa. It has something to do with an imbalance between two neural systems. In fact, consciousness requires that imbalance.

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This nifty infographic is a great introduction to neuroplasticity

It’s startling to think about how we’ve got a spaceship billions of miles away rendezvousing with Pluto, yet here on Earth there are major aspects of our own anatomy that we’re almost completely ignorant about. We’ve climbed Everest, sent men to the moon, and invented the Internet — but we still don’t know how our brains work. The positive outlook is that many health, science, and research specialists believe we’re on the precipice of some major neuroscientific breakthroughs.

One example of a recent discovery with major implications is our further understanding of neuroplasticity. Simply put, we used to think our brain was what it was — unchangeable, unalterable. We were stuck with what nature gave us. In actuality, our brains are like plastic. We can alter neurochemistry to change beliefs, thoughts processes, emotions, etc. You are the architect of your brain. You also have the power to act against dangerous impulses such as addiction. The therapeutic possibilities here are endless.

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How do birds navigate? Quantum entanglement suggests

  • Birds’ navigation using Earth’s very faint magnetic fields suggests an incredible level of sensitivity.
  • There’s reason to think that sensitivity may be based on quantum entanglement in cryptochrome in their eyes.
  • Identifying the role of quantum physics in biology could lead, well, who knows where?

Okay, this is far from confirmed, but it’s pretty radical, and exciting. It’s a possible and plausible answer to a question that’s puzzled biologists ever since the manner in which birds navigate became apparent. The question is: How can birds possibly be able to perceive and follow something as faint as the Earth’s magnetic field? The possible answer? It may be that they perceive it through the interaction of entangled quantum particles in their eyes.

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