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Human brain model and graphene win science's X Factor

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January 28, 2013 – Comments (0)

Awesome. Graphene especially continues to get more and more recognition. And the increased interest will bring more bright minds and more breakthroughs.

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Human brain model and graphene win science's X Factor
15:36 28 January 2013 by Jessica Griggs
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23111-human-brain-model-and-graphene-win-sciences-x-factor.html


What to do with a cool €1 billion? How about "build a CERN for the brain"?

That's what Henry Markram, director of the Human Brain Project (HBP), intends to do now that the project has won one of two €1 billion European research prizes, to be paid out over the next 10 years. The other winner is a project that aims to unlock the potential of supermaterial graphene.

The HBP is a quest to simulate a brain in a supercomputer. It is the successor to the Blue Brain Project, which kicked off in 2005 and succeeded in modelling the cortical column of a rat brain on a cellular level. According to a project spokesperson from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, the next stage is to move on to the human brain. This will involving "expanding in all directions" and making the models bigger and more detailed.

The hope is that the model, once built, will be used to identify biomarkers that could be used to diagnose neurodegenerative diseases, to test combinations of different drugs and to help build neuromorphic computers based on components found in the brain. Researchers from around the world will be able to use the simulation in a similar way to how astronomers would reserve observation time on a telescope.

Flexible conductor

The goal of the graphene project is to take advantage of the exotic properties of the one-atom-thick wonder material that won its creators the 2010 physics Nobel prize. Jari Kinaret of Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden, says that the flexible conductor will be used to make electronic paper, printed electronics and new kinds of personal communications devices such as those integrated into clothing.

Also on the to-do list are batteries for electric vehicles, lightweight medical implants made out of graphene nanocomposites and solar cells that take advantage of the material's ability to conduct light as well as electricity.

"The first products seen on market will be a golf club or tennis racket. This won't take 10 years," says Kinaret. "This was one of the strengths of our proposal – there is low-hanging fruit as well as long-term goals."

Read more: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23111-human-brain-model-and-graphene-win-sciences-x-factor.html

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