Documenting the Coming Singularity

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Peering into the Human Brain: Nanoscale Resolution MRI

Reverse-engineering the human brain is the goal of many researchers in their quest to understand how it works and to construct machine equivalents. It is believed that supercomputers will achieve the computational power of human brains by about 2020, personal computers just a few years later, so figuring out the details of the brain's structure and functioning needs to keep pace. A major challenge in this has been the limits of MRI resolution, which is why the news of a major breakthrough has such significance.

physicsweb reports,
Researchers in the US have used an alternative form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to visualize objects with a resolution of just 90 nm. The best conventional MRI microscopes, in contrast, typically have a resolution of about 3 ┬Ám. The researchers claim the technique, known as magnetic resonance force microscopy, could be used to map out the structure of nanometre-scale structures such as proteins and pharmaceutical drugs.
We can expect the power of MRIs to continue to resolve smaller and smaller structures, and the preternatural sagacity of Ray Kurzweil and others like him to prove correct. Reverse-engineering the brain and building conscious machines using that knowledge will certainly occur, and I'm thinking it'll be sooner rather than later. Stay tuned.

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