Dicing Arthur Dent's Brain

Posted 3 Feb 2008 at 00:34 UTC by steve Share This

Fans of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will no doubt remember Arthur Dent's shock when the mice tell him they need to remove and dice his brain in order to retrieve from it the question that will make sense of the ultimate answer of life, the universe, and everything. According to a Wired article, Harvard Scientists appear to be following the same line of research. They're using a new machine, called the ATLUM, that slices and dices brains into ultrathin sections from which the physical neural connections can be transcribed. ATLUM stands for Automatic Tape-collecting Lathe UltraMicrotome, in case you were wondering. You may recall our earlier article on MIT scientists working on a similar computational neuroanatomy project in the new field of connectomics. The goal is to create a "connectome", a complete network diagram of the neurons in the brain. The human brain connectome would contain "hundreds of petabytes of information, or about the total amount of storage in Google's data centers".

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