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Bio Computer Roundup

April 30, 2010

The cat’s lightning-fast hunting instincts of inspire new computer circuit design.


A computer quick as a cat. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The brain of a cat weighs just one ounce, yet it can recognize a mouse faster than a supercomputer can. Researchers at the University of Michigan are creating new kinds of circuits in an attempt to make an electronic version of a cat brain. The key is something called a memristor – an adaptable computer circuit with a memory. Like the synapses of the brain, it can select and strengthen different pathways, gradually learning and optimizing its own performance.

In related news, a European consortium is working on a project called PERPLEXUS that also aims to create biologically inspired circuits. They’ve developed modules the size of a cell phone that can reconfigure themselves and link wirelessly to other modules nearby. The modules can sense data from their environment, share information with other modules, and adapt to different circumstances. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.