Now, I’ll bet you find yourself asking, “What is a connectome?”
A connectome is a comprehensive map of the neural connections in the brain of a given species.
In it’s ultimate form, it’s every single connection of every single neuron in the entire brain.
In the human brain this is a complexity that is simply mind boggling!
According to various estimates, the human cerebral cortex (aka “The Gray Matter”) consists of at least 10^10 neurons with the entire brain at about 10^11. These neurons are then linked together by between 10^15 and 10^14 synaptic connections.
In comparison, the observable universe contains about 3 to 7 × 10^22 stars. (1 Billion = 10^9), and the entire human genome contains only about 25.000 genes!
Now if every synaptic connection could be represented by a single byte (which it can’t), it would take somewhere between 100 Terabytes and 1 Petabyte of data to store the connectome of the human brain.
The video link below gives a good visual understanding of the structure of the human brain. Zooming in from macro to micro structure, covering the low level function of single neurons and their intertwined activity through neuronal connections (synapses).
Regarding the state of present and future research in connectomics, Professor Sebastian Seung explains it all passionately in the TED|VID below.
He also puts forth the proposition that: “I Am My Connectome” and continues to speculates on the possibility of “Man’s Resurrection ;)”. Or to put it a little more precisely, wether the connectomes of the people, who have chosen to been frozen in liquid nitrogen after their death, still remains intact?
(The real question of interest, to me however, is still when we’ll se the dawn of the ever elusive NPU’s? )
Carter Emmart demos a 3D atlas of the universe
Carter Emmart is the astronomer giving the lecture in the TED|VID above.
If you want to know why you shoud listen to his ideas then read:
The recently launched Kepler space telescope is starting to pay off big time.
Over 700 exo-planet candidates has been found so far and although only 7 has been confirmed so far (as actual existing exo-planets) the statistics are staggering.
When you compare the number of exo-planet candidates with the number of stars that has been searched by Kepler and the total number of stars in the Milky Way you find that:
1) Earth like planerts (in size and mass) seems to be the most common planet type.
2) The Milky Way properly contains about 100 MILLION!!! of these exo-planets in habitable orbits.
Need I say more?
Please check out this awesome TED Talk where Dimitar Sasselov explains the hole deal in far greater detail.