They’re making brains in vats…

Posted on May 7, 2012

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Researchers from Leeds and Tokyo University have found a way to build the components of a bio-computer, capable of transferring information through lipid-based “wires” and bacterial “magnets”:

“Magnet-making bacteria may be building biological computers of the future, researchers have said. A team from the UK’s University of Leeds and Japan’s Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology have used microbes that eat iron. As they ingest the iron, the microbes create tiny magnets inside themselves, similar to those in PC hard drives.”

“Besides using microorganisms to produce magnets, the researchers also managed to create tiny electrical wires from living organisms. They created nano-scale tubes made from the membrane of artificial cells, grown in a lab-controlled environment with the help of a protein present in human lipid molecules […] Such tubes could in future be used as microscopic bio-engineered wires, capable to transfer information – just like cells do in our bodies – inside a computer, Dr Masayoshi Tanaka from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology told the BBC.”

In the future, the brain in a vat may not just be a philosophical metaphor.

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