U.Va. Computer Science Grad Student Develops ‘Musical Heart’

Musical Heart - UVA Today

Photo: Dan Addison

“Musical Heart works by merging a microphone that detects the pulse in arteries in the ear with earphones that bring in music from a playlist on a smartphone. An app selects tunes that optimize the heart rate of an individual user based on a given activity, whether running, walking or relaxing – playing fast-paced music for hard workouts, and slowing the beat for cool-downs. An algorithm refines the music selection process of the system by storing heart rate data and calculating the effects of selected music on the rate. Over time, it improves music selections to optimize the user’s heart rate.” (Fariss Samarrai, UVA Today)

Computer modelling: Brain in a box

Henry Markram wants €1 billion to model the entire human brain. Sceptics don’t think he should get it.

Computer modelling: Brain in a box - Nature

Image: BBP/EPFL

” ‘Brain researchers are generating 60,000 papers per year,’ said Markram as he explained the concept in Bern. ‘They’re all beautiful, fantastic studies — but all focused on their one little corner: this molecule, this brain region, this function, this map.’ The HBP [Human Brain Project] would integrate these discoveries, he said, and create models to explore how neural circuits are organized, and how they give rise to behaviour and cognition — among the deepest mysteries in neuroscience. Ultimately, said Markram, the HBP would even help researchers to grapple with disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. ‘If we don’t have an integrated view, we won’t understand these diseases,’ he declared.

As the response at the meeting made clear, however, there is deep unease about Markram’s vision.

Scripps Research and Technion Scientists Develop Biological Computer to Encrypt and Decipher Images

“In explaining the work’s union of the often-disparate fields of biology and computer science, Keinan notes that a computer is, by definition, a machine made of four components—hardware, software, input, and output. Traditional computers have always been electronic, machines in which both input and output are electronic signals. The hardware is a complex composition of metallic and plastic components, wires, and transistors, and the software is a sequence of instructions given to the machine in the form of electronic signals.

‘In contrast to electronic computers, there are computing machines in which all four components are nothing but molecules,’ Keinan said. ‘For example, all biological systems and even entire living organisms are such computers. Every one of us is a biomolecular computer, a machine in which all four components are molecules that ‘talk’ to one another logically.’ ” (Mika Ono,Scripps Research Institute)