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A Molecular Computer That Mimics the Brain

"Weird" computer is made of two layers of organic material

3 min read
A Molecular Computer That Mimics the Brain
Image: National Institute for Materials Science

18 May 2010—A team of scientists from Japan and the United States reports that it has figured out how to build a massively parallel computer-like device using organic molecules. But some experts wonder how useful it could be. The new computer, which was described in a recent issue of Nature Physics, is just a couple of molecular layers thick and mimics some aspects of the way the human brain performs calculations.

“Our objective has always been to build a computer that solves intractable problems [and to] replace complex software with hardware,” says Anirban Bandyopadhyay, the team leader and a scientist at Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science, in Tsukuba. Bandyopadhyay’s team is particularly interested in mirroring the brain’s structure to perform parallel computations—something modern computers are not well suited for but at which the human brain excels.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan
LightGreen

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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