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Computer breakthrough
In an effort to break the looming logjam in computer speed, a group of scientists at the University of Alaska Polar Research Institute have announced the formation of the Biological Random Access Intelligence Network.

dimbulbThe network will focus on the promising field of biological intelligence. The scientists admit that biological intelligence is entirely speculative, but it could help sidestep the physical constraints destined to halt the march to ever-faster computers with ever-smaller parts.

The laws of quantum mechanics, for example, say electrons will "tunnel" through the insulators of ultra-small transistors. Thus researchers are dumping the traditional approach to intelligence -- digital systems based on silicon -- in favor of analog devices based on carbon.

While still experimental, the quest for biological-based intelligence has practical underpinnings. Carbon is common at the Earth's surface, and its unique bonding capabilities could lead to hyper-speed information processors.

The initiative is the brainchild of Newkome Nerdsome, Ph.D., a veteran researcher into analog intelligence. "There's no proof that biological intelligence is real," he says, "but we've gotten promising results by exploiting the Bose-Einstein effect."

Oldie but goodie
About three-quarters of a century ago, two physicists predicted the existence of an extremely weird state of matter at fractions of a degree above absolute zero. duhThe Bose-Einstein state (sometimes dubbed Alaska II) was first achieved four years ago.

It didn't take long to realize that the coolest of physical states was a natural interest for Alaska, where cold is more abundant than computer factories. "The BRAIN initiative grew out of our need to make Alaska self-sufficient in processing power," said Governor George Glacieux. "Alaskans pride themselves on independence. The oil is almost pumped out, and we need to sell what we have to the world."

In the Bose-Einstein state, the random thermal vibrations of atoms cease, and millions of atoms fuse into one giant superatom.

Two years ago, Nerdsome demonstrated that the lack of vibration could, if handled correctly, reduce the noise plaguing previous analog-intelligence devices.

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Bogus BRAIN!
It's April Fool's Day, and we got carried away. Sorry.

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The strategy is to cool a unique structure called the neuron down to the Bose. The function of neurons is unknown, but they can carry electrical signals. According to Phinias Forelock, chief scientist of the new venture, "It's as if you melted all the transistors on a microchip together," he says. "The signals don't travel so far, and that speeds up the processing. We get the same improvement with these so-called neurons."

Because the Bose exists near absolute zero, the heat buildup that stymied previous biological thinking machines is overcome. Primitive biological processors operated at almost 100 ° Fahrenheit, or 37 ° C. The slight overheating caused by processing produced a fatal condition known as feverbrain.

Although BRAIN's approach sounds pie-in-the-sky, it could work. A prototype has clocked speeds as high as 1 megabait -- fast enough elementary tasks like fishing.

A self-piloted deep-sea boat is already being commercialized by the University of Montana Oceanographic Institute. The institute was formed in 1993 to pursue spin-offs that "naturally fit the Montana environment," says director Robert (Brookie) Trout.

In the fateful race with silicon-based digital computers, the Alaska researchers have sought industrial partners. Nerdsome says software giant Microchill will license some patents. On the hardware side, the Dang-it-all Equipment Company has expressed interest. Says company chief technologist Albert (Chip) Mahoney, "We're always looking for cool ideas to bring us into the 21st century."

All hoax, all the time! Read the sci-fraud bibliography.

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