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Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Gas on the Brain," by Clive Davidson. New Scientist, 3 October 1998, pages 37-39.

Neural computers are coming of age. They have medicaland financial applications, and they're likely to takecommand of the Space Shuttle when it docks with theInternational Space Station. These computers aremodeling what goes on in your head--neural networksare composed of interconnected, purely electronic neuronscalled nodes. However, due to feasibility constraints,these networks pale in comparison to the fast, productivehuman nervous system.

To increase the complexity of these networks, researchersin Skovde, Sweden are trying to exploit synaptic chemistry,developing what they call "gas nets." As in the brain,information in this network can be passed from node tonode not only by a direct connection, but also by a chemical--in this case nitric oxide. Many researchers consider this incorporation of brain chemistry a significant step in the field of artifical neural networks.

--- Ben Stein