Blue Gene Project and Brain Project, Top Ten Science Breakthroughs of the Year

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Blue Gene Project

Blue gene is a computer architecture project to produce several supercomputers, designed to reach operating speeds in petaFLOPS. It was awarded the 2008 National Medal of Technology and Innovation in US.

Blue Brain Project

Blue Brain Project is an attempt to create a synthetic brain by reverse engineering the mammalian brain down to the molecular level.

Living Modified Organism (LMO) and Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)

The difference between an LMO and a GMO is that a Living Modified Organism is capable of growing, and typically refers to agricultural crops. Genetically Modified Organisms include both LMOs and organisms which are not capable of growing, i.e. are dead.

Top Ten Science Breakthroughs of the Year

  • Achievements: (Clockwise from top left) Andrew Cleland, Aaron O’Connell, John Martinis invented a mechanical device that operates in the quantum realm; Much like knockout mice, scientists have created knockout rats; Researchers sequenced the Neanderthal genome from the bones of three female Neanderthals who lived in Croatia sometime between 38,000 and 44,000 years ago; Faster and cheaper sequencing technologies are enabling very large-scale studies of both ancient and modern DNA; Two HIV prevention trials reported unequivocal success; (centre) Researchers built a synthetic genome and used it to transform the identity of a bacterium.

  • A mechanical device that operates in the quantum realm tops the Science journal’s list of advances in 2010.

  • Until this year, all human-made objects have moved according to the laws of classical mechanics. Back in March, however, a group of researchers designed a gadget that moves in ways that can only be described by quantum mechanics — the set of rules that governs the behaviour of tiny things like molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles. In recognition of the conceptual ground their experiment breaks, the ingenuity behind it and its many potential applications, Science has called this discovery the most significant scientific advance of 2010.

  • Physicists Andrew Cleland and John Martinis from the University of California at Santa Barbara and their colleagues designed the machine—a tiny metal paddle of semiconductor, visible to the naked eye — and coaxed it into dancing with a quantum groove.

  • First, they cooled the paddle until it reached its “ground state,” or the lowest energy state permitted by the laws of quantum mechanics (a goal long sought by physicists).

  • Then they raised the widget’s energy by a single quantum to produce a purely quantum-mechanical state of motion. They even managed to put the gadget in both states at once, so that it literally vibrated a little and a lot at the same time — a bizarre phenomenon allowed by the weird rules of quantum mechanics.

  • Science has recognized this first quantum machine as the 2010 Breakthrough of the Year.

  • They have also compiled nine other important scientific accomplishments from this past year into a top ten list, appearing in a special news feature in the journal’s 17 December 2010 issue. “This year’s Breakthrough of the Year represents the first time that scientists have demonstrated quantum effects in the motion of a human-made object,” said Adrian Cho, a news writer for Science. “On a conceptual level that’s cool because it extends quantum mechanics into a whole new realm. On a practical level, it opens up a variety of possibilities ranging from new experiments that meld quantum control over light, electrical currents and motion to, perhaps someday, tests of the bounds of quantum mechanics and our sense of reality.”

  • The quantum machine proves that the principles of quantum mechanics can apply to the motion of macroscopic objects, as well as atomic and subatomic particles. It provides the key first step toward gaining complete control over an object’s vibrations at the quantum level. Such control over the motion of an engineered device should allow scientists to manipulate those minuscule movements, much as they now control electrical currents and particles of light. In turn, that capability may lead to new devices to control the quantum states of light, ultra-sensitive force detectors and, ultimately, investigations into the bounds of quantum mechanics and our sense of reality. (This last grand goal might be achieved by trying to put a macroscopic object in a state in which it’s literally in two slightly different places at the same time — an experiment that might reveal precisely why something as big as a human can’t be in two places at the same time.)

  • “Mind you, physicists still haven’t achieved a two-places-at-once state with a tiny object like this one,” said Cho. “But now that they have reached the simplest state of quantum motion, it seems a whole lot more obtainable—more like a matter of ‘when’ than ‘if.’“

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