This isn’t just pie-in-the-sky. The Blue Brain project, led by computer genius Henry Markram – who is also the director of the Centre for Neuroscience & Technology and the Brain Mind Institute – has for the past five years been engineering the mammalian brain, the most complex object known in the Universe, using some of the most powerful supercomputers in the world.

And last month, Professor Markram claimed, at a conference in Oxford, that he plans to build an electronic human brain ‘within ten years’…

Two years ago, a team at IBM’s Almaden research lab at Nevada University used a BlueGene/L Supercomputer to model half a mouse brain.

Half a mouse brain consists of about eight million neurons, each of which can form around 8,000 links with neighbouring cells.

Creating a virtual version of this pushes a computer to the limit, even machines which, like the BlueGene, can perform 20trillion calculations a second.