For the fourth straight time, the BlueGene/L System development by IBM installed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., claimed the No. 1 spot.

bluegene_photo.jpg The BlueGene/L reached a Linpack benchmark performance of 280.6 TFlop/s (“teraflops” or trillions of calculations per second).

IBM’s BlueGene covers an area the size of two basketball courts and is used by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program to help ensure the safety and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile without real-world testing. Delivery of the BlueGene from IBM facilities in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California required 28 tractor trailer trucks! It uses enough electricity to power a small town.

However, supercomputing power which far exceeds BlueGene was accomplished in biological systems long before IBM and the others.

LeafcutterAntWorkersCuttingALeaf.jpg For example, the average ant brain has about 250,000 neurons. Each neuron has thousands of dendrites which are the electrical connections that “fire” info packets to adjoining nerve cells. Neurons can fire several million times per second. So a single ant brain has a minimum capability of 1.2 trillion calculations per second and the brainpower of an ant colony with the Queen and her ant subjects far surpasses BlueGene computing power.

Your human brain is altogether staggering.

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The highly portable human brain is only the weight of a couple of potatoes. Yet it has a 100 billion cells each possessing thousands of dendritic synapses. Counting all of the dendritic/synaptic connections (10,000 per cell) these nerve cells can fire, according to some neurobiologists, more than 5 million times per second. This equals 50,000 trillion cell to cell communication events per second!

Your necktop computer–brain–is more than a million times faster than BlueGene.

But, the gap is closing. Some say artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence by 2020–and when it does so it will be aware of the fact!! Uh-oh!

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The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance

This is the first handbook where the world’s foremost ‘experts on expertise’ review our scientific knowledge on expertise and expert performance and how experts may differ from non-experts in terms of their development, training, reasoning, knowledge, social support, and innate talent.
General issues that cut across most domains are reviewed in chapters on various aspects of expertise such as general and practical intelligence, differences in brain activity, self-regulated learning, deliberate practice, aging, knowledge management, and creativity.

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The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance
Edited by K. Anders Ericsson
Florida State University
Florida Institute of Human & Machine Cognition

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170421main_sts120launch1-web.jpg NASA October 23: Pamela A. Melroy, retired Ar Force Colonel, is commander of the STS-120 mission taking the Node 2 connecting module to the space station.

Melroy, a veteran shuttle pilot, is the second woman to command a shuttle.

Marine Corps Col. George D. Zamka will serve as pilot. The flight’s mission specialists will be Scott E. Parazynski, Army Col. Douglas H. Wheelock, Stephanie D. Wilson and Paolo A. Nespoli, a European Space Agency astronaut from Italy. Zamka, Wheelock and Nespoli will be making their first spaceflight.

Expedition 15/16 Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson will return to Earth from the space station aboard shuttle mission STS-120. That flight will carry his replacement, Daniel Tani, to the station. Tani will return on shuttle mission STS-122.

Visit NASA for more info and video of launch …

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From Super Crunchers by Ian Ayres …

9780553805406.gif Recommendations make life a lot easier. Want to know what movie to rent? The traditional way was to ask a friend or to see whether reviewers gave it a thumbs-up.

Nowadays people are looking for Internet guidance drawn from the behavior of the masses. Some of these “preference engines” are simple lists of what’s most popular. The New York Times lists the “most emailed articles.” iTunes lists the top downloaded songs. Del.icio.us lists the most popular Internet bookmarks. These simple filters often let surfers zero in on the greatest hits.

Some recommendation software goes a step further and tries to tell you what people like you enjoyed. Amazon.com tells you that people who bought The Da Vinci Code also bought Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

Netflix gives you recommendations that are contingent on the movies that you yourself have recommended in the past. This is truly “collaborative filtering,” because your ratings of movies help Netflix make better recommendations to others and their ratings help Netflix make better recommendations to you.

The Internet is a perfect vehicle for this service because it’s really cheap for an Internet retailer to keep track of customer behavior and to automatically aggregate, analyze, and display this information for subsequent customers.

More on Super Crunchers by Ian Ayres …

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