To build on the previous blog, The Pale Blue Dot, today we have another mind-expanding example of perspective-shifting.

View the Milky Way at 10 million light years from the Earth. Then move through space towards the Earth in successive orders of magnitude until you reach a tall oak tree just outside the buildings of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida. After that, begin to move from the actual size of a leaf into a microscopic world that reveals leaf cell walls, the cell nucleus, chromatin, DNA and finally, into the subatomic universe of electrons and protons.

—Click here to see this brief tutorial (requires Java)…

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

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.

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. For example, the average ant brain has about 250,000 neurons.

Each ant 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 Necktop Computer

Your human brain is altogether staggering. It’s the mother of all computers!

The highly portable human brain is only the weight of 2 or 3 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 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!