Happy Birthday BRD!

The Biosciences Research Division (BRD) is celebrating its First Birthday!

School of Thinking has an academic association with BRD and is delighted to congratulate Professor German Spangenberg and his world class team of scientists and support staff for all they have achieved this past year.

First Year BRD highlights have included:

– the successful commissioning of the Biosciences Research Centre at Bundoora

– revenue attraction

– development of IP patents and

– over 200 scientific publications.

BRD is part of the Department of Primary Industries and is located at La Trobe University, Bundoora Campus.

VELS Thinking 7 links …

VELS Thinking is part of the Victorian Educational Learning Standards (VELS) in the State of Victoria, Australia.

SOT supports the VELS Thinking approach to teaching thinking in Victorian schools which focuses on building skills in seven cognitive capacities: Reasoning, Processing, Inquiry, Creativity, Reflection, Evaluation, Metacognition.

Here are the VELS Thinking 7 links to wikipedia:

• Reasoninghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reasoning
• Processinghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Processing
• Inquiryhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquiry
• Creativityhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creativity
• Reflectionhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflection
• Evaluationhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evaluation
• Metacognitionhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metacognition.

Check out Metacognition first!

Staff Training at Primary School

On Friday, Michael was invited by the Principal of Oakleigh Primary School, Cheryl Sanders, to conduct a training session on ‘teaching thinking skills’ for the teaching staff.

I haven’t seen the staff so attentive for a long time. Ten minutes and you had them eating out of your hand or ‘hey this is not another boring presenter’!! Thank you for these resources they will be well used. I am glad that you are able to visit again and build on what you started. We will all look forward to meeting up again“, wrote the Principal at the end of the program.

SOT Principal awarded visiting academic fellowship


Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson was recently awarded the first Visiting Fellowhip in Innovation  Thinking by the Biosciences Research Division at La Trobe University.

Professor German Spangenberg, Executive Director, presented the academic award at a meeting of 60 top scientists from around Victoria at the John Scott Meeting House at La Trobe saying, “In the context of global competition and knowledge-based economies, innovation has become more and more mandatoy. Dr Hewitt-Gleeson will be conducting School of Thinking programs at BRD to help raise the innovation intelligence of our division”.


Michael is conducting a series of lectures for these scientists. The first two were:

Darwinian Thinking and the cvs2bvs Brain Software,


The GBB: Brain Software for going Beyond Critical Thinking.

Powers of Ten

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)…

How to be a genius …

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.


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

World’s fastest supercomputer – BlueGene

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!!