Monday, December 9, 2013

This woman essentially invented computer programming languages.

The Google doodle honors the birthday of Grace Hopper.


Although COBOL is tedious compared to modern computer languages, she got the ball rolling by inventing the first computer languages.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Stunning details of brain connections revealed

Observed in this manner, the brain's overall complexity is almost
beyond belief, said Smith. "One synapse, by itself, is more like a
microprocessor -- with both memory-storage and information-processing
elements -- than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may
contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human
brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and
Internet connections on Earth," he said.

Monday, November 4, 2013

No calculator nor computer can do this without special software. It is too many digits.

  • In 1977 at the Southern Methodist University she was asked to give the 23rd root of a 201-digit number; she answered in 50 seconds.[1][4] Her answer—546,372,891—was confirmed by calculations done at the U.S. Bureau of Standards by the UNIVAC 1101 computer, for which a special program had to be written to perform such a large calculation.[11]
  • On June 18, 1980, she demonstrated the multiplication of two 13-digit numbers — 7,686,369,774,870 × 2,465,099,745,779 — picked at random by the Computer Department ofImperial College, London. She correctly answered 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730 in 28 seconds.[2][3] This event is mentioned in the 1982 Guinness Book of Records.[2][3]

Such feats are well beyond any remotely normal human brain.  One has to wonder how different her brain had to be?  

The only reasonable way to imagine that she could take a 23rd root of an extremely large number is to be able to accurately convert the number to a logarithm, do a division and then calculate an exponent in her head.  This is the process that people used slide rules to calculate much smaller numbers.   Doing this on paper could take hours.  The software on your computer couldn't handle this.  There probably are special programs that can handle it.

If that was her method, then she would have to have extremely large tables of logarithms memorized.  However, if she was this brilliant, maybe she came up with other ways of solving math problems.

Fwd: 20% chance of Goldilocks

'Kepler space telescope finds Earth-size, potentially habitable planets are common


Roughly one in every five sunlike stars is orbited by a potentially habitable, Earth-size planet, meaning that the universe has abundant real estate that could be congenial to life, according to a new analysis of observations by NASA's Kepler space telescope.


Our Milky Way galaxy alone could harbor tens of billions of rocky worlds where water might be liquid at the surface, according to the report, which was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and discussed at a news conference in California. '



Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fwd: Dark Matter

Not finding something is also scientific evidence...  Last night I  watched a cool movie called Europa Report about a manned mission to find life on Europa.  In the movie, one of the characters explains that even if they find nothing at all that this still will advance our scientific understanding... 

'The former Homestake Gold Mine in Lead, S.D., has a hallowed place in the history of physics as a spot where nothing happens.


It was there, in the 1970s, that Raymond Davis Jr. attempted to catch neutrinos, spooky subatomic particles emitted by the sun, in a vat of cleaning fluid a mile underground and for a long time came up empty. For revolutionizing the study of those particles, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002.


On Wednesday, an international team of physicists based in the same cavern of the former mine announced a new milestone of frustration, but also hope — this time in the search for dark matter, the mysterious, invisible ingredient that astronomers say makes up a quarter of the cosmos.


In the first three months of running the biggest, most sensitive dark matter detector yet — a vat of 368 kilograms of liquid xenon cooled to minus 150 degrees Fahrenheit — the researchers said they had not seen a trace of the clouds of particles that theorists say should be wafting through space, the galaxy, the Earth and, of course, ourselves, knocking out at least one controversial class of dark matter candidates.


But the experiment has just begun and will run for all of next year. The detector, already twice as sensitive as the next best one, will gain another factor of sensitivity in the coming run.


"Just because we don't see anything in the first run doesn't mean we won't see anything in the second," said Richard Gaitskell, a professor of physics at Brown University and a spokesman for an international collaboration that operates the experiment known as LUX, for the Large Underground Xenon dark matter experiment.


As has become de rigueur for such occasions, the scientists took pride and hope in how clearly they did not see anything. "In 25 years of searching, this is the cleanest signal I've ever seen," Dr. Gaitskell said in an interview.'


Tuesday, October 29, 2013


‘Dendrites, the branch-like projections of neurons, were once believed to be passive wiring in the brain.


Now, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have discovered that these dendrites do more than just relay information from one neuron to the next. They actively process information, multiplying the brain’s processing power.’



… I believe that we can form new dendrites all the time.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

RE: Expansion

This notion that nothing occurred before the big bang because space time didn’t exist before the big bang, per a video on I saw recently on youtube, seems to me like a flaw in the space time idea.


Everything in the universe apparently has a cause, which means everything has something that precedes it.   Even the string theory idea that the universe resulted from the collision of 4 dimensional objects called branes still implies events before the big bang.


I think that space time is a nice mathematical model that explains observed phenomena, but it doesn’t necessarily make it correct.

Best wishes,

John Coffey


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fwd: Oreo

'Connecticut College students and a professor of neuroscience have found "America's favorite cookie" is just as addictive as cocaine – at least for lab rats. And just like most humans, rats go for the middle first.


In a study designed to shed light on the potential addictiveness of high-fat/ high-sugar foods, Professor Joseph Schroeder and his students found rats formed an equally strong association between the pleasurable effects of eating Oreos and a specific environment as they did between cocaine or morphine and a specific environment. They also found that eating cookies activated more neurons in the brain's "pleasure center" than exposure to drugs of abuse.  '



'A recent study was picked up a lot by the media, claiming that "Oreos are as addictive as drugs". Just to get that out of the way as soon as possible, this headline, as flashy and attractive it is, is flawed. I'll explain why in this post…


The question which naturally arises after that is: If you stop eating Oreos, do you experience Oreo withdrawal? This is basically the difference between things you really like and things you're addicted to – the difference between physiological addiction (addiction to a drug) and psychological addiction.'


Friday, October 4, 2013

RoboKind R50

At the beginning of this decade I predicted that we would see intelligent robots by the end of the decade.

Check out this video on YouTube:

David Hanson: Robots that "show emotion"

Check out this video on YouTube:

Re: Fusion

This is a stark contrast to all the people who condemned cold fusion as lunacy. 

I remain skeptical.  If it were real, I think that the scientific community would be embracing it right now.  This could be a ruse to dupe investors, as this kind of thing has been done before in all sorts of "free energy" schemes.

Turning a proton into a neutron is an amazingly difficult thing to do. 

If it were true, our energy problems would be solved forever.  There would be no limit to what the human race could accomplish.  

On Oct 4, 2013, at 11:56 AM, "Trout, Larry R wrote:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Re: Quantum Computing

In the very early days of radio some inventors weren't quite sure how their invention worked;   They just happened to hit on the right idea through trial and error.


Until somebody can explain to me how a qbit works, I am extremely skeptical.  They may be able to come up with nifty devices on a scale smaller than a calculator, but it might be decades before somebody figures out how to make this useful.


This reminds me of a really old joke where a company invents a computer that is a billion times faster but some idiot asks if it will run Windows.


Best wishes,

John Coffey 

On Jun 19, 2013, at 8:46 AM, "larry.r.trout> wrote:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fwd: Algae

From: larry.r.trout

'Whiz kid grows algae under her bed, wins science fair


Sara Volz, 17, from Colorado Springs, Colo., joined the quest for practical alternatives to petroleum-based fuels in the seventh grade. Now a high school senior, she may have found an answer in the oily pond scum growing under her bed.


"I was trying to use guided evolution, so artificial selection, to isolate populations of algae cells with abnormally high oil content," she told NBC News.


The result is a population of algae that produces so much oil, so efficiently, that it bagged the grand prize Tuesday night in the Intel Science Talent Search, an elite science fair. The prize comes with a $100,000 scholarship.


Algae biofuel has long fascinated the green energy community as a promising alternative to other biofuels, such as corn-based ethanol, that take a bite out of the world's food budget. But a problem has been to get the plants to produce oil at scale cheaply enough to compete with petroleum-based fuel.


Other researchers have approached the problem by tweaking the algae genome or selecting the prime environmental conditions for algae growth. Volz's approach, she said, is different and lower cost. It relies on an herbicide that kills algae cells with low levels of an enzyme crucial to making oil.


"The idea is, if you introduce this chemical, you kill everything with really low oil production," she explained. "What you are left with is a population of cells with very high oil production."'