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Posts on the topic of "Nature"

Brain Power

May 16, 2012 at 02:33:10 AM

I've always enjoyed computing math problems in my head, and much prefer the human approach to a calculator. (What's 17 x 24. I dare you!)

So how does the human brain compare to a computer, anyway?

Human storage capacity is estimated at 100 terabytes, or 100 trillion data points. (One terabyte is equal to 1,000 gigabytes, or 1 million megabytes.) By comparison, my desktop computer holds one terabyte.

But as we know, computers are getting bigger and stronger all the time. "Moore's Law" notes the tendency of computers to become twice as powerful about every two years. Does that mean we'll be able to build computers more powerful than the human brain within a few decades?

Forrest Wickman, writing on Slate.com, says it's impractical. The brain is remarkably energy-efficient, running on about 12 watts ― the electricity it takes to light some high-efficiency light bulbs. The amount of energy needed to run a computer as powerful as the human brain would be approximately one gigawatt of power, equal to the energy currently consumed by all of Washington, DC.

By the way, 17 x 24 is 408.

Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Michal, May 16, 2012 10:11 PM

It is impressing

and nearly unbelievable, how our human brain is created. I worked with mentally ill people when I was 21 and 22. It was hard to understand, how tiny little parts of brains not working properly did change a human being. And although it was a negative experience, I had to praise Hashem for His wonderful creation: A human brain.

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Wonders of Creation

Mar 26, 2012 at 03:00:30 AM

Many people have a goal of being close to God, but aren't quite sure how to get there.

Maimonides (Yesodei HaTorah, ch. 2) explains that one way to achieve love of God is by contemplating the wonders of Creation. By appreciating the awesome power and intricate beauty of God's handiwork, the more knowledge of God one experiences, and the closer to Him one feels.

Personally, I've always been fascinated by the Bombardier Beetle. This small bug comes equipped with a chamber of hydroquinone, and a second one of hydrogen peroxide. When combined, these two chemicals are highly explosive. A mechanism inside the beetle keeps them separate.

Now here's the cool part: When provoked by an enemy, the beetle heats the chemicals to the boiling point (100 °C) and squeezes them into a reaction chamber where they combust, like igniting a rocket engine.

Then the explosive material streams out of the beetle at a rate of 500 pulses per second. (Pulses, rather than a continuous stream, give the beetle a chance to cool.) The poisonous fuel is expelled through a nozzle which, much like the turret of a tank, can rotate in any direction, under the legs or over the back. The enemy is poisoned, the beetle is saved!

The other day I heard about another amazing creature ― the "Pistol Shrimp" ― which emits an underwater shock wave that actually knocks out its prey. No mess, just a sonic boom.

I love God for that one. Simply amazing.

Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Chana Ruth, April 10, 2012 4:12 AM

Hashem's creations are incredible

I love to watch nature shows--they are a clear reminder of the amazing world Hashem created for us to discover! I love Him for it.

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