## Math Riff: The Supercomputer Brain Part 1

Not All Brains Have Equal Processing Capacity

There’s all sorts of interesting supercomputer news out there recently. Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Roadrunner supercomputer narrowly edged out Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Jaguar to take the title of the world’s most powerful with a score of 1.1 petaflops of computational power. Not to be outdone, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced they were contracting with IBM to deliver a 20 petaflop machine in 2009. That would actually create a machine more powerful than the 500 fastest supercomputers on the planet and represents a significant leap forward.

Naturally, all of us are looking for faster computers these days. Ray Kurzweil’s hope is for computers fast enough to deliver full blown supra-human artificial intelligence. As in brain-in-a-jar, download your head and live forever stuff. You can read all about it in his book The Singularity Is Near. Be forewarned… If you’re the least bit apprehensive about computers inside your skull, Ray’s train of thought may have you pricing cabins in Montana. Ray pegs the arrival of the Singularity as circa 2040.

Read the rest of this entry »

## Math Riff: The Supercomputer Brain Part 2

In the previous post we set out to talk about the comparison between brains and computers, looking specifically at whether Ray Kurzweil’s prediction for human-level artificial intelligence is likely in the next few decades. Our main conclusion based on looking at the structure of a brain is that we’d need roughly 32 petabytes of space to accurately model what the brain looks like. This post delves into what kind of silicon-based infrastructure you would need to process a data structure that size.

Read the rest of this entry »

## Ultimate Pencils for Worksheet Marathons

If there’s one thing around here that we burn up more than paper, it’s pencils. And we’ve tried plenty of them. As a result, I’ve become something of a demented pencil snob. My fixation is your gain, however, and I have found what I think is the ideal pencil for my personal pencil cup, as well as a jumbo kid version that’s held up under the most rigorous of Rocket Math worksheet marathons.

Read the rest of this entry »

## Mean, Median and Range Worksheets

The worksheet count keeps growing steadily, and while I missed the mean/median/mode unit due to some serious distractions here the new worksheets on this topic are now up. I’m working on some of the typesetting, especially for the answer keys, and I hope to continue to enhance the style and readability a bit. The new answer keys use Comic Sans MS to show the work and results, which I think makes for a nicer layout, especially with some of the more complex and multi-part answers.

Read the rest of this entry »

## Coconut Run Physics Fun

Here’s an interesting diversion that Johnson Controls posted on their web site recently… It’s borderline being a game, but it’s a great engineering and physics exercise for both parents and kids.  It unfortunately just killed an hour of time that I should have been working on the mean/median worksheets here.

Read the rest of this entry »