Monday, August 18, 2003

More Random Foo

Interesting article in this months Scientific American on the cerebellum. Its surface area is just over that of one of the cerebral hemispheres. The cerebrum has 10^11 neurons (interesting large number coincidence, also the number of stars in a large spiral galaxy like ours and the number of galaxies in the universe), each with an average of 10,000 (10^4) connections to axions. So, that makes 10^15 total synapses in the brain. Say you can model synapse state in 10 bytes, that gives 10^16 bytes for the neural state of the brain at any instant. That is, what, 10,000 terabytes? Pretty serious storage for a snapshot.

Anyway, returning to the cerebellum, the main point was that it seems to play a role in integrating sensory input as well as in balance and motor skills ("riding a bike"). What I thought was interesting, a lot of the cells in the cerebellum (they had a name) have 100,000 or more axion connections. So, a basically different wiring model. Made me think, this was "brain v1.0", and the cerebrum is "brain v2.0". Also interesting, you can lose your cerebellum and still mostly function, except for balance problems. Seems like that would have been a way to switch models, to have two brains and gradually switch from the older to the newer. Then, find something minor to do with the old model -- like when you take your former main server and make at Linux based DNS server or some such thing.

Returning to wailing on indigenous peoples (prior post), it's like, yes, let's preserve this stuff, but don't make people live by it. We don't need "museum Fremen". We don't need "4:00, must be time for the rain dance." Dancing is always good for the "soul", but as technology, it doesn't work.

So, I'm like 75% German (the largest U.S. ethnic group). So, should I go out in the back yard and do a blood sacrifice to Odin? I loved Norse mythology as a kid, but I also loved Greek, Welsh, and pretty much every other mythology I have ever read. Great stories, but don't ascribe any more meaning to them than that.

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