It was another great week here at Casa Dyer.  Walks on the beach, in the park and lunch with retired ex-coworkers on Saturday.

It was also a very interesting week on the Internet.  Here were a few stops on my Net wanderings:

Picture of the Week:

Baby Meerkats

Who could not love a picture of baby Meerkats, three weeks old, enjoying the sunshine at Chester Zoo in England. 

I know dogs, cats and horses are America’s favorite animals.  Besides these three, what is you favorite?

Words:

From the Agnes comic strip, a slightly strange schoolgirl, on how to be successful. 

“I will be very successful at being successful.  There are only a few hurdles, a shortage of good genes, horrible finances and no talent.  Nothing that a few miracles, and boatloads of dumb luck can’t overcome.”

Kinda sounds like what my plans for life were, at least the boatloads of dumb luck part  🙂

Music:

Alison Krauss and Union Station – “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You”.

What song have you heard in the last month that you really enjoyed?

Science:

http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=7633

“A cat can recognize a face faster and more efficiently than a supercomputer.

That’s one reason a feline brain is the model for a biologically-inspired computer project involving the University of Michigan.

U-M computer engineer Wei Lu has taken a step toward developing this revolutionary type of machine that could be capable of learning and recognizing, as well as making more complex decisions and performing more tasks simultaneously than conventional computers can.

Lu previously built a “memristor,” a device that replaces a traditional transistor and acts like a biological synapse, remembering past voltages it was subjected to. Now, he has demonstrated that this memristor can connect conventional circuits and support a process that is the basis for memory and learning in biological systems.”

“Today’s most sophisticated supercomputer can accomplish certain tasks with the brain functionality of a cat, but it’s a massive machine with more than 140,000 central processing units and a dedicated power supply. And it still performs 83 times slower than a cat’s brain, Lu wrote in his paper.

In a mammal’s brain, neurons are connected to each other by synapses, which act as reconfigurable switches that can form pathways linking thousands of neurons. Most importantly, synapses remember these pathways based on the strength and timing of electrical signals generated by the neurons.

In a conventional computer, logic and memory functions are located at different parts of the circuit and each computing unit is only connected to a handful of neighbors in the circuit. As a result, conventional computers execute code in a linear fashion, line by line, Lu said. They are excellent at performing relatively simple tasks with limited variables.

But a brain can perform many operations simultaneously, or in parallel. That’s how we can recognize a face in an instant, but even a supercomputer would take much, much longer and consume much more energy in doing so.”

“The next step is to build a larger system, Lu said. His goal is achieve the sophistication of a supercomputer in a machine the size of a two-liter beverage container. That could be several years away.

Lu said an electronic analog of a cat brain would be able to think intelligently at the cat level. For example, if the task were to find the shortest route from the front door to the sofa in a house full of furniture, and the computer knows only the shape of the sofa, a conventional machine could accomplish this. But if you moved the sofa, it wouldn’t realize the adjustment and find a new path. That’s what engineers hope the cat brain computer would be capable of. The project’s major funder, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, isn’t interested in sofas. But this illustrates the type of learning the machine is being designed for.

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