Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Brain Computer

Hello there,

I've been doing some thinking about neural networks lately, because I find it an interesting subject. And with neural networks I don't mean artificial neural networks but real neural networks, like the human brain and it's peripheral nervous system. Starting from there I'm going in the direction of ANN (the artificial version) or, the way I like to think about them, Neural Network Models (NNMs).
Tonight I wrote down about 6 pages of stuff I thought up about them, while trying to sleep and today I was trying to make sense of my nightly thoughts. This way I came to make some calculation of the brains processing power.
Now first, lets have some statistics.
I've always been taught that the brain has about 10 billion neurons and according to [1] each neuron has a connection to about 10 thousand other neurons. All these connections go through an axon, a synapses and a dendrite. The brain has about 4 kilometres of axon according to [2]! These neurons communicate over these connections via impulses or electric spikes. A spike is binary, it's either there or it is not. The bottleneck on information transfer probably is the refractive period of a synapse which is the time needed for it to regenerate after having transvered a spike. This part is a bit shakey, because unlike in computer processors, spikes do not come all within a certain clock tick and thus there is no such thing as an atomary event in the brain which I'm assuming does happen in these calculations. I suspect that because of this my calculations can be off by no more than a factor of two, though some more complexity could show up in the synapse cleft.
So this refractory period of a synapse is about 10 miliseconds, thus a synapse cannot fire more than a 100 times per second and thus cannot convey more than 100 bits per second.
Every neuron connects to about 10 thousand other neurons, which implies about 10 thousand synapses per neuron and thus every neuron processes about a million bits per second.
Right about now you might think: "Hey, thats not so bad! My computers memory pipeline does about 8.5 GB/s, which is about 8.5 billion bits per second.".
Bad news, you still have to multiply with 10 billion, the amount of neurons in the brain. Which brings the brain at about 10 quadrillion (which is a 1 followed by 16 zeros) bits per second and this is not the worst part, besides the neuronal environment which also has influence on every synaps, which is very important on the processing done in the brain, but probably has a neglectable amount of bits per synapse, we are currently only speaking about information transfer, not processing power.
My guess is that one neuronal communication "cycle" can probably be emulated in a current computer processor by about 5 instructions per synapse per bit of information, which brings the grand total of the brains processing power to 50 quadrillion instructions per second, or about 50 petaflops. To put this in context, the worlds fastest super computer can reach about 1 petaflops.

Okay, there is some good news. These values are based on a brain that is communicating at its theoretical limit, which is probably totaly unfeasable, it would take to much oxygen and energy and would probably produce way to much heat, also even with reuptake in synapses the brain would probably poison itsself in the process with too many neurotransmitters and too much other waist products. My guess would be that the brains real peak performance is about a tenth of that and the brains everyday performance probably a tenth of that. So my guess would be, that the brain probably can be simulated by a computer running at 500 terraflops. Which means that there is a computer out there that probably can simulate a human brain, cool huh?
O yeah, one obstacle: we don't know how all these neurons are connected inside the brain and every synaps also has it's own characteristics (kind of receptors, types of neurotransmitters, reuptake speeds, etc.). Thus we still have a few problems here... Still, in the mean time, there are simplere brains, like those of cats, which comprises of about 10 million neurons and about a trillion synapses according to [3], thus in my estimates would probably use about 5 terraflops of computing power.

O well, it's so intressesting though!

[1] Maass, W. Computing with Spikes, Technische Universitat Graz (2002)
[2] Vreeken, J. Spiking Neural Networks, an Introduction, Institute for Information and Computing Sciences, Utrecht University (2003)

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Just one thing: "It always gets worse before it gets better.".

It's a universal theme and the more you think about it the more you realize how often it is true! Lets mull this one over for a while, I'll get back to you on this.

Stay tuned! ;)


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ch.., Ch.., Changes

I've always had a hard time with the passing of time. My mother theorizes that it has something to do with me being born way to early. I don't know, it may be true, I've had it all my life. Literally and figuratively I always tend to stay in one comfortable place and keep staying there for as long as I can until I get chucked out and have to move on. Sounds familiar? Luckily I have some sense of ambition, otherwise I would have come nowhere.
Life is cruel in this way, there are always things, bad things but especially really great things that at a certain time come to an end. I hate that, I love the things I spend time with and I want to hold on to them. I always miss them, but the worst thing is the anticipation of it all. If I start with something new, I always almost immediately note the fact that it is going to end someday.
When I was little and we had a cat I would sometimes come to my mother, when I was supposed to be sleeping, crying because one day our cat would die and I was already sad about that.
I'm not a doom thinker. I always think that every thing is going to work out, I'm an optimist, but I think I might be a realist too. If there is the slightest chance that something is going to work out, I think it is going to work out, but if there isn't any chance at all, it sometimes makes me sad years in advance.
But life goes on, I'm moving the day after tomorrow, to a bigger apartment with my own facilities and even a spare bedroom where someone can come to sleep over. Now I have to say goodbye to my old room. It has been good to me and I love it for it. It's a room with a lot of positive energy and I'm proud of that. I really hope my new home will have that too..
Life goes on and I've discovered a new thing this weekend. Well I've discovered two things this weekend. One, that I really like to paint! I did a sort of workshop model painting with my former girlfriend and I absolutely loved it! The other thing I learned, was that love is even more important than being together. I've had some difficulties letting her go in the past and I still love her, but it seems that it isn't to be. I've mostly accepted that now I think. This weekend we spent some time together and now that I'm back home, I found out that I had a really good time and I'm glad to have spent the time with her and that I love her and that I accept being apart as long as I'm aloud to love her..
I love people, I love a lot of people but some are more special than others. The good thing about change is, that it shows you exactly what was important before. Change makes you live, change makes you love..

Good night and good bye.. for now ;)



Tuesday, August 5, 2008

RoboCup in China


Okay, so I've been to China, since we last spoke. Interesting people, the Chinese! I was there for RoboCup 2008, the world championship of RoboCup. I was helping organize the Simulation League (specifically the 3D Simulation League) and also I was there as part of a team competing in it (The Little Green Bats (yes, we were drunk when we made up that name ;)). We did very well, the team won the third price and I got promoted to chair of the organizing committee.

Although China is,politicaly, a bit of a difficult country, the people are really nice and helpful and I would really recommend it as a place to visit on holliday! I have enjoyed myself there immensely, if it were only in observing the differences in culture. Also the food is great and it's all very cheap! We ate with eight persons for less money than it would have cost us per person here in The Netherlands..

Interesting, I almost said: "Europe" there instead of "The Netherlands"? This year I've visited both the US and China (and was invited to visit Iran, but sadly couldn't go) and as a result I'm starting to get a more global perspective I think. For americans and for chinese, we come from europe but to us we always come from our separate countries.. but is that changing? I think, slowly but surely, we are coming to see ourselfs as Europe. I think this is inevitable, we are economicaly, politically and culturally pushed in that direction.. One day we are probably going to be Europe! And I think we are probably going to speak English here.. I hope so, I like English :).. But this will happen slowly.
Then again, a lot can happen in a short time, just over 50 years ago we were still having a world war over here and now look at us? Maybe in 50 years China will resemble a democracy, Europe will be one big English speaking nation (in which England will have joined as the very last separate country of course), and in a big show of "civilization" China, Europe and the US will be the new "west", together with Russia of course.. We could call it: The North .. + australia ... or something like that :)..

O well.. maybe I'm overreacting here :).. time for bed I think.

See you later!


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I Have Found The Thing I'll be Looking For

Here is an interesting concept: "I have found what I am looking for.". What have I found?

Posed in another way. I have found something, now I can finally start looking for it. What have I found?

It's a concept which, in language, is masked by a similar but different concept. It's a meta version of the everyday concept, if you will.

Let me give some more context to try to make it more clear. In my life I have always been in search for something of which I've only had the vague concept that it was something that would feel good. Which I would only know if I had found it. Something that would make me happy and I don't exactly mean the general search for happiness - I've always had the idea that if you have to search for happiness, you are doing something wrong - but something specific. And I think I have found what that thing is, the subject of the search.
Specifically, I'm searching for a pretty brunette who asks herself exactly these kinds of existential questions, can sing and who looks at me as if she wouldn't survive life without me.. But I'll settle for finding a girlfriend who sort of has the same view of the world as I have.. Which is not easy, because I actually don't know anyone else who has such a view of the world..

One other thing you have to remember: It's about the path not about the destination. Make sure you have fun now, don't plan to have fun later!

With this I'll leave you once more, have a good night!

Oh and btw: Go and watch the movie Into The Wild, it's really, really good!



Sunday, May 25, 2008


Okay, so I was just babbling in my last post. I was tired and sometimes things just get stuck in my head. I think four (4) is a very nice number too ;).

Still I'm, sort of, always on the lookout for "the universal" themes. They are somehow very inspiring and interesting, like they say something about what makes us humans tick and who knows maybe they even say something about how the world works? I'm always on the lookout for clues about how the world works :).

A short one,


Monday, April 21, 2008

The Ultimate Theme

The world, it seems, is binary.. or at least the human mind makes it to be in that fashion. Whether it is by creation or projection, to our minds the world inherently seems to exists as duality. Think about it; powerful universal themes:
- Life gives us death.
- Loves and its opposite, Hate.
- Good always creates its opposite evil, just like Evil always creates its opposite good (the superman theme).
- Freedom gives the possibility of captivity.
- Power seems the suggest the possibility of no power at all (and the saying "power corrupts" begs the question for the opposite of corruption. If corruption is chaos, then power creates chaos and lack of power creates order?).

These things, in a black or white stochastic world, makes for a world of opposites but in a gradient world gives us the notion of balance, which suggests a third point or trinity. This still gives us more possibilities, for instance, are the gradients a mix of two "forces" or a power level of just one?

But on the other hand:
- The opposite of life, is it really death or doesn't it have an opposite?
- Is the opposite of love actually hate? Is hate actually the absence of love, or is there another opposing "force" called hate?
- The absence of power might make pure order, but is this the only way, or is there another?

Also, powerful numbers always seem to be prime numbers:
- 1 or unity (e.g. god).
- 2 or duality (e.g. live/death, god/goddess, evil/good, etc.)
- 3 or trinity (e.g. father/son/holy-spirit, virgin/mother/crone)
- 5 (e.g. earth/wind/fire/water/spirit, pentagram, pyramid, etc.)
- 7 the magical number?

Of course, it can also follow the fibonacci sequece, in which case the next one would be eight, which I can't seem to associate with anything right now.

Okay, this might all be a little vague, but forgive me I have a rather big jet-lag..


Monday, April 7, 2008

Nothing Much...


I know I said to check back soon, that I had another blog idea.. Sorry I completely forgot what is was.. should have written it down. But you can take a look at my new website. It's not yet entirely finished, but this is the first time since as long as I remember that I don't totally hate a website I have created for myself..
Currently it holds not much more that some things I've written, nothing finished yet, but I'm working on it (currently at page 17 (minus the minimum of two I intend to rewrite, minus the 15 which probably will change over time.. hey it's a draft and I'm new to this ;)))..

Also, in two days I'm off to the US for some vacation time! First a few days NYC and then a week traveling around with some friends! Looking forward to that!

But first, two more days of hellish busy-ness, packing and shopping and stuff..

Good night, sleep tight!


Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Fruites of Life

Ever since I started reading the books of Kim Harrison (The Hollows series to be more precise) I've been thinking about writing a fantasy story, about witches and vampires and those kind of things. The only problem was, that I didn't have a lot of experience in the fantasy genre. Well, I have read Tolkien and Rowling and probably the odd fantasy book (Jim Butcher springs to mind) on a gray day in may and then there are the large amounts of Star Wars novels I've read, which is not strictly fantasy, but if you pay attention, actually it sort of is. But more to the point, I didn't have a lot of experience with the world of witches and vampires and elven and werewolfs and other fairy tail creatures.

Kim Harrison completely enthralled me with her stories, so I was set on writing something in the genre. So I started to do the research. The first thing I did was browse wikipedia on mythology (mostly greek and egyptian), which is not necessarily the subject I was looking for, but I accidentally started there and I was so interesting I spend two days on the subject.. I really wanted to find more about celtic fairy-tails and legends, but I didn't really know where to look. Then I finally got on track with Wicca, so I ordered a book on Wicca (A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner if you're interested in Wicca, start here!) and a general Witchcraft Encyclopedia (I haven't got it here, so I'll post the exact name later). Two things happened out of this.

The first thing that happened was, that I was amazed at how well Wicca suited me and how many of the rituals described I already did intuitively in my life. It's really shocking to out of the blue find, not only a book, but a whole believe system, that almost perfectly fits my view of life and the world. Of course I have my own opinions of some things and I don't agree with everything that's in the book one hundred percent. But that is the beauty of Wicca, there is a lot of room for your own interpretation and views and gods, which makes it damn close to perfect if you ask me..

The other thing that happened was, that I got interested in Morgan Le Fay, which came from two separate fronts. First there was the name of the main character in the Kim Harrison novels (Rachel Morgan) and the image of Morgan Le Fay on the cover of the witchcraft encyclopedia which I had bought. So I did the wikipedia tour on Morgan Le Fay. She has an amazing lineage (look it up if you are interested). I was also lucky, because I was visiting my mother that day and she gave me the book The Mists of Avalon by Marion Bradley, with which I hit the jackpot. This was exactly what I had been looking for, first of all, finally an interesting King Arthur story. I had tried to read The Once and Future King by T.H. White in the past but couldn't really get past all the dancing and singing that was in my head from the disney version. But the story by Bradley is really good and really interesting. Besides it being about Morgan Le Fay, it also gives more insight in the old celtic pagan believes, which is exactly what I was interested about. And I'm just on page seventy..

In January, after a lot of thinking, I started to write a rough outline for the story and in March I even wrote about 9 pages (the outline is 12 pages, but it still contains some ideas that are not going to make the final cut). Now I'm reading The Mists of Avalon and this has given me some inspiration that fits so eerily well in my ideas about the story, that I'm starting to believe that I have as muse somewhere (Thank you muse, for every inspiration you have and might give me in the future, I love you for it!) helping me out.

Also, I think there seems to be some more links between Morgan Le Fay and Rachel Morgan than only her name if you ask me, although if so, it is a little warped. But I have always been pretty good at fabricating connections that are not really there, so it might be pure nonsense :).

I have done a little writing in the past, but not very much and nothing really seriously although I have always had a lot of ideas (they come to me at the most bizarre moments). But now I am writing this story I come the realize how much I like it and that it even helps me to relax after a busy day and for some reason it even makes me sleep better. But most of all I might have finally found the creative outlet I have searched for, for as long as I remember.

It's a good six months. I have found something I can believe in (which I also was looking for, for a really long time) and I have found a way to express myself creatively. Although I probably would have found them eventually anyway, all this was set in motion by reading the Kim Harrison books. So, Thank You Kim, you are the best!



ps. check back soon, I have had another blog post idea today ;).

Monday, January 28, 2008

Quantum Spirituality

Quantum theory dictates, that when two particles are created at the same time by the same source, they get entangled. This means that every thing that happens to the one particle also instantly happens to the other particle. Whether they are 1 cm apart or they are on opposite ends of the universe.

All particles in this universe are created in the big bang, at the same time at the same place (the only actual place in the universe and thereby also the entire universe). It has been suggested, that therefor all particles in the universe are entangles with each other, which certainly seems very plausible.
What I do not get about the theory are: (1) why do not all particles in the universe then have exactly the same velocity, energy level, etc? And (2) why is it still possible to entangle two separate particles, when all particles are already entangled with each other?
I can think of two possible solutions: (1) there are multiple levels of entanglement or (2) entanglement is relative, like speed is relative. The last one does not explain problem one though.

But what is interesting about this is that, if all particles are somehow entangled with each other, it would mean that we are all one with each other and the universe, in a very real sense.. Which is spiritually very interesting for me, because I really think that we are all one.

Hmm.. I hope we are not all a superposition of a single mind... that might also be a possibility.. Superposition meaning: a possible state of a single object. Quantum theory predicts that an object always is at multiple places at once, until someone observes where it is (the observer has all the power, by intentions).. But seeing that in this case the only observer is the mind in superposition itself, this might not be relevant?

Interesting, quantum theory. It really brings science and spiritualism a lot close to each other!

I advise everybody to watch the movies: What The Bleep Do We Know? and after that What The Bleep Down The Rabbit Hole. That last one being even more interesting than the first!

You are all happy and well! ;)

Good night!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

(Monty Python and...) The Significance of Life

You know.. life is sometimes difficult to understand. It sometimes seems to trick you into making something mentally feel less important than it really ought to feel.

Take romantic relationships. Nobody can ever really grasp the significance of the choices we make about these. But every choice in this, tempts us to lessen the emotional worth of our entire life, because we cannot oversee its consequences and the only defense to this problem, the only way to lessen the burden of realizing this, is to lessen the emotional worth of life itself. For how can something be so important, if we cannot possible make the perfect choice about it?

Strictly speaking, this is why we should never give into doubt, with subjects as life defining as this one. The moment we do or do not do something because of doubting its outcome, we automatically diminish the worth of our life, because we diminished the potential worth of the concept of a relationship.

The only way to avoid this problem, it seems to me, is to have some kind of faith in life, or yourself. Because if you have faith that you have made the right choice, you do not have to lessen the importance of that choice, and thereby corrupt the meaning of life. Face it, what else is life about, if not about choice?

This is interesting, because it means that to really have free choice, to really be free, we need to have faith in something or another...

The lessen we can learn about this is, on the one hand, to be careful in the choices we make and on the other hand, to believe in the choices we have made. But most of all to believe in yourself and to always be true to yourself. Though, keep a weary eye out to making yourself believe the wrong truths... Which brings us to the distinction between faith and blind faith. In my opinion nobody should have blind faith if she can help it, but every body should have faith in the things she cannot control.. it seems the only way to stay sane in this world.

And the most beautiful faith of faiths is the faith of love...

I love you all,

Goodbye for now!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Heart Break..

There is nothing in the world as hard as breaking your heart (Although you might think that it is more difficult to break someone else's heart. This is sadly not true unless you break your own heart with it..). And it is even more difficult if you've had all the chances in the world to make it right, but only realize how stupid you have been when it is to late to fix it. Nothing you read, see or hear will ever prepare you for the feeling of it happening to you! You will never ever even be able to know how bad it feels, if you are not experiencing it at this very moment.. It will fade.. I know it will and every time you experience it (which could easily be multiple times for one event, if you have such a strong optimistic and not always very realistic emotional constitution as I have), it will hurt just as bad..

Do you know that feeling you sometimes get when you like someone who already is in a relationship? If you bring that in the perspective of how it feels to have a broken heart, you will never secretly fansy about them splitting up again!

My heart broke a few times already this year. I had come to realize how much I loved and missed somebody and how much I wanted her back. But I realized this too late.. I was stupid and blind and I did not realize my real feelings for this person until it was too late and she had moved on! I had a lot of time and somehow I only saw what I had lost until it was too late.. It is a cliche, but it is a true cliche.. This hurts so much! There is someone who I love and who loves me, someone I could have been happy with for the rest of my life maybe.. and this person has decided that she doesn't want a relationship with me anymore..

So now I face a life, knowing that I could have been with someone I love but am not and that she will probably find someone else soon and probably be with him for ever.. I have to face that someone else will be with her forever instead of me.. How do you face something like that? I don't know how.. I know I will survive, because I think I can survive anything (emotionally speaking (although I don't want to test my limits!)).. but I really do not want to feel this hurt! This helplessness.. that there is nothing you can do to fix it (and believe me, I have tried (and probably still will for some time, knowing myself..))..

Still deep down, I realize that more than anything else I want her to be happy. I really do! Not immediately, first I just wanted her back, but when I think about it, I realize I cannot handle her being hurt! I realize that if someone who I love hurts, I will hurt with her.. no matter what..

I don't know how I will find someone I love this much again.. but I really hope I will..