Archive for the 'AI' Category


The How and Why of Early Man

So many questions about our past are debated because of the lack of  written records. Before man put proverbial pen to paper, we had only bones and teeth, soil contents, paleo-geology and -geography and -climate, to intuit what might have been.

This, despite the fact that we know for a fact that written records are always from the writer’s perspective. They are only trustworthy to the point we trust the writer–like a Leakey, Donald Johansson, Chris Beard, Jane Goodall. These interpretations–albeit highly trained–of primary sources (Earth’s record) are given more credibility than the primary source itself (an action I’m sure discouraged by Leakey’s and Johnasson’s and Beard’s and Goodall’s teachers as they pursued their research). Why? The reason is simple: It takes a PhD to interpret Earth’s story. Continue reading ‘The How and Why of Early Man’


The Uncontrollable AI

credit: San Diego Museum of Man

Lucy: Her Story of Survival

Otto is not listening–again. The first time this happened was with Lyta.

Now, he has found a beautiful female Homo erectus. She’s a warrior, strong powerful. She lives in Africa so wears no animal skin clothing to protect her from the cold.

Here are a few more pictures of Lucy, her clan, her habitat:

Continue reading ‘The Uncontrollable AI’


DNA Computers and DNA Viruses

science-41994_640Cat’s the one who started me on DNA computers (we share a grad student office). My AI Otto is struggling with my need for speed in his computations and his need for energy to complete the work. When I ask him a question, he sorts through a datasphere the size of the digital Library of Congress (all public sources on the internet. Imagine if you searched ‘Homo erectus’ on the internet and then read and absorbed the one million hits–that’s what Otto does just to get started) to create the simulated reality required for his movies. You can see the importance of speed.

Here’s what I know about DNA computers. They weigh almost nothing, carry their own energy pack, can perform ten trillion operations at once and store an amazing amount of information–all in a drop of water with room to spare. The mechanics are deceptively simple. A high school senior won a scholarship by programming the Declaration of Independence into a DNA molecule. Here’s a link to How Stuff Works if you’d like more information.

The problem, from what Cat’s explained, is the amount of error in DNA computing. In our human genome, we call them mutations and they’re considered part of our uniqueness. The average child has around 6.3 billion base pairs of DNA with around 277 mutational differences from his/her parents. Many are noninvasive because 1) cells have built-in redundancies, 2) parts of our genetic make-up are inactive. Maybe they used to be active, but with H. sapiens sapiens, they aren’t. 3) some have nothing to do with how we get along in the world.

But, for traditional computing needs, we need more accuracy than that. The theorists believe that within highly-structured uses, they can be controlled. Taiwan has already created a chip out of DNA.

Continue reading ‘DNA Computers and DNA Viruses’


IBM Computer Competes with Jeopardy Winner

Fascinating. I wish computers could solve world hunger.

IBM computer taking on ‘Jeopardy!’ champs for $1M

By Jim Fitzgerald, Associated Press
YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. — It’s the size of 10 refrigerators, and it swallows encyclopedias whole, but an IBM computer was lacking one thing it needed to battle the greatest champions from the “Jeopardy!” quiz show.

It couldn’t hit a buzzer.

But that’s been fixed, and on Thursday the hardware and software system named Watson was to play a practice round against Ken Jennings, who won a record 74 consecutive “Jeopardy!” games in 2004-05, and Brad Rutter, who won a record of nearly $3.3 million in prize money.

“‘Jeopardy!’ felt that in order for the game to be as fair as possible, just as a human has to physically hit a buzzer, the system also would have to do that,” IBM spokeswoman Jennifer McTighe said. “Now Watson has its own real buzzer.”

The practice round was to be played on a stage at an IBM research center in Yorktown Heights, 38 miles north of Manhattan and across the country from the game show’s home in Culver City, Calif. A real contest among the three, to be televised Feb. 14-16, also will be played at IBM, but the date hasn’t been made public.

The winner of the televised match will be awarded $1 million. Second place gets $300,000, third place $200,000. IBM, which has headquarters in Armonk, said it would give its winnings to charity while Jennings and Rutter would give away half theirs.

Read on


Fermat’s Last Theorem–Extreme Sports for the Brain

I love exercising my brain. I don’t like health clubs or running, so the only

fermat's last theorem

350 years ago, in the margin of this text, Fermat claimed he could prove this theorem

way I get exercise is by thinking. To me, this is one of life’s traits that separates human from non-. Have you ever seen a dog sit quietly and think. No. He falls asleep.  Most animals hunt, play or sleep. Their critical problems–those that might cause their extinction, those that might make their life easier–are solved by evolution. They are replaced by a different species that adapts better to the environment.

Not true with the human species, Homo. When we aren’t hunting or playing, we are as likely to be thinking through a problem as sleeping. We have adapted to our environment as much through our own big brain’s problem solving abilities as by evolution’s incremental process of replacing one species with another.

Extreme sports for a thinker is solving unsolvable mathematical problems. And one of the most extreme is Fermat’s Last Theorem. It took 350 years and over 150 pages to solve the first time, making it a worthy exercise for the brilliant human brain.

In the novel I am currently working on, my antagonist sponsors a competition between a brilliant mathematical scientist and a unique problem solving AI to see which can come up with the solution to Fermat’s Last Theorem. Even for an eidetic mind, memorizing 150 pages of obtuse equations would be close to impossible. But if you know the logic that provides a blueprint for the solution, you could reproduce it. Continue reading ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem–Extreme Sports for the Brain’


Who Would Guess ‘Metamaterials’ Would Be My Most-Viewed Post

As a grad student, I research a lot of stuff. Most of it is related to my work on AI’s, but along the yellow brick road that leads to my personal Oz, I peek into anything that catches my interest. Plus, I’m around like-minded individuals who love pulling threads.
As a result, I’ve posted on everything from mind reading to DNA computers to science humor.
But the post that has by far the most hits to date is on metamaterials. Since I first stumbled onto these man-made pieces of matter, I’ve chatted seven times about them and their uses (like an invisibility cloak). Shockingly, lots of people out there in the world share my passion. Take a look at my quarter numbers: Continue reading ‘Who Would Guess ‘Metamaterials’ Would Be My Most-Viewed Post’

I am Part of a Lost Generation. I Refuse to Believe…

I love palindromes. I named my AI Otto. My favorite girl name is Hannah.

But I never thought of a palindrome movie. Watch this. Continue reading ‘I am Part of a Lost Generation. I Refuse to Believe…’

What’s in this blog

Discover the sizzle in science. It's not that stuff that's always for the smart kids. It's the need to know. The passion for understanding. The absolute belief that for every problem, there is a solution. The creative mind seeking truth in a world of mystery. The quest for the Holy Grail.

That's science.

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Books I’m Reading

Great Science Books

Assembling California
Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant
The Forest People
Geology Underfoot in Southern California
The Land's Wild Music: Encounters with Barry Lopez, Peter Matthiessen, Terry Tempest William, and James Galvin
My Life with the Chimpanzees
Naked Earth: The New Geophysics
Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are
The Runaway Brain: The Evolution of Human Uniqueness
Sand Rivers
The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body
The Tree Where Man Was Born
The Wildlife of Southern Africa: A Field Guide to the Animal and Plants of the Region
The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior: An Autobiography

Jacqui's favorite books »
Share book reviews and ratings with Jacqui, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

RSS Fact and Fiction about Early Man

  • The Old Way: A Story of the First People October 4, 2017
    author: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas name: Jacqui average rating: 4.20 book published: 2006 rating: 5 read at: 2017/10/04 date added: 2017/10/04 shelves: history, early-man review: […]
    Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
  • Ki'ti's Story, 75,000 BC December 11, 2016
    author: Bonnye Matthews name: Jacqui average rating: 4.30 book published: 2012 rating: 5 read at: 2016/12/11 date added: 2016/12/11 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Bonnye Matthews
  • Meeting Prehistoric Man October 4, 2014
    author: GHR von Koenigswald name: Jacqui average rating: 4.00 book published: 1492 rating: 5 read at: 2014/10/04 date added: 2014/10/04 shelves: early-man review: Meeting Prehistoric Man by GHR Von Koenigswald is a journey throughout the world in discovery of early man as paleoanthropologists understood him during VonKoenigswald's time, circa 1950' […]
    GHR von Koenigswald
  • Letters from the Field, 1925-1975 September 13, 2014
    author: Margaret Mead name: Jacqui average rating: 4.10 book published: 1977 rating: 5 read at: 2014/09/13 date added: 2014/09/13 shelves: early-man review: If you didn't read my last week's post, you may wonder why I am so excited about Margaret Mead's eye-opening book, Letters From the Field. Even if you read me last week, you may wonder--I […]
    Margaret Mead
  • The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention January 12, 2014
    author: Guy Deutscher name: Jacqui average rating: 4.17 book published: 2005 rating: 3 read at: date added: 2014/01/12 shelves: early-man, research review: Dr. Deutscher has done a scholarly, thorough discussion on the roots of language, but I believe he started too late in time. I'm of the persuasion that language involves more than the spoken word. I […]
    Guy Deutscher
  • She Who remembers November 3, 2013
    author: Linda Lay Shuler name: Jacqui average rating: 4.09 book published: 1988 rating: 4 read at: date added: 2013/11/03 shelves: early-man review: […]
    Linda Lay Shuler
  • The Runaway Brain: The Evolution Of Human Uniqueness July 25, 2011
    author: Christopher Wills name: Jacqui average rating: 4.15 book published: 1993 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: science, early-man review: In my lifelong effort to understand what makes us human, I long ago arrived at the lynchpin to that discussion: our brain. Even though bipedalism preceded big brains, and we couldn't be who we are […]
    Christopher Wills
  • The Origin Of Humankind July 25, 2011
    author: Richard E. Leakey name: Jacqui average rating: 3.96 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, history review: If you're interested in man's roots, there are several authors you must read: Birute Galdikas Dian Fosse Donald Johanson GHR Von Koenigsman Glen Isaacs Jared Diamond Ian Tattersell Lev Vygots […]
    Richard E. Leakey
  • Lucy: the beginnings of humankind July 24, 2011
    author: Donald C. Johanson name: Jacqui average rating: 4.11 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I read this book when I was writing a paleo-historic drama of the life of earliest man. My characters were Homo habilines, but they cohabited Africa with Australopithecines, so to understand the co-st […]
    Donald C. Johanson
  • Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe July 24, 2011
    author: Jane Goodall name: Jacqui average rating: 4.25 book published: 1990 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I have read every book that Jane Goodall wrote. She has an easy-going writing style that shares scientific principals easily with the layman. Probably because when she started, she was little more than a no […]
    Jane Goodall
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