If This Doesn’t Convince You of How Powerful Our Brains Are, I Don’t Know What Will

Last August, a team of scientists and researchers from Japan and Germany set out to create a simulation of human brain activity.

Aware of the brain’s complexity, the research team set a seemingly conservative goal: simulate 1% of 1 second of brain activity using Japan’s K computer, a supercomputer composed of 82,000 processors (each with 16GB of memory).

The K computer was the world’s fastest computer up until 2011 and now sits at #4 on the list. So how long did it take the K computer to complete the simulation?

The K-Computer (Photo: Daichi Kohmoto)
The K-Computer (Photo: Daichi Kohmoto)

40 minutes.

The brain is composed of about 86 billion neurons. The connections between various neurons control everything, from our behaviors and instincts to our skills and memories.

That means that there are hundreds of trillions of different neuron-to-neuron pathways (known as synapses) that could potentially be transmitting electrical brain signals to one another at any given moment.

Digital image of neurons and synapses
Computer-generated image of neurons and synapses

In fact, in that 1% of 1 second of brain activity (which took the supercomputer 40 minutes of real time to simulate), the supercomputer recorded 10.4 trillion synapses, each with 24 bytes of memory. Let’s do some quick math for perspective:

10.4 trillion synapses x 24 bytes of memory each = 249.6 trillion bytes, a little over 238 million megabytes.

By comparison, the average full-length HD movie takes up about 500-700 megabytes of space.

Never underestimate the power of the human mind!

Read the full story from Vice here.


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