## How much data can the human brain hold?

Last week I was listening to a really interesting radio programme, in which I heard a few facts that amazed me. Firstly, did you know that your brain has around one hundred billion (yes, 100,000,000,000) neurons. Each of those neurons are thought have tens of thousands of connections to other neurons. That means in your brain there are… a lot of connections!

Anyhow, in the radio show they also stated that a cubic millimetre of brain tissue contained a petabyte of data. Unless you know your bits and bytes, you might not realise what that means. To put it simply, one cubic millimetre of brain matter has the capacity to store all the digital images currently on Facebook, i.e. every image the social network has ever had uploaded. This is only possible thanks to the number of connections between brain cells.

All that in just one cubic millimetre of your brain! Gosh.

This got me thinking, how much data can the human brain hold? To start investigating this I first needed to brush up on my knowledge of storage units.

### Bits And Bytes

Okay, lets start from the beginning. The smallest packet of data you can get is a bit, which is equivalent to one binary digit. A byte is equivalent to 8 bits of data, therefore a bit is equal to 0.125 bytes. Make sense so far?

In between bit an byte is the less well known nibble, which is equivalent to 4 bits. I suspect whoever invented bits, nibbles and bytes was either a little obsessed with food, or quite peckish at the time!

The next step up from a byte is a kilobyte, which is equal to 1,000 bytes in terms of storage space. If you wanted to talk about processing ability, one kilobyte is equal to 1,024 bytes – lets stick to storage though!

1kB = 1,000 (one thousand) bytes

This is still really tiny. To put it into perspective the size of a typical 80 word plain text email is around 10kb (or 10,000 bytes) – source About.com.

From kilobytes we climb to megabytes which equal 1,000 kilobytes.

1MB = 1,000,000 (one million) bytes

On my digital camera, I have it set to the highest quality and image size to 3264 by 2448 which produces images usually between 2 and 5MB. Quite big relative to a kilobyte.

The megabyte has nothing on the gigabyte though, which is 1,000 megabytes!

1GB = 1,000,000,000 (one billion) bytes

The maximum any CD ROM can hold is 900 megabytes of data which is 100MB less than a gigabyte. So a gigabyte is just bigger than a CD.

After a gigabyte comes a 1,000 times bigger terabyte.

1TB = 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) bytes

In my current computer I have a terabyte sized hard disk. Many computers come with terabyte or half terabyte hard disks nowadays, however go back seven or eight years and 80gb (8% of a terabyte) was around the average hard disk size, showing the advancements that have been made in just a few years.

Eventually we reach the petabyte, and you guessed it, it is 1,000 times bigger again.

1PB = 1,000,000,000,000,000 (one quadrillion) bytes

One petabyte is the amount of data one cubic millimetre of brain tissue can hold. That’s two petanibbles and eight petabits.

### How Much Data Could A Brain Be?

There are so many factors which affect brain size that it is going to be hard for me to work this out with any sort of accuracy, but I will try. Ethnicity, gender and body size along with many other factors affect brain size. The amount of data the brain can store isn’t solely dependant on size, but lets ignore that for now. The average female brain is around 1130 cubic centimetres, whilst the average male brain is 1260 cubic centimetres. That said women have more connections between the two hemispheres than men do.

Averaging it out, that means that the average brain size is 1195 cm3. So how many cubic millimetres go into 1195 cm3? 1,195,000 – to be precise.

That means that the human brain can store 1,195,000 petabytes of data! That is equivalent to 1.195 zettabytes, as an zettabyte is equal to 1,000,000 petabytes.

### What Percentage Of The Brain Is Storage?

Not all of your brain is dedicated to storage though, meaning that 1.195 zettabytes isn’t true to the amount of data we can store. So, how much of the human brain is storage?

From my understanding, most memory processes and storage happens in the temporal lobe. This is approximately 25% of the brain – that is a very approximate percentage!

### How Much Data Can A Brain Hold?

In order to answer the above question, I am assuming that 25% of the brain is dedicated to memory, whilst the rest is required for other functioning, and that the average brain is 1,195,000 cubic millimetres in size.

25% of 1,195,000 cubic millimetres is 298,750 cubic millimetres. If one cubic millimetre of brain tissue contains a petabyte of data then the average human brain is able to hold 298,750 petabytes of data.

298,750 petabytes of data is equivalent to:

• 2,390,000,000,000,000,000,000 bits
• 298,750,000,000,000,000,000 bytes
• 298.750 exabytes (approx 300 exabytes)
• 0.29875 zettabytes (approx 0.3 zettabytes)

So there you have it, were you to max out your memory, you could probably store around 300 exabytes of data.

To put 300 exabytes into perspective, one standard single layer Blu-Ray disc can hold 25GB of data – approximately 5 hours of HD video. Therefore your brains memory could theoretically hold 12,000,000,000 Blu-Ray discs – around 60 billion hours of HD video!

Will we ever be able to technically match the amazing feats that nature has achieved? I am not so sure you know…

## The Pocket Boom – Review

A week or so ago, a company approached Technology Bloggers and asked if I would be willing to review some of their products. I thought that this could be some fun, so I emailed them back saying: why not! They then send me a Pocket Boom to test and then review – this article is that review.

Please note, the opinions in this article are mine, and are completely honest – I am not being paid to write a review for them.

### What is the Pocket Boom?

The Pocket Boom is a device that can turn pretty much any surface into a speaker. You just plug in your music – be it from your iPod, computer, tablet, stereo or whatever (anything that has a 3.5mm headphone jack) and place the vibrating speaker onto a surface, and it will vibrate the surface to turn it into a speaker.

### What Surfaces Does the Pocket Boom Work on?

The clever technology in the vibrating head on the device is able to vibrate any surface and turn it into a speaker. However, on some surfaces, it vibrates it so little that the vibrating head is louder than the surface. Surfaces that I have found to be bad speakers include:

• Brick walls
• Solid wood – some thin wood works well
• Clothing – some clothing does work, but not very well
• Other solid objects with little capacity to vibrate

Surfaces that I have found to work really well include:

• Cardboard – and other paper products
• Thin wood – notice boards, some tables and chairs all work well
• Metal – due to its ability to vibrate, metal is one of the best materials I have tried, filing cabinets, kitchen hood extractor fans, hole punches, beds, and much more!
• Thin plastic – tubs, especially DVD (and Blu-Ray, Wii, PS3, Xbox etc.) cases and even washing baskets!

### Does it Actually Work?

You may be wondering if it actually works, it seems too good to be true. Can the Pocket Boom really: turn anything into a speaker, turn anything into an amplifier; and turn anything into an equaliser?

You can be sceptical, but I have one and it does. As I mentioned above, some surfaces it really surprises you by how well it actually transforms that object into a speaker, whilst with others you can be left somewhat disappoint with the sound level – but never the less it does turn it into a speaker.

The Pocket Boom with all leads stowed away (Compact)

From my personal use of the speaker, I would say that I think it works amazingly well on around 15% of objects, well on 70% of objects, and rather disappointingly on the other 15% of objects. So around 85% of objects to hand should be able to be converted into a good speaker pretty easily!

Check out this video to see it in action 🙂

### Is it Easy to Use?

Clearly a lot of work has gone into designing the Pocket Boom, it has some great ideas behind it. The ergonomics need some tweaking before the product is 100% perfect.

The 3.5mm headphone jack lead that comes out to plug into your device is way too short to be practically used with most devices. That is a major flaw, but this has been fixed, as included in the box is an extender lead, so you can get an extra 40cm (ish) of reach.

The items that come with the Pocket Boom

Inserting the batteries is really easy, literally slide back a cover, put them in and slide the cover back on. Dead simple.

The enclosed instructions do tell you how to pull out the speaker wire, so that you can place the vibrating speaker head on a surface, however I found them very hard to follow. I found a video on YouTube about how to do it though, and that cleared things right up, just pull the wire out whilst rotating it round at the same time – effectively pulling and unwinding.

The instructions that come with the Pocket Boom

One thing that I am still a bit puzzled about is the suction pad system. The speaker head has an adhesive suction pad on it so that you can stick it to surfaces easily. It does get dirty, and I have found that covering it with sellotape and then slowly removing the tape cleans it up and it becomes sticky again. In the pack some extra adhesive are provided, however I can’t seem to find any instructions as to how to change the pad. Hopefully when I need to it will be pretty easy.

### What is the Battery Life Like?

I have so far been very pleasantly surprised by the life of the battery. Considering this is a device that is designed to effectively replace most speakers, it uses very little power. Normal speakers can be power hungry, however the Pocket Boom takes just two AAA batteries.

I have had my Pocket Boom vibrating and turning objects into speakers for around three hours now, and despite it being powered by just two AAA batteries, it is still working just as well now as it was when I started using it. The Pocket Boom would appear to be a great saver of energy, considering that two speakers would be unlikely to last that long, producing the kind of sound levels that the Pocket Boom can.

### How Good is the Sound Quality?

Okay, so it is portable, can turn almost anything into a good speaker, uses less power, therefore its weakness must be in its sound quality right? Wrong.

Personally I am very impressed with the quality of the sound the Pocket Boom can produce. I have used it on many surfaces, and found that everyone produces a slightly different quality, pitch and intensity of sound. Some produce music with much deeper bass levels, whilst others just produce really loud music! Some substances I would like it to go louder, but the volume level is always reasonable.

Depending on the song you are playing, the sound produced will vary. Sometimes you need to turn the volume down slightly, as the speaker head vibrates too much and doesn’t sound that great, but turning down the volume easily fixes this.

### The Environment…

One thing I have noticed about the Pocket Boom is that it works better in quieter environments. Also, the size of the room seems to affect how well it produces sound, as it can really affect the acoustics. I have personally found that it works far better in small rooms than it does in bigger ones. If there is also a lot of noise, it doesn’t work as well, but for most environments it works really well.

I currently have it plugged into my PC, using the machine (metal) as the speaker, and it works really well. The environment is relatively quiet, and the volume of my PC is only on 20%, yet the sound is much louder than if it were through headphones!

### Is the Pocket Boom Value for Money?

When I reviewed the Kymera Magic Wand I bought, I concluded that it was a great novelty product, but not really value for money at £50.

I think the Pocket Boom also has some novelty element to it, which you get when you first use it. I ran around testing it on everything I could! That has slightly worn off now, but the product is very practical and does work. As I said, I am using it as a speaker for my PC, and it is working very well.

The Pocket Boom retails at £20 (£19.99) which I think is a very reasonable price. I think that the novelty factor of the boom is probably worth £5 to £10, but after that you have an extremely practical product, which you find uses for in your every day life.

If you prefer to listen to high quality music, amplifiers and professional loudspeakers are probably for you, the Pocket Boom is not the best of speakers, but it is a bit of fun.

If however you are someone who just likes to casually listen to music, and the occasional bit of fun (as you find a new surface to try out!) then the Pocket Boom is a must have gadget!

The Pocket Boom in its packaging

As I said at the beginning of the article, this product has been sent to us to review. This company is called GearZap. Our thanks to GapZear for providing us with the pocket boom 🙂

## DVD Creation with Video from a Flip Camera

Since the invention of portable video cameras people have been shooting video and making home movies. But now there are new hand held HD cameras such as the Flip and Vado which can shoot 720p HD video making home movies look better than ever. But what are you going to do with all that video now? The most logical and fun way to utilize this video is to create a DVD movie, and to do this you would use your Windows PC and some DVD burning software. This article will list what hardware and software to use that will make you a video master in no time at all.

### Camcorder Options

The least expensive choices when it comes to shooting HD video is to use either a Flip HD camcorder from Cisco (no longer supported) or a Vado from Kodak. Both of these options are simple to use since they are a single function gadget, and usually under \$200. Both shoot HD 720p video with the click of a button. It’s just as easy as taking a digital photo. Both offer on board memory for video storage, just be sure to choose a size big enough for the amount of video you are planning to shoot. Typical options come in 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, even 32GB. You can always upgrade to a better video camcorder but expect to pay upwards of \$500. Now that you know what camcorder to use it on to the big machinery.

### Windows 7 Is Great for Video Editing

Even though editing video on a Mac is like a dream, this article will cater to the Windows users. So with that said your Windows PC needs to be up to date with better hardware including memory (4GB is recommended), video card (CUDA enhanced), Hard Drive space (just get a 1TB already), and processor (quad core is best). Since video editing is a very processor intensive task it’s a better choice to upgrade on hardware when necessary. Now onto the fun part of creating your DVD masterpiece.

### Movie Converting and Burning Software

There are plenty of choices when it comes to choosing a video converting software that will make a compliant DVD movie from your Flip video footage. The camera itself is bundled with a basic video application but the features are very limited so if you are looking to create a custom DVD with your special touches it would be best to look around for a few more editing options.

Two recommendations that I can make are to use Sothink HD Movie Maker or ConvertXtoDVD. Both are easy to use video to DVD converters but the main difference is that Sothink also supports Blu-Ray burning. This will allow you to capture and burn true HD video and retain that same resolution to the TV set. So both of these applications feature an easy drag and drop timeline where you add the videos in the order of your choosing, then select a few DVD menu design options and click the convert button. The result will be a properly formatted DVD or Blu-Ray in Sothink’s, which you can then take to your DVD/Blu-Ray player and enjoy on your TV just like a Hollywood formatted movie disc. You can review more DVD creators at burnworld.com.

Even if you don’t choose a software package like I recommend, there are plenty of other options to choose from which include more advanced authoring features for the more advanced user. But whatever you choose all video editing packages follow basically the same procedure for making your home movie, as follows.

Connecting the camcorder to the PC via USB or Firewire should prompt Windows to give you a few choices on what to do with the content on the camcorder. You can choose to copy directly to your hard drive or import using your authoring software of choice.

### Then Edit the Video

Like I mentioned with the two recommended software choices, almost all video editing/authoring software packages use a timeline feature where you add the files in the order of your choosing. More advanced applications will even allow you to trip and crop the video giving your further control of the final outcome. In addition to this you can add text, sound effects, background music, and more to the video production. The better applications will have a preview window so you can view your changes to make sure it’s what you are looking for.

### Finally, Burn to DVD

Now that you have finished adding files and editing video, it’s time to burn the production to a DVD or Blu-Ray. All software options will have a settings area for burning. This is where you will specify they type of disc to create. The more common choices are DVD, either DVD5 or DVD9 (dual layer), just choose the type based on the blank DVD’s that you have. If you want to burn to Blu-Ray be sure to use a Blu-Ray burner (sorry have to mention this because I get questions daily on why Blu-Ray won’t work in their DVD drive). There will also be a setting for the Video frame rate: in the UK and Europe “25 (PAL)” is the standard, for the USA select “29.97 (NTSC)”.

There may be more settings under an Advanced Tab, but these are the main settings to get you started. Now you are ready to select “Burn” and beginning making your DVD movie. The burn process only takes a few minutes with today’s burners.