Fighting Coronavirus with Your PC or Mac | The Institute for Creation Research
Fighting Coronavirus with Your PC or Mac
As of March 26, seven hundred thousand people involved in the Folding@Home project are using their home computers to form, in effect, the world’s fastest supercomputer.1 This virtual supercomputer can perform an astonishing billion, billion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) calculations per second.2 These computers are being used to simulate the folding of proteins, including the proteins of COVID-19, in the hopes of finding therapies for diseases. However, as impressive as this is, your own brain already performs a comparable number of calculations every second.

At the time of this writing [2015, J.H.], the fastest supercomputer in the world is the Tianhe-2 in Guangzhou, China, and has a maximum processing speed of 54.902 petaFLOPS. A petaFLOP is a quadrillion (one thousand trillion) floating point calculations per second. That’s a huge amount of calculations, and yet, that doesn’t even come close to the processing speed of the human brain.

In contrast, our miraculous brains operate on the next order higher. Although it is impossible to precisely calculate, it is postulated that the human brain operates at 1 exaFLOP, which is equivalent to a billion billion calculations per second.3

In other words, your brain is already twenty times faster than the Tianhe-2. Furthermore, your brain is also vastly more efficient, requiring far less energy per second than a supercomputer.3

Computer scientists have been trying for years to break the “exaflop” barrier, but this has not yet been achieved with a single computer. This barrier was finally broken just the other day (March 25) by hundreds of thousands of computers working together on the Folding@Home project.

By the way, this is the reason no one should worry that computers are going to surpass us and take over the world. The One who designed our brains is omniscient, with no limit to His understanding.4 As marvelous as our created brains are, how could we ever hope to design a machine that is superior to what the Creator has already made?

You may be thinking, “Well, it doesn’t feel like I have a supercomputer for a brain. If that’s the case, then why can’t I mentally perform mathematical computations faster than a computer?”

Much of your brain’s computing is going on without your conscious awareness. However, you probably are capable of astonishing mental calculations; you just aren’t aware of it. We have all heard of savants who could quickly tell you the day of the week for a historical date, or who could perform rapid mental calculations. Some researchers think that savants, because of brain injury or impairment, are able to access “unprocessed” information that most of us do not have conscious access to, but this savant-like ability comes at the cost of a decreased ability to function normally.5 In fact, researchers have temporarily induced savant abilities in normally-functioning people by using a magnetic field to temporarily disable certain parts of the brain.6,7 Don’t try this at home!

However, there is increasing evidence that people with typical cognitive abilities, with practice, are also capable of truly impressive mental calculations.8,9

Even after ~6,000 years of creation “groaning,”10 the human brain is still amazing. One can’t help but wonder: How intelligent were Adam and Eve, with their flawless brains? Sadly, despite the fact that even secular scientists describe the human brain’s capabilities as “miraculous,” they attribute its origin to evolution or nature, rather than the Creator.3

With the coronavirus pandemic, most of us now have a lot of time on our hands. If you’ve ever wanted to sharpen your mathematical skills, now is a good time! An internet search reveals numerous books, websites, and apps that teach you and give you practice in performing “mental arithmetic” or “human calculations.” In the meantime, if you would like to enlist your Mac or PC in the fight against the coronavirus, you can learn how to do so at Folding@Home.org.

References
1. Temming, M. You can help fight the coronavirus. All you need is a computer. ScienceNews. Posted on sciencenews.org March 25, 2020, accessed March 27, 2020.
2. Coldewey, D. Coronavirus pushes Folding@Home’s crowdsourced molecular science to exaflop levels. TechCrunch. Posted on techcrunch March 26, 2020, accessed March 27, 2020.
3. Staughton, J. The Human Brain vs. Supercomputers….Which One Wins? ScienceABC. Posted on scienceabc.com December 3, 2015, accessed March 27, 2020. Emphasis in original.
4. Psalm 147:5.
5. Snyder, A. 2009. Explaining and inducing savant skills: privileged access to lower level, less-processed information. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B Biological Sciences. 364 (1522): 1399-1405.
6. Snyder, A. W. et al. 2003. Savant-Like Skills Exposed in Normal People by Suppressing the Left Fronto-Temporal Lobe. Journal of Integrative Neuroscience. 2 (2): 149-158.
7. Osborne, L. Savant for a Day. New York Times. Posted on nytimes.com June 22, 2003, accessed March 30, 2020.
8. A natural talent or an acquired skill: what makes a great mathematician? Deutsche Welle. Posted on dw.com February 1, 2009, accessed March 30, 2020.
9. Chamoff, L. ‘Human Calculator’ shares math secrets. Greenwich Time. Posted on greenwichtime.com February 23, 2012, accessed March 30, 2020.
10. Romans 8:19-24.

*Dr. Jake Hebert is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas at Dallas.
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