[Beowulf] IBM's Watson on Jeopardy tonight

Hearns, John john.hearns at mclaren.com
Wed Feb 16 08:22:31 PST 2011

> On 16 Feb 2011, at 15:20, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:
> <biologist mode on>
> Actually, I'd quibble with that statement about redundancy.  On the
> system level, there's very little redundancy in most [animal]
> organisms.  You only have one heart.  You only have one aorta,
> oesophagus and so on.  Even when some things are paired, the loss of
> either one (such as severing a carotid or femoral artery) can in many
> cases result in total organism failure.  :-)

Re. carotid arteries, that is not actually true.
Back when I was but a cub HPC type, working in medical imaging, a
colleague was doing
MRI Angiography studies of the Circle of Willis. This is a 'ring main'
at the base of the brain,
where the carotids connect in a ring. Biology has built in redundancy
there, and so if you lose a carotid your brain
will continue to get blood (assuming you don't bleed to death).
Some people have a congenital malformation in the circle of Willis, and
it is not complete.
Brain surgery for such people is very risky, so finding this out is

Re. hearts, there was a fascinating documentary in the Horizon series on
Monday (Vaelntine's day).
A lab somewhere has managed to remove all the cells from a heart,
leaving the connective tissue and valves making what
they call 'ghost heart'. They are experimenting with repopulating the
heart tissue with stem cells, so your transplant heart
would be effectively your own, and not rejected.
Moving this back on topic, as usual there were a lot of whizzy
visualisations, it s a pity that documentaries like these show the
cpictures but don't explain in depth what the colour scales mean.

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