Storage is a hot commodity in my organization. We have 100TB’s and still need more. We have many databases that grow daily, some with millions of records. When I take a step back, I say “Wow, that’s a ton of data”. I have heard that Yahoo has an open “tab” with NetApp buying terabytes per day.
I was recently asked what I thought the human brain capacity was in terabytes. I recalling hearing around 10TB. I dug a bit on the Internet and found these estimates:
Robert Birge (Syracuse University) who studies the storage of data in proteins, estimated in 1996 that the memory capacity of the brain was between one and ten terabytes, with a most likely value of 3 terabytes. Such estimates are generally based on counting neurons and assuming each neuron holds 1 bit. Bear in mind that the brain has better algorithms for compressing certain types of information than computers do. Source
The human brain contains about 50 billion to 200 billion neurons (nobody knows how many for sure), each of which interfaces with 1,000 to 100,000 other neurons through 100 trillion (10 14) to 10 quadrillion (10 16) synaptic junctions. Each synapse possesses a variable firing threshold which is reduced as the neuron is repeatedly activated. If we assume that the firing threshold at each synapse can assume 256 distinguishable levels, and if we suppose that there are 20,000 shared synapses per neuron (10,000 per neuron), then the total information storage capacity of the synapses in the cortex would be of the order of 500 to 1,000 terabytes. (Of course, if the brain’s storage of information takes place at a molecular level, then I would be afraid to hazard a guess regarding how many bytes can be stored in the brain. One estimate has placed it at about 3.6 X 10 19 bytes.) Source
The brain has about 100 billion nerve cells, so at least that many bits (about 10 gigabytes) could be stored, assuming the brain uses binary logic. But it probably doesn’t do so. Instead, information is believed to be stored in the many connections that form between the cells. This is a much larger number: Current estimates of brain capacity range from 1 to 1000 terabytes! It would take 1,000 to 10,000 typical disk drives to store that much information. Source
It looks like we could replace all of our storage systems with one human. Any volunteers?