Thursday, May 3, 2012

Watson, Earthquake Swarm.

Last night I watched an interesting programme on WNED about Watson the supercomputer which won Jeopardy last year against two top human competitors. It was a fascinating programme. It explained in relatively simple terms just how Watson's_avatarthey built this computer, it took 4 years, and got it to learn so much. It wasn’t sufficient to load the computer with information, which of course they did, but the computer had to learn to extrapolate things from information it was presented such as a Jeopardy question which can sometimes be somewhat abstruse. This computer is able to learn things itself now which is why it beat the two humans. I understand it has since been used in medical situations although the programme was filmed before this happened. However, with its incredible power it can certainly help with diagnostics and many other things which the human brain couldn’t compute in such a short time. Wikpedia describes Watson as a Question Answering machine – their article is interesting to read. To me it is the beginning of the future. All my favourite sci fi books coming to fruition. In fact some of the IBM people working on Watson mentioned Isaac Asimov and his robots. I wonder if humans will ever be able to design robots like those in Asimov’s stories. Although in his Foundation stories, he proved such robots were destructive to human energy and creativeness because we just sat back and let the computers do it.

Hmm, new one on me, they are talking about an Earthquake swarm off the coast of Western Canada. I had never heard the term, but I understand it is a series of earthquake-swarm-8colsmallish earthquakes which are following closely upon one another. I always thought I wouldn’t want to live in San Francisco or its environs, but I didn’t connect the possibility of the whole west coast being susceptible to quakes. We do get quakes in this part of the world but relatively minor ones which don’t cause much concern. For years people have been talking about the probability of a big quake on the west coast, when I was in San Francisco in 1988 people were talking about the likelihood of it happening in a few weeks time. Made me nervous I must admit. I have a cousin living in that area who has been thrown out of bed a few times and who takes it all in his stride, not me mamma. The map above shows the quakes off Vancouver island.

Here is the latest recipe from Mushrooms Canada. It is a somewhat different one in that it includes salmon. It describes the ingredients for Herbes de Provence, I actually like mine with some lavender added, it gives a wonderful extra dimension.

Provencal Poached Salmon Dinner


1 tbsp olive oil

12 oz mixed Mushrooms (crimini, white, shiitake), thickly sliced (5 cups)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/4 tsp each salt and pepper

1 ½ tsp herbes de Provence*

4 (5 oz) salmon fillets

2 cups mashed potatoes (see below)

Chopped parsley or pea sprouts (optional)


In large 12-inch (30 cm) non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. SautĂ© mushrooms and onions 3-5 minutes or until just starting to brown. Add broth, tomatoes, salt, pepper and ½ tsp (2 mL) herbes de Provence; bring to boil. Arrange salmon in single layer on top; sprinkle remaining 1 tsp ( 5 mL) herbes de Provence evenly on salmon. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer over for 10 minutes or until fish flakes readily with a fork. Spoon mashed potatoes onto dinner plates; flattening slightly. Top with salmon and spoon mushroom sauce over all. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or pea sprouts if desired.

Makes 4 servings.


  • Herbes de Provence is a mixture of rosemary, marjoram, thyme, savory, and basil. If desired substitute ½ tsp (2 mL) each crumbled dried thyme and dried rosemary leaves for herbes de Provence.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Peel and quarter 4-5 (1½ lb/ 750 g) medium Yukon Gold potatoes. Place in 1 1/2 qt. (1.5 L) microwave bowl with about ¼ cup (50 mL) water. Cover and microwave on HIGH, about 10 minutes, stirring once, or until tender. Drain. Mash potatoes with ¼ cup (50 mL) light sour cream; mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


  • Add ½ cup (125 mL) frozen edamame beans (Japanese green soy bean) with the tomatoes.

Recipe Adapted from Fanshawe Colleges' entry into the Make it with Mushrooms Student Chef Challenge Fall 2007.

Have a great day



  1. Those robot movies give me the heebie jeebies. I haven't ever seen one I like, except for Wall-E
    Would you just come and cook for me? I can't make anything that fancy, but it looks scrumptious!

    1. I love Wal-E. Haven't seen many robot movies but read dozens of books. I find them fascinating. The documentary on Watson showed lots of modern robots, not really humanoid though.

      I'd love to cook for you, not sure where you live though.