The universe works like a huge human brain, discover scientists
Universe

The universe works like a huge human brain, discover scientists

A new study finds similarities between the human brain’s structures and processes and the cosmic web. An astrophysicist and a neurosurgeon conducted the study. The two systems are considerably different in size but share numerous fundamental characteristics.

Scientists discovered similarities between the workings of two vastly different systems – the network of neuronal cells in the human brain and the cosmic web of galaxies.

Researchers examined the two systems from several perspectives, including structure, morphology, memory capacity, and other features. Their quantitative analysis revealed that systems with very different physical processes can share degrees of complexity and organization, even if their sizes differ by 27 orders of magnitude.

The odd investigation was conducted by two Italian experts from quite different fields: astrophysicist Franco Vazza from the University of Bologna and neurosurgeon Alberto Feletti from the University of Verona.

“The tantalizing degree of similarity that our analysis exposes seems to suggest that the self-organization of both complex systems is likely being shaped by similar principles of network dynamics, despite the radically different scales and processes at play,” wrote the scientists in their new paper.

One of the study’s most fascinating findings includes observing the brain’s neural network as a universe in and of itself. This network has around 69 billion neurons. If you’re keeping track, the visible cosmos has at least 100 billion galaxies.

Another resemblance is the defined nature of both networks, which feature nodes connected by filaments (neurons and galaxies). According to Feletti, the researchers found that there were distinct “agreement levels” in connectivity by evaluating the average number of connections in each node and the clustering of connections in nodes, implying that the two networks formed as a result of similar physical principles.

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Section of the human brain (left) and a simulated section of the cosmos (right). Credit: University of Bologna

When it comes to the makeup of each structure, there are also noteworthy comparisons. Water accounts for around 77 percent of the brain, while dark energy accounts for approximately 70 percent of the Universe. Both of them are passive materials with indirect roles in their respective constructions.

On the other hand, galaxies or neurons account for around 30% of the mass of each system.

The researchers also discovered an uncanny parallel between matter density changes in brains and the cosmic web.

“We calculated the spectral density of both systems. This is a technique often employed in cosmology for studying the spatial distribution of galaxies,” Vazza said in a press release. “Our analysis showed that the distribution of the fluctuation within the cerebellum neuronal network on a scale from 1 micrometer to 0.1 millimeters follows the same progression of the distribution of matter in the cosmic web but, of course, on a larger scale that goes from 5 million to 500 million light-years.”

Check out the latest Frontiers in Physics study “The Quantitative Comparison Between the Neuronal Network and the Cosmic Web.”

Consciousness Can be Quantified

“Believe it or not, sitting on our shoulders is the most complex object that Mother Nature has created in the known universe. You have to go at least 24 trillion miles to the nearest star to find a planet that may have life and may have intelligence. And yet our brain only consumes about 20-30 watts of power and yet it performs calculations better than any large supercomputer.” Michael Kaku

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