“Human Brain: A Mini Replica of the Universe!” –written by Varun Bhalerao.
“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.” – Michio Kaku
Human brain is definitely one of the most complex objects in our Universe but a new study shows that there are various similarities between the Human brain and Universe, in fact, the Human brain can be considered as a mini replica of the Universe! Let’s check out how!
Human brain consists of 80 billion neurons ( cells within the nervous system that transmit information to other nerve cells, muscle, or gland cells). Neurons are like a vast mesh, where they can communicate with each other through connections called axons and dendrites. On Average, Human brain contains about 69 billion connections between neurons forming the neural network that is responsible for the functioning of our brain.
On the other hand, the Universe is networked as well. While we assume that space is overwhelmingly empty if we do not consider the ordinary matter in the space but that’s not entirely the case. The Universe we study with our scientific equipment is referred to as the ‘Observable Universe’ approximately 92 billion light-years in diameter which contains approximately 2 trillion galaxies. These galaxies, like our Milky Way, collections of billions of stars, are themselves grouped into galaxy clusters. Our Milky Way is part of the “Local Group” which contains the neighboring Andromeda galaxy, as well as 50 other galaxies. Those galaxies are in turn part of a larger group so-called the ‘Virgo Supercluster’.
The space between groups and clusters is not empty but rather hosts connecting filaments of both ordinary and dark matter that stretch for millions of light-years. In this way, the Universe can be thought of as a giant network of galaxy clusters all interconnected similarly to neural networks in the Human brain. That networking in the Universe is called the Cosmic Web.
The two pictures above illustrate the similarities. The left picture shows the neural network of a brain cell; the right picture shows the distribution of dark matter in the universe as simulated by Millennium Simulation.
What Scientific study did researchers do?
The unusual study was itself carried out by Italian specialists in two very different fields – astrophysicist Franco Vazza from the University of Bologna and neurosurgeon Alberto Feletti from the University of Verona.
The researchers used 4 micrometer thick slices of the human cortex – the outer layer of the brain which is responsible for processing sensory information, thought, memory, language and consciousness. These were compared to 25 megaparsecs or approx 81 million light-years thick “slices” of the Universe taken from a computer-simulated volume of 1 million cubic megaparsecs of space. The slices of the Human brain and Universe are relatively comparable in thickness but they differ by order of 27 magnitudes in size from each other.
Left: section of cerebellum, with magnification factor 40x, obtained with electron microscopy (Dr. E. Zunarelli, University Hospital of Modena); right: section of a cosmological simulation, with an extension of 300 million light-years on each side.
Astounding results from the Scientific study about the human brain:
According to the scientific study, at 40x magnification in the Human brain tissue, the researchers began to see similarities in the structure of the Human brain and universe. The 40x magnification represents a scale of 0.01-1.6mm in the Human brain that 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.
There are also interesting comparisons when it comes to the composition of each structure. About 77 percent of the Human brain is water, while about 70 percent of the Universe is filled with dark energy. Both Human brain and Universe are distinct materials that have indirect roles in their respective structures.
The left image represents a mouse’s neuronal network; while the image on the right side represents the evolution of the matter distribution in a cubic region of the Universe over 2 billion light-years
The researcher’s Franco Vazza and Alberto Feletti concluded their findings “hint at the fact that similar network configurations can emerge from the interaction of entirely different physical processes, resulting in similar levels of complexity and self-organization, despite the dramatic disparity in spatial scales of these two systems.” In other words, networks like in the Human brain and Universe may share similar structures while being completely different in size and formed by different processes (gravity vs biology). Yet it’s possible something caused both to evolve and grow in a similar way.