A new study examines the differences and similarities between two of the most complex systems in existence, albeit on a completely different scale: the cosmos and its galaxies and the brain and its neuronal cells.
They found that the scale was obviously different, but the structure was remarkably similar. In some cases, the two systems looked more similar to each other than to the parts that make them up.
This suggests that extremely different physical processes can lead to very similar complex and organized structures.
For example, the human brain works because of the network of nearly 70 billion neurons that make it up. The universe is estimated to have at least 1
In each system, they are gathered together in a complex network or network, distributed in long threads and nodes that connect them. The propagating nodes are familiar to the pictures of both the universe and the brain, and account for some of the superficial similarities in the images.
But in each system, these threads make up only about 30% of the mass. In each, about 70% of the mass actually consists of parts that appear passive: the water of the brain and the dark energy of the universe.
To delve further into these similarities, the researchers compared the way these galactic networks are formed with areas of the brain. They tried to understand how the issue spreads across the two very different networks.
“We calculated the spectral density of the two systems. This is a technique often used in cosmology to study the spatial distribution of galaxies,” said Franco Vazza, an astrophysicist at the University of Bologna who works with neurosurgeon at the University of Verona, Alberto Feleti.
“Our analysis showed that the distribution of fluctuations in the neural network of the cerebellum on a scale of 1 micrometer to 0.1 millimeters follows the same progression of the distribution of matter in the space network, but, of course, on a larger scale, which varies from 5 million to 500 million light-years. “
They also studied the ways in which networks of neutrons and galaxies connect – once again finding noticeable similarities, with the systems looking more similar to each other than to their constituent parts. To do this, they compared the average number of connections between each node and the way they are grouped.
“Once again, the structural parameters have identified unexpected levels of agreement. Probably the connection in the two networks develops following similar physical principles, despite the striking and obvious difference between the physical forces regulating galaxies and neurons,” said Alberto Feleti.
“These two complex networks show more similarities than those shared between the space network and the galaxy or neural network and the interior of the neural body.”
A report describing the findings, “Quantitative comparison between the neural network and the space network”, was published in the journal Limits of physics.