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已有 5697 次阅读 2020-12-1 19:46 |个人分类:译文|系统分类:海外观察

Study Maps The Odd Structural Similarities Between The Human Brain And The Universe






One fascinating quirk of the Universe is that shapes and patterns can be found in hugely different contexts: the Golden Spiral can be seen in the human cochlea and the shape of a spiral galaxy; the fractal geometry of veins echoed in the branching of lightning.

宇宙的一个迷人的怪异之处就是在极度不同的背景中能发现形状和模式:黄金螺旋结构the Golden Spiral既可以在人类耳蜗中存在也可以在螺旋星系中出现;静脉的分形几何形状和闪电显出的分支的形状


In a bold new pilot study, an astrophysicist and a neurosurgeon have bumped it up a notch, using quantitative analysis to compare two of the most complex systems in nature: the neuronal network in the human brain and the cosmic network of galaxies in the Universe.




It's actually not that peculiar a comparison. You may have seen an image that occasionally gets shared around, showing a human neuron and a simulated galaxy cluster, side-by-side; the two look startlingly similar.




(Mark Miller/Virgo Consortium/Visual Complexity)


But there's a lot more to the human brain - and the Universe - than how it looks.



So astrophysicist Franco Vazza of the University of Bologna in Italy and neurosurgeon Alberto Feletti of the University of Verona in Italy have spent the last few years investigating to determine if the similarities are more than skin-deep.



所以意大利博洛尼亚大学the University of Bologna的天体物理学家Franco Vazza和意大利维罗纳大学the University of Verona的神经外科医生Alberto Feletti在过去几年时间内进行了研究以确定这些相似性是否只是表面上看起来那样的


Writing in Nautilus Quarterly in 2017 they explained:

2017年的鹦鹉螺季刊》(Nautilus Quarterly上他们解释道

"Galaxies can group into enormous structures (called clusters, superclusters, and filaments) that stretch for hundreds of millions of light-years. The boundary between these structures and neighboring stretches of empty space called cosmic voids can be extremely complex.



Gravity accelerates matter at these boundaries to speeds of thousands of kilometers per second, creating shock waves and turbulence in intergalactic gases.




We have predicted that the void-filament boundary is one of the most complex volumes of the universe, as measured by the number of bits of information it takes to describe it.



This got us to thinking: Is it more complex than the brain?"



The two types of structures differ in size by 27 orders of magnitude (that's a billion billion billion). But the team's results suggest that, while the physical processes that drive the structure of the Universe and the structure of the human brain are extremely different, they can result in similar levels of complexity and self-organisation, the researchers said.

这两个结构相差27个数量级that's a billion billion billion可以数一下......)。但是研究者说该团队的研究结构暗示虽然驱动宇宙结构和人脑结构的物理过程极为不同但是它们可以导致相似的复杂水平和自组织





The starting point was working out similarities between the two. The human cerebellum has around 69 billion neurons; the observable cosmic web contains over 100 billion galaxies. That's one.




Both systems are arranged in well-defined networks, with nodes (neurons in the brain, galaxies in the Universe) connected via filaments.




Both neurons and galaxies have a typical scale radius that's only a fraction of the length of the filaments. And the flow of information and energy between nodes is only around 25 percent of the mass and energy content of each system.




In addition, there are similarities between the composition of the brain and the composition of the Universe. The brain is around 77 percent water. The Universe is around 72 percent dark energy.




Both of these are apparently passive materials that permeate their respective system and play only an indirect role in their internal structures.




With these similarities defined, the team next undertook quantitative comparison of the two, based on images. They obtained slices of the human cerebellum and cortex at different magnifications, and compared them to simulations of the cosmic web.




What they were looking for were similarities in the matter density fluctuations between brains and the cosmic web. And they found that the relative distribution of fluctuations in the two systems was amazingly similar - although on much different scales.




A slice of cerebellum at 40x magnification (left) and simulated cosmic web at 300 light-years a side (right). (University of Bologna)




"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.

“我们计算了两个系统的光谱密度spectral density)。这是一种在宇宙学中常用的用来研究星系空间分布的技术 Vazza



"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."




But that wasn't all.



The team looked at other morphological features, such as the number of filaments connected to each node. The cosmic web, based on a sample of 3,800 to 4,700 nodes, had on average 3.8 to 4.1 connections per node. The human cortex, for a sample of 1,800 to 2,000 nodes, had an average of 4.6 to 5.4 connections per node.

该团队还研究了其他形态学上的特点例如每个节点间连结的细丝的数目对宇宙之网而言基于3,800 to 4,700节点的样本来看每个节点平均有3.84.1根细丝相连接人类大脑皮层18002000节点的样本上看每个节点平均有4.65.4个丝状连结


In addition, both systems showed a tendency to cluster connections around central nodes. And both seem to have a similar information capacity.



A recent study suggests that the memory of the human brain is around 2.5 petabytes. Another recent study, by Vazza, suggests that the memory capacity required to store the complexity of the Universe is around 4.3 petabytes.

一项近期的研究暗示人脑的记忆容量在2.5 PB(petabytes)Vazza的另一项近期的研究暗示存储宇宙的复杂度所需要的记忆容量在4.3PB


"Roughly speaking," the researchers wrote in 2017, "this similarity in memory capacity means that the entire body of information that is stored in a human brain (for instance, the entire life experience of a person) can also be encoded into the distribution of galaxies in our universe."



That's not to say that the Universe is a brain, or capable of sentience. But it does hint that the laws that govern the growth of the structures of both could be the same.



According to a 2012 paper based on simulations, the causal network representing the large-scale structure of spacetime in our accelerating universe is a power-law graph remarkably similar to the human brain.

根据2012年的一篇论文中的模拟在我们加速的宇宙中代表大尺度的时空结构的因果网络是一个幂律图a power-law graph),这与人类大脑的惊人的相似


Studies such as this one, by Vazza and Feletti, could pave the way to better understanding those laws.



"Once again, structural parameters have identified unexpected agreement levels. Probably, the connectivity within the two networks evolves following similar physical principles, despite the striking and obvious difference between the physical powers regulating galaxies and neurons," Feletti said.



"These two complex networks show more similarities than those shared between the cosmic web and a galaxy or a neuronal network and the inside of a neuronal body."



The research has been published in Frontiers in Physics.

该研究发表在Frontiers in Physics





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