An idea's floated around astrophysicists circles for years: the universe is a giant brain. Now scientists have found evidence that the universe is constructed like a gigantic brain and elements of the cosmos parallel that of life's thinking organ.
The idea had its origins in early 20th Century science fiction. One of the writers who discussed the concept was Olaf Stapledon whose early stories influenced many famous science fiction and futurist writers who followed. Olaf also created the concept of a "supermind"—a collective of individual minds coalescing into one.
Universe grows like the brain
The structure of the universe and the internal matter of the brain appear so similar it's almost eerie.
The enigma of the cosmos and the inner brain seem linked by similar construction. Whether this may have metaphysical meaning is unknown at this time. That the evolution of the two seems constructed on similarities spanning the macro and micro scale may be nothing more than a coincidence...or it may be that the holographic brain is truly linked through the quanta to the universal reality and the striking appearance of structural similarity is deeper than just a coincidence.
Questions arise such as "What if the universe is really alive and a thinking entity?" or "What if each of our brains are a universe within a greater universe?"
Of course, such questions in the past have driven some quite mad. But answers may finally be forthcoming as physics and astrophysics begins to overlap into biophysics and the nature of reality sought for centuries by those exploring the Byzantine intricacies of metaphysics.
The idea comes full circle and fleeting glimpses of the possibility of Stapleton's supermind emerge.
The physical laws governing the growth of the universe and the human brain appear to be similar, if not exactly the same only on two different scales.
Virtual reality versus reality
What is realty? What is unreality? These are questions that have confounded scientists for generations. Quantum physics didn't answer the questions, only made them that more intricate.
Recently, some physicists have suggested the entire universe may be a construct—a gigantic virtual reality decoded by the brain. Others have hypothesized that, based on observation, the universe and underlying quanta may be operating like a mammoth computer operating with a binary code where ones and zeroes are the particles and waves that make up all energy and matter.
Running a computer simulation of the growth of the universe compared to the structure of the brain, physicist Dmitri Krioukov, a co-author of the study published in the journal Nature's Scientific Reports, believes a natural, fundamental law may underlie the growth of all systems, especially networking systems. Such systems include the brain, computers, social networking, and the growth of galaxies.
"Natural growth dynamics are the same for different real networks, like the Internet or the brain or social networks," Space.com quotes Krioukov's explanation of the results.
Neural, social and galactic networks
The study began as an attempt to discover if the laws governing the growth of the universe might have similarities to the expansion of social networking or the building blocks of brain growth and function.
The research uncovered an amazing similarity between brain cells and the formation and expansion of galaxies.
The computer simulation the team created was brilliant and eloquently simple: "The team created a computer simulation that broke the early universe into the tiniest possible units," Space.com reports, a "quanta of space-time more minuscule than subatomic particles. The simulation linked any quanta, or nodes in a massive celestial network, that were causally related."
That permitted the connections to grow as the team progressively added to the space-time driving the model.
When the simulation was complete, they studied the growth of the universe and compared it to the brain and the structure of social networks. All grew in strikingly similar fashion. Tendrils of the galaxies and dark matter not only grew like neurons in the brain, but visually appeared very much like neurons.
The basic expansion and networking of galaxies also appear to be built upon the same foundation or principle governing the brain and expansion of most any network.
Krioukov claims "The eerie similarity between networks large and small is unlikely to be a coincidence," writes Space.com "For a physicist it's an immediate signal that there is some missing understanding of how nature works."
More research must be done. Whether the universe actually has consciousness will be determined by future studies.