Noosphere Studies: Is the universe a brain?

imgresTeillard de Chardin predicted that the collective mind of humanity would one day wrap around the Earth. He called it the noosphere (mind sphere). What we call “the Internet” is a technological simulation of? stimulus to? first iteration of? our inborn, teleological capacity for communion. Now scientists wonder if the universe and the Internet, and the brain, and brain cells — all grow according to the same (mysterious) laws.

BTW: Notice the writer’s unquestioned assumption, that nothing moves faster than light, which may have already been overturned by CERN experiments with neutrinos:

Faster than light particles could wreck Einstein’s relativity theory

Aside from assuming fractal organization of forms at different scales (which does seem more true than not, or at least beautiful and elegant!) it does appear that no matter what we think we know, sooner or later we realize we don’t, and furthermore: a larger class of unknowns, what Sagittarian Donald Rumsfeld famously called “unknowns we don’t know we don’t know” reach into infinity.

And even if the universe is a brain, is it conscious? Seeing the universe as a brain does not “solve” the “problem” of the origin or even the existence of consciousness — unless, of course, along with yesterday’s Newtonians, we still want to insist that consciousness be “reduced” to what we call material form. NOT!

Always, our answers to our questions generate new questions. I’ll bet the growth pattern of human “knowledge” also moves to the mysterious beat of laws that we do not, and I sense, cannot know. Instead, as the philosopher Gabriel Marcel would have said, we are immersed in mystery. And, more and more, — unfortunately? — immersed in the Internet as well.

This is new. It is ubiquitous. It captures the young even more than the old. Even I, a relatively old one who longs to be a Luddite, can only get away from the Internet for a weekend, at most. How is the Internet affecting “my” brain? Do I even “have” a brain separate from yours, ours? More and more, this is a real question. And to me, it makes all the current fuss about global surveillance quaint. At some point, sheer, unadulterated telepathy will kick in, secrecy will be a thing of the past, and we will no longer need the Internet.

Human Oneness, unity with the living, breathing, conscious Cosmos, is inevitable.

Universe, Brain, Internet: Growth Patterns Similar In Large & Small Networks, Computer Study Suggests

November 26, 2012

By: Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer


The universe may grow like a giant brain, according to a new computer simulation.

The results, published Nov.16 in the journal Nature’s Scientific Reports, suggest that some undiscovered, fundamental laws may govern the growth of systems large and small, from the electrical firing between brain cells and growth of social networks to the expansion of galaxies.

“Natural growth dynamics are the same for different real networks, like the Internet or the brain or social networks,” said study co-author Dmitri Krioukov, a physicist at the University of California San Diego.

The new study suggests a single fundamental law of nature may govern these networks, said physicist Kevin Bassler of the University of Houston, who was not involved in the study. [What’s That? Your Physics Questions Answered]

“At first blush they seem to be quite different systems, the question is, is there some kind of controlling laws can describe them?” he told LiveScience.

By raising this question, “their work really makes a pretty important contribution,” he said.

Similar Networks

Past studies showed brain circuits and the Internet look a lot alike. But despite finding this functional similarity, nobody had developed equations to perfectly predict how computer networks, brain circuits or social networks grow over time, Krioukov said.

Using Einstein’s equations of relativity, which explain how matter warps the fabric of space-time, physicists can retrace the universe’s explosive birth in the Big Bang roughly 14 billion years ago and how it has expanded outward in the eons since.

So Krioukov’s team wondered whether the universe’s accelerating growth could provide insight into the ways social networks or brain circuits expand.

Brain cells and galaxies

The team created a computer simulation that broke the early universe into the tiniest possible units — quanta of space-time more miniscule than subatomic particles. The simulation linked any quanta, or nodes in a massive celestial network, that were causally related. (Nothing travels faster than light, so if a person hits a baseball on Earth, the ripple effects of that event could never reach an alien in a distant galaxy in a reasonable amount of time, meaning those two regions of space-time aren’t causally related.)

As the simulation progressed, it added more and more space-time to the history of the universe, and so its “network” connections between matter in galaxies, grew as well, Krioukov said.

When the team compared the universe’s history with growth of social networks and brain circuits, they found all the networks expanded in similar ways: They balanced links between similar nodes with ones that already had many connections. For instance, a cat lover surfing the Internet may visit mega-sites such as Google or Yahoo, but will also browse cat fancier websites or YouTube kitten videos. In the same way, neighboring brain cells like to connect, but neurons also link to such “Google brain cells” that are hooked up to loads of other brain cells.

The eerie similarity between networks large and small is unlikely to be a coincidence, Krioukov said.

“For a physicist it’s an immediate signal that there is some missing understanding of how nature works,” Krioukov said.

It’s more likely that some unknown law governs the way networks grow and change, from the smallest brain cells to the growth of mega-galaxies, Krioukov said.

“This result suggests that maybe we should start looking for it,” Krioukov told LiveScience.

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