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Study Finds Similar Structures In the Universe, Internet, and Brain 171

Posted by samzenpus
from the order-is-as-order-does dept.
SternisheFan writes "The structure of the universe and the laws that govern its growth may be more similar than previously thought to the structure and growth of the human brain and other complex networks, such as the Internet or a social network of trust relationships between people, according to a new study. 'By no means do we claim that the universe is a global brain or a computer,' said Dmitri Krioukov, co-author of the paper, published by the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA), based at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego.'But the discovered equivalence between the growth of the universe and complex networks strongly suggests that unexpectedly similar laws govern the dynamics of these very different complex systems,' Krioukov noted."
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Study Finds Similar Structures In the Universe, Internet, and Brain

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  • It's math (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hentes (2461350) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @04:44PM (#42088919)

    Those repeating patterns are signs of the same math in the background. Sadly, with most mathemathicians doing more abstract work the aren't many who study them. Theoreticists try to fill the void left by the mathematicians and they do a goo job but most of them can't really think outside of their own field.

  • Re:It's math (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JonySuede (1908576) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @05:14PM (#42089077) Journal
    I would argue that every non-mathematical correct description of nature is transformable into math by involving the Church-Turing lambda-reductibility thesis. Axiom 1: A description is made using a language. Axiom 2: A description is not infinitely long. A correct non-mathematical description of a natural process using a language. Since that natural process is express as with a language, it is possible to build an interpreter for that a finite set of that language. Since an interpreter is realized-by and realized computations, according to the Church-Turing thesis an equivalent lambda calculus problem exists. Therefore, if the Church-Turing lambda-reductibility thesis hold true, every language based description must have at least one equivalent mathematical problems. I concede that this description is probably useless and really hard to build but it exist nonetheless.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2012 @05:19PM (#42089113)

    Just yesterday I read this 2007 review [] of Hofstadter's Strange Loop by Gardner, and it starts

    Our brain is a small lump of organic molecules.
    It contains some hundred billion neurons, each
    more complex than a galaxy.

    When I read this I thought, as much as I admire Martin Gardner, what a stupid thing to say. How can a galaxy, i.e. something that contains solar systems that contain at least one biosphere that contains billions of human brains, be less complex than a human brain. This assertion could only be true if you use some measure of complexity that discounts smaller dimensions, that regards complexity only on the outer layers of something. Now I see he might be wrong even on the galactic level.

  • by DavidClarkeHR (2769805) <david@clarke.hrgeneralist@ca> on Sunday November 25, 2012 @05:20PM (#42089125)

    Maybe this is just because we use the same neural mechanisms we think with to phrase scientific theories and build models of networks? Just a thought.

    If you look at enough phenomena, and generalize the description adequately, you'll find equivalences in a variety of strange places. The XKCD strip from friday is a good example. Also, If I see a picture of Jesus in my toast, can I get funding for a study? Seems to be the same "phenomena" at work.

  • by ldobehardcore (1738858) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (siobud.nevets)> on Sunday November 25, 2012 @05:51PM (#42089271)

    What's funny is that the anthropic principle by definition doesn't have much meaning. You can restate it as "the universe is the way we see it, because we are seeing it be that way."

    The weak anthropic principle always boils down to simple tautology, while the strong anthropic principle flys in the face of biology and works out to puddle thinking. The universe isn't tuned for us, we tuned ourselves for living in the universe through evolution.

  • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @06:54PM (#42089555)

    Joking aside, there's actually some truth to this.

    Turns out complex systems with a scale-free topology (the node density of which follows a power law rather than a gaussian function), of the kind we find in ecosystems, power-grids, computer networks, DNA, etc., all have similar strengths and vulnerabilities. Unlike random distributions, scale-free topologies are highly resistant to random failure: i.e. random deaths of animals of different sorts do not cause an ecosystem failure or random power stations failing does not necessarily cause a grid to collapse. This is what network and complex systems theorists call robustness. Scale-free topologies are, however, very vulnerable to directed attacks. Turns out certain creatures occupy more important spaces in ecosystems than others (they're hubs, with a high density of connections). Kill these off and an entire ecosystem can collapse. Likewise, hit certain power stations with high density of connections and you'll see cascading failures. A few random genes are damaged, chances are that a creature will survive and reproduce without problems. Screw around with the TP53 gene in humans, however, and expect some nasty results.

  • by GWLlosa (800011) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @07:10PM (#42089623)

    Yes, there may be humans in this galaxy, but the relationships between those humans have no effect on the galaxy, qua galaxy. In other words, the interactions that occur on a galactic level produce no appreciable feedback in the system as a whole from human beings.

    Challenge Accepted!

  • by Genda (560240) <mariet@got.nERDOSet minus math_god> on Monday November 26, 2012 @12:06AM (#42090957) Journal

    Conflating the fact that human beings are given to seeing faces everywhere (its part of our primate survival hard wiring and allows mothers and infants to bond at birth), with seeing and appreciating the fractal and inherently consistent nature of the universe is at once myopic, and at the same time deeply ignorant. From the birth of the Renaissance geniuses like Leonardo DaVinci saw the recurring patterns of nature. Noticing how the number Phi shows up again and again in physical systems from the budlets in the heart of a daisy to the swirl of a galaxy is not self delusion but the human mind extracting meaning from the vast cacophony of the universe. The fact that your body is self similar on many scales, as is our planet and the very universe itself, and that these self similarities transcend scales of space and time is illuminating, is awe inspiring. You are indeed a product of this universe, you bear the mark of its rhythms and harmonies. You have 5 fold symmetry, because one of your oldest ancestors was related to a starfish (echinoderm) you don't find it the least bit fascinating that the shape of you brain models the shape of the universe itself and is in fact the universe attempting to understand itself. Are you so apathetic that the shear mystery and magnificence of life in this place doesn't occasionally move you tears of joy or dumbstruck wonder?

    If so, than I am so sorry for you. You've been born into the greatest show ever and can't seem to take your eyes off your own feet. By the way, nice shoes.

"All my life I wanted to be someone; I guess I should have been more specific." -- Jane Wagner