Category Archives: Cosmology

A Brain the Size of the Universe

The human brain is an extremely complex organ with billions of neurons. Some estimate there to be about 100 trillion connections between the neurons in our brain. Numbers and quantities on the scale of billions and trillions are common in nature, but not so much in our every day lives. Unless you happen to be an astronomer.

Look at these two photos. One is a picture of the brain and one is a picture of galactic super clusters. The similarities are striking.

brain galaxies

Conveniently similar pictures aside, it’s important to remember that the difference in scale is enormous. Galactic super clusters are millions and sometimes billions of light years across. To put that in to some perspective, light travels at 186,282 miles per second. Light can travel around the world 7 times in one second. Yet it takes light millions of years to travel from one side of a galactic super cluster to another.

The almost unfathomable enormity of the universe forces us to constantly revisit our place in it. On a universal scale, we are “microscopic”, perhaps “subatomic”. To make a comparison, It’s as if we are on an electron orbiting a nucleus in an atom.

Electrons Orbit a Nucleus

Electrons Orbit a Nucleus

Planets Orbit A Star

Planets Orbit A Star

Orbits make the universe go round.

Suppose for a moment that there were tiny, intelligent organisms living on an electron orbiting the nucleus of one the atoms in your brain. The perspective of those organisms would not easily lend itself to understanding the nature of your brain, let alone the world you and I live in. To those organisms, the distances between atoms would be “vast”. Similar to the vastness we perceive between star systems. Yet those organisms would be living on a small building block of a much larger, cohesive entity, you. They would most likely have no way of knowing you exist. In fact, if you were to suggest to those organisms that “super massive” life forms like you existed, they would have a hard time comprehending it. Their physics, their methods of perception and perhaps their “time” would be dissimilar to ours. Their world would be one where quantum mechanics and quantum effects were in plain “sight”. They would most likely not use light as their perceptual information carrier of choice. Their carrier may have it’s own limitations, similar to our light speed limitations. So any suggestion to them that objects could travel faster than their perceptual information carriers may sound ludicrous to them.

Could we be in a situation similar to those tiny, “naive” organisms? Could we be living inside a giant brain the size of our universe? As we look out in to the universe with ever increasing depth, we find that it is NOT how we imagined it. There are super structures that are interconnected and moving and changing and evolving. The time frames in which these structures change and the scales at which they operate dwarf us to the extreme. We very well could be on the equivalent of an electron orbiting a nucleus, part of an unfathomably large structure.