The Fibonacci Sequence, the golden ratio, PHI - wherever we look, the presence of mathematics can be seen all around us. These phenomena and patterns can easily be seen to those who are looking. In the past, we’ve explored these instances in the natural world around us in waves, shells, flowers, fruits and more.
As stated by Dr. Thomas Britz (UNSW Science’s School of Mathematics & Statistics) “Maths is not only seen as beautiful – beauty is also mathematical. The two are intertwined.”
However, the very same thing that enables us to understand these concepts, the human brain, consists of neural networks that also reflect the magic and beautiful qualities of mathematics.
At a base level, the brain works utilizing an interconnected and complex network that takes in information, processes it, and then relays it to the relevant parts of the brain. As many other parts of the natural world, the brain also follows the laws of mathematics, as seen below.
Similarly to our brain, the cosmos and the limitless galaxies found in space are all held together by a cosmic network that shares many of the same properties found in the human brain.
Can you spot the Fibonacci spiral in these images of galaxies?
In fact, the amazing similarities between the human brain and distant galaxies have been studied in a collaboration between an astrophysicist, Franco Vazza, from the University of Bologna and a neurosurgeon, Alberto Feletti, from the University of Verona.
During their studies the scholars found that despite such a large difference in scale of the 2 networks, both the cosmos and human brain share a very similar complexity of structure and organization.
"We calculated the spectral density of both systems. This is a technique often employed in cosmology for studying the spatial distribution of galaxies," explains Franco 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."
Isn’t that FASCINATING! While there is still LOTS to learn, this pilot study opens the door for furthering conversations in both cosmology and neuroscience, and how they may relate.
Left Image: Neural Network, Right Image: Crab Nebula via NASA