The 200,000-Year-Old Human 'Superbrain' --"Greater Complexity than a Galaxy" (Today's Most Popular)
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February 03, 2014

The 200,000-Year-Old Human 'Superbrain' --"Greater Complexity than a Galaxy" (Today's Most Popular)

 

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The image above shows the filaments that make up the large-scale structure of the Universe. Scientists can pin point exactly where the Milky Way is on one of the filaments. Each dot in this image is a galaxy or cluster of galaxies. According to physicist, Roger Penrose, what’s in our head is orders of magnitude more complex than anything one sees in the Universe: "If you look at the entire physical cosmos," says Penrose, "our brains are a tiny, tiny part of it. But they're the most perfectly organized part. Compared to the complexity of a brain, a galaxy is just an inert lump."

Each cubic millimeter of tissue in the neocortex, reports Michael Chorost in World Wide Mind, contains between 860 million and 1.3 billion synapses. Estimates of the total number of synapses in the neocortex range from 164 trillion to 200 trillion. The total number of synapses in the brain as a whole is much higher than that. The neocorex has the same number of neurons as our galaxy has stars: 100 billion.

"All stars can do is pull on each other with gravity," writes Chorost, and, if they are very close, exchange heat."

One researcher estimates that with current technology it would take 10,000 automated microscopes thirty years to map the connections between every neuron in a human brain, and 100 million terabytes of disk space to store the data.

Galaxies are ancient, but self-aware, language-using, tool-making brains are very new in the evolutionary timeline, some 200,000-years old. Most of the neurons in the neocortex have between 1,000 and 10,000 synaptic connections with other neurons. Elsewhere in the brain, in the cerebellum, one type of neuron has 150,000 to 200,000 synaptic connections with other neurons. Even the lowest of these numbers seems hard to believe. One tiny neuron can connect to 200,000 neurons.

"The universe could so easily have remained lifeless and simple -just physics and chemistry, just the scattered dust of the cosmic explosion that gave birth to time and space," says Richard Dawkins, the famed Oxford evolutionary biologist reflecting on the sheer wonder of the emergence of life on Earth and the evolutionary process in his classic The Ancestor's Tale.

"The fact that it did not -the fact that life evolved out of literally nothing, some 10 billion years after the universe evolved literally out of nothing -is a fact so staggering that I would be mad to attempt words to do it justice. And even that is not the end of the matter. Not only did evolution happen: it eventually led to beings capable of comprehending the process by which they comprehend it."

 The neocortex, Latin for "new bark," is our third, newly human brain in terms of evolution. It is what makes possible our judgments and our knowledge of good and evil. It is also the site from which our creativity emerges and home to our sense of self.

The Neocortex says Carl Sagan in his iconic Cosmos, is where "matter is transformed into consciousness." It comprises more than two-thirds of our brain mass. The realm of intuition and critical analysis,--it is the Neocortex where we have our ideas and inspirations, where we read and write, where we compose music or do mathematics. "It is the distinction of our species," writes Sagan,"the seat of our humanity. Civilization is the product of the cerebral cortex."

Sagan believes that extraterrestrials will have brains, "slowly accreted by evolution, as ours have," and will perhaps share similarities. He believes any successful, long-lived civilization will, by necessity, have resolved the tensions of our various brain components. Extraterrestials, too, "will have extended their Mind extrasomatically into intelligent machines."

The Daily Galaxy via Michael Chorost, World-Wide Mind

Image credit: ANU/Michael Boylan-Kolchin/UC Irvine

Comments

We are not the first, but rather, the last of many to develop such wonderfully complex brains. The others have left this Universe in search of greener pastures not destined for heat death. One day, we may join them in leaving, but we will never meet them.

I am astounded by the arrogance of contemporary scientists who, peeking through a knothole, decide what they see is big, but not as complicated as their own brains.

How can we say that the complexity does not increase to an even higher level of consciousness in an completely different manifestation?

~ "If you look at the entire physical cosmos, our brains are a tiny, tiny part of it. But they're the most perfectly organized part. Compared to the complexity of a brain, a galaxy is just an inert lump." –
physicist Roger Penrose.

Mind-boggling figures detailing the Human Brain ( which may not be so different in size and complexity with that of Chimps or Dolphin's brain, as one educator wrote ). In comparison, what is a designed, developed, human-wired super-computer in comparison?

The brain of marine or arboreal animal is wonder enough. But the MIND of a living man is more than that, it is a miracle of intellect housed in the brain. Something none-physical that lights it up with awesome intelligence. A great mystery lies there, in the "heart" of man, how he can consciously dream, plan and create. Or author a book titled, “The Ancestor's Tale”. Does that really come from the electro-chemical biological intricacies of gray matter?

~ “...the fact that life evolved out of literally nothing, some 10 billion years after the universe evolved literally out of nothing - is a fact so staggering that I would be mad to attempt words to do it justice.” And beyond THAT, that man should ponder it ( as I think he says )!

Whether man actually “comprehends”, or understands it, may be questionable. It is indeed “staggering” to consider something so immense and powerful as the Universe – or so incredibly complex and profound as the human brain – more, the MIND of brain – coming from NOTHING. Spontaneously organized from 0, chance arranged from ___. Structure without guidance, ordered existence without direction – an originating, shaping Preexistence? Even some Cosmologists envision a sort of Multiverse proto-nursery ward. Something.

To claim the brain/mind of man came from nothing ( given all the “evolutionary” time in the world – and more ), could itself be a form of madness.

- Could it be there is life in the Universe, because the Universe CAME FROM LIFE ( biogenesis )? Space conceived by Mind ( rather than thoughtless hologram, or mindless virtual projector ), from thoughtful Plan: which gave purposeful birth to intelligence-life in material Time.

Intelligence comes from Progenitor Intelligence. Life comes from pr-existent Life. The temporal Life-World of man, come from an infinite timeless Being inhabiting eternity? Superlative infinities of physical existence, subatomic world to Cosmic realm, require an Authorship of infinite capacity: an Entity of limitless Mind-Vision, Power-projection potential, and Creation-design capability.

The origin of the “seat of our humanity” may lie far beyond the confines of this Earth.

What he said.

re Ernie Farstrider: You, sir, have missed the point.

It is extremely strange to me how the word "evolution" rolls off the lips of those scientists I once would have believed unconditionally no matter what they said... They refuse to conceder the possibility that the Holy Bible may be truth (of course if you never research something it is easy to say it is never right)However by their own words they continuously prove by scientific research that the Word of GOD is the truth of reality... So they change theories faster than a politician changes allegiance$$... It would be hilarious if it were not so pathetic ! The other day As I watched a science program I almost fell out of my Lazy Boy ! a scientist was trying to connect evolution with the seemingly computerized precision of reality... He said "It seems as though every thing may have started with words!Suddenly the drowsiness left me like a cannon went off... They did it again I said between uncontrollable laughter ! THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 1:1-5 "IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD, AND THE WORD WAS GOD. HE WAS WITH GOD IN THE BEGINNING. THROUGH HIM ALL THINGS WERE MADE;WITHOUT HIM NOTHING WAS MADE THAT HAS BEEN MADE. IN HIM WAS LIFE, AND THAT LIFE WAS THE LIGHT OF MEN. THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS , BUT THE DARKNESS HAS NOT UNDERSTOOD IT." (NIV)also: "JESUS SAID,HEAVEN AND EARTH MAY PASS AWAY BUT MY WORDS WILL NEVER PASS AWAY"... DUH?

Comparing the Universe with a human brain is stupid. We don`t even know how big the Universe is and in my opinion it is infinite and noone can prove otherwise. The BB theory is just another theory. Also noone yet proved that the Universe isn't having something more than what we "see" , meaning an informational exchange between stars, black holes and galaxies and again noone can contradict me with proves. Not to remind again that the Universe contains our brains as well , so what do we compare ?

A human brain is a product of the universe and exsists within it. By default this means that the complexity of the universe must be at least equal to the human brain. This raises a significant question, what is the purpose of man in a universe that is evolving into a more complex state?

The human brain complex is much more ancient than stated. Move that marker back to at least 1.5mya!

"...self-aware, language-using, tool-making brains are very new in the evolutionary timeline, some 200,000-years old..."

Chuck those old textbooks. Re-consider our 1.5mya-200kya H. Erectus and 1mya-200kya H. Heidelbergensis ancestors, and, especially our finely-cultured 500kya-40kya Neander cousins...as all being 'human'; they possess all the criteria mentioned and necessary for this brain-galaxy complexity comparison.

They weren't just club-swinging brutes, they were sensitive, interesting, story-telling club-swinging brutes. Not behind us much, really. One big, happy family.

I doubt my knee-jerk comment changes the essential comparison and point of the article. My two bits.


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