The structure and the growth of the universe may be similar to that of human brain and the Internet, a new study has found.

Researchers found that the structure of the universe and the laws that govern its growth share more similarities 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.

“By no means do we claim that the universe is a global brain or a computer,” said Dmitri Krioukov, co-author of the study from the University of California (UC), 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,” said Krioukov in a UC statement.

Ability to predict

Having the ability to predict — let alone trying to control — the dynamics of complex networks remains a central challenge throughout network science. Structural and dynamical similarities among different real networks suggest that some universal laws might be in action, although the nature and common origin of such laws remain elusive.

By performing complex supercomputer simulations of the universe and using a variety of other calculations, researchers have now proven that the causal network representing the large-scale structure of space and time in our accelerating universe is a graph that shows remarkable similarity to many complex networks such as the Internet, social, or even biological networks. “These findings have key implications for both network science and cosmology.

“We discovered that the large-scale growth dynamics of complex networks and causal networks are asymptotically (at large times) the same, explaining the structural similarity between these networks,” noted Krioukov.

“This is a perfect example of interdisciplinary research combining math, physics, and computer science in totally unexpected ways.

“Who would have guessed that the emergence of our universe’s four-dimensional space time from the quantum vacuum would have anything to do with the growth of the Internet?

Causality is at the heart of both, so perhaps the similarity Krioukov and his collaborators found is to be expected.” said San Diego Supercomputer Center Director, Michael Norman.

The network representing the structure of the universe is astronomically huge — in fact it can be infinite. But even if it is finite, researchers’ best guess is that it is no smaller than 10,250 atoms of space and time.

(This article was published on November 25, 2012)
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