Human Brain, Internet, and Cosmology: Similar Laws at Work?
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 published in the science journal Nature’s Scientific Reports.
“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.”
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,” noted Krioukov. “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.”
“This is a perfect example of interdisciplinary research combining math, physics, and computer science in totally unexpected ways,” said SDSC Director Michael Norman. “Who would have guessed that the emergence of our universe’s four-dimensional spacetime 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.”
Simple mapping between the two surfaces representing the geometries of the universe and complex networks proves that their large-scale growth dynamics and structures are similar. Image courtesy of CAIDA/SDSC