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Constraints of Nature

  1. Nov 13, 2007 #1


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    I had a look at a simulation of galactic populations in the universe from the Max Plank university and realized it looked a lot like a population of neurons. The same branching and clustering occurs in both cases... in fact I found this comparison of the two images on the net... here they are


    Is the similarity here just my own interpretation or are there constant constraits throughout the universe on every scale that apply to structure? Does the same set of rules apply at the quantum, microscopic level?

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  3. Nov 15, 2007 #2


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    Hi baywax,
    I asked myself the same question when I saw pictures of the "DNA Nebula". Here's a couple of interesting shots of it:

    One might suggest that gravity is an attractive force over large scales similar to various nuclear forces, and thus there are similar emergent organizations at these two levels. That might work (to a small degree) for structures that only observe these attractive forces, such as the DNA nebula but not for structures such as neurons and galaxies. Even with the DNA nebula, there are many other factors involving the organization of these structures such that one shouldn't expect similar overall structures. Gravity on one end of the scale is still different than the nuclear forces, so any similarity in resulting structures is coincidental IMO.

    Kinda like looking at clouds and saying they look like Auntie Jean or the Brooklyn Bridge. The similarity is coincidental.
  4. Nov 15, 2007 #3


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    I have yet to look at your references... but I know what you're saying. Like the eye nebula or whatever it is... looks exactly like a big eye... and I mean big!

    But, I have also observed, speaking of DNA, the repetition of the "major" and "minor" grooves in nature. DNA has them and so does every other structure I have observed. Is that just finding Aunty Becky in the clouds or is this a real phenomenon?

    As for the similarity between branching trees, neurons, rivers and galaxies... this seems more than a coincidence. "Branching" is a fractal phenomenon and pretty well everything in nature can be and is observedly reduced to a fractal pattern and reduction or expansion. The "branching" of a structure is just on obvious example of fractals in nature.

    It appears to me that there is an overall constraint acting on matter. If we look at the "negative" space surrounding the "positive" structure of matter we may well be observing an "unseen" force, not unlike gravity, exhurting its influence at the macro and micro levels. Then again... I might be the one exhurting the force with my preconceptions.!
  5. Nov 19, 2007 #4
    I would expect the organisation of nervecells to be comparable to at scale free network http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scale-free_network . This kind of organisation has been found in many self organising systems for example in economy and in biology and not least is the internet a scale free network. Now I don't know whether the organisation of galaxies in clusters resembles a scale free network but that could be. This would explain the similarities. But I'm not aware of studies that show the universe is organised scale free. Scale free networks seems to be a kind of organisation law of nature. The reason clouds so often look like animals or faces and such is probably that our brains are primed for finding certain objects. It's trying to find things we can eat or make love to and other important things to life. See: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/extract/104/42/16396
  6. Nov 20, 2007 #5


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    Scale free networks sound interesting. Is it a basis for fractals?

    We see branching in venule systems, arteriol systems, root systems, water way systems, plant systems, cell systems of every kind and now in this simulation of galactic populations. My guess would be that it is the most efficient way of distributing energy - matter. Its perhaps the most direct root to reach the smallest and the largest component of a system. Its the natural path or the path of least resistance. It would follow the law of conservation in that it is the most efficent configuration.

    Or, is it the workings of an unseen force? It could be nuclear force, as Q_Goest has offered and it could be gravitational which Q_Goest offered as well. What is pushing or pulling matter into this universally repetitive pattern of branches?
  7. Nov 20, 2007 #6
    My guess is that the structures in the picture is the result of I's and O's... (As it is a computer simulation) just kidding. I have no idea what made the structures if they really exist - some combination of inflation and the hard honest work of gravity is my best guess
  8. Nov 20, 2007 #7


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    Your missing my other examples... trees, rivers, tributaries, veins and arteries, pretty well everything is a structure of branching systems. Why branching? Why not cubes?
  9. Nov 20, 2007 #8
    Oh I see yes. Well rivers do the opposite of branching don't they? Veins and arteries branch and the "unbranch" in order to lead the blood back to the heart.. (sorry I don't know the english word..:-))

    You're looking for a power rule. There might be more than one that lead to branching. The reasons you gave I think were good.
  10. Nov 20, 2007 #9
    Those images are pretty cool (of the universe and of the neurons...)

    i always remember thinking to myself when i was younger what if the universe we live in was merely just a neuron is another grander universe and the cycle would continue ad infinitum.
    It would also continue in the sense that our neurons would infact be other universes ad infinitum.

    lol :D
  11. Nov 20, 2007 #10


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    A power rule. Thanks Hernik.

    This (possibly) only explains what we observe. Power rules don't explain the cause or why branching is taking place. Although they may act as evidence toward a cause for this "universal" phenomenon of branching.

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  12. Nov 21, 2007 #11
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 21, 2007
  13. Nov 22, 2007 #12

    I see. Well I'm here to learn and so I did. My personal guess is that branching might have many reasons at least in biological systems. Blood vessels equipped with a pump is more effective transport than diffusion. Branching of roots and branches on trees would be about covering more area. When antlers branch my guess is that it works as a visual signal. Five fingers on the hand in stead of the arm just ending in a clear cut improves our possibilities to manipulate surroundings (that one was my favorite)... it doesn't seem to me that there should be one underlying reason for branching as such.
  14. Nov 23, 2007 #13


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    Thanks Rade,

    This could prove useful in determining the cause of the rather predominant method of distribution of matter that we perceive as "branching".

    I'm surprised that I was able to comprehend some of this writing.

    The designation of "Self Organizing" is inaccurate by my reckoning because it denotes a kind of "intelligence" and it actually applies the word "Self" to the selfless events that take place when matter interacts with an environment. "Organization" is a feature we interpret out of some very random and naturally selected events and the word would more properly belong applied to "deliberate" sequencing or placement of sets or components.
  15. Mar 6, 2009 #14
    As above, so below?
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