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Kardelen Ergin

Student- B. S. Chemistry,

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Which one is tougher? Brain or Universe?

Both the brain and the universe is not yet discovered and explained fully. Which one do you think is harder to explain? It is said that the possible connections that the neurons in the brain can make has a larger numerical value than the particles in the universe. Yet also only 4% of the universe consists of matter we can observe, and the rest is full of question marks. Which side are you on? Do you think explaining the brain fully will come sooner or explaining the universe?

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    Jun 4 2012: I believe that the universe will be more difficult to figure out. This is because a universe is more vast and we do not/will not ever find the advanced equipments to find out all the little secrets of the universe. I believe that this will be forever impossible.
    On the other hand, people continue to make equipments to study a human's brain. The world's technology advances, and as this advances we'll be able to solve several mysteries about the brain.

    I hope this answer helps!
  • May 29 2012: I read all comments on your topic today. Very true that this question is very tough. In order to answer your question I think we need to compare which one is older. As far as scientists state that our universe is 13 billion years old. However how about human beings? 5 billion? 4 billion? I believe that one day we will be able to observer it fully but for now, I think universe is tougher.
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      May 30 2012: Why does age have anything to do with it. You could actually argue the opposite: The universe is a product of relatively simple physics, whereas the brain is the product of billions of years of evolution adding complexity.

      The question that Kardelen asked I think asks for understanding the basic underlying principles that govern 1. the universe and 2. the brain. It seems to me quite likely that the basic principles of the universe are much simpler.

      Maybe it'd be more interesting to have an actual Neuroscientist and an actual Physicist comment on this.
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    May 29 2012: In my opinion, it's not true that the brain can create numeric combination wider than universe, because in my opinion, the brain is part of universe, and changes in the brain is also a change in nature as a whole and just for ourselves.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/brian_greene_why_is_our_universe_fine_tuned_for_life.html?c=453364 , http://www.ted.com/talks/questions_no_one_knows_the_answers_to.html?c=454247 .

    Indeed, in terms of material, we do not yet have sufficient understanding of the brain. But if you try to receive a new adventure in the spiritual world (our inner self), this understanding is acceptable for some people.

    This (for some people) is the theory, while for some spiritual practitioners, this is a reality. Think of it as the input of a different color on the answers of what you ask.

    Universe is tougher.

    Less or more ...
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    May 29 2012: @ Kardelen Ergin : Nice Question ask by you. Very Difficult to answer but not impossible.
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    May 29 2012: Most of the people indicated toughness according to their sizes. Of course in that manner universe will be the winner. But if we think as this way, we know the heart, we know how the muscles of the heart works, we know why heart attacks occur, we know where the blood comes from and goes to in the heart. But when we talk about the brain, it is full of mysteries. We don't know why some people possess phantom limbs and other don't. We don't know why dreams occur, we only have certain guesses. And for the universe, I meant not the entity but the physics behind everything beyond earth. What do blackholes do? Is there anything behind the radio noises at the end of the univers? How come everything formed from nothing? Why there were more matters than anti-matters?
    I wanted to ask which aspect would be sooner or easier to figure out with respect to the other one.
    I picked them two because both are hot topics with a lot of questions in them.
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    May 29 2012: We can't explain the universe without explaing our selves. We're in it, you know.
    What science can do is to give a description of what we can observe by our senses.

    We can't explain the brain without explaining the universe. We are a product of that universe.

    We can't explain anything without context. To explain a chair one needs to explain human beings and their habits, wood, trees, the earth, intelligence, life, water, air, the moon, in fact the whole universe.
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      May 30 2012: Have you thought about what we will find when we understand it all ?
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    May 29 2012: Our brains are a very small part of the universe, for a very short period of time, so obviously the universe is tougher.

    That is not to deny the challenges of understanding consciousness and how our brain works etc.
    I note our brain is not that much different physically from other primates, but that small difference has led to great things.
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      Jun 14 2012: @on1...I will believe that when a primate other than a human writes a symphony,paints a Mona Lisa or sends a man to the moon. Little
      difference indeed !
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    May 29 2012: Brain.

    Unless you define "Universe" as literally everything (including all the brains in it).
    It seems as though we understand a lot more of the principles of physics behind the universe, at least after the Big Bang. The brain seems to me to be in a completely different complexity league.
    Also, since the brain is part of ourselves, probably the most important - the house of our minds, I think there's a lot more opposition or uneasiness in actually mapping and understanding it. The universe seems a lot less personal, and an attractive challenge to solve. But I think secretly there are a lot of people who prefer the brain and our mind to keep a certain mystery.
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    Jun 27 2012: Right now, I think it is the brain because it is not as stimulating for men to turn inward. Exploration usually means outward.
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    Jun 4 2012: Neither. As our understanding of the brain advances, our patterns of thinking and our ability to exercise/develop different capabilities of the brain will continue to expand and change, so we will never reach the full edge of it, like a self-referential paradox. The same kind of problem may hold true for the universe as well, for as we learn and understand more about it, our interactions with it and our effects upon it cause it to change. This is not necessarily an argument for the infinity of either, but is about trying to get your arms around the outside of something from inside of it.
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    May 30 2012: I suspect that we will find out that the two are inextricably linked at the sub-molecular level, making the answer to your question: Yes! (and no, I'm not being "trollish")
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      May 30 2012: can you elaborate on why you think that? What are the reasons for this "suspicion"?
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        May 31 2012: As we find smaller and smaller particles and waves and forces the scientists seem to be running into situations where what they expect (hope for) is beginning to affect the results that they are getting from "accurate" (read precise/ infallible) equipment. Also if you read the good books of the world (Christianity, Muslim, zen, Sufi, Jewish etc.) you will note that they each are telling us that we are all creators. It is mysticism, but seems to be a very constant theme throughout the great teachings of our world. I can't prove it but that is where logic and intuition lead me.
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          Jun 3 2012: I'm not sure the good books are actually that good. Bit of a mix if you ask me.
          The Abrahamic books are even a mixed bag.
          The first is for a select group. It tells us they are subjects of a jealous and wrathful tribal god - Yahweh.
          The second eventually opens the doors to non jews, (you can read about them debating whether to accept gentiles and whether they should have to be circumcised - making it up as they went) but builds a concept of eternal torment if you don't choose to obey.
          The third denies the teacher in the second was anything more than a prophet and that we must submit to the cosmic overlord.
          They contradict each other in many ways.

          Not sure where you get the idea these books are telling us we are creators?

          Not sure if primitive attempts at social order, cultural myths, understanding the universe etc are much good for anything compared to moving forward based on what we know from evidence and reason.

          Not sure if you should go looking for truth in books promoting genocide. racism, murder, gender inequality, slavery etc. Unless you choose to pick out the good bits only.

          Drawing connections between supernatural cultural memes just proves we have come a long way and have a long way to go. That we share the human condition. That cultures invent stories and explanations. That our mind is an amazing thing but subject to delusion. There have been thousands of gods, and billions of supernatural interpretations. One thing we can say is at most all but one is correct and probably none have come close.

          Not sure superstition or intuition not backed by reason or evidence is the path to truth.

          I think we already know the universe and life is stranger and more complex than any old religious tradition comes close to. We may find many stranger things in the future. Truth in science is stranger than religious fictions.
  • May 30 2012: Science could most likely produce an explanation of the brain far sooner than an explanation of the universe. I believe the brain is finite both in measurement of matter and time, but I do not believe the universe is finite in measurement of matter or time. Therefore, science will never be able to fully explain the universe but at least in theory, the possibilty exists for a comprehensive understanding and explaining of the brain.

    Now if I may wander off the path of science even farther, if you want to bring into account the attributes of the soul and its capabilities that mirror the functions of the brain to remember, to feel emotion, etc., then you have an equally elusive item that science will probably never even acknowledge let alone attempt to explain.
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    May 29 2012: Firstly can we compare the two entities?

    Brain is a powerful yet vital entity in our human body having a lot of potential .

    Well as far as universe is considered, earth is smaller than a grain of sand so we can now imagine where a brain stands with respect to the universe

    Both brain and Universe have a different role to play in our lives

    Without brain, we would be in coma but

    Without Universe, there would be no earth so no human beings
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      May 30 2012: Complexity is the name of the game, not size.