Human Cities Are Similar To The Human Neocortex
Cities and brains maintain interconnectedness in similar ways, according to a new study by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The study compares specific structures in cities with structures in the human neocortex.
“Natural selection has passively guided the evolution of mammalian brains throughout time, just as politicians and entrepreneurs have indirectly shaped the organization of cities large and small,” said Mark Changizi, a neurobiology expert and assistant professor in the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer, who led the study. “It seems both of these invisible hands have arrived at a similar conclusion: brains and cities, as they grow larger, have to be similarly densely interconnected to function optimally.”
Here are some of the more specific results from the study:
The number of highways in a city is prima facie analogous to the number of white-matter-projecting, pyramidal neurons in neocortex... The number of highways increases in larger cities as approximately the 0.759 power of land area, similar to the exponent of 3/4 found for the number of neurons as a function of total convoluted surface area in neocortex.
Analogous to synapses in neocortex are highway exits in city highway systems (measured as the number of exits for a unidirectional traversal of all highway stretches). [The data] shows that the number of highway exits increases as about the 1.138 power of land area, or approximately as the 9/8 power... For neocortex, it is known that the total number of synapses—which scales proportionally to gray matter volume — scales approximately as the 9/8 = 1.125 power of total convoluted surface area.
(Common Scaling Laws for City Highway Systems and the Mammalian Neocortex (pdf))
The study is essentially insisting that human cities present a well-defined connection with human brains. The first time I read about the idea that alien brains might design in alien ways was in science fiction.
In his excellent 1969 novel The Man in the Maze, Robert Silverberg speculates on whether or not aliens who were very different from human beings might create different works. In the novel, telepathic alien overseers had taken over the working humans on several space colonies, and then started them working on alien projects. Alien construction and human construction thus lay side-by-side.
Screens showed him the surface picture; via template overlay he was able to compare the configurations of the outposts below with the pattern as it had been before the alien conquest.
The original settlements appeared on his screen in violet, and the recent extensions in red. Muller observed that about each of the colonies, regardless of its original ground plan, there had sprouted a network of angular streets and jagged avenues. Instinctively he recognized the geometries as alien... Aliens built in alien ways.
From Common Scaling Laws for City Highway Systems and the Mammalian Neocortex (pdf) via Science Daily
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/20/2009)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
3D Printed Dubai Building Is World's Largest
'This thing will start at one end of ...a house and build it complete to the other end, following drawings only.' - Murray Leinster, 1945.
Driverless Hotel Rooms Predicted In 1828
'Did you never see a moving house before?' - Jane Webb Loudon, 1828.
Humans Could Take Up A LOT Less Space
We'd have a lot more room for gardening...
Oh Yes, We're Building The Rotating Tower In Dubai
'Give me an old-fashioned tetragon on a central pivot every time.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Orbital Display's Low Earth Orbit Advertisements
'A vast circle of scarlet stars came up into the greenish desert dusk.'
Neuromorphic Computing Hardare
'He had constructed an organ, a brain, of metal, entirely inorganic and lifeless...'
Vascularized Human Skin 3D Printed
Trillionaires Still Earth-Bound
'I shall never forget the sight... when the yellow gleam of the precious metal appeared under the star dust.'
Digit V2 Bipedal Robot From Agility Robotics
Oh, and now I suppose someone will develop the robotic porch pirate.
3D Printed Dubai Building Is World's Largest
'This thing will start at one end of ...a house and build it complete to the other end, following drawings only.'
Grow Plants On Moon Or Mars!
'In contrast to the airless desolation outside, the interior of this five-acre greenhouse was the one most desirable place to be.'
California Gets Shockwave Rider-Style Avoidance Zones
'It was cheaper to pay the refugees to go without up-to-the-minute equipment.'
Microbot Interstellar von Neumann Explorers
'Evidently they have never had a planet of their own...'
Hail SmartCan! Your Trash Bin Takes Itself Out
'...a waste can twenty feet away stirred into life.'
Finally! Microsoft Surface Neo And Surface Duo Implement Excellent Courier Idea
'Runcible, whose pages were thicker and more densely packed with computational machinery...'
Tap Strap 2 Now With Air Mouse
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.'
Legal Profession Now Fairly Bristling With AI
'The virtual counsel appeared to be about forty-five years old and prosperous.'
Entire Planet Modeled In New MS Flight Sim
'CIC uses [it] to keep track of every bit of spatial information that it owns...'
FlyZoo Robot Hotel By Alibaba
'... hotels that specialized in non-human service.'
Implanted Memories Provide Songs To Birds
Finches can't tell the difference.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories