Journey to Infinity

and what you might find along the way


4 Consider a brain cell

Your brain is a very complicated organ. Some people say it's rather like a computer, but it is actually far more complex. It weighs less than 1.4 kilograms (about 3 lbs) but contains over 100 billion neurons. A neuron is a cell with a nucleus and branches which link it to other neurons. The neurons are linked by connections call synapses. There are something like one quadrillion synapses in your brain. It you aren't sure how many a quadrillion is, here's it is in figures: 1,000,000,000,000,000. OK?

Here are two illustrations to show you what a neuron and a group of neurons look like, magnified enormously.


(Source of picture unknown.)

Back to the amazing Mandelbrot fractal. There are countless patterns inside it which look like brightly coloured pictures of brain-cells. When I was zooming into a 'live' Mandelbrot fractal on one of my computers, I searched for a pattern which might look something like a neuron and its connections. This is one that I found. It is an enormous magnification of an extremely small part of the original. Yes, it's another pattern inside a pattern inside a pattern inside a pattern inside a... OK, so you get the idea.

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