November 19, 2010 | David F. Coppedge

Boggle Your Brain

A new animation of a trip through a brain shows mind-boggling complexity in more detail than ever before.  The animation, posted by freelance journalist Elizabeth A. Moore on CNET News, represents years of work by Stanford University School of Medicine.  Using green fluorescent protein in a mouse brain to light up synapses, and photographing the tissue with array tomography, it allows visualizing the forest of neurons and synapses as if traveling through a brain in a spaceship.
    Even more amazing are the superlatives used by the researchers to describe what they had imaged.  Moore writes,

They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and senior author of the paper describing the study:

One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor–with both memory-storage and information-processing elements–than a mere on/off switch.  In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches.  A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.

Moore started the boggling with her opening paragraph:

A typical, healthy [brain] houses some 200 billion nerve cells, which are connected to one another via hundreds of trillions of synapses.  Each synapse functions like a microprocessor, and tens of thousands of them can connect a single neuron to other nerve cells.  In the cerebral cortex alone, there are roughly 125 trillion synapses, which is about how many stars fill 1,500 Milky Way galaxies.

No wonder she began her article, “The human brain is truly awesome.”  See also a biochemist’s response to this article on Darwin’s God, the blog of Dr. Cornelius Hunter.
    Live Science reported that there is a brain exhibit going on at the American Museum of Natural History in New York that will “blow your mind.”  Walk-through dioramas and interactive exhibits give visitors an appreciation for the “universe unto itself” that is the brain.  “Brain facts designed to astound anyone but the most jaded neuroscientist appear throughout the exhibit,” the article says, going into mind-boggle mode.  “A single neuron can send 1,000 signals per second, each traveling at a sizzling 250 mph (400 km/h).  Then there's the early growth spurt most people don’t think about – half a million brain cells form every minute during the first five months in the womb.”  One section was titled “Brain evolution” but said nothing about evolution.
    Other recent brain stories include: Sleep makes your memories stronger (PhysOrg), Learning to read is good for the brain (PhysOrg), and and Why your brain is the smartest on earth (New Scientist).

This is a “must-see” animation.  As disorganized as it looks, there is more design there than you can imagine.  Each synapse is a thousandth of a millimeter in diameter.  Put your thumb near your index finger as close as you can; that’s about a millimeter.  Now slice that distance a thousandfold, and you begin to appreciate the scale of these microprocessors, each with tens of thousands of switches and connections.  In the gaps of the synapses, a host of precision chemical neurotransmitters carry coded messages across to other neurons, using cellular processes that package them on one end and unpackage them on the other.  This all happens lightning fast.
    And remember – this is just a mouse brain.  The human brain is vastly more complex, allowing Mozart to conceive whole symphonies in his head, to derive complex calculus theorems while blind, and the apostle Paul to write a paean to love in his epistles.  We need to be reminded of the realities of life when debating creation and evolution.  Who can really believe that a computer network more vast and complex than the internet, packed into a three-pound lump of wet tissue that grows from a single cell and runs on potatoes, arose by an undirected, purposeless process essentially by chance?  If you think about it, you have falsified Darwinism.  Why?  Darwinism is not about thinking.  Look at the Live Science section called “Brain evolution.”  It didn’t even begin to try to start to commence to explain how all this astounding complexity evolved.
    How can a few tens of thousands of genes produce something so marvelous?  No one knows.  Live Science ended with a quote: “Every year there’s an order of magnitude leap in what we know and there’s still many order of magnitude leaps that we need to take in the near future.”  Dr. Walter Brown often pointed out the complexity of the brain in his creation seminars: an adult human brain, he said, has 100 trillion connections (probably a low estimate), “more than all the soldered electrical connections in the world” (see statement on, and reference).  Did all of man’s soldered connections and internet connections take place by an unguided, purposeless, uncaring process?  Then neither did your brain’s connections.  Both are purposeful, functional systems – only the human brain is vastly superior, and it designed the soldered connections and computer networks.  Out of nothing, nothing comes.

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