MSN News says: "Already at birth, the brain contains 100 billion brain cells, or neurons, almost all the neurons the brain will ever have. (Synapses form over time as connections are created between neurons.).... The largest [computer] network has 11 billion connections, while the human neural network has close to 100 trillion connections."
Meanwhile, a cover report in the latest National Geographic says researchers are making enormous strides in "one of the great scientific revolutions of our times: the stunning advances in understanding the workings of the human brain."
The brain's regions are "connected by some 100,000 miles of fibers called white matter -- enough to circle the Earth four times," it says. Remarkably, all the neuron networks intersect at right angles.
Correctly, the human brain is called the most complex thing in the universe -- but it has been mostly unfathomable. The article points out it wasn't until the 17th century that "British physician Thomas Willis recognized that the custard-like tissue of the brain was where our mental world existed.... It would take another century for researchers to grasp that the brain is an electric organ.... Voltage spikes travel through it and out into the body's nervous system."
Each neuron sends electrical signals down long tendrils called axons -- and the signals jump across gaps called synapses into the receiving dendrites of other neurons. "Each neuron has an average of 10,000 synapses," it says.
Despite constant breakthroughs, scientists still cannot fathom why some minds are more intelligent -- or why some are mentally ill -- or what produces homosexuality, etc.
"We can't tell a schizophrenic brain from an autistic brain from a normal brain," one researcher said. Another added: "There are ridiculously simple questions about the cortex that we can't answer at all."
But we have faith that science will keep progressing, always digging, always seeking, until answers become clear. That's what the brain spurs curious people to do.