Physicists May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation

By | October 27, 2012

Physicists say they may have evidence that the universe is a computer simulation.

How? They made a computer simulation of the universe. And it looks sort of like us.

A long-proposed thought experiment, put forward by both philosophers and popular culture, points out that any civilisation of sufficient size and intelligence would eventually create a simulation universe if such a thing were possible.

And since there would therefore be many more simulations (within simulations, within simulations) than real universes, it is therefore more likely than not that our world is artificial.

Now a team of researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany led by Silas Beane say they have evidence this may be true.

In a paper named ‘Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation’, they point out that current simulations of the universe – which do exist, but which are extremely weak and small – naturally put limits on physical laws.

Technology Review explains that “the problem with all simulations is that the laws of physics, which appear continuous, have to be superimposed onto a discrete three dimensional lattice which advances in steps of time.”

What that basically means is that by just being a simulation, the computer would put limits on, for instance, the energy that particles can have within the program.

These limits would be experienced by those living within the sim – and as it turns out, something which looks just like these limits do in fact exist.

For instance, something known as the Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin, or GZK cut off, is an apparent boundary of the energy that cosmic ray particles can have. This is caused by interaction with cosmic background radiation. But Beane and co’s paper argues that the pattern of this rule mirrors what you might expect from a computer simulation.

Naturally, at this point the science becomes pretty tricky to wade through – and we would advise you read the paper itself to try and get the full detail of the idea.

But the basic impression is an intriguing one. …

via Physicists May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation.

4 thoughts on “Physicists May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation

  1. Michael

    Or how about: “computer simulations must by definition conform to mathematical laws which underlie the laws of physics which govern our reality.” Doh! Their clever arguments will get them 15 minutes of fame, but it’s a chicken/egg thing. We write computer simulations that, by definition, cannot simulate situations which cannot exist in reality. Even “impossible” things are simply improbable and therefore remotely possible. It’s sad when scientists are so infused with bias and cannot recognize it.

    1. Xeno Post author

      There is a difference between what laws of physics I program into my virtual reality and the computable consequences. If I give you antigravity boots, for example, I could slip up and program them to be stronger than all the gravity of all the mass in the virtual universe. When you turn them on, they might repel all mass in the universe, causing a Big Bang, but the speed at which everything would fly away from your boots would be limited by the processing power of the simulation. I don’t see how it could it not be. Still, I’d agree that finding limits, such as the speed of light, may or may not be evidence of a simulation. I may be misunderstanding their argument, but just because a program has a limit and a universe has a limit doesn’t make a universe a program.

      1. Michael

        I agree regarding two limited things not necessarily being equal. There are, however, theories in physics which state that a situation, real, computer simulated or simulated in written equations cannot exist if those states are not *possibilities* in the universe. In other words, we cannot conceive of or create anything which does not already exist or conform to physical laws, despite the fact that those bizzare states may not be observable or exist in our area of the universe. If we were to create a state which cannot exist within the universe, whether a tangible reality or an equation describing such state, we would by definition be in violation of the laws of physics. To date, there have been no violations of the laws of physics because if we can make it, it is therefore possible. Kinda blows your mind, but we are locked in a very big box and anything we conceive is constrained by the parameters of that box.

        1. Xeno Post author

          I don’t really get why this would be true. If it is my simulation, I could program it to allow things not allowed in the universe in which the program exists, at least from the point of view of the sims inside. We can fly unassisted in dreams, for example.

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