Are we living in the Matrix?

pillsThe Matrix.  In the 1999 Wachowski film, humans are harvested for energy by sentient machines.  The humans are kept in a simulated world called the “Matrix” unaware of their true surroundings.

A few years later in 2003, British philosopher Nick Bostrom published a paper in the Philosophical Quarterly called “Are You Living in a Simulation?”  Basically he argues that one of these are true:

  • The human species is likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage.
  • Any posthuman civilization is very unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of its evolutionary history.
  • We are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.

Now scientists at the University of Washington have proposed a way to test this theory.  The problem with testing Dr. Bostrom’s theory was limitations in our current technology.   UW professor Martin Savage and physics graduate student Zohreh Davoudi say they have come up with a method for testing whether this universe we call home is a simulation – even a simulation within a simulation.  In their paper “Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation” they present the idea that they can test this theory by studying cosmic rays trying to find or not find any constraint limits in the rays.

“In our present day simulations in the very small volumes, we already see that particles have a maximum possible energy.

With finite computational resources, it will be the case that this is true in simulations of our universe performed by our descendents, of which we might be one.

The issue then becomes what is that maximum value and can we see it today in the spectrum of ultra high energy cosmic rays?”

Here is how it was presented by UW in its article “Do we live in a computer simulation? UW researchers say idea can be tested

I have added wiki links to make understanding this easier.

“Currently, supercomputers using a technique called lattice quantum chromodynamics and starting from the fundamental physical laws that govern the universe can simulate only a very small portion of the universe, on the scale of one 100-trillionth of a meter, a little larger than the nucleus of an atom …

Eventually, more powerful simulations will be able to model on the scale of a molecule, then a cell and even a human being. But it will take many generations of growth in computing power to be able to simulate a large enough chunk of the universe to understand the constraints on physical processes that would indicate we are living in a computer model.

However, Savage said, there are signatures of resource constraints in present-day simulations that are likely to exist as well in simulations in the distant future, including the imprint of an underlying lattice if one is used to model the space-time continuum.

The supercomputers performing lattice quantum chromodynamics calculations essentially divide space-time into a four-dimensional grid. That allows researchers to examine what is called the strong force, one of the four fundamental forces of nature and the one that binds subatomic particles called quarks and gluons together into neutrons and protons at the core of atoms.

“If you make the simulations big enough, something like our universe should emerge,” Savage said. Then it would be a matter of looking for a “signature” in our universe that has an analog in the current small-scale simulations. …

If such a concept turned out to be reality, it would raise other possibilities as well. For example, Davoudi suggests that if our universe is a simulation, then those running it could be running other simulations as well, essentially creating other universes parallel to our own.

“Then the question is, ‘Can you communicate with those other universes if they are running on the same platform?’” she said.”

So which is it going to be the Red or the Blue Pill?

Thank you for reading and while your here, kick back and take a look at some of my other articles and photographs.

Bert

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