What if everything — all of us, the world, the universe — was not real? What if everything we are, know and do was really just someone’s computer simulation?
The notion that our reality was some kid on a couch in the far future playing with a computer game like a gigantic Sim City, or Civilization, and we are the player’s characters, isn’t new. But some physicists now think they know of a way to test the concept. Three of them propose to test reality by simulating the simulators.
Martin Savage, professor of physics at the University of Washington, Zohreh Davoudi, one of his graduate students, and Silas Beane of the University of New Hampshire would like to see whether they can find traces of simulation in cosmic rays. The work was uploaded in arXiv, an online archive for drafts of academic research papers.
The notion that reality is something other than we think it is goes far back in philosophy, including Plato and his Parable of the Cave, which claimed reality was merely shadows of real objects on a cave wall. .. In 2003, a British philosopher, Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford, published a paper that had the philosophy and computer science departments buzzing.
Bostrom suggested three possibilities: “The chances that a species at our current level of development can avoid going extinct before becoming technologically mature is negligibly small,” “almost no technologically mature civilizations are interested in running computer simulations of minds like ours,” or we are “almost certainly” a simulation.
All three could be equally possible, he wrote, but if the first two are false, the third must be true. “There will be an astronomically huge number of simulated minds like ours,” Bostrom wrote.
His suggestion was that our descendants, far in the future, would have the computer capacity to run simulations that complex, and that there might be millions of simulations, and millions of virtual universes with billions of simulated brains in them.
Bostrom’s paper came out four years after the popular film, “The Matrix,” in which humans discover they were simulations run by malevolent machines. …
Savage and his colleague assume that future simulators will use a similar approach, he suggests looking at the behavior of very high-energy cosmic ray particles to see whether there is a grid in the energy as a start.
“You look at the very highest-energy cosmic rays and look for distributions that have symmetry problems, which are not isotropic,” or the same in every direction, he said.
“Everything looks like it is on a continuum,” Savage said. “There is no evidence to show that is not the case at the moment. We are looking for something to indicate you don’t have a space-time continuum.”
That disturbance in the force might be a hint that something in reality is amiss. …
Read more: Technology & science – Science | NBC News.
I’ve followed the simulation theory for years and still see it as a very interesting and real possibility. In fact, it drives much of my own interest in strange events. Are they clues that we are in a type of game? Sometimes it seems so. If so, we might be able to do things we don’t think are possible.