One of the greatest puzzles in existence is the nature of our reality. An expert proposes a method for telling if we all live in a computer program.
For a very long time, physicists have been baffled as to why the universe initially contained favorable circumstances for the evolution of life. Why do the physical laws and constants have to have the precise particular values that enable the development of stars, planets, and ultimately life?
Dark energy, the universe’s primary force of expansion, is significantly weaker than theoretical predictions would imply, enabling matter to cluster together rather than break apart.
One typical response is that since there are an endless number of universes, we should not be shocked that one of them ended up as ours. Another possibility is that someone (perhaps an intelligent alien race) is tweaking the parameters of a computer simulation of our universe.
A field of research called information physics (read below), which contends that neither space-time nor matter are fundamental phenomena, is in favor of the latter hypothesis. Instead, the fundamental components of physical reality—from which our perception of space-time derives—are bits of information.
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Temperature, in contrast, “emerges” from the collective movement of atoms. Fundamentally, no one atom has a temperature.
This raises the remarkable possibility that the universe as we know it could be nothing more than a computer simulation.
The notion is not all that novel. John Archibald Wheeler, a renowned physicist, proposed in 1989 that the universe is fundamentally mathematical and that it may be thought of as arising from information. The famous phrase “it from bit” was created by him.
The simulation hypothesis was developed in 2003 by philosopher Nick Bostrom from Oxford University in the UK. This makes the case that the idea that we are living in a simulation is actually very likely.
This is due to the fact that a technologically evolved civilisation should eventually reach a position where simulations are indistinguishable from the actual world and participants are unaware they are taking part in one.
There is some evidence that suggests our physical reality might be a virtual simulation as opposed to an objective place that exists apart from the observer.
Information processing will be the foundation of any virtual reality environment. This means that everything is ultimately reduced to bits, a unit of measurement that cannot be further divided.
According to quantum mechanics, the theory that governs the world of atoms and particles, this seems to mimic our reality. It asserts that there is a lowest, distinct unit of energy, length, and time.
Similar to this, the smallest units of matter are elementary particles, which comprise all of the observable matter in the universe. Our universe is, to put it bluntly, pixelated.
The rules of physics that apply to everything in the universe are analogous to the lines of computer code that a simulation would adhere to when running a program. Furthermore, the world seems to be fully composed of mathematical formulas, numbers, and geometric patterns.
The speed of light, which is the top speed limit in our universe, is another intriguing physics fact that lends credence to the simulation theory. This limit would be equivalent to the processor’s speed or power limit in a virtual world.
Quantum mechanics provides some of the most compelling data in favor of the simulation theory. This implies that nature is not “real” since particles in particular states, like particular locations, do not appear to exist unless you really see or measure them. Instead, they are concurrently in a number of different states. Similar to real life, events in virtual reality require a programmer or observer to take place.
Quantum “entanglement” also permits two particles to be oddly coupled, so that if you influence one, you automatically and instantly manipulate the other, regardless of how far apart they are – with the effect appearing to be quicker than the speed of light, which should be impossible.
However, this can also be linked to the fact that in a virtual reality code, all “locations” (points) ought to be nearly equally far from a central processor. Therefore, even though we may believe that two particles are millions of light years apart, if they were produced in a simulation, they would not be.
What kind of experiments, presuming the Universe is a simulation, could we run from within the simulation to demonstrate this?
It makes sense to suppose that a simulated Universe would be filled with a ton of information bits. These data fragments stand in for the actual code. As a result, finding these information bits will support the simulation premise.
Information bits must have a low mass according to the recently suggested mass-energy-information (M/E/I) equivalence principle, which suggests that mass can be characterized as energy or information or vice versa. This provides us with something to look for.
We have proposed that the fifth kind of matter in the universe is actually information. Even the anticipated information content for each elementary particle has been determined. An experimental protocol to test these hypotheses was published in 2022 as a result of these findings.
The experiment entails wiping the information stored within elementary particles by causing them and their antiparticles (all particles have “anti” versions of themselves that are equivalent but have opposite charge) to annihilate in a flash of energy, generating “photons” or light particles.
There are other methods as well. A simulation would accumulate little computing faults, which the programmer would need to correct in order to keep it running, according to the late physicist John Barrow.
He proposed that we might encounter such fixing in the form of unexpected appearance of opposing experimental findings or a change in the constants of nature. So yet another alternative is to keep track of these constants’ values.
One of the greatest puzzles in existence is the nature of our reality. The likelihood that we will eventually validate or invalidate the simulation hypothesis increases as we pay more attention to it.
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