Is Our Universe A Simulation?
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
(Please click on red links & note magenta)
If you’ve lived with math and sciences/physics as long as I have, the question of “whether our universe is a simulation” inevitably surfaces….
What may have begun as a speculational premise among some science fiction novels, “that perhaps the universe as we know it is a computer simulation“…has become a serious line of theoretical and experimental investigation among physicists, astrophysicists, and philosophers. In 2016, this notion is no longer merely an inspiration for games in VR (virtual reality), Sim video games, or entertaining sci-fi movie such as Matrix,
but as a main topic of discussion for the 17th annual
Issac Asimov Memorial Debate (in this case, more as a discussion),
on April 5, 2016, as a sold out event, in Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Theater in American Museum of Natural History, as part of the Hayden Planetarium Programs. Please allow me to just mention a bit of background information on Issac Asimov and Issac Asimov Memorial Debate, in case any of you out there is not a science fiction fan: The late Dr. Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific and influential authors of our time, was a dear friend and supporter of the American Museum of Natural History. In his memory, the Hayden Planetarium is honored to host the annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate, generously endowed by relatives, friends, and admirers of Isaac Asimov and his work — bringing the finest minds in the world to the Museum each year to debate pressing questions on the frontier of scientific discovery. Proceeds from ticket sales of the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debates benefit the scientific and educational programs of the Hayden Planetarium.
Above, you’re viewing our host and moderator Neil deGrasse Tyson (the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, host of StarTalk Radio and StarTalk Television, host of the 2014 television series Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, and author of over 11 books on astronomy and science)
and his panel of experts in a lively discussion and debate about the merits and shortcomings of this provocative idea. The 2016 Issac Asimov Memorial Debate Panelists are listed below:
- David Chalmers: Professor of Philosophy of New York University and Director of Center For Mind, Brain, and Consciousness
- Zohreh Davoudi: Nuclear Physicist and Post-Doctoral Research Associate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- James Sylvester Gates: Theoretical Physicist of University of Maryland
- Lisa Randall: Nuclear/Particle Physicist of Harvard University
- Max Tegmark: Cosmologist of Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The discussion on Simulation Hypothesis would not be complete without mentioning Hans Moravec and Nick Bostrom because the simulation hypothesis was first published by Hans Moravec and Nick Bostrom later developed an expanded augrument examining the probability of our reality being a simulacrum.
The video “The Simulation Hypothesis“, below:
The video “Are You In A Simulation?“, below:
The video on “Computing a Universe Simulation“, below:
George Smoot looks into the farthest reaches of space to the oldest objects in the known universe: fluctuations in the remnants of creation. Using data collected from satellites such as COBE and WMAP, scanning the cosmic microwave background radiation (a relic of the heat unleashed after the Big Bang), he probes the shape of the universe. In 1992 he and his Berkeley team discovered that the universe, once thought to be smooth and uniform at the largest scale, is actually anisotropic — or varied and lumpy. Smoot continues to investigate of the structure of the universe at the University of California at Berkeley, mapping billions of galaxies and filaments of dark matter in hope of uncovering the secrets of the universe’s origins, in the video “You are a Simulation & Physics Can Prove It: George Smoot at TEDxSalford”, below:
For those of you who do not mind mathematical equations, let’s take a look at Bostrom’s Simulation argument, below:
Bostrom’s simulation argument posits that at least one of the following statements is very likely to be true:
- The fraction of human-level civilizations that reach a posthuman stage is very close to zero;
- The fraction of posthuman civilizations that are interested in running ancestor-simulations is very close to zero;
- The fraction of all people with our kind of experiences that are living in a simulation is very close to one.
Translated into: His argument states that at least one of the following statements is very likely to be true:
- 1. Human civilization is unlikely to reach a level of technological maturity capable of producing simulated realities, or such simulations are physically impossible to construct.
- 2. A comparable civilization reaching aforementioned technological status will likely not produce a significant number of simulated realities (one that might push the probable existence of digital entities beyond the probable number of “real” entities in a Universe) for any of a number of reasons, such as, diversion of computational processing power for other tasks, ethical considerations of holding entities captive in simulated realities, etc.
- 3. Any entities with our general set of experiences are almost certainly living in a simulation.
To estimate the probability of at least one of those propositions holding, he offers the following equation:
- is the fraction of all human civilizations that will reach a technological capability to program reality simulators.
- is the average number of ancestor-simulations run by the civilizations mentioned by .
- is the average number of individuals who have lived in a civilization before it was able to perform reality simulation.
- is the fraction of all humans who live in virtual realities.
N can be calculated by multiplying the fraction of civilizations interested in performing such simulations () by the number of simulations run by such civilizations ():
Thus the formula becomes:
Because post-human computing power will be such a large value, at least one of the following three approximations will be true:
- ≈ 0
- ≈ 0
- ≈ 1
(All italics portion above are taken from wikipedia, under Nick Bostrom)
So, it looks as though science has decided that materialism is not a valid worldview. Wermer Heisenberg said long ago, “The atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real, they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts.”
If our world is truly pixelated and only assumes definite form when observed…the same way computer simulations behave, do you think that we may simply exist in a high quality simulation? Don’t you think we should relish each moment that we interact with another character/human being? If matter is simply a derivative from consciousness, don’t you think it would serve us well to cultivate our mind and consciousness? Perhaps the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however tenacious this illusion may be (as Albert Einstein once commented back in 1955). At times, mathematics seem to be able to explain much of our universe, but do keep in mind that even mathematics, as we know it today, is incomplete in presenting the whole picture of our universe (as presented by Godel’s incompleteness theorems). Perhaps through cultivation of our consciousness there lies the path to reduce our limitations in understanding our universe.
~Let’s Help One Another~
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