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Do we live in a computer simulation? UW researchers say idea can be tested
University of Washington ^ | 12/10/12 | Vince Stricherz

Posted on 12/11/2012 8:54:00 AM PST by LibWhacker

A decade ago, a British philosopher put forth the notion that the universe we live in might in fact be a computer simulation run by our descendants. While that seems far-fetched, perhaps even incomprehensible, a team of physicists at the University of Washington has come up with a potential test to see if the idea holds water.

The concept that current humanity could possibly be living in a computer simulation comes from a 2003 paper published in Philosophical Quarterly by Nick Bostrom, a philosophy professor at the University of Oxford. In the paper, he argued that at least one of three possibilities is true:

He also held that “the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation.”

A graphical representation of two theoretical views of our universe:

-Martin Savage

The conical (red) surface shows the relationship between energy and momentum in special relativity, a fundamental theory concerning space and time developed by Albert Einstein, and is the expected result if our universe is not a simulation. The flat (blue) surface illustrates the relationship between energy and momentum that would be expected if the universe is a simulation with an underlying cubic lattice

With current limitations and trends in computing, it will be decades before researchers will be able to run even primitive simulations of the universe. But the UW team has suggested tests that can be performed now, or in the near future, that are sensitive to constraints imposed on future simulations by limited resources.

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, said Martin Savage, a UW physics professor.

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.

Savage and colleagues Silas Beane of the University of New Hampshire, who collaborated while at the UW’s Institute for Nuclear Theory, and Zohreh Davoudi, a UW physics graduate student, suggest that the signature could show up as a limitation in the energy of cosmic rays.

In a paper they have posted on arXiv, an online archive for preprints of scientific papers in a number of fields, including physics, they say that the highest-energy cosmic rays would not travel along the edges of the lattice in the model but would travel diagonally, and they would not interact equally in all directions as they otherwise would be expected to do.

“This is the first testable signature of such an idea,” Savage said.

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.


TOPICS: Science
KEYWORDS: academicbias; aclumia; chromodynamics; churchandstate; computer; creationism; junkscience; lattice; pseudoscience; quantum; simulation; taxdollarsatwork; tested; universe; youpayforthis
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Tomorrow's assignment: Write a virus that will kill off all socialist thought in the simulation.
1 posted on 12/11/2012 8:54:09 AM PST by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker

Oh come on - this problem has already been solved.

2 posted on 12/11/2012 8:57:13 AM PST by 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
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To: LibWhacker

yeesh! what a bunch of elitist navel gazing claptrap!


3 posted on 12/11/2012 8:59:56 AM PST by camle (keep an open mind and someone will fill it full of something for you)
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To: LibWhacker

We currently inhabit a nasty piece of malware called the Obama Presidency.


4 posted on 12/11/2012 9:00:59 AM PST by relictele
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To: LibWhacker

Humans will go to great lengths to deny that there is a God, and that they are NOT him.


5 posted on 12/11/2012 9:02:06 AM PST by Truth2012
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To: 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
"And I wanna be somebody important. Like an actor."


6 posted on 12/11/2012 9:02:20 AM PST by Wolfie
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To: LibWhacker

7 posted on 12/11/2012 9:02:24 AM PST by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
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To: camle

An interesting science-fiction story theme, but no, we are not a “computer simulation” - we are going through all this in real time and on hard physical surfaces.

Otherwise, why does it hurt so damned much when I scrape my shin?


8 posted on 12/11/2012 9:02:50 AM PST by alloysteel (Bronco Bama - the cowboy who whooped up and widened the stampede.)
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To: LibWhacker

Pay no attention to this article! Now, get back to work providing entertainment for me.


9 posted on 12/11/2012 9:04:26 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: LibWhacker

Just HOW much of OUR TAX $$s did THEY SPEND coming up with THIS BULLSHIT!


10 posted on 12/11/2012 9:06:06 AM PST by US Navy Vet (Go Packers! Go Rockies! Go Boston Bruins! See, I'm "Diverse"!)
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To: LibWhacker

Funny how this comes out around the time pot became legal in this state.


11 posted on 12/11/2012 9:06:44 AM PST by dragonblustar (Allah Ain't So Akbar!)
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To: blueunicorn6

Didn’t Washington just legalize weed. These researchers must of got a hold of some real good stuff.


12 posted on 12/11/2012 9:08:26 AM PST by spawn44 (moo)
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To: 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten

Can we do something then about the Liberal virus?


13 posted on 12/11/2012 9:08:47 AM PST by RIghtwardHo
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To: Truth2012

I agree 10000000000000%. I proudly proclaim my love for GOD and HIS SON JESUS.

LLS


14 posted on 12/11/2012 9:09:54 AM PST by LibLieSlayer (WOLVERINES!)
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To: dragonblustar

No, that’s the “universe is an atom in a greater being’s fingernail” theory.


15 posted on 12/11/2012 9:09:54 AM PST by Wolfie
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To: camle

Meh, I enjoy these kinds of mental exercises.


16 posted on 12/11/2012 9:10:11 AM PST by RIghtwardHo
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To: Truth2012

Very well put!

They are now claiming the “post-humans” are god.

Anything but the real God.


17 posted on 12/11/2012 9:12:00 AM PST by steve86 (Acerbic by Nature, not NurtureĀ™)
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To: alloysteel

This theory may explain the rise of the Oregon Duck football team and the fall of my beloved Huskies. Something is testing my patience, and those of my fellow Dawg fans, as to how much more humilation we must endure! Especially the 18 pt come from behind loss to the Cougs!


18 posted on 12/11/2012 9:12:45 AM PST by shotgun
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To: alloysteel
Otherwise, why does it hurt so damned much when I scrape my shin

Solid matter is mostly empty space, so that's something of a technical question actually, lol.

19 posted on 12/11/2012 9:12:53 AM PST by RegulatorCountry
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To: LibWhacker

We are absolutely 1000% living in a computer simulation, no if ands or buts about it.

The proof:

1. Obama gets reelected.

2. The Maroon 5 song “Payphone” is actually a hit song.

3. M. Night Shyamalan still has a career.

4. Hillary Clinton is considered smart.

5. Nancy Pelosi keeps getting reelected.

6. Ted Kennedy kept getting reelected, even after Chappaquiddick!

7. Country music today is incredibly considered country music.

8. Saturday night live and it’s movies are considered comedy.

9. Adam Sandler has a career.

10. Keith Richards is alive.


20 posted on 12/11/2012 9:13:50 AM PST by GrandJediMasterYoda (Someday our schools we will teach the difference between "lose" and "loose")
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