Scientific Sense Podcast

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Proof of simulation

The idea that the universe is a simulation has been in the periphery of cosmology. This is not surprising – every established scientific arena, astrophysics, medicine and economics included, has not been kind to pursuits that questioned the status-quo. This abundant bias, nourished by the ability to publish and win Nobel prices in short horizons, has perpetuated established theories even in the absence of any evidence. Even “theories” that could never be tested has been gaining popularity, within the closed doors of academia, with even less interest to look outside than country club dwellers.

The thought experiment that the universe could be a simulation, however, has been around for over a decade. Some have even suggested ways to test it experimentally. Given that the established theories require 96% fantasy for them to work, it is not too big a leap to go a bit further. After all, thought experiments typically do not require 6 trillion experiments to ferret out an elusive particle and such statistical fantasies have been held as one of the greatest achievements of contemporary humans.

If the universe were a simulation, what would be the properties of such a system? In a sufficiently complex simulation:

1. The participants of the simulation, albeit capable of describing the processes that make the simulation work, will never be able to explain the origin of it.

2. The participants, who could measure the constants that drive the rules of the simulation, will find them finely tuned and held constant.

3. The simulation will exhibit recurring patterns.

4. The participants will find constraints within the system that limit them to certain parts of the simulation.

5. The participants will face an overall hard constraint that does not allow them to get outside the simulated system.

6. The participants of the system will remain unaware of anything outside the boundaries of the simulation for the duration of the simulation.

7. The participants will likely reject the hypothesis that they are part of the simulation.

8. The participants may find anomalies to the rules they have discovered because of the possible flaws in the simulation itself. Such flaws may be patched up over time and the anomalies may disappear.

9.  The system will exhibit no learning.

10. Any excursion – random, planned or induced by the participants, away from the rules, will revert back to the rules.

Within the context of the tiny part of the universe – humans - all these properties appear to be true. Moreover, no current observation negates the hypothesis. Hence, it is likely that the universe is a simulation.

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