October 5, 2012
Quantum Mechanics Point To Reality As Being Just A Computer Simulation
|Is the universe is a quantum computer, and everything that goes on in it can be explained in terms of information processing? New Scientist looks at the possibility in a special issue on What is reality?|
The universe is a computer, and everything that goes on in it can be explained in terms of information processing, speculates New Scientist in a special issue on What is reality?
Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom who is most often associated with the idea that we are living in a computer simulation. His premise, the Simulation Argument, is based on a series of assumptions:
1). A technological society could eventually achieve the capability of creating a computer simulation that is indistinguishable from reality to the inhabitants of the simulation.
2). Such a society would not do this once or twice. They would create many such simulations.
3). Left to run long enough the societies within the simulations would eventually be able to create their own simulations, also indistinguishable from reality to the sub-simulations inhabitants.
As a result, there are potentially and exponentially growing billions of simulations, with a nearly infinite number of cascading sub-simulations, all of them perfectly real to their inhabitants. Yet there is only a single ultimate progenitor society.
The math is therefore very simple: the odds are nearly infinity to one that we are all living in a computer simulation.
“Quantum physics is almost phrased in terms of information processing,” says Vlatko Vedral of the University of Oxford. “It’s suggestive that you will find information processing at the root of everything.”
Nearly every process in the universe can be reduced to interactions between particles that produce binary answers: yes or no, here or there, up or down. That means nature, at its most fundamental level, is simply the flipping of binary digits or bits, just like a computer.
According to Ed Fredkin of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, if we could dig into this process we would find that the universe follows just one law, a single information-processing rule that is all you need to build a cosmos. In Fredkin’s view, this would be some form of “if-then” procedure; the kind of rule used in traditional computing to manipulate the bits held by transistors on a chip and operate the logic gates, but this time applied to the bits of the universe.
Proving that the universe is a quantum computer is a difficult task. Even so, there is one observation that supports the idea that the universe is fundamentally composed of information. In 2008, the GEO 600 gravitational wave detector in Hannover, Germany, picked up an anomalous signal suggesting that space-time is pixelated.
In the early 1990's, University of Florida physicist Charles Thorn conceived the holographic universe hypothesis. In Thorn's view of the Universe, the three dimensional world we know is actually a hologram projected from the furthest-most reaches of the cosmos. The easiest way to imagine it is that we are contained within the Universe's event horizon and any 3D object we conceive are projected from the event horizon's two dimensional "shell."
This bizarre idea arose from an argument over black holes. One of the fundamental tenets of physics is that information cannot be destroyed, but a black hole appears to violate this by swallowing things that contain information then gradually evaporating away. What happens to that information was the subject of a long debate between Stephen Hawking and several of his peers. In the end, Hawking lost the debate, conceding that the information is imprinted on the event horizon that defines the black hole’s boundary and escapes as the black hole evaporates.
This led theoretical physicists Leonard Susskind and Gerard’t Hooft to propose that the entire universe could also hold information at its boundary — with the consequence that our reality could be the projection of that information into the space within the boundary.
SOURCE New Scientist
IMAGE SOURCES Top - Carol & Mike Werner/Visuals Unlimited/Getty, Andrinka - Physics World via Holographic Universe - Scientific American
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Tags: adinkras, James Gates Jr., Nick Bostrom, quantum computer, quantum physics, simulation, simulation argument, what is reality
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