Physicists To Test If Universe Is A Computer Simulation - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 12-17-2012, 11:27 AM
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Physicists have devised a new experiment to test if the universe is a computer.

A philosophical thought experiment has long held that it is more likely than not that we're living inside a machine.

 

The theory basically goes that any civilisation which could evolve to a 'post-human' stage would almost certainly learn to run simulations on the scale of a universe. And that given the size of reality - billions of worlds, around billions of suns - it is fairly likely that if this is possible, it has already happened.

 

And if it has? Well, then the statistical likelihood is that we're located somewhere in that chain of simulations within simulations. The alternative - that we're the first civilisation, in the first universe - is virtually (no pun intended) absurd.

 

And it's not just theory. We previously reported that researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany had found evidence the Matrix was less than fiction. That story was by far our most popular of the year - indicating it's something about which you lot have wondered too.

 

Now another team have devised an actual test to see if this theory holds any hope of being proven.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/12/12/physicists-universe-simulation-test-university-of-washington-matrix_n_2282745.html?ncid=GEP

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#2 Old 12-17-2012, 12:46 PM
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You always have the best links/news stories.

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#3 Old 12-18-2012, 04:49 AM
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You always have the best links/news stories.

Thank you, River, I do try.  tongue3.gif


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#4 Old 12-18-2012, 05:15 AM
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They seem to be assuming that simulated life would have consciousness, but consciousness is still not scientifically or philosophically understood.

 

Also, the idea that it would be possible/feasible for 'post-humans' to completely simulate the universe seems questionable to me, but I say that without a ton of knowledge about computing or physics. 

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#5 Old 12-18-2012, 03:39 PM
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They seem to be assuming that simulated life would have consciousness, but consciousness is still not scientifically or philosophically understood.

 

Also, the idea that it would be possible/feasible for 'post-humans' to completely simulate the universe seems questionable to me, but I say that without a ton of knowledge about computing or physics. 


Considering the best we can do nowadays in simulation are games like Halo, I would say such ability would need simulation abilities exponentially greater than those we posses today.

 

The post humans would also have to simulate things like emotions, intuition, muscle memory, will, desire, need, greed, etc, which, your right, we do not understand scientifically.


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#6 Old 12-18-2012, 06:52 PM
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This is really interesting.

Although I think they make some bold assumptions. Like assuming that the universe (even just what we see) could be modeled. Assuming that even if this is a simulation it's any reflection of the 'external reality.' Assuming that even if this is a simulation that any 'laws' (or whatever imaginable external universe) would have any limitations at all like our simulations might have.

Also, if we are just a simulation, I hope there's no power failure or that 'external they' have at least some heavy duty UPS. smiley.gif

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#7 Old 12-19-2012, 05:54 AM
 
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The problem I have with the universe being a simulation is the different scales on which it has a coherent structure - from bosons to galaxy superclusters. To model something like this, you'd need several bits of information (or certainly at least one) for each particle in the universe, for them to act independently.

Then again, this problem goes away if we're being modelled in a universe with a lot of extra dimensions huh.gif

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#8 Old 12-19-2012, 12:09 PM
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So that explains the Mayan apocalypse scheduled for Friday - we're due for a reboot.

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#9 Old 12-19-2012, 09:55 PM
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The problem I have with the universe being a simulation is the different scales on which it has a coherent structure - from bosons to galaxy superclusters. To model something like this, you'd need several bits of information (or certainly at least one) for each particle in the universe, for them to act independently.

 

Why do you need that?  There's no need to model things on such a fine scale unless they are being directly examined.  The resolution could be scaled up or down depending on intent.

 

After all, for most things, humans are more or less stuck on their own planet.  We don't need to model every atom in Jupiter for it to be a reasonable facsimile.

 

By the way, I just have to point out that science fiction has already pondered this.  One reference that comes to mind is Charles Stross's Accelerando, which makes an offhand comment about a distant galactic superpower performing a timing channel attack on the universe itself, hoping to gain enough knowledge to break out of its virtual jail.

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#10 Old 12-20-2012, 08:04 AM
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Why do you need that?  There's no need to model things on such a fine scale unless they are being directly examined.  The resolution could be scaled up or down depending on intent.

 

After all, for most things, humans are more or less stuck on their own planet.  We don't need to model every atom in Jupiter for it to be a reasonable facsimile.

 

By the way, I just have to point out that science fiction has already pondered this.  One reference that comes to mind is Charles Stross's Accelerando, which makes an offhand comment about a distant galactic superpower performing a timing channel attack on the universe itself, hoping to gain enough knowledge to break out of its virtual jail.


This would require the simulators to add more detail as humanity's space exploration becomes increasingly more vast and sophisticated.


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#11 Old 12-20-2012, 03:48 PM
 
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Why do you need that?  There's no need to model things on such a fine scale unless they are being directly examined.  The resolution could be scaled up or down depending on intent.

After all, for most things, humans are more or less stuck on their own planet.  We don't need to model every atom in Jupiter for it to be a reasonable facsimile.

By the way, I just have to point out that science fiction has already pondered this.  One reference that comes to mind is Charles Stross's Accelerando, which makes an offhand comment about a distant galactic superpower performing a timing channel attack on the universe itself, hoping to gain enough knowledge to break out of its virtual jail.


This would require the simulators to add more detail as humanity's space exploration becomes increasingly more vast and sophisticated.

You can probably write an algorithm that does that for you.

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#12 Old 12-21-2012, 01:26 AM
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After all, for most things, humans are more or less stuck on their own planet.  We don't need to model every atom in Jupiter for it to be a reasonable facsimile.

True enough. One wouldn't even necessarily need to model everything here on Earth, Earth itself, or even bodies, just fill in details as needed. Even other people could be facsimiles and they're just modeling one consciousness. That being you.

Or me (from my point of view).

The rest of the details are filled in as you (or me) explore your world.

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#13 Old 12-21-2012, 10:03 AM
 
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True enough. One wouldn't even necessarily need to model everything here on Earth, Earth itself, or even bodies, just fill in details as needed. Even other people could be facsimiles and they're just modeling one consciousness. That being you.

Or me (from my point of view).

The rest of the details are filled in as you (or me) explore your world.

Your argument is invalid, as you don't exist! inquisitive.gif
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#14 Old 12-21-2012, 10:10 AM
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You can probably write an algorithm that does that for you.


Really?  I don't know much about math except that in science fiction algorithms are always used to solve complex problems about warp drives, time differentials or tachyon, dark matter, brain-bursting vibratory quantum-quark fields.  Indeed, algorithms seem veritably magical.


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#15 Old 12-21-2012, 11:21 AM
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Really?  I don't know much about math except that in science fiction algorithms are always used to solve complex problems about warp drives, time differentials or tachyon, dark matter, brain-bursting vibratory quantum-quark fields.  Indeed, algorithms seem veritably magical.


They kind of are magical.  ;)

But they are just a list of steps to solve a problem.

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#16 Old 12-21-2012, 03:13 PM
 
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Very simple algorithms can do very complicated things. For instance, I recently wrote a script about 30 lines long, that models magnetic materials in 3 dimensions (by hand, this would be somewhere in the region of a few year's work). Actually the only limit to its complexity, is the available CPU.

If anyone is wondering what that looks like: (Click to show)
% 3-D Magnetic Model
% Last edited: 23/10/2012

% Builds a 3-D subsurface; models and displays the expected, surface
% magnetic field strength.


clear

% Building a vector for the magnetic dipole axis:

% Set values for inclination and declination:
inclination = 70;
declination = 3;

% Convert into radians (matlab uses radians by default)
i = deg2rad(90 - inclination);
d = deg2rad(declination);

% Convert to vectors:
I = [tan(i),1,0];
D = [0,tan(d),1];

% Convert to a single Vector for the dipole axis:
ID = cross(I,D);



% Define Array & model dimensions (units are SI unless otherwise stated):

% Spatial discretization:
dx = 100;
dy = dx;
dz = dx;

% Total model dimensions:
l = 1000;
w = 1000;
h = 1000;

% Defining array size:
nx = ceil(l/dx);
ny = ceil(w/dy);
nz = ceil(h/dz);

% Finite difference mesh:
x = 0:dx:nx;
y = 0:dy:ny;
z = 0:dz:nz;

% Build 2-D meshgrid for surface model:
[yy,xx] = meshgrid(y,x);

% Build arrays for modelling:
M = zeros(nz,ny,nx);
surfaceo = zeros(ny,nx);
surfacen = zeros(ny,nx);



% M to be defined in this space with a function (hold your breath!)
for sx = ceil(3*(nx/10)):ceil(7*(nx/10));
for sz = ceil(4.5*(nz/10)):ceil(5.5*(nz/10));
for sy = ceil(4*(nz/10)):ceil(6*(nz/10));
M(sz,sy,sx) = 0.1;
end
end
end


% MODELLING

% Defining constants:
mu = 1.2566 * 10^(-6);


% Loops to call up the relevant node on the surface (2-D):

for xo = 1:nx;

for yo = 1:ny;



% Loops to call up the relevant nodes for the subsurface (3-D):

for ix = 1:nx;

for iy = 1:ny;

for iz = 1:nz;

% Define "theta" - the angle between the vector,
%(ix,iy,iz) -> (xo,yo,0):
theta = acos( (dot(ID,[0-iz,yo-iy,xo-ix])) / (norm(ID) * norm([0-iz,yo-iy,xo-ix])) );

% Define lambda using
lambda = (deg2rad(90)) - theta;

% Calculating 'r':
r = norm([iz,iy,ix]);

% Calculating relative magnetic field strength at this
% surface node:
surfacen(yo,xo) = surfaceo(yo,xo) + (( (mu * M(iz,iy,iz)) / (4*pi*(r^3))) * sqrt(1 + (3*((sin(lambda))^2))));

% Clear values of theta, lambda and r for next use:
r = 0;
theta = 0;
lambda = 0;


surfaceo=surfacen;

end
end
end
end
end


pcolor(surfacen)

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