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

Because a chain reaction of physical events results in the release of chemicals which tell your brain you are in pain. And you believe them.;-)

21 posted on 12/11/2012 9:14:16 AM PST by RoosterRedux (He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats)
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To: LibWhacker

Help! I’ve fallen into a for/next loop and I can’t get up!


22 posted on 12/11/2012 9:15:38 AM PST by hadit2here ("Most men would rather die than think. Many do." - Bertrand Russell)
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To: LibWhacker
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.
They should go get some climate “scientists” to help them out—apparently they have no problem writing computer models for huge, chaotic systems that still yield extremely accurate results for decades in the future!
23 posted on 12/11/2012 9:16:32 AM PST by cartan
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To: blueunicorn6

This is what I like to call the God/Satan Conundrum.

The earth is a chessboard and God and Satan are playing chess. This has been going on since the beginning of time.

We are at a point in the game where Satan’s last move was in 2008. Everything that has occured since 2008 is the result of Satan’s move.

God may not make a move for 10 years, 50 years, next week. We just do not know.

I have been writing “Chessboard Earth” for 10 years. This is actually the second game God and Satan are playing. The first game was a draw and it resulted in the destruction of life on the planet.


24 posted on 12/11/2012 9:17:05 AM PST by EQAndyBuzz (You cant bring something to its knees that refuses to stand on its own)
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To: LibWhacker

A graphical representation of a human stimulation scenario...

25 posted on 12/11/2012 9:21:19 AM PST by mikrofon (Salud!)
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To: GrandJediMasterYoda

Those are excellent examples.


26 posted on 12/11/2012 9:21:41 AM PST by EEGator
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To: Wolfie

FREE STUFF!!

Obama gives FREE STUFF!!!

the left already believes it is a computer matrix.


27 posted on 12/11/2012 9:22:12 AM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: LibWhacker

How in the hell can these PhrauxDs ignore that any supra-entity capable of running a sim on such a scale wouldn’t account for the sentient interpretation of any gamma flux or any other outliers in such a scenario?


28 posted on 12/11/2012 9:24:01 AM PST by StAnDeliver (Own It.)
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To: LibWhacker

Complete garbage.

Many posters here agree with me. Now I know I’m still sane.


29 posted on 12/11/2012 9:24:09 AM PST by I want the USA back (not sarcasm)
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To: LibWhacker

Complete garbage.

Many posters here agree with me. Now I know I’m still sane.


30 posted on 12/11/2012 9:26:44 AM PST by I want the USA back (not sarcasm)
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To: 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten

Just to dabble a bit in some contemporary physics - quantum gravity does hint that time and space may be discrete - which would appear at least to point the same granular effect as does that of a computer simulation.

As if that wasn’t enough, look up the Beckenstein bound and do a bit more reading - interesting stuff related to the above.


31 posted on 12/11/2012 9:29:58 AM PST by Da Coyote
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To: LibWhacker

If it’s a simulation then what happens when the computer reboots?


32 posted on 12/11/2012 9:34:59 AM PST by I want the USA back
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To: LibWhacker

If you simulate a piece of the universe you need to have computer memory bigger than the number of elementary particles in that chunk of the universe.

In your computer memory you must also keep track of the position and velocity of every elementary particle [which you can not do as proven by Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle]

You also must keep track of your computer and each and every one of its elementary particles and their position and velocity.

So you would have to have a computer that is bigger than itself and bigger than its corner of the universe (in which it is contained).

Logical contradiction. The scientist is an a$$.


33 posted on 12/11/2012 9:42:37 AM PST by I want the USA back
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To: RIghtwardHo

this is nothing more than the old debate about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. navel gazing.


34 posted on 12/11/2012 9:46:20 AM PST by camle (keep an open mind and someone will fill it full of something for you)
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To: I want the USA back

You don’t have to track particles, you only have to track interactions. No video game tracks particles, they track the objects being interacted with at the lowest level they NEED to but never one bit more. And when you realize just how little people actually pay attention to details you see just how little one have to keep track of. Even though I’m striking individual keys to type this I’m not really paying attention to them, I’m slapping the keyboard and stuff is coming out, and even when I’m paying attention to the individual keys what goes on beneath it I don’t care about. So if my keyboard was part of a simulation right now the guts of it could be completely ignored by the software, all that matters is the keys are there, and hitting them has the expected results (movement, sound, stuff showing up on my screen), everything else can be black box until I do something (turn it upside down, hit it really hard, decide I’m really bored and take it apart) to interact with it. And of course meanwhile I’m not doing anything at home or with my car, so unless somebody else is interacting with them they can be ignored.

Play one of the Sims games, it’s especially instructive if you play on a machine that’s just barely up to spec. You’ll see that while they have a huge world what’s actually in memory is just the part you’re interacting with right now plus a little for anticipation. Make a big move and watch the memory cycle. You only have to have the front of the curtain in memory.


35 posted on 12/11/2012 9:54:15 AM PST by discostu (Not a part of anyone's well oiled machine.)
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To: LibWhacker

Anything thought provoking is “total garbage” to the peasants and their pedestrian minds. I recall an article in the Saturday WSJ about the power of negative (!) thinking that offended the religionists of Norman Vincent Peale here. Why be offended instead of being amused?!


36 posted on 12/11/2012 10:05:14 AM PST by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong! Ice cream is delicious!)
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To: Revolting cat!
Anything thought provoking is “total garbage” to the peasants and their pedestrian minds. I recall an article in the Saturday WSJ about the power of negative (!) thinking that offended the religionists of Norman Vincent Peale here. Why be offended instead of being amused?!

I don't get how people work themselves into a frothing rage of hatred against people they've never met just for proposing a theory which is over their heads.

37 posted on 12/11/2012 10:10:50 AM PST by Strategerist
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To: Truth2012

The ultimate programmer is God, and he is watching what we are doing in the world he created.


38 posted on 12/11/2012 10:59:20 AM PST by FreeAtlanta (bahits.com)
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To: FreeAtlanta
The ultimate programmer is God, and he is watching what we are doing in the world he created.

Yes, and I think He is PI$$ED OFF.

5.56mm

39 posted on 12/11/2012 11:04:28 AM PST by M Kehoe
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To: LibWhacker

Time for Ctl-Alt-Delete


40 posted on 12/11/2012 11:12:15 AM PST by Temujinshordes
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To: LibWhacker

Why put off till tomorrow that which can be done today?


41 posted on 12/11/2012 11:13:40 AM PST by usconservative (When The Ballot Box No Longer Counts, The Ammunition Box Does. (What's In Your Ammo Box?))
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To: GrandJediMasterYoda
We are absolutely 1000% living in a computer simulation, no if ands or buts about it.

OMG!!! You are right! And the examples you gave are unmistakable signs of a piss poor QA department!

42 posted on 12/11/2012 11:17:26 AM PST by 6ppc (It's torch and pitchfork time)
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To: LibWhacker

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLSgehi09Z4&feature=youtube_gdata_player


43 posted on 12/11/2012 11:28:17 AM PST by USMCWife6869
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To: LibWhacker

N-n-no we do-do-don't.

-PJ

44 posted on 12/11/2012 11:32:04 AM PST by Political Junkie Too (If you are the Posterity of We the People, then you are a Natural Born Citizen.)
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To: I want the USA back
I want the USA back said: "If you simulate a piece of the universe you need to have computer memory bigger than the number of elementary particles in that chunk of the universe."

If you are simulating A universe, rather than THE universe, then you can make up any "physical laws" that you want.

For all we know, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle was created by a software programmer as a simplifying mechanism for the simulated universe he was creating and in which we exist.

The above comments only make sense, of course, if it is possible to be AWARE while existing inside somebody's computer simulation.

45 posted on 12/11/2012 12:07:40 PM PST by William Tell
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To: I want the USA back

After that stutter, you might want to seek professional help...

:-)


46 posted on 12/11/2012 12:21:35 PM PST by ctdonath2 ($1 meals: http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com)
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To: LibWhacker
Some of us are already aware that we are part of a multimillion-year-long program to produce the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.

See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Unified_Theory

The final proof will be that the question, when found, will be answerable by "42".

Have you fed your mice today?

47 posted on 12/11/2012 12:58:47 PM PST by ExGeeEye (I'll give y'all 90 days for the wounds to heal; then we start on 2014. Carpe GOP!)
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To: ctdonath2

>>After that stutter, you might want to seek professional help...

You mean a better programmer?


48 posted on 12/11/2012 1:51:59 PM PST by Only1choice____Freedom (As long as America's tolerence of failure is not overwhelmed by a desire to succeed, we will fail.)
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To: LibWhacker

Our universe is an upside down chinese hat on a trampoline - that you can shape with your thoughts!


49 posted on 12/11/2012 1:54:14 PM PST by Sirius Lee (RE SP - Republicans, from Mitt Romney ..to Karl Rove... are said to be concerned she will win.")
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To: 6ppc

QA just finds the bugs, if product management doesn’t want to fix em that ain’t our fault.


50 posted on 12/11/2012 1:57:29 PM PST by discostu (Not a part of anyone's well oiled machine.)
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