|23 Jul 2004 @ 10:37, by Anthony Marsh|
'Multiverse Theory' Holds That the Universe is a Virtual Reality Matrix
Sydney Morning Herald | July 22 2004
Comment: Isn't it amazing that scientists have finally had to admit that the design of the universe is so perfectly crafted so as to indicate intelligent design and yet they still try to avoid any explanation which includes the word God.
The multiverse theory has spawned another - that our universe is a simulation, writes Paul Davies.
If you've ever thought life was actually a dream, take comfort. Some pretty distinguished scientists may agree with you. Philosophers have long questioned whether there is in fact a real world out there, or whether "reality" is just a figment of our imagination.
Then along came the quantum physicists, who unveiled an Alice-in-Wonderland realm of atomic uncertainty, where particles can be waves and solid objects dissolve away into ghostly patterns of quantum energy.
Now cosmologists have got in on the act, suggesting that what we perceive as the universe might in fact be nothing more than a gigantic simulation.
The story behind this bizarre suggestion began with a vexatious question: why is the universe so bio-friendly? Cosmologists have long been perplexed by the fact that the laws of nature seem to be cunningly concocted to enable life to emerge. Take the element carbon, the vital stuff that is the basis of all life. It wasn't made in the big bang that gave birth to the universe. Instead, carbon has been cooked in the innards of giant stars, which then exploded and spewed soot around the universe.
The process that generates carbon is a delicate nuclear reaction. It turns out that the whole chain of events is a damned close run thing, to paraphrase Lord Wellington. If the force that holds atomic nuclei together were just a tiny bit stronger or a tiny bit weaker, the reaction wouldn't work properly and life may never have happened.
The late British astronomer Fred Hoyle was so struck by the coincidence that the nuclear force possessed just the right strength to make beings like Fred Hoyle, he proclaimed the universe to be "a put-up job". Since this sounds a bit too much like divine providence, cosmologists have been scrambling to find a scientific answer to the conundrum of cosmic bio-friendliness.
The one they have come up with is multiple universes, or "the multiverse". This theory says that what we have been calling "the universe" is nothing of the sort. Rather, it is an infinitesimal fragment of a much grander and more elaborate system in which our cosmic region, vast though it is, represents but a single bubble of space amid a countless number of other bubbles, or pocket universes.
Things get interesting when the multiverse theory is combined with ideas from sub-atomic particle physics. Evidence is mounting that what physicists took to be God-given unshakeable laws may be more like local by-laws, valid in our particular cosmic patch, but different in other pocket universes. Travel a trillion light years beyond the Andromeda galaxy, and you might find yourself in a universe where gravity is a bit stronger or electrons a bit heavier.
The vast majority of these other universes will not have the necessary fine-tuned coincidences needed for life to emerge; they are sterile and so go unseen. Only in Goldilocks universes like ours where things have fallen out just right, purely by accident, will sentient beings arise to be amazed at how ingeniously bio-friendly their universe is.
It's a pretty neat idea, and very popular with scientists. But it carries a bizarre implication. Because the total number of pocket universes is unlimited, there are bound to be at least some that are not only inhabited, but populated by advanced civilisations - technological communities with enough computer power to create artificial consciousness. Indeed, some computer scientists think our technology may be on the verge of achieving thinking machines.
It is but a small step from creating artificial minds in a machine, to simulating entire virtual worlds for the simulated beings to inhabit. This scenario has become familiar since it was popularised in The Matrix movies.
Now some scientists are suggesting it should be taken seriously. "We may be a simulation ... creations of some supreme, or super-being," muses Britain's astronomer royal, Sir Martin Rees, a staunch advocate of the multiverse theory. He wonders whether the entire physical universe might be an exercise in virtual reality, so that "we're in the matrix rather than the physics itself".
Is there any justification for believing this wacky idea? You bet, says Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University, who even has a website devoted to the topic ( [link]). "Because their computers are so powerful, they could run a great many simulations," he writes in The Philosophical Quarterly.
So if there exist civilisations with cosmic simulating ability, then the fake universes they create would rapidly proliferate to outnumber the real ones. After all, virtual reality is a lot cheaper than the real thing. So by simple statistics, a random observer like you or me is most probably a simulated being in a fake world. And viewed from inside the matrix, we could never tell the difference.
Or could we? John Barrow, a colleague of Martin Rees at Cambridge University, wonders whether the simulators would go to the trouble and expense of making the virtual reality foolproof. Perhaps if we look closely enough we might catch the scenery wobbling.
He even suggests that a glitch in our simulated cosmic history may have already been discovered, by John Webb at the University of NSW. Webb has analysed the light from distant quasars, and found that something funny happened about 6 billion years ago - a minute shift in the speed of light. Could this be the simulators taking their eye off the ball?
I have to confess to being partly responsible for this mischief. Last year I wrote an item for The New York Times, saying that once the multiverse genie was let out of the bottle, Matrix-like scenarios inexorably follow. My conclusion was that perhaps we should retain a healthy scepticism for the multiverse concept until this was sorted out. But far from being a dampener on the theory, it only served to boost enthusiasm for it.
Where will it all end? Badly, perhaps. Now the simulators know we are on to them, and the game is up, they may lose interest and decide to hit the delete button. For your own sake, don't believe a word that I have written.
Paul Davies is professor of natural philosophy at Macquarie University's Australian Centre for Astrobiology. His latest book is How to Build a Time Machine.
23 Jul 2004 @ 11:40 by jstarrs : Cool article....
...how to differentiate between a simulation & reality?
23 Jul 2004 @ 19:15 by spiritseek : multiverse?
now that seems more to the real thing than coke. I would dare to believe its true,in fact when as a child a door opened and a bright light shone so bright tears flowed from my eyes from the brightness. A voice of a man talked to me,wish I could remember what he said but I know it was something very important for my and/or our future.He spoke through my mind but the vision came from my third eye, I'm assuming that now because I was around ten years old.
23 Jul 2004 @ 19:21 by : Heh Heh Heh...
Old hat. Mega Meta Multi Quasi Intra Dark Energy Dark Mass Uni Duo Tres Quattro Cinco...
"What some people accept as fundamental 'scientific' knowledge is barely distinguishable from what organized religion became centuries ago."--Halton Arp
24 Jul 2004 @ 10:24 by hnetwork : Different Beliefs
I am a bit of fan, of professor Paul Davies & have read some of his books, but dont agree with all of his ideas. In one of his early books, his stated that there was only our universe & that it came in to being out [Big Bang theory]of nothing. No God, no supernatural event. Nothing at all. I think also this is the view of Stephen Hawking, the disable scientist in the wheelchair.
In the last few years a new theory [M-theory, which M stand for membrane] has emerged that at the smallest level within the atom there are 11 Dimensions. Looking from the point of view of the Eleventh Dimension there is an infinite number of universes. Some people go even further suggesting that within the Eleventh Dimension, two universes collided producing our universe [Big Bang].
This is the theory which I now believe in. But it all beliefs whether it come from religion or from scientists. Human Beings can believe in anything!
21 Aug 2004 @ 07:55 by : hmmmm....
In all this speculation of a multiverse of hyperintelligent simulators and simulatees, I see another interesting implication.
If physical constants are simulated, and if these 'physical absolutes' are actually somehow consciously directed virtual modes, then does not this multiversal hodge-podge of infinite potential beg a pertinent question?
If there is nothing logically necessary about what might in the multiverse theory be 'willfully stipulated physical accords,' then what sense is there in assuming these "superbeings" are causally based by physical mechanisms and structures?
Wouldn't it make more sense to assume the existence of a spiritual continuum of genuine and infinite gambit for physical invention? Wouldn't a spaceless realm occupied by beings of power to create physical events be most sensible in assessing ourselves?
A question raised in the article is "Could we tell the difference?" I actually think that if a difference were possible at all, only then could the delusions of a schizophrenic in a cosmic conspiracy be well-found.
What I'm alluding to with this reflection is that actually, all the bodyspace is the matrix and every consciousness is _a_ one. In our physical universe, and especially in humanly social scales, we are able to directly perceive the effect of a spiritually free consciousness with ability to create patterns in multiversally 'fluctuant, uncertain, or simply as yet unascertained by us' physical structures. Our whole world of books and technology seem to expose the nature of physical reality to be a channel for communicating 'souls.'
A soul is a very simple thing: one who is free, the one in local command.
21 Aug 2004 @ 07:58 by : I don't know why that's not scientific..
...at least definitely not in (i love puns) the spirit of seeking knowledge of physical explanatory principles as underlying events, and that quote above alluding age-old shamanism beside modern science is so genius (thanks vaxen; I hadn't heard it before).
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