Think back to the video games of your childhood. Imagine that one of the characters in your favorite game had such advanced programing that the character itself became “conscious.” What would this character in this video game simulation think? What would it believe?
However strange it may seem, new evidence has the world’s leading scientists believing that our universe is simply an incredibly advanced simulation and that we are the sims.
This idea first surfaced in the Greek philosopher Plato’s hypothetical scenario: “Plato’s Cave.” The story describes 4 prisoners who had been locked up in a cave without ever seeing the real world with their own eyes. Their only experience was the shadows projected on the walls of the cave. To these men, these shadows were the “real” world. However, one strange day they were released into a world of color and 3D objects beyond their imagination. The question then arose: could we be living in a world of shadows? And how would we know?
This story has been retold many times as “The Matrix,” “The Giver,” or even “Star Wars.” In whatever setting, all these stories show a protagonist’s view of reality collapse as a broader world is realized.
So where do we find our reality to be collapsing?…
Contrary to hundreds of years of thinking, our world is not made of solid things. The old thinking of an atom was a solid nucleus with electrons circling it like a mini solar system. In this model, if the nucleus was the size of a basketball, the electrons would be like marbles circling a few miles away. 99% of this atom described is empty space. Since our “material” world is made up of atoms, this would mean even the floor you walk on is 99% emptiness.
However, this widely taught model of an atom is flawed. Im sorry, but your chemistry teacher lied to you.
The electrons, protons, and neutrons of an atom are not, in reality, solid balls of matter.
Physicists now describe matter at its most elementary level as clouds of probabilities or quantum foam. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle tells us that you can never know the precise location of these particles while also knowing where they are going.
Their very existence is a blend between being a wave of potential and a physical entity. It is a very strange world once we look more closely.
Basically, scientists don’t really know what is going on with these elementary particles in any other terms than the math that describes them. All that matter really seems to be at these subatomic levels is a chance for an interaction. If we are making an argument for materialism, this doesn’t really sound like a solid, material world.
The most fundamental aspect of the universe seems not to be matter or energy, but information.
However, what we have found matter to be is pixelated. This means that there are fundamental “bits” that make up the world. These “bits” of matter that physicists call quarks, cannot be divided into smaller parts and the combinations of these 12 foundational particles literally make up every piece of matter that we can observe.
Quarks come in 6 flavors: (up, down, top, bottom, strange, and charm)
Each of the 6 quarks also has an opposite particle or “anti-quark” partner that brings the total number of possible quarks to 12.
These 12 indivisible pieces of matter make up the universe. This is eerily similar to the pixels of a video game or image on screen that, when observed closely, are simply tiny boxes of color that make up a virtual world.
Energy carriers like photons, are also described as quanta, meaning that energy is transmitted in little pockets of energy instead of as a steady flow. This idea gave birth to the field of “Quantum Physics.”
Our universe has been shown to be pixelated, and since it had a beginning, it is also thought to be finite. This would then mean that our universe is COMPUTABLE. With a large enough computer, it could be programed.
(It is important to note that any quark is identical to every other quark of the same flavor. There are no distinguishable differences between fundamental bits of information, much like a computer simulation.)
So matter is some sort of wave of potential at small scales, but what then makes an interaction happen?
As described in our article, The Experiment That Changed Everything, a human observer has been proven to cause matter itself to change its characteristics and turn from only being a “wave of potential” to a distinct outcome.
This is much like in a video game when an observer is looking around. The landscape out of view is simply code in the program until a conscious player decides to look in that direction and at that point the program turns intangible code into an observable world on the screen.
This was an idea that Einstein and Neils Bohr (the founder of Quantum Physics) had many heated debates about throughout their lives. And although Einstein found the idea of a world that was not physically there until it was consciously observed to be completely contradicting his understanding of the natural world; in his later years, Einstein realized that through math and experiments, quantum physics had stood up to every bit of scrutiny and presented the best description of reality.
It has been scientifically proven that conscious observers do play a part in shaping our material world.
In quantum physics there is something very strange called quantum entanglement. So strange in fact, that Einstein referred to it as “spooky action at a distance.”
In essence, quantum entanglement is a state when two particles have an unseen connection that causes them to act as one entity. Even though these particles may be light years apart from each other, an interaction with one particle of the pair will instantaneously affect the state of the other.
Imagine two “entangled” coins that were sent off to opposite sides of the universe. Quantum physics tells us that every time you flip these coins, they will land on the same side…every time, without fail.
This instantaneous effect was originally thought to be a violation of the laws of physics because the information was thought to be traveling faster than the speed of light.
It is still somewhat of a mystery what is actually going on with a pair of entangled particles but the instantaneous interaction was experimentally proven and then solidified with Bell’s Theorem.
In addition, this entanglement has been shown to be possible with larger objects that are visible to the naked eye. There is even one experiment that was able to entangle two diamonds.
Information can be transmitted instantaneously. In a material world, this would be impossible. But in a simulation universe, two points in the simulation are not in “reality” separated in the code governing the simulation. Distance in space and time are only an illusion of the programing and it would be no problem at all for a code to allow for instantaneous changes across seemingly gigantic spaces.
(Many believers in telepathy, remote viewing, and psychic abilities argue that quantum entanglement is an explanation for these phenomena.)
What happens when a computer processor is flooded with too much information to compute? It slows down.
Do we see this same phenomenon with our world? Absolutely.
Einstein taught us about an effect called time dilation in his theory of relativity. Essentially, time passes more slowly with more mass present or faster movement speeds (compared to areas with less mass and slower movement). The effect is not obvious on small scales, but only a few seconds near a massive black hole would be equal to years back on earth. Similarly, a short travel near the speed of light would cause you to return hundreds of years in the future.
To the person near the black hole or traveling near the speed of light, time seemed to pass at a normal rate. This is because everything in that reference frame is passing slowly, even the persons brain and rate of perception.
We can imagine that our video game character who is slowed down by our computer processor has the same experience of oblivion.
An influx of information causes the processors of our universe to slow down time itself.
We can think of the code as the equations that make up the physical characteristics of our universe. It is the laws of nature and the formulas made famous by our scientists. But one scientist is finding even more compelling evidence of a simulation universe within these equations that govern the natural world.
James Gates is a theoretical physicist that has found computer code in the equations of string theory. Now, string theory is still not proven experimentally but it is widely thought to be the best mathematical description of our universe. And within these equations, Dr. Gates has found not just any computer code but a specific type of code invented by Claude Shannon in the 1940’s. The code is a type of error correcting code that makes sure that signals do not get crossed and systems do not allow for small errors to persist and accumulate.
(Full Isaac Asimov debate can be found here)
Binary strings of ones and zeros are revealing themselves in the description of our world. That is more than a little bit eery.
In the scientific society, a theory is judged by how well it can describe the world and how many phenomena that are able to be explained utilizing the theories structure. While the simulation universe theory is quite jarring at first glance, one has to admit that upon further inspection it does seem to describe many of the natural phenomena much better than a materialist view.
There have been so many strange discoveries with the advance of quantum physics that we have had to shift our understanding of the world and become open to explanations that would once seem absurd.
But even stranger is when a theory that was once exiled to the worlds of science fiction becomes the best explanation for the very world we live in everyday.
Let’s suppose we are living in a simulation. Was there a programmer? This is a question that is met with mixed emotions. The secular world cringes at the thought of this theory being highjacked by the religious right, and creationists add the simulation theory to their list of supporting arguments.
If there is a computer code hidden in nature, then who wrote the code?
But the idea that our world is based on laws and some underlying truths is not anything new to science. We have known of laws of nature since ancient times. This idea of a simulation universe should make us question who designed this code of the universe no more than we question who designed the laws of gravity or motion. Both laws of nature and computer code are simply information whether you believe a world designed by God, a computer nerd, or simply random chance.
Although, simulation theory does reveal that it is definitely possible to program our universe with enough computing power. In fact, most physicists believe that one day we will be able to program our very own universe simulation within a computer.
And if the people of that simulated world then also advance their technology, they too could compute a simulated universe within a simulated universe. Layers upon layers of simulated universes would then cascade down like a reflection in a hall of mirrors.
Perhaps we are that parent universe (the first of a long chain), or perhaps (and infinitely more likely in this scenario) we are one of the billions of simulations. In either case, there still had to be a first. And even if we did manage to trace existence back to that first universe, we would likely arrive and still find ourselves asking: did someone make this universe, how was it formed and why do we exist?
These questions seem to be engrained in the very fabric of humanity and are the fuel that sparks our innovations and discoveries. And so, even if we find no answers at the end of the hall of mirrors, society will undoubtably be much better off from all the questioning.
For the record I would still chose the red pill…
Below are a few links and videos that speak more about simulation theory and the people who support its claims.
Ted Talk by George Smoot:
Can simple rules lead to complexity?
Feature Length Documentary – Simulation Hypothesis
Spooky Action at a distance Veritasium: