Nick Bostrom has become somewhat of a cult celebrity in fringe circles for his authorship of the Simulation Theory. This theory supposes that because of the overwhelming likelihood of technological singularities occurring in the universe, it is quite likely that advanced civilizations–either us in the future, or aliens in a distant galaxy–have created or will create simulations. Since the number of these simulations would number in the billions, Bostrom submits that it’s actually quite likely we are living in some sort of a computer simulation.
The actual theory is more elegant than our description and is better understood reading Bostom’s original paper, which supplies the underpinning mathematical equations. Since its publication, the Simulation Theory has become a familiar muse for science fiction audiences, explored in films like The Matrix, The Thirteenth Floor, Dark City, and a smattering of anime films.
For most people, it’s a titillating but ultimately incomprehensible concept, one that is so far out there, so far removed from practical reality it’s hardly even worth thinking about. But if you’re like us and you enjoy pondering the distant, the sublime, the unknown, and the incredible on a daily basis, the Simulation Theory actually offers a verdant foundation for assessing some of the more vexing questions our civilization seeks to answer.
*Whole video is cool but simulation talk doesn’t start until about halfway thru.
Glitches in the Matrix
It has been suggested that the Simulation Theory would actually help explain paranormal activity, such as ghosts, haunted houses, ESP in its myriad forms, and demons. Viewed as part of the simulation, they are simply errant pieces of code. Entities such as Big Foot and the Loch Ness monster are as real as apple pie, except that as programs they are rife with glitches.
The Simulation Theory would also explain UFOs and even the lack of UFOs. Yes, both the thing and non-thing. With UFOs, as pointed out by Micah Hanks in The UFO Singularity, one of the more puzzling anomalies is that they seem to disappear on a dime. Many UFOlogists have pointed out that UFOs often behave as if they were on some alternate timeline and every once in a while we get to see through and spot them. The Simulation Theory would reconcile UFOs’ strange behavior, as they are either poorly written programs (perhaps the idle fun of a post-human adolescent), or have been purposely programmed to confound us.
The lack of aliens or UFOs could also be reconciled by the Simulation Theory. The Fermi Paradox, which describes how incredibly odd it is that in a universe this astoundingly big–containing billions of galaxies, each with a billion stars–with such a massive likelihood for intelligent life (at least according to the Drake Equation), we have been met with only cosmic silence. Well, the Simulation Theory would state simply that the reason we haven’t found any signs of extraterrestrial life is because it wasn’t written into the universe we occupy. Or if it has been, it’s being willfully concealed. Maybe that program will soon be launched, or perhaps ours is an existential experiment with loneliness and species pathology. Maybe our simulation operator is a sadistic bastard.
Lattice Quantum Chromodynamics
Perhaps what is most odd about the Simulation Theory is that there are actually prominent scientists and physicists who not only think it’s possible, they are actively conducting experiments to prove it. A team of German physicists think that eventually we will be able to paint a better portrait of the so-called numerical simulation that is our universe. They are working to create a mini-simulation that require physical constraints in order to run. They want to see if those same constraints exist in our own universe.
In order to create the simulation, the physicists are using something called lattice quantum chromodynamics to try and discover whether there is an underlying grid to the space/time continuum in our universe. Though they have only recreated a tiny corner of the known universe, a few femtometers across, they have simulated the hypothetical lattice and are now looking for matching physical limitations.
One popular constraint involves high energy particles. It turns out our universe does in fact have a physical limitation that is not fully understood. It is known as the Greisen–Zatsepin–Kuzmin or GZK cut off. And this limitation is eerily similar to what physicists predicts would exist in a simulated universe.
computer code found in string theory
In the last couple years, theoretical physicist S. James Gate has discovered something extraordinary in his String Theory research. Essentially, deep inside the equations we use to describe our universe Gate has found computer code. And not just any code, but extremely peculiar self-dual linear binary error-correcting block code. That’s right, error correcting 1s and 0s wound up tightly in the quantum core of our universe.
While no one can claim this is irrefutable proof of the Matrix, it is certainly eye-opening to listen to S. James Gate and Neil deGrasse Tyson speak in almost professional whispers about the ramifications of finding computer code mixed in with the equations of the String Theory.
These are whispers of rapture for the Ghost Diaries. Do we want to learn that the universe is a simulation, that all truth and matter is simply code, perhaps arbitrarily programmed by a being we can’t possibly imagine? Not necessarily, but it’s fun to think about. And we do, a lot. This summer we’ll be releasing a YA novel called The Indoor Kids, which will be mind-candy nerdcore for lovers of all things Fermi Paradox and Simulation Theory.
Turn that frown upside down, further down the rabbit hole we go….