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  1. #1
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Default Is the Universe a Simulation?

    Is the Universe a Simulation?
    FEB. 14, 2014
    By EDWARD FRENKEL
    The New York Times Sunday Review


    Excerpt:
    In Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel “The Master and Margarita,” the protagonist, a writer, burns a manuscript in a moment of despair, only to find out later from the Devil that “manuscripts don’t burn.” While you might appreciate this romantic sentiment, there is of course no reason to think that it is true. Nikolai Gogol apparently burned the second volume of “Dead Souls,” and it has been lost forever. Likewise, if Bulgakov had burned his manuscript, we would have never known “Master and Margarita.” No other author would have written the same novel.


    But there is one area of human endeavor that comes close to exemplifying the maxim “manuscripts don’t burn.” That area is mathematics. If Pythagoras had not lived, or if his work had been destroyed, someone else eventually would have discovered the same Pythagorean theorem. Moreover, this theorem means the same thing to everyone today as it meant 2,500 years ago, and will mean the same thing to everyone a thousand years from now — no matter what advances occur in technology or what new evidence emerges. Mathematical knowledge is unlike any other knowledge. Its truths are objective, necessary and timeless.


    What kinds of things are mathematical entities and theorems, that they are knowable in this way? Do they exist somewhere, a set of immaterial objects in the enchanted gardens of the Platonic world, waiting to be discovered? Or are they mere creations of the human mind?


    This question has divided thinkers for centuries. It seems spooky to suggest that mathematical entities actually exist in and of themselves. But if math is only a product of the human imagination, how do we all end up agreeing on exactly the same math? Some might argue that mathematical entities are like chess pieces, elaborate fictions in a game invented by humans. But unlike chess, mathematics is indispensable to scientific theories describing our universe. And yet there are many mathematical concepts — from esoteric numerical systems to infinite-dimensional spaces — that we don’t currently find in the world around us. In what sense do they exist?


    Many mathematicians, when pressed, admit to being Platonists. The great logician Kurt Gödel argued that mathematical concepts and ideas “form an objective reality of their own, which we cannot create or change, but only perceive and describe.” But if this is true, how do humans manage to access this hidden reality?


    We don’t know. But one fanciful possibility is that we live in a computer simulation based on the laws of mathematics — not in what we commonly take to be the real world. According to this theory, some highly advanced computer programmer of the future has devised this simulation, and we are unknowingly part of it. Thus when we discover a mathematical truth, we are simply discovering aspects of the code that the programmer used.


    This may strike you as very unlikely. But the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom has argued that we are more likely to be in such a simulation than not. If such simulations are possible in theory, he reasons, then eventually humans will create them — presumably many of them. If this is so, in time there will be many more simulated worlds than nonsimulated ones. Statistically speaking, therefore, we are more likely to be living in a simulated world than the real one.


    Very clever. But is there any way to empirically test this hypothesis?


    Indeed, there may be. In a recent paper, “Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation,” the physicists Silas R. Beane, Zohreh Davoudi and Martin J. Savage outline a possible method for detecting that our world is actually a computer simulation.


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  2. #2
    Senior Member prplchknz's Avatar
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    if this a computer simulation, are we being harmed or is it neutral. because if it's neutral, what does it matter? and is it even called computers in reality that we are not from? because if it's neutral it shouldn't matter if we know or not, because clearly are happiness doesn't rely on whether or not we're real or not.

    On the other hand it be cool if they cracked the code.
    In no likes experiment.

    that is all

    i dunno what else to say so

  3. #3
    garbage
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vasilisa View Post
    But if math is only a product of the human imagination, how do we all end up agreeing on exactly the same math?
    Put as simply as possible, we tend toward agreement on our mathematical constructs for the same reason that we agree that a carrot is orange in color.

    (throw in the necessary caveats, e.g. that such-and-such a language doesn't have a word for "orange"--but those who speak that language know it when they see it anyway)

    I've gotta read that paper, though. Neat

  4. #4
    Senior Member prplchknz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garbage View Post
    Put as simply as possible, we tend toward agreement on our mathematical constructs for the same reason that we agree that a carrot is orange in color.

    (throw in the necessary caveats, e.g. that such-and-such a language doesn't have a word for "orange"--but those who speak that language know it when they see it anyway)

    I've gotta read that paper, though. Neat
    but what if we see orange differently?
    In no likes experiment.

    that is all

    i dunno what else to say so

  5. #5
    Member krypton1te's Avatar
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    Didn't read the article. But a reply to the topic question:

    It must be.

    To summarize, Antonio Damasio (professor of Neuroscience - xNTP) proposed that our bodies have sensory receptors that change whenever we're in a particular environment (sends signals to brain maps) which determine our momentary emotions. He also says that the organism always goes back to preserve itself (homeostasis). IF the environment actually triggers the body, then the body will have to go through the repertoire of possible states so the organism can preserve its well being.

    If the environment can stimulate the way we emote/feel, then it is certainly believable that the universe stimulates us in some way or another. We are the product of the stars. We contain the same "stuff."

    We are the smallest fraction of a spec in the universe. We cannot be separated from what is beyond ourselves. We can only be connected because we are a dependent.
    Last edited by krypton1te; 02-23-2014 at 11:02 PM.
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  6. #6
    garbage
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    Quote Originally Posted by prplchknz View Post
    but what if we see orange differently?
    That's a part of the whole shebang. It doesn't change too much, though.

    "We both call it red, we communicate effectively, and walk away not knowing just how different each of our internal experiences really were."

  7. #7
    Senior Member prplchknz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garbage View Post
    That's a part of the whole shebang.
    so we do? I'm stupid today, forgive me
    In no likes experiment.

    that is all

    i dunno what else to say so

  8. #8
    Senior Member yeghor's Avatar
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    We may just be projections of our true selves on this universe...The way that our 3-D bodies cast/project a shadow on a 2-D surface...

    So the universe as we perceive it may just be the projection of a multi-dimensional reality onto a relatively less dimensional surface (that we've developed the ability sense since we've been born into it)...

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