Grand Theft Simverse And The Double Slit: Are We A Simulation?

in science •  3 months ago

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A short while back I wrote an article on how to prove if we are living in a simulation or not. However the problem with that proof was that it was very much based on a future premise.

Essentially I claimed that if there were such things as NP problems. That is to say problems which take a supercomputer longer than the age of the universe to work out, then we probably aren't living in a sim.

However if P = NP, in other words there is no such thing as a non-polynomial problem, then there is every chance that we might be living in a sim.

Two problems arise with this theory, the first being that we have to wait till powerful quantum computers are invented. Which to be fair will probably happen reasonably soon.

The second and much more apparent problem is that even if P does indeed equal NP, then we are still unsure as to if we are in a simulation or not.

It turns out though that there is a much more compelling proof that we most definitely are living in a sim, and that proof comes in the form of the good old double slit experiment.

Double Entendre

The double slit experiment is a very famous test, first devised in 1801, to work out whether light is a wave or a particle. When it was first performed its stunning results found out that light behaved as both a wave and a particle.

To understand this let's take a simplified look at the experiment below, and then how this proves that we are in fact living in a simulation.

Let's imagine that you have a machine that fired ping-pong balls and you had a whole bunch of balls dipped in ink. Then a few feet in front of the machine you had a wall with two slits big enough for a ball to pass through, carved into it. Then behind that wall you had a white screen.

Okay, so the machine randomly points at one of the slits or another and fires a ball. Once all the balls ran out and you inspected the screen what do you think you'd see?

If you answered that you would see two columns of dots where the balls had struck, then you'd be absolutely correct.

Now if we change the experiment slightly and instead of ping-pong balls and a machine to fire them. We swap them for a wave machine and dip the entire experiment in a huge swimming pool. This time we don't use ink, we simply dim the lights and observe the patterns hitting the white screen and take several photos of the screen.

After this experiment we would see a certain pattern of waves hitting the screen, however we would see dark segments whereby the wave had interfered with itself as it passed through both slits at once.

OK great, so we now use a single light source and shine that at a wall with two slits in it. If we see a dotted pattern we know light is a particle, if we see an inteferrence pattern we know light is a wave right?

Ah, well this is where things get a little weird.

A Question Of Measurement

When the experiment was first carried out the results were a wave pattern. Problem solved! Light is a wave, let's all pack up and go home, woohoo, yay for physics!

Ah, wait a minute.

The experiment was repeated whereby one photon at a time was fired at the slits, and the wave inteference pattern still happened.

Huh?

This means that each photon appeared to be passing through both slits at once.

Hmmm

Alrighty then, let's place a measuring device at one of the slits so we know definitively which slit it has gone through.

Ready for some quantum strangeness?

When we measure which slit the photon goes through, the pattern we get on the screen is the ping-pong ball pattern of dots.

Wha-???

How can this be? How can the mere act of measurement change the very properties of light.

That would be the same as if I don't measure Alan he appears to be six feet and six inches tall and indeed bumps his head on a low door frame. But then as soon as I measure him, he is only five feet and five inches and passes through the door frame just fine!

Erm, O-kay . . .

Retrospective Measurement

Then one day some bright spark (pun intended then immediately regretted) worked out a way to measure each photon after it had already passed through either slit A or slit B.

This resulted in . . .

A ping-pong ball pattern!

Okay let's recap.

If you fire one photon at a time at a partition with two slits in it. The resulting pattern on the other side is that of a wave, as if each photon passes through both slits.

If you do exactly the same experiment and measure which slit the photons pass through, either before or after they've passed, the wave pattern collapses and becomes a definitive dot pattern.

It's as if our measurements, or lack thereof, determine how light behaves, as if it somehow knows it is being measured.

Uh-huh, so what has this got to do with living in a sim?

Grand Theft Auto And The Simverse

Have you ever played Grand Theft Auto, or any other game whereby you are in a simulated world?

Well as you play Grand Theft you are presented with a huge city called Los Santos. As you drive around performing all sorts of despicable acts of crime, it seems as if all of the city is there all of the time.

But in fact this is not the case, it is an illusion made possible by clever programming and powerful hardware to run the game engine on.

As you drive through the city, the places you have left behind and the places you are yet to get to, do not exist. This is because it would take so much more computing power to create a city that was always there.

Better gameplay is delivered to you by using this technique. It isn't a new one, however it is getting more and more refined. In fact the better it gets, the more seamless it becomes.

Put simply, the city of Los Santos only exists as you play the game.

Aha! I hear you cry. But Cryptogee, I have played Grand Theft, and when I'm in a plane or helicopter, I can see the entire map. I can see cars driving around, boats in the water, and I can blast them from the air.

This is very true, however the detail to which you are seeing them is not as refined as if you are at ground level, simply because they don't have to be.

Grand Theft Universe

The computer game described above is played on modern machines with processors capable of tens of millions of calculations per second, sometimes more.

However imagine if they were played on machines which could calculate trillions of individual calculations per second. How much more detail could you get then?

Perhaps you would not notice anything until you looked down at the quantum level.

If indeed we are in a simulation, then the machine we're running on has to take into account billions upon billions of objects and their relation to one another at any one time.

However since we discovered quantum mechanics, we are aware of many trillions more particles. So perhaps the double slit experiment is in fact the same as the way Grand Theft Auto only shows you detail when you're looking for it.

As soon as you measure, the simulation now knows that someone is observing the particle and gives it a definitive path. If nobody is observing, then it can give it the vague outline.

Uncertainty In A Certain World

Albert Einstein himself was not happy with this uncertainty in quantum mechanics. Because it is not just light that has this quantum strangeness built in, but all particles that can be considered quantum.

An electron circling an atom does not have any fixed position, until it is measured. In fact it is said that you cannot know for sure the position and the speed of a particle, because measuring one, collapses the property of the other.

Precision Decision

When I first heard of the uncertainty principle and the double slit experiment, I felt it was a matter of not having precise enough equipment to make the measurements. Therefore it was the fallacy of our technology that was letting us down.

It turns out that actually these are very real phenomena, and in the case of the double slit experiment we have proven real quantum strangeness.

Does this prove we are in a simverse?

I'm not sure, but the argument is a strong one. If the answer is yes, then I guess the next question is; does it matter?

Ultimately it is real to us, if we are all just NPC characters in a huge simulation then it doesn't really matter as long as it is left to run as it has been for the last 14.5 billion subjective years.

My only hope is it isn't turned off anytime soon.

Sources:

Double Slit Experiment -Wiki
Physics In A Minute - Double Slit Experiment
Copenhagen Interpretation - Wiki
What Is Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle? - Guardian Science
Can We Prove We Are Living In A Sim? - Yes We Can!

WHAT DO YOU THINK; ARE WE LIVING IN A SIMULATED UNIVERSE? WILL WE BE ABLE TO PROVE IT ONE WAY OR ANOTHER? DOES IT MATTER? OR DO YOU THINK THAT THE DOUBLE SLIT EXPERIMENT PROVES IT BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT?

AS EVER, LET ME KNOW BELOW!

Title image: Joel Filipe on Unsplash

Cryptogee

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I can only say yes, yes unless it's patched, yes and yes. Upvoted and resteemed - how could I not!

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hey sorry it's unrelated but the dust is working by the way. Also I got new anime posts.

This is a very interesting article and a lot of different ways to respond. It's also the premise of the HBO series Westworld. Robots develop self-awareness and discover they are living in a world created by man, then want out. There are several implications of this as it applies to our situation.

  1. If we are in a simulated environment, where is that simulation taking place? It can only take place in a time-space capsule/environment that is larger than our universe--something that exists outside of the universe. So what would that be? If Carl Sagan was right and the universe is all there ever was or ever will be, then the simulated environment couldn't be possible. That leaves us with the very real possibility that the simulation, if it indeed is a simulation, is taking place in the mind of God.
  2. Another way of looking at this is, we can only imagine these things from our own historical epoch. This question would not make sense to someone living 10,000 years ago. It may very well not make sense to anyone living 10,000 years from now, assuming the human race will still be around then. Our technological advances make this question possible. Therefore, it's really an exercise of existential absurdity. If we find ourselves living in a simulation, we must ask ourselves, who created it? But there is a very real possibility--a probability, in fact--that some future scientific discovery may very well answer this question for us definitively, but we can't imagine what that would be right now. If we could, we'd make the necessary discovery and answer the question.
  3. Wouldn't self-awareness itself prove we are not living in a sim? Westworld is great fiction, but so far AI has not developed a sense of self-awareness. It may very well not be able to. Machine learning isn't self-awareness, but it does come close. It falls short, however, at true consciousness, which is a necessary precursor to self-awareness, and machines are far from that. So, one argument against us living in a simulated environment is the fact that we are self-aware.

There is a lot more that could be investigated on this question, but I'll leave it there for now.

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  1. The world of the Minecraft game can become bigger than Earth's itself, yet it fits into a single computer device.
  2. You can pause, rewind and advance time in human-created simulated enviroments, so no reason our universe, as a simulated enviroment, would be any different.
  3. Our current tech is shit to our future tech, like the tech we had from 50 years ago is shit compared to what we've got now. Using our current tech as an argument isn't efficient.
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I have long been amazed with the double slit and quantum level strangeness! I kid you not, you stated my thoughts at the end.. Does it matter? What if we are a brain in a jar lol. It always ends up hurting my brain to think about it too much LOL Hey maybe this is further proven by the Mandela Effect LOL!!! I love this post @cryptogee!!

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Does it matter?

I know right? In a way it doesn't, or as @rodneysreviews said;

It would only matter if we KNEW we were! :)

Because then we might enter some kind of fuck-it-all-nihilistic-age

Or of course the people running the sim are like; "oh well, they've worked it out, end of sim. Let's go home."

Cg

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Yep. I should have added it is not a reason to be at all amoral. I just mean, since I rarely dream (or remember them) the game basically ends for me each night...well till I have to pee...

I think quantum science just isn't developed enough to be relied on to tell us whether we are in a sim or not.

I think there is a unifying theory that hasn't been discovered that would explain quantum strangeness.

And while I am dead certain we are not living in a sim, I don't think it would matter if we were. It would only matter if we KNEW we were! :)

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I think there is a unifying theory that hasn't been discovered that would explain quantum strangeness.

Very possibly, however it is hard to see how actual physical effects can be changed by measurements.

And while I am dead certain we are not living in a sim

What makes you so certain? :-)

It would only matter if we KNEW we were! :)

Very true, it could turn us all into nihilistic nutcases!

Cg

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"What makes you so certain?

In a Sim, I'd be making better choices. :)

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Ha! You might just be a game character being played by some spotty alien teenager, whose choices are being made by it! :-D

Cg

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I've made my own post elaborating a few ideas on top of yours. As far as I can guess, it's not aliens playing us, but humans.

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Awesome! I've had a quick skim but have to run off now, I'll be back later to comment and read :-)

Cg

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Hmm, that makes a scary amount of sense. At last I understand why, despite being middle-aged, I feel exactly like a spotty alien teenager. :(

You have a minor misspelling in the following sentence:

Perhaps you would not notice anything untill you looked down at the quantum level.
It should be until instead of untill.

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Thanks bot! Corrected! :-)

Cg

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