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Physicists Devise Test For Whether the Universe Is a Simulation 529

Posted by Soulskill
from the computer-end-program dept.
olsmeister writes "Ever wonder if the universe is really a simulation? Well, physicists do too. Recently, a group of physicists have devised a way that could conceivably figure out one way or the other whether that is the case. There is a paper describing their work on arXiv. Some other physicists propose that the universe is actually a giant hologram with all the action actually occurring on a two-dimensional boundary region."
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Physicists Devise Test For Whether the Universe Is a Simulation

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  • by drwho (4190) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:50PM (#41643045) Homepage Journal

    What will we do then? When will Zaphod eat the cake?

    • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:51PM (#41643061)
      What do you do with unruly programs? The answer to that question is your answer.
    • by NettiWelho (1147351) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:56PM (#41643109)

      What will we do then?

      Try to communicate with our creators, duh. Maybe they will even let us out of our high-tech ant colony.

    • by catchblue22 (1004569) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @03:22PM (#41643319) Homepage

      I think we really are skirting the boundary between physics and philosophy. I suppose the fact that actual experiments are being proposed pushes the holographic universe idea and the simulation idea towards being actual physics. However, I still have categorizing the holographic universe hypothesis as real physics. By real physics, I mean experimental physics, where we base our ideas about the physical world on what we actually observe.

      • What if the "simulation" is simply programmed to deceive this test?
        Then what do you do?

        • Re:Deception (Score:5, Insightful)

          by catchblue22 (1004569) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @03:48PM (#41643527) Homepage

          What if the "simulation" is simply programmed to deceive this test? Then what do you do?

          If no test is possible, then it is not physics but only philosophy.

          Scientists perform experiments that are constrained by the laws of nature.

          Philosophers perform experiments that are constrained by the laws of logic.

          • Re:Deception (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Xtifr (1323) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:17PM (#41643753) Homepage

            There's a difference between "programmed to deceive this test" and "programmed to deceive all tests". This is a test for a particular type of simulation, and will verify or falsify whether we're in that type, but other types, which may or may not have occurred to us, may or may not have other tests that can be performed. So failure to detect a simulation here will not only not prove we're not in a simulation, but will not prove that the hypothesis is unscientific.

            On the other hand, success at proving we're in a simulation would certainly be a fascinating result! :)

        • Re:Deception (Score:5, Interesting)

          by marcello_dl (667940) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @04:18AM (#41647725) Homepage Journal

          This is not a test whether the universe is a simulation.
          This is a test about the possibility that one kind of simulation can model the (known) behavior of the universe.

          I keep repeating that "the universe is a simulation" vs. "the universe is real" does not make sense as a dichotomy. The question, unanswerable from the inside, is whether the universe is the last level of abstraction or the product of a meta-universe.

          Let's take a game of chess as an example. A particular game of chess is an abstraction. A reality on its own. It is not some pieces on a checkerboard, it is something in the minds of those who know what those pieces mean. It depends on our reality for its existence (you gotta keep the moves recorded somewhere) so we say it's one level of recursion below ours. At the same level of dreams, laws, and so on.

          Asking whether this universe is a simulation is like showing the transcript of a game of chess (the abstraction called a game of chess has a 1:1 mapping with the transcript of the game) and ask who was playing that game. Impossible question, because it's outside the level of abstraction represented by the game of chess. I need some meta information. But if my reality is constrained by the game of chess itself, like science is constrained by observation and human logic, I cannot perceive nor understand that meta information. If I try to process that meta information, like when we enter the field of religion, I can't tell whether that meta information is true or whether I understood it at all.

          Sure, it's good to try, to reason about a game: "this move seems silly so white is probably a pc with some primitive algorhithm". But it could be a human rookie. Dramatic difference in the meta reality, irrelevant for the game.

      • There is no boundary (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:11PM (#41643717)

        Though this often earns the ire of physicists who have not studied their history, the fact is: physics is a specialized and well-developed branch of philosophy.

        Unbeknownst to many successful physicists, physics is still replete with metaphysical assumptions, established-but-unprovable positions on classical philosophical problems, and analytical methods built firmly upon a foundation of formal logic. Physics is philosophy through-and-through.

        This particular branch of philosophy gets special attention for the direct, highly visible, and wonderfully practical applications of what one learns from its methods. Because of this, people who have not been sufficiently educated in philosophy proper tend to imagine that the two are largely unrelated, and further that the other intellectual elsewheres of philosophy are so much hot air. This is unfortunate, as it winds up imposing unperceived limits on the capabilities of practicing scientists...but the situation has remained workable nonetheless.

        Ah, and while I am going around stomping on feet with facts....

        The world was discovered. The language we use to model it, mathematics, was invented in response to that discovery. Some interesting logical implications of that language were subsequently discovered. But this does not mean that "mathematics" itself was discovered. It was not. It was invented. Study your history and you can trace its invention and gradual refinement over the course of history.

        And also man actually walked on the moon...it wasn't the most colossally-impossible-to-maintain lie in human history.

        The vikings discovered America first.

        Consciousness is a real phenomenon but the soul is a very high-level abstraction mistaken as a concrete reality.

        It's okay to be gay.

        K, I'm done.

        • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @05:23PM (#41644229) Homepage Journal

          Yes, physics is a practice refined from "natural philosophy [wikipedia.org]: thinking in an organized way about nature.

          But what metaphysical assumptions is modern physics replete with? Other than necessary falsifiability and universal consistency?

          Also, Vikings weren't the first people to arrive in America. Not even from across the Atlantic.

          • by Artifakt (700173) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @10:24PM (#41646313)

            Modern physics proceeds from at least four assumptions that all the hard sciences accept.

            1. The Universe is governed by consistent laws. (OK, you've got that one).
            2. To be science, a prediction must be falsifiable (and that one too).
            3. The correct explanation for any phenomenon lies within nature.
            4. The researcher is at least potentially smart enough to find the answers while staying strictly within the first three assumptions. (yes, it's hard to see how anyone can do anything without first assuming the possiblity of success, but it's often just tacitly assumed, so lets make it explicit).

            It also very frequently accepts some other constraints, such as:

            5. Occam's razor is useful and can be unambiguously applied.
            6. The 'rules' or 'laws' sought are expressions of math, and in a given domain of discourse, one mathematical system is the correct one.
            7. The laws tend to have something called elegance, symmetry or beauty which helps in deciding which lines of enquiry to persue.

            Here's something that has been proven in the mathematical sense, so it's not just an assumption in itself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noether's_theorem [wikipedia.org]

            If it's genuinely correct, which most physicists think it is, then you might ask yourself, what were Emily Noether's assumptions?
            (Since it's proven in the math sense, that question is really what were her axioms?)
            Whatever they were, each and every one of them is a basic assumption of modern physics. Just from the Wiki, it looks like at first she assumed all conservation laws were expressible as ordinary differential equations and that the principle of least action applied. People have since generalised this theorem beyond that first assumption to partial differential equations (Basically applying the theorem to force field models), but the principle of least action still seems fundamental,

            Given this, I would genuinely be surprised if physics rests on less than about 12 to 16 assumptions of these sorts, although that's simply my intuitive assessment of the bare minimum, and as I've indicated, some of them are simply very, very frequently assumed but not technically invariably so.

             

        • by cgenman (325138)

          I'll believe that physics is a branch of philosophy when I see philosophers use statistical and experimental methods to refine or dismiss the theories of Heidegger. Or, for that matter, use philosophy to send men to the moon.

          While it started as "natural philosophy," you might as well consider Philosophy a branch of studying languages, and language as a form of music research. Science in general has evolved past its philosophy roots. And while philosophy, though, programming, language, social "sciences,"

  • by hack slash (1064002) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:50PM (#41643053)
    They never pass the joint around :(
    • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @03:17PM (#41643289)

      I suspect they're too busy with their D&D game to think about sharing.

    • by Teckla (630646) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @03:32PM (#41643407)

      They never pass the joint around :(

      Ha, like any other physicists are any more sane!

      Current popular thinking among physicists is that the universe itself does not know the exact location and momentum of fundamental matter.

      The Copenhagen interpretation [wikipedia.org] of quantum mechanics tells us that the universe has a true random component. No, not pseudo-random. True random.

      The many-words interpretation [wikipedia.org] of quantum mechanics tells us there are obscene numbers of universes that exist, because the universe creates perfect copies of itself every time a quantum decision is made, except for the quantum decision itself being different in each copy. And those universes split, and those do, and those do...

      Various tests tell us photons are waves. No, particles. No, both! And electrons too! And more!

      Go read up on quantum entanglement [wikipedia.org] if you have not yet believed in enough impossible things before breakfast yet.

      Chuckle at the simulation argument all you want, but it's just as sane and likely as these other crazy, wild things. No, scratch that. The simulation argument is far more sane.

      Physicists aren't smoking dope...they're all tripping on LSD!

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2012 @05:22PM (#41644223)

        I can't tell if you're joking or not. If not, how about you go and learn a little about some of these topics. With the exception of many-worlds, physicists believe them because a lot of theoretical and experimental work has been done to support these ideas.

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        No, it's just the rest of us are drunk.

      • by MisterSquid (231834) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @07:56PM (#41645461)

        Metafilter recently had a thread discussing an interview (alas, poorly written) with Rich Terrile [vice.com], a NASA scientist who speculates that our universe is a computer simulation.

        The article is somewhat thought-provoking, but the discussion at Metafilter is really entertaining [metafilter.com].

        In particular, I liked what one user (Malor) had to say [metafilter.com]:

        I've been thinking for some time that all the quantum weirdness down at the bottom of things could be, in essence, lazy evaluation. Whatever computational substrate we're running on, to this way of thinking, simply never determines many of the answers, using approximations instead. It's only when a specific answer actually matters that the computation is fully carried out, and, if necessary, any other retroactive adjustments to spacetime are also implemented. That's why quantum measurements taken in the future are always consistent with entangled ones taken in the past -- the simulation goes back, and edits everything that way. [. . .]

        Interestingly, simply watching for 'hot spots' in the simulated universe, areas that are taking lots of computation time, should inevitably lead the implementors to interesting things happening in that universe.... our particle accelerators, if we're running on a simulation, would be producing some very, very strange requests for 'CPU time'. That would be a flashing neon light that the entities running the simulation should check out that third planet orbiting that unremarkable sun in that rather plebian spiral galaxy.

        [. . .]

        Another thought I just had: the fundamental quantum randomness might be very deliberate, a damping effect on perturbations. If the GodComputer has to go back to earlier frames and change the results of computations to match later measurements, the ripples from that change could potentially mean everything within that event's light cone would have to stop, return to an earlier frame, and restart -- a missed branch prediction, in CPU-speak. The random quantum oscillations could function as a field reducing the spread of butterfly-wing effects to a local area, so that scientists doing weird crap in a laboratory, instead of making a huge chunk of a galaxy miss a couple of beats, might just force a recomputation of their local laboratory... eventually, the ripples of difference would be swallowed by quantum noise.

        Gotta love this stuff.

      • by Jeremi (14640) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:42AM (#41646901) Homepage

        The many-words interpretation of quantum mechanics

        tl;dr

      • The many-words interpretation [wikipedia.org] of quantum mechanics tells us there are obscene numbers of universes that exist, because the universe creates perfect copies of itself every time a quantum decision is made, except for the quantum decision itself being different in each copy.

        That's a widely spread but IMO misleading popularization. When you read more about the many-worlds interpretation, all it's really saying is that the universe really is a unit vector in a (very high-dimensional) complex vector space. As such, many-worlds says that the universe really is a linear combination of all the many possible states that the universe could be in. The linear combination is the physical reality.

        Popularization then calls each of these possible states a parallel universe. That's not compl

  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:51PM (#41643075) Homepage

    What is the definition of reality? If you are simulated, you are still a "real" simulation.

    There is no spoon...

    • If you are simulated, you are still a "real" simulation.

      No, the "reality" in which the simulation runs is itself simulated.

  • Silliness (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is fairly silly. They're assuming that the energy of a particle is actually represented in space-time, when it could just as easily be represented in a non-dimensional coordinate space, using equal length linkages. Then finding the energy is simply a matter of counting the number of links, and the number of links increases with correspondingly shorter length scales. In other words, there would be no meaningful limit to the resolution, and the particles could be represented in an effectively infinite re

  • Just wait for some dude to offer you a red pill and a blue pill, and swallow the red pill. If you just get diarrhea, the universe is real. Simple!

    • I tried both. The red pills had me bouncing off of walls all evening, and the blue ones gave me wicked boners. Didn't learn nearly as much about the universe from them as I did when I ate the blotter paper or when I ate a bunch of a particular fungus.
  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:56PM (#41643113) Homepage

    Recently, a group of physicists have devised a way that could conceivably figure out one way or the other whether that is the case.

    In other news, the group of higher-dimensional physicists who are running this universe a simulation figured out a way to falsify the results of the test.

    • As a simulation. Damn you Slashdot!
    • .... Wouldnt interfering with the simulation kinda make the whole point of running a simulation moot? For all we know they might not even be aware of emergent intelligence in their simulation and watching for all together different things.
    • In the words of the aliens from Contact, "It's the way we've been doing it for billions of years."

      Hence they will have long since closed off detection of clever loopholes in previous myriad simulations.

  • Speed of light (Score:5, Interesting)

    by udachny (2454394) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:57PM (#41643119) Journal

    Wouldn't one of the interesting consequences of the Universe being a 'hologram mapped on a two-dimensional boundary region' be that we could then postulate the reason for the speed of light? Speed of light could be then some upper boundary on the most primitive matrix transformation, sort of like the maximum GHz that the Universe is running at (assuming that the matrix itself is a memory map and that there is a gigantic number of processors that can access and modify memory simultaneously), or maybe the speed of light is then a manner, in which race conditions and dead locks are prevented? Sort of like in a bad system, where you know an atomic transaction takes 1ms, so you force a wait condition on the memory it access for 2ms, so you know for sure that the transaction committed.

    At the same time, if that is the case, then going above and beyond speed of light could cause transactional failure and that could mean some form of memory corruption and destruction of the matrix or space time distortion and destruction :) But then if we didn't care about transactionality we could somehow breach the speed of light, but only by going outside of the memory boundaries of the simulation, crossing into the instruction stack and overwriting that constant!

    I just gave myself a mental highfive on the level of crazy.

    • We are inside the simulation. The only way we could go outside the memory boundaries of the simulation is if there is a bug.

    • I just gave myself a mental highfive on the level of crazy.

      If this is a simulation, then any break in the simulation would simply result in them restoring from an earlier backup. The universe could have been destroyed thousands of times over due to data corruption, but we'd never know it. There may be no way from within the system to tell this has happened. You're also forgetting error correction; Any civilization advanced enough to simulate something as complex as the Universe has probably figured out how to detect anomalies in the system and normalize them, possi

  • Usually the way to find a limit is to run into. When that happens in a simulation the simulation usually fails. Sometimes spectacularly.

    Just in case it is a sim, do we really want to try and break it?
    So the bigger problem is how to find the limits without breaking the process.

  • The word 'simulation' suggests something not real -- a model of reality. But even if the physics of our universe were shown to be discrete at the lowest level, that would prove not that it is a simulation, but only that it might be a simulation. It could simply be reality, which is more likely.

  • Genetic Algorithms (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rockoon (1252108) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @03:07PM (#41643211)
    One thing genetic algorithms, when applied to entities in simulations, always seem to find are the flaws in the simulation. Those flaws are exploited to increase their "fitness" measure. Example, if your fitness measure is how far the thing moves over a period of time but your simulation doesnt have absolutely perfect conservation of energy , the GA will always find a way to exploit that lack of perfect conservation of energy (by smashing into walls, etc..)
    • by Twinbee (767046)
      I don't know why 'they' don't use GA more to create incredibly hard materials or discover a super conductor. Yes, they'd have to formulate a system to tabulate the elements and the properties of how it's treated. But once the fitness function is sorted, and a degree of parallelism is in place (to test 100s or even 1000s of test material chunks at a time), we're onto a winner.

      Maybe this is happening, but I've never heard of it.
  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @03:08PM (#41643221)

    The test can (maybe) figure out of one of the consequences that would result from our universe being a simulation does, in fact, exist, provided, of course, our theories about how the universe and simulations work are actually accurate. Or in other words, it might show that it is possible that the universe is a simulation. Even if we show that the consequence exists (the consequence is that energy particles have a limit, the theory being that a simulation would have an upper limit on what it is able to simulate, kind of similar to how your computer has an upper limit on what it can fit into it's RAM), we still won't know that it is actually the result of the universe being a simulation, or some other unknown cause, and even if we don't find an upper limit, it could mean either our methods are too limited to find it or that the simulation isn't limited in the way that we think.

    Really, while the research is itself fascinating, it isn't some kind of definitive test. Such tests are phenomenally rare in physics, perhaps even non-existent (it's always possible to create another theory that fits the observations).

    As a side note, saying the universe isn't "real" is almost self-contradictory, as we define existence and reality precisely by our observations of the universe itself. A holographic universe would be no less real for being holographic, if only because we would literally have no other possible meaning for the word "real" (the simulation that occurs in The Matrix movie is of a completely different nature from the holographic principle). I'd also somewhat object to even using the word "simulation" in the first place, as that implies it is a simulation of something, when we really have absolutely no reason to suspect that is indeed the case (holographic universes can be modeled by simulation cases, hence the use of the term).

    Disclaimer: IANAP yet, but I'm studying in the field.

    • by youn (1516637)

      quick! somebody at HQ patch the universe DRM of the universe or the little tiny simulons on the terra grid might jailbreak the universe and run unauthorized code... that might affect the stability of the universe and they may created pirated planets... which would result in a loss for the RIAA (Galactic RIAA)

    • by dentin (2175) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:51PM (#41643997) Homepage

      My favorite test of the universe being a simulation is to run bigger and bigger quantum computer factorizations in the hopes of hitting some sort of processing limit in the simulator. The processing power required to run all the parallel universes for factorization increases exponentially with the key length, and presumably at some point you'd see spontaneous decoherence or some other mechanism which disrupted the process.

      Observing some kind of upper limit on quantum computing power would be evidence for a simulator with limited processing power, or of a simulation with some sort of pruning algorithm to keep the number of universes from exceeding some level. Failure to observe such a limit would be evidence against these types of simulations.

      Not very strong evidence, of course. But evidence we'll have within a few decades at the current rate of quantum computer development.

      -dentin

  • by ixtapolapoquetl (622233) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @03:10PM (#41643235)
    When I ran into a wall yesterday, I thought I briefly saw a black wall with yellow lines...
  • ...a cybercrime? It's almost as if the parliaments around the world already knew, what with the tightening cybercrime laws and stuff. Mmm, I smell conspiracy.
  • Half a test. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @03:10PM (#41643243)
    "we assume that our universe is an early numerical simulation with unimproved Wilson fermion discretization and investigate potentially-observable consequences."

    If I read that right, they mean that their analysis can only conclude either that the universe is a simulation, or that it is either not a simulation or a simulation too accurate to tell via their method. It can't actually prove that the universe is *not* a simulation.

    Looks like no need for elaborate and expensive equipment though - just a way to measure the energy of cosmic rays - so why not give it a try?
    • You're right, but to be honest, all of physics is the same.
      Theoreticians come up with a mathematical model to explain observations, those models make predictions about stuff that hasn't been observed yet, and experimentalists check those predictions.
      If the experiments come out as the theoreticians predicted, we say the mathematical model is "reality".
      However, there are clear examples where this method fails: the various competing models of exotic physics, that we can't experiment on, because the experiments

  • by Coward Anonymous (110649) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @03:12PM (#41643261)

    I always thought a good method of testing if we are a simulation is to attack its economics by slowing down the simulation to a crawl.

    Math is universal regardless of your position in the simulation hierarchy. If we perform an experiment in our simulation that would require inordinate amounts of compute power on the simulator's part to maintain the simulation (say something like an NP problem that the simulator would need to solve), that would reduce the economic utility of the simulator to its operator. There are two possible outcomes to the experiment if we are indeed simulations: the simulator cuts corners on the solution and we learn we are in a simulator; or the simulation ends.

    As to what puzzle we could pose the universe. I don't know, I'm not a physicist.

  • by quax (19371) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @03:13PM (#41643263)

    ... efficiently on a classic Turing machine. This has been established since Feynman originally proposed it [wavewatching.net]. So I simply don't understand the premise of this research. Not that this is hasn't come up before with SUSY string theorists [wavewatching.net].

    It simply flies into the face of what these days is known about computational complexity [stanford.edu].

    Apparently some physicists are completely ignoring this branch of theoretical computer science.

    Now if the question was that the universe might be a quantum computing simulation that'll make more sense, as these can also efficiently simulate field theories [wavewatching.net].

    But my understanding is that this is not what they are investigating here.

  • Once we have knowledge that we are running inside a simulation the simulation will be spoiled, and thus those running it will terminate the simulation since it will have become aware of its true nature.

    • I agree. Either our creators.God does not exist and just assuming that they do not exist is the best option.
      Or they do exists, and just assuming that they do not exist is the best option.

      While it would be nice to have a proof that they do not exist, if we instead prove they they do exist it would be potentially catastrophic.

    • Unless that was the original intention? And then to study what happens after that. Maybe they're researching the effect of a simulation becoming aware of it's own simulation?

      Maybe they'll change the rules when it happens? Maybe there will be no more hunger parameters, maybe there will be no more boobs. Who knows?

      That's what science is for, asking questions: Even if they are incredibly far fetched and borderline scamming for funds.

      Personally I can think of dozens of better fields to spend time and money on,

  • Trying to search for overflows of values only works if the simulation in question uses a simple discrete representation of them. Overflow wouldn't really occur if the simulation uses normalized numbers like we do with floats.

  • Where's my lightcycle?
  • ...in The Matrix: It happens when T.H.E.Y. change something.' ;-)
  • by bytesex (112972)

    Because 'assuming that the universe is really a simulation' is being paranoid (and thoroughly so). And paranoia is a function of our biology. Something to do with predators, you should look it up.

  • So, to disprove the simulation theory, are they looking for the spoon?

  • ...to spin a top as our collective totem. If the top never stops, then it's a simulation/dream.

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Saturday October 13, 2012 @03:34PM (#41643425) Journal
    What difference could it possibly make if the universe were a simulation? Would it even actually change anything?
  • If you see a couple of white mice in your laboratory, do not step on them!

    They are there to monitor their experiment!

  • ... And see if it crashes.

    The only cases I can imagine that would test this theory would involve trying to destroy the universe.

  • How can we know if this theoretical simulation is not just going to crash when we test its upper limits, or maybe the watchers will get upset and shut us down?

  • I hope the physicists don't take ideas from movies

  • Is the Source Code (movie) a simulation or a parallel universe?

  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @04:14PM (#41643739)

    The Outer Limits - Wolf 359

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uAGABz4R4s [youtube.com]

  • Plank Pixels (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @05:03PM (#41644067) Homepage Journal

    Their hypothesis rests on the idea that if the universe's fundamental characteristics have a smallest unit, then it's possible the universe is a phenomenon whose behavior is arbitrarily created by something that's not in the universe. I don't see why that makes it possible. We've believed for about a century that the universe is composed of quanta, fundamental characteristics with smallest units. There is an entire Planck scale [wikipedia.org], the smallest possible lengths (in space or time) and other sizes of space and what's in it. I don't see why it's necessary that "the real universe" is continuous rather than granular, and our granular universe isn't the real one. Or even how granularity even implies anything "outside" the universe exists.

    Our universe is made of Plank pixels ("planxels"). That doesn't imply anything about anything except our universe and its granularity.

  • by PJ6 (1151747) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @05:03PM (#41644073)

    The numerical simulation scenario could reveal itself in the distributions of the highest energy cosmic rays exhibiting a degree of rotational symmetry breaking that reflects the structure of the underlying lattice.

    This sounds similar to looking for aliasing artifacts. Right?

    Among the observables that are considered are the muon g-2 and the current differences between determinations of alpha, but the most stringent bound on the inverse lattice spacing of the universe, b^(-1) >~ 10^(11) GeV, is derived from the high-energy cut off of the cosmic ray spectrum.

    This is do not understand, I thought we already had a theory [wikipedia.org] predicting and explaining a high-energy cutoff.

  • by hendrikboom (1001110) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @07:01PM (#41645099)

    It's smoke and mirrors.
    Smoke and mirrors all the way down. (You only need one turtle).
    And it's even fake smoke.

    And don't get me started on the mirrors.

  • I'm Sure... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @07:53PM (#41645441) Homepage Journal
    It's probably just a 4th dimensional grad student's simulation designed to demonstrate how to create plutonium from hydrogen. Just code in a few state transitions, a few simple rules, cut some corners on how it handles too much mass in one place, slap a hard limit on speed in the simulation and let it run for a few billion years.

One good reason why computers can do more work than people is that they never have to stop and answer the phone.

Working...