Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
The Matrix Space Science

Physicists Devise Test For Whether the Universe Is a Simulation 529

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Physicists Devise Test For Whether the Universe Is a Simulation

Comments Filter:
  • Silliness (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 13, 2012 @02:52PM (#41643083)

    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 resolution framework WHILE using a finite amount of data to describe it. Note: We should recall that the resolution of a detector is limited by it's own structure. Attempting to find the "pixelation point" of a structure in a linkage space requires the detector to approach the same length scale. That is obviously not possible when probing length scales below the typical subatomic level.

    Read more at:

  • 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..)
  • 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 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 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:'s_theorem []

    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 bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Saturday October 13, 2012 @10:26PM (#41646325) Homepage

    The relationship between simulation and simulator isn't necessarily arbitrary, but it's probably not understandable by the simulation. That is in effect (among) what Goedel's incompleteness theorems say.

    No, actually that has nothing to do with what Godel's theorems say.

    You might want to read this: []

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein