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Math Science

Mathematician: Is Our Universe a Simulation? 745

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Mathematician Edward Frenkel writes in the NYT that one fanciful possibility that explains why mathematics seems to permeate our universe 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 writes Frenkel but physicists have been creating their own computer simulations of the forces of nature for years — on a tiny scale, the size of an atomic nucleus. They use a three-dimensional grid to model a little chunk of the universe; then they run the program to see what happens. 'Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom has argued that we are more likely to be in such a simulation than not,' writes Frenkel. '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.' The question now becomes is there any way to empirically test this hypothesis and the answer surprisingly is yes. 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 (PDF). Savage and his colleagues assume that any future simulators would use some of the same techniques current scientists use to run simulations, with the same constraints. The future simulators, Savage indicated, would map their universe on a mathematical lattice or grid, consisting of points and lines. But computer simulations generate slight but distinctive anomalies — certain kinds of asymmetries and they suggest that a closer look at cosmic rays may reveal similar asymmetries. If so, this would indicate that we might — just might — ourselves be in someone else's computer simulation."
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Mathematician: Is Our Universe a Simulation?

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  • The Thirteen Floor (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 16, 2014 @04:59PM (#46261417)

    This is old news mister slashdot.

  • by NoEvidenZ ( 807374 ) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @05:02PM (#46261455)
    They did catch this years ago. []
  • by AcidPenguin9873 ( 911493 ) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @10:14PM (#46263401)

    Nah, you've got a couple problems in your example.

    First, your exact real-world problem doesn't make sense with a divisor that is less than one, which is how you get close to zero. Five dollars divided into 0.5 parts? What does that even mean?

    Now let's flip around your real world example to something that makes sense. Five dollars divided into how many parts, where each part gets $0.50? 5/0.50 = 10 parts. Five dollars divided into how many parts, where each part gets 0.0000001? 50000000. Five dollars divided into how many parts, where each part gets 0? Infinity.

  • by mrprogrammerman ( 2736973 ) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @10:22PM (#46263435) Homepage

    I know you're trying to be funny but let's consider what the Bible says. First omnipotence. Briefly 1 John 4:8 tells us God is love and James 1:13 tells us he doesn't put the tree there to cause them to fail. As a loving parent expected the obedience of his human children (Rev 4:11).

    Now omniscience. Though he has the ability to exercise foreknowledge. He selectively uses it. See the examples at Genesis 11:5-8 and Ge 18:20-22 of occasions where he didn't exercise his foreknowledge but chose to make a decision based upon the current situation. Think about it this way. You can use your web browser to go to slashdot. But the fact that you can visit slashdot doesn't mean you will do so. You have to first open your web browser then type in the url. Likewise, God has the ability to foreknow events, but the Bible shows that he makes selective and discretionary use of that ability.

    His exercise of foreknowledge is going to harmonize with his qualities. And as a God of love he wouldn't set before Adam/Eve something that was unattainable. As humans we would think it would be cruel and hypocritical to hold out something to somebody that was unattainable for them. Read Mt 7:7-11. Jesus shows his Father’s views it the same way.

    And about the PR department. It's actually really Satan's PR dept (1 John 5:19). That's why most religion makes a mockery out of him (2 Corinthians 4:4). He still wants all people to learn the truth for themselves (1 Timothy 2:3-4). In fact he's personally looking for people who want to discover the truth (John 6:44, 2 Chronicles 16:9).

  • by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:18AM (#46264331)

    Division by zero is mathematically undefineable.

    If A * B = C and C / B = A, you can't have B being zero without C being also zero (in which case the equation is valid for all values of A, a.k.a undefined). For every other value of C the equation has no solution. The only reason IEEE defined division by zero as infinity was to make errors easier to handle [].

  • by hawkinspeter ( 831501 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @07:54AM (#46265629)
    You're partly right in that we can define divide-by-zero how we want, but there are serious problems when it is defined (e.g. as infinity) as it leads to a huge amount of inconsistencies in other areas. The simplest example is the typical proof that 1 = 2 which uses a divide-by-zero to lead to absurdity. If you want consistent numbers, then division by zero needs to be undefined.

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!