A reader shares a report: A team of theoretical physicists from Oxford University in the UK has shown that life and reality cannot be merely simulations generated by a massive extraterrestrial computer. The finding -- an unexpectedly definite one -- arose from the discovery of a novel link between gravitational anomalies and computational complexity. In a paper published in the journal Science Advances, Zohar Ringel and Dmitry Kovrizhi show that constructing a computer simulation of a particular quantum phenomenon that occurs in metals is impossible -- not just practically, but in principle. The pair initially set out to see whether it was possible to use a technique known as quantum Monte Carlo to study the quantum Hall effect -- a phenomenon in physical systems that exhibit strong magnetic fields and very low temperatures, and manifests as an energy current that runs across the temperature gradient. The phenomenon indicates an anomaly in the underlying space-time geometry. [...] They discovered that the complexity of the simulation increased exponentially with the number of particles being simulated. If the complexity grew linearly with the number of particles being simulated, then doubling the number of partices would mean doubling the computing power required. If, however, the complexity grows on an exponential scale -- where the amount of computing power has to double every time a single particle is added -- then the task quickly becomes impossible.
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