Are we living in simulated reality? Physicists explore the evidence

Silas Beane and other researchers at the University of Bonn think they might have theoretical proof that the universe is indeed a computer simulation. The idea is not new, of course, and it requires a three dimensional lattice work onto which the simulated reality could be superimposed.

So what’s the evidence for the universe as a simulation?

The extract of the paper “Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation” is incredibly technical, reading:

Using the historical development of lattice gauge theory technology as a guide, we assume that our universe is an early numerical simulation with unimproved Wilson fermion discretization and investigate potentially-observable consequences. 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. 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.

To test this, Beane and the other physicists are attempting to create their own simulated universe to observe effects that might exist in our own universe. They have to in effect create simulated space (distance between objects) and the unfolding of time. Then researchers would have to find the lattice work’s endpoints and edges, and calculate the cut off points. The technology to do so currently exists.

Should we worry about what Beane & Co might find? Probably not, because if we are living in a simulated reality, then it’s one hell of an illusion or, rather, hallucination.

Look around. The simulation would have to be incredibly complex. What difference does it make if reality is simulated or not in the final analysis? Right now, in front of my eyes, are dozens of amazing science fiction novels. I’m looking into a screen that holds a virtual world. At my feet is a machine for recording audio. An 8mm post-WWII-era motion picture camera sits on my desk ready to film, and to have its film developed. I can hear a train heading into Manhattan.

If we are in fact simulations, then the simulation is a wondrous achievement. But then we have to ask the question: what created the simulation? And then we have to consider infinite regress and it all gets mind-boggling.