Matrix, Lattice, Whatever …

Note to creationists: this is how you go about demonstrating the existence of intelligent design in the universe. You start with a testable, falsifiable hypothesis … not with the answer you want because it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Are We Living Inside a Computer Simulation?

[...] As off-the-wall as this sounds, a team of physicists at the University of Washington (UW) recently announced that there is a potential test to seen if we actually live in The Lattice [their name for the simulated framework in which we would hypothetically exist]. Ironically, it would be the first such observation for scientifically hypothesized evidence of intelligent design behind the cosmos.

The impetus behind their search is in the apparent “perfection” of the constants of the universe, allowing not only life, but matter and energy to exist in their current form.  This idea, known as the anthropic principle, is neither new nor does it provide any compelling evidence for a universe created with intent since there may have been near-infinite number of universes prior to this that didn’t fit the bill.  Alternatively, if our mathematical models are at all accurate, there may be an infinite number of universes existing parallel to our own – each with a unique set of physical parameters and laws that may not be conducive to life, matter, or even space-time as we understand it.

All of this may be completely wrong; the point is that we can hardly make any decisive conclusions – supernatural, divine, or otherwise – about the nature of the universe based on our current level of understanding.  To continue:

If we are living in such a program, there could be telltale evidence for the underlying lattice used in modeling the space-time continuum, say the researchers. This signature could show up as a limitation in the energy of cosmic rays. They would travel diagonally across the model universe and not interact equally in all directions, as they otherwise would be expected to do according to present cosmology.

If such results were measured, physicists would have to rule out any and all other natural explanations for the anomaly before flirting with the idea of intelligent design. (To avoid confusion with the purely faith-based creationist ID, this would not prove the existence of a biblical God, because you’d have to ask the question “why does God need a lattice?”)

And most importantly – as stated in the article – this wouldn’t provide compelling evidence for the existence of a “holographic” or “simulated” universe but only evidence to support the hypothesis that one may exist.  The magnitude of evidence to transform such an idea into a generally accepted theory is one of the ways in which the religious concept of “creationism” and the scientific idea of the simulated universe vastly differ.

I always end up with a vaguely unsettled feeling when I consider the fact that this moment in time is some insignificant moment in the distant, forgotten past to someone 10,000 years from now.  Assuming that humanity still exists then, there would likely be very little we share in common with them other than biology.  Whether this interpretation of the universe turns out to be real or not, I think it’s an interesting (and almost an intuitive) idea:  to run a massive computer simulation of the early universe / early humanity with only the laws of physics and our existing understanding of consciousness as the parameters … and determine the most likely ways our distant ancestors formed communities, used technology, and began to understand the world around them.

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