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Science/Tech Date: 15/05/2020

Decoding the Nature of Reality- (Quantum Mechanics and Simulation Hypothesis Brief Into) Part 1

This is the first part of the series of science articles questioning our reality∕universe and an attempt to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos. It covers the topic of simulation hypothesis which has been popularized by movies such as the Matrix, entrepreneur Elon Musk, and many more. A brief argument concerning the nature of reality taking into account the various theories of quantum mechanics in physics. The series will also try to describe why some people like Nick Bostrom, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, etc think that we might be living inside a computer simulation. What we perceive as real might not be real at all! Part 2 coming soon.

Decoding the Nature of Reality 

(Part 1)

                   Is the universe real? Are we living in a simulation? Is the reality what we perceive to be real or if there is something more to it then what meets the eye? All these questions have been challenging physicists and conspiracy theorist all over the world for several decades. Ever since the dawn of quantum mechanics   there has been debates about what the nature of reality actually is? 

                                                                       Pic Credit: 

                 There is no denying the fact that quantum mechanics is true because it has been able to make many astonishing predictions to a great level of precision. Quantum physics will prove to be a cornerstone of technology in the years to come for example the semiconductors used in computers and other electronic devices is based on a quantum phenomenon called electronic band structure of solids. Even LASER is based on quantum phenomenon. There is an important concept in this field which states that a particle exhibits wave property and after observation its wave function collapse and the particle comes into existence. In other words, a particle does not exist unless it is observed but such a theory transcends all common sense yet the theory is believed to be valid. Neil Bohr  called this “duality paradox”  a fundamental fact of nature. 

                    This can be explained by the thought experiment of one of the pioneers of quantum mechanics Erwin Schrodinger . Imagine a kitten being put inside a closed box which has a poisonous toxin inside and there is a 50% probability that the toxin will get released. Now according to Schrodinger, we cannot tell without opening the box that whether the cat is dead or alive. The cat in this stage is both alive and dead at the same time until we open the box the “universe” chooses one of the two outcomes. Now we can think that at the moment when someone opened the box the universe/multiverse  split into two so that both of the favorable events happened in the branced universe. Whatever be the fate of the cat, it is clear that observation affects reality. Now one can argue that quantum effects cannot shape the reality in macroscopic level. While it is true that we cannot exist at two places simultaneously like the particles because we are too big compared to a single particle and so our wave function is too small in comparison. It is also true that quantum effects can and has been shaping the reality. All these absurd yet true notions have made some great intellectuals rethink about the nature as a whole.  

               One such hypothesis for the explaining the nature of reality is “Simulation Hypothesis” . The great mathematician and philosopher, Rene Descartes   first laid out its argument long before quantum mechanics was even established. This theory was later refined by Nick Bostrom  who argued that the probability of us living in a simulated universe is much higher than the probability of us living in a real universe. This hypothesis had garnered the attention of several people over the years like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk , famous astrophysicist Neil De Grasse Tyson  and many more. According to this hypothesis we, all of the surrounding around us, the laws of physics and everything exist as a result of a simulation run by a higher sentient being. Now this is mind boggling but there is a possibility that it might be true. 

               Computer enthusiast and programmers even believe that we are inside a game which is run by a higher entity and that we are nothing but codes- 0’s and 1’s back and forth. A programmer builds a game using codes and games have evolved in the past 30 years and also the complexities of these codes have risen exponentially. Who would have thought that games would evolve from “Contra ” to “Witcher 3 ”. Games have evolved so much that in the near future the graphics used in the game would be almost same as that of the real world. But to exactly create and maintain a game just like the real world we would need almost infinite computational power which is impossible by even quantum computers having billions of qubits . Open world games  like the “GTA ” series, “Just Cause ” series are good examples in which we can control the character and move him around and do all sorts of things with him just like in the real world. Now imagine that the character in the game was intended in such a way that all the character slowly evolves and they could start to think and rationalize and soon they could build their own games in which they create sentient beings of their own. Now the character will think that it has free will whereas its actions and thoughts are predefined. If this is to be believed that we cannot say for sure that we are or we aren’t living inside one of those games. We could never know where is the beginning of this chain or in which layer we are in. In small games to reduce the computational power, the program executes only those events in which the character of the game is interacting with or only those things exist which can be viewed by the character. All the other random generations do not execute at the same time so as to prevent the computer from getting lagged, also known as procedural generation .With this one can create a infinite procedural generated world even with non-infinite memory. Now this has resemblance with one of the quantum phenomena explained earlier (particles do not exist unless they are observed).

        How can we be so sure that something exists? How can we be sure that “WE” even exists? Rene Descartes once said “We think therefore we are”. What if our thought is a part of a greater scheme, what if all of our thinking is merely an illusion, what if we are just codes? Is existence an illusion? Is it a question that can never be answered or will we get an answer to all the universal and metaphysical mysteries in the near future through scientific advancements? 

                                                                                                                                                                           (To be continued) 

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