Wednesday night I saw the first episode of the series Through the Wormhole, hosted by Morgan Freeman exploring the question “Is there a Creator?”
Some scientists try to find God biologically, as a side effect of the human brain. Others work on an integrated field theory, like physicist/surfer, Dr. Garrett Lisi who proposes a Theory of Everything with a novel solution to the nagging question, “What the heck is Gravity?”
The most mind-bending moment of the show was a look at Simulation Theory. First there was an interesting interview with The Sims creator Will Wright, whose uncanny Strategic Life Simulation game emulates the complexity of existence. Then we’re introduced to Rich Terrile, of the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena. Terrile postulates that if God is an inter-dimensional being who can change the laws of physics at will, that definition is awfully close to what computer programmers like Will Wright do, when building simulated environments.
After Terrile demonstrates an ongoing quantum physics experiment involving interference and diffraction of particles, he points out that the pattern of the particles and how they scatter is evidence that the universe may be assembling itself only when we observe it, and disassembling when we aren’t paying attention… sort of like a computer game.
He also points out that as we move closer to any image within a computer environment, we encounter circular pixels in exactly the same way particles construct our three dimensional world.
Emptiness is the theme of The Heart Sutra; form is emptiness, emptiness is form. While Dependent Origination states that what arises in Samsara (the cycle of birth, death and rebirth), whether emotional or physical, is relative, conditioned and dependent on other phenomena, manifesting in repeated patterns and connecting elements such as the observer and the observed.
The Simulation Argument also appears in a 2003 paper by Professor Nick Bostrom of Oxford University.
Not only does Professor Bostrom theorize that we could be living in a simulation; as if channeling Phillip K. Dick, he goes on to say it is likely we are already in a simulation being run by a “post human” civilization in our own future.
Here’s is one of my favorite excerpts from Dr. Bostrom’s paper.
It may be possible for simulated civilizations to become posthuman. They may then run their own ancestor-simulations on powerful computers they build in their simulated universe. Such computers would be “virtual machines”, a familiar concept in computer science. (Java script web-applets, for instance, run on a virtual machine – a simulated computer – inside your desktop.) Virtual machines can be stacked: it’s possible to simulate a machine simulating another machine, and so on, in arbitrarily many steps of iteration. If we do go on to create our own ancestor-simulations, this would be strong evidence against (1) and (2), and we would therefore have to conclude that we live in a simulation. Moreover, we would have to suspect that the posthumans running our simulation are themselves simulated beings; and their creators, in turn, may also be simulated beings.
Did you feel that weird sensation inside your head? Like your brains are being sucked out? That’s the emptiness I was talking about…Śūnyatā, a favorite technique of Zen Buddhism.
So, enjoy a little brain yoga with Through the Wormhole. Episodes air Wednesdays at 10pm on the Science Channel, or just surf over and watch clips on your computer.