Rabbit-Hole

simulated_universe.jpgLet’s see how deep the rabbit-hole goes. Just a reworded movie quote sure, but the context is perhaps more applicable to real life than we normally assume. Somehow the brief mention of the Cellular Automata (CA) in a previous post sparked an extensive digital expedition on the subject.

I guess it beats watching television, which, as a side-note, I stopped doing about 6 months ago, highly recommended. What inspired me to research further is the apparent elegance of CA systems, the almost instinctive notion that these could be a key element of something bigger. Or maybe just some kind of occupational obsession, that is possible too.

Anyway, first stop on my journey was Konrad Zuse, a German computer science pioneer who built the first computer, the Z3, completed in 1941. I did not know much about him but calling Zuse a genius and visionary is probably apt. Ironically the German government decided further development of the machine, an electronic successor to the Z3, to be “strategically unimportant”…In his book Calculating Space Zuse hypothesized that the Universe itself could be a deterministic computational structure, a CA, its physical laws discrete. These theories were later expanded upon by Edward Fredkin, who in turn introduced the term digital physics, although later he preferred the use the term digital philosophy.

That phrase got me to a paper by philosophy professor Nick Bostrom, called Are you living in a computer simulation? Thought provoking is an understatement, although probably more a mental exercise than anything else. Also in that category and an entertaining read, The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbott (public domain).

So let’s get back to hard science, and the ultimate kicker of the journey. Check out the work of particle physics professor Dr. James Gates Jr., specializing in super-string and super-symmetry theories. Admittedly I definitely hit the boundaries of my understanding here, light reading it is not. So from an interview:

Gates: “How could we discover whether we live inside a Matrix? One answer might be ‘Try to detect the presence of codes in the laws that describe physics.’” And this is precisely what he has done. Specifically, within the equations of super-symmetry he has found, quite unexpectedly, what are called “doubly-even self-dual linear binary error-correcting block codes. “This unsuspected connection suggests that these codes may be ubiquitous in nature, and could even be embedded in the essence of reality. If this is the case, we might have something in common with the Matrix science-fiction films, which depict a world where everything human being’s experience is the product of a virtual-reality-generating computer network.” Lastly, all of this would also imply a Creator. Mind blown.

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