Our universe is a simulation?
Apparently, according to some scientists, our universe just might be an elaborate computer simulation. These folks have determined that, with all the odd and sometimes seemingly arbitrary rules that energy and particles have to abide by in our universe, if someone were to model the universe, then what we’re living in is theoretically one of the most likely outcomes of said model. Therefore, according to their research, we must in fact be part of a simulation conducted by some incredibly advanced species. The link is below, should you choose to investigate.
So, instead of the Friedman model of the universe and the effect of the mysterious ‘dark matter’ that quantum mechanics describes, perhaps our Big Bang was no more than some rickety old Pentium PC booting up and a hyper-intelligent being clicking the icon called “Sim Universe”. Are we just some other life form’s version of The Sims or Farmville?
I read a few sci-fi books a while back, both of which dealt largely with the effects of time dilation and relativity. I must have been on a severe sci-fi kick, I guess! The first was Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi. By now, that book has become sort of a standard that we are all expected to know of, and for good reason. Scalzi has a way of writing about technical issues with a pop culture voice, as an example futuristic warriors who have named their brain implants (who interface with them) things like Dickward and Asshole. Good stuff.
The other was The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman. It was the first in a series about soldiers who fought for Earth, but due to the relativistic effects of near-light-speed travel, always came back from a campaign to an Earth that was vastly different than the one they left, usually by centuries. It’s often said that he used the novel as a metaphor for soldiers returning from the Vietnam War. The third book in the series, Forever Free, deals with exactly the ‘universe is a simulation’ effect in the article above. I thought it was so similar that I have to guess at least one of the people that authored that paper must be a Haldeman fan. I won’t spoil the ending, but if you’re looking for some good sci-fi, I’d check out that series. Scalzi, too, for that matter!
It returns us to the age-old question of every high schooler through time: “What’s the point, man?”
If we’re just providing empirical data for a higher entity’s term paper, what is the purpose of our lives? And just like the Matrix, if it is in fact true but we can’t tell the difference, does it matter?
Personally, I like to think my life has meaning; that’s why I write. When I think about why we’re here as humans, I think about what each of us contributes to our existence as a whole during our lives. Did we just exist, never doing anything worthy with our allotted time on Earth? Did we influence others, help others, make humanity better somehow? I like to think that, after I’m gone, perhaps people will still read my books and enjoy them. The idea of creating something I can leave behind (other than our awesome kids) is incredibly appealing, because it shows that I accomplished something with my short (cosmologically speaking) existence other than just stimulating the economy and helping keep McDonalds profitable.
So, I like to believe we’re not just a simulation, that our actions have meaning, and that those who come after us will build on what we’ve left behind. It also makes for a better case for an afterlife, which I’m really hoping is true so I can come back again as a housecat.
Unless I’m wrong, in which case the aliens will wipe the hard drive, reinstall Windows 12, and try again. Better luck next time!
Tags: author, big bang, computer model, computer simulation, dark matter, Friedman model, Haldeman, huffington post, quantum mechanics, relativity, Scalzi, sci-fi, The Matrix, time dilation, universe, writing
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