I think about a lesson I learned each day, and then I share it with you… because if it is in my brain, it needs to come out so I can make room for new stuff.
Today is not really a lesson but rather expanding a post on FaceBook, explaining the Holographic Principle in playful, Science-for-Dummies terms. If you like to think big, though (I mean, really BIG), you might like this…
As our technology progresses, we make simulations to help predict the future. We make weather simulations, flight simulations, social simulations…we even make games like The Sims to help predict the actions and nature of people.
So we can reason that our simulations will continue becoming bigger and better as we continue figuring out how to throw more computing power into them. Eventually, we will build simulations of the universe, maybe even virtual reality simulations of the potential fate of everything. Can you imagine?
Well imagine, then, that maybe we already have. Maybe our species (or another) has acquired the technology and knowledge to create completely realistic simulations of the whole universe, from start to finish, to test theories, fine-tune the laws of Physics, or introduce absurd laws (like Quantum Physics or String Theory) to see how a simulated world might react.
This means, of course, life, as we know it, might not even be real. We could be a self-aware 3-D holographic simulation. Imagine a super-advanced alien race that creates magnificently complex games for their entertainment. We might simply be the avatars of a cheap throwback game in their X-Box 10000.
If you are nerdy, you can think of it this way: what if all of Star Trek: TNG never really happened? What if it just took place in an (close to) infinitely large holodeck, but no one on the Enterprise ever realized it? They just played out the program as they might have done thousands of times before. (If you are a more contemporary nerd, you could just say you took the blue pill…)
Going a step further, this means our laws of Nature, Physics, and Reality are not the actual laws of the real Reality outside the game–they might be completely different in the “real” world!
One more thing… and this is where it gets really goofy and starts to break down… if the originating species could build a simulation that complex, and the simulation is so collectively intelligent that it is building simulations… then we could be a simulation inside a simulation inside a simulation, etc… (we can do this all night.)
At any rate, don’t try wrapping your mind around it. In the end… it’s turtles all the way down!
(If you don’t get that reference, I’ll leave it to you to look it up.)