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As simulations become more advanced and begin being able to mimic situations ranging from video games to complex star systems, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine whether we are living within such a simulation.

Although rather ridiculous sounding, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, a well-regarded astrophysicist, as well as the world richest man, Elon Musk, among others believe in the possibility that life is all a computer simulation.

In 2003, an Oxford philosopher Nick concluded in his paper entitled “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation” that we probability are in such a simulation and since then the theory that our reality is not the ‘Base Reality’ has been heavily discussed. Thinking back over 20 years ago the film, The Matrix, is based upon the premise that our reality isn’t the true reality.[1]

One hypothesis in support of the simulation theory is the Planck scale argument[2]. This argument suggests that at the earliest stage of the Big Bang when cosmic time was equal to Planck time the simulation was created. In this case then Planck time would be the reference point for the simulated “real time” and that the simulation would build itself using Planck units of mass, length, time etc.

Basically, this theory suggests that by taking the Planck units as the units which our simulator is based upon, we can create our own simulation of the Universe if it was simulated and then compare this with our observed Universe.  Complicated but can be done!

Since Quantum gravity and spacetime models of Universe use Planck time as the smallest discrete unit of time and by taking the age of the Universe (14 billion years) and converting this into Planck time it is possible to calculate values for the Cosmic Background Radiation, which is the observable radiation left over from the Big Bang[3].

In the table below the calculated values by using Planck mass and Planck length are compared which the observed values. These values appear to be very close with some even giving the exact number…[3]

Although this research has been conducted no one can truly be sure. Neil DeGrasse Tyson doubled back on his original support of the simulation theory to now being a strong disputer.

His reasoning for this change is that, if the Universe was a simulation, then we would be able to simulate another high-fidelity Universe. The fact that simulations to this level of precision are still out of our reach debunks this theory.[4]

But as technology continues to advance who is to say that this will not be possible, especially as quantum computing is becoming such a large field of research.

 

 

Although this theory is, just that, a theory, the ongoing development of computer simulations and the huge steps towards the future of quantum computing is a big factor into whether something like this could be the answer to the Universe, although without a more solid backing this theory remains a strange conspiracy. For now….

 

References

[1] Jason Kehe; “Of Course We live In a Simulation”. Wired. 9 March 2022

[2]Anil Ananthaswamy ; “Confirmed! We Live in a Simulation”. Scientific American. 1 April 2021

[3] Macleod, Malcolm; “Programming cosmic microwave background for Planck unit Simulation Hypothesis modeling”. RG. 26 March 2020. doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.31308.16004/7.

[4] Paul Scutter; “Do we live in a simulation? The problem with this mind-bending hypothesis”. Space.com, 21 January 2022

Gravity is one of the four primordial forces of the Universe. There is even theories that believe Gravity was the force holding all matter in the universe into one “Singularity” before the big bang occurred. It is for this reason that is very easy for humanity as a whole to take gravity for granted.

Back when I was in sixth year of secondary school we used to always take the acceleration due to gravity on Earth (g) to be 10 metres/second. When I got to college we began to use g = 9.8 m/s for increased accuracy in calculations, but I always wondered how much of a difference that 0.2  m/s would make to our everyday lives and even more so if we just let g = 0.

We can calculate g by using g = GM/rˆ2,  M is mass of earth, G is the gravitational constant 6.6743 × 10-11 m3/kg/s^2, and r is the radius of the earth.

To investigate this we have to first lay out what we understand the gravitational force to be. In simple terms gravity is just an attractive force between any two objects. In that same sense the force of attraction between us and the Earth is what is keeping you sitting in your seat as you read this. The greater the mass of an object, the greater the force of gravity it holds. For visualisation,

No matter where on Earth you are standing you will be pulled towards its gravitational centre.

Gravity can in turn be thought of as a curvature of space and time. The easiest way to picture this is to think about how a bowling ball in the middle of a trampoline would curve all space around it. This thought allows us to investigate our first system of no gravity. Our gravitational constant G can be considered a field in space and time. Therefore if we let G be a scalar field (a function that assigns a scalar to each point of space) and then allow the strength to vary, we will get a system with g = 0.

In a case like this there would be huge repercussions for the planet and everything on Earth. All landscapes would be flattened as there is force of attraction between objects. Everything being oppressed by gravity would fly off in whatever direction it was being held from down in. While this is terrible it is definitely the least of our problems . Our atmosphere would no longer be held together and of course no atmosphere means no air to breathe. All water on the planet would all disperse as-well. Earth would be utterly inhabitable.

In another wild scenario to make gravity disappear we have to consider the elementary particle, Higgs-Boson. In short the Higgs Boson is part of a field aptly named the Higgs field. This field is essentially what gives mass to other particles like electrons. In order to acquire these masses the particles have to pass through the Higgs field. Let’s say this field is set to 0. Now the particles do not have mass and they can not effect space time and thus no gravity is created. The particles would now move freely with the speed of light. In this case the very atoms that make up everything on the planet would break down. Forget about floating away and being deprived of air, humans would disintegrate at a molecular level.

Doing research like this it is clear how important gravity is in our world and like G it is a constant in our lives.