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Whether We Live in a Computer Simulation is Testable, Say Scientists

December 19, 2012, 2:00 PM

What's the Latest Development?

Scientists at the University of Washington say they can potentially test whether we are living in a computer simulation known as the The Lattice. The concept of such a simulation, proposed in 2003 by the British philosopher Nick Bostrom, posits that our far-evolved distant descendants might construct such a program to simulate the past and recreate how their remote ancestors lived. "He felt that such an experiment was inevitable for a supercivilization. If it didn't happen by now, then in meant that humanity never evolved that far and we're doomed to a short lifespan as a species, he argued."

What's the Big Idea?

The University of Washington team agrees with Bostrom that super-intelligent civilizations would seek to test all numerical possibilities underlying the quantum vacuum through universe simulations. "If we are living in such a program, there could be telltale evidence for the underlying lattice used in modeling the space-time continuum, say the researchers. This signature could show up as a limitation in the energy of cosmic rays." If they were part of a simulation, the rays would travel diagonally across the model universe, not interacting equally in all directions as they would be expected to.

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