Tuesday, April 12, 2016

MedicalConspiracies- Is the Universe a Simulation? Scientists Debate

Is the Universe a Simulation? Scientists Debate
By Sarah Lewin, Staff Writer | April 12, 2016 07:33am ET

Is the Universe a Simulation? Scientists Debate
The 17th annual Isaac Asimov Debate at New York's American Museum of
Natural History sold out in just 3 minutes online, host Neil deGrasse
Tyson told the audience. The debate featured five experts chewing on the
idea of the universe as a simulation.
Credit: AMNH/R. Mickens.

NEW YORK — Is the universe just an enormous, fantastically complex
simulation? If so, how could we find out, and what would that knowledge
mean for humanity?

These were the big questions that a group of scientists, as well as one
philosopher, tackled on April 5 during the 17th annual Isaac Asimov
Debate here at the American Museum of Natural History. The event honors
Asimov, the visionary science-fiction writer, by inviting experts in
diverse fields to discuss pressing questions on the scientific frontiers.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the museum's Hayden Planetarium and
host of this year's event, invited five intellectuals to the stage to
share their unique perspectives on the problem: Zohreh Davoudi, a
nuclear physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT);
Max Tegmark, a cosmologist at MIT whose recent book probes the universe
as mathematics; James Gates, a physicist at the University of Maryland
who discovered strange, error-correcting codes deep in the equations of
supersymmetry; Lisa Randall, a physicist at Harvard University who
thinks the simulation question is more or less irrelevant; and David
Chalmers, a philosopher at New York University who regularly questions
the reality that conscious minds perceive. [7 Surprising Things About
the Universe]

How can we tell?

Humanity might never be able to prove with certainty whether the
universe is simulated, Chalmers said.

"There's certainly not going to be conclusive experimental proof that
we're not in a simulation," he said near the start of the debate. "Any
evidence we could ever get would be simulated!"

But other panelists said that, if the simulated universe has similar
physical limitations to our perceived real universe — in which something
infinitely complicated cannot be modeled without infinite resources —
signs of shortcuts and approximations may lurk in our own world, the way
an image breaks up into its constituent pixels when you get close enough
to a screen.

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