Virtual Universe


Gullibility by SRS Vision

Gullibility by SRS Vision

First of all, I must extend my gratitude to Kari E. Hutta for his kind remarks regarding my Science Fiction epic The Anomaly Trilogy.

What I most definitely have not done is independently invent the idea of a virtual universe. It’s an idea that has been growing over time and has been dealt with in different ways in such films as the Matrix, in several science fiction novels (most notably those by Philip K Dick) and even in my own short story Reality.

I guess it has its origins in philosophy and thought experiments concerning the simple question of how we know what we think is real is actually real. The philosophical position of solipsism owes its origins to this debate.

However, more recently it has become a subject of scientific rather than philosophical discussion. There’s a lot to be read about it on Wikipedia and elsewhere, but the gist of the debate is quite simple.

If it is possible to create a self-contained universe as a computer simulation in even one possible universe (assuming that there is more than one) and that universe could itself generate self-contained computer-generated universes which themselves could generate such virtual universes and so on ad infinitum, then there could very well be many more virtual than real universes. In that case, the probability .is that the universe that we know is more likely to be a computer simulation than the real thing. It is unlikely that there are infinitely many universes simply because of the nature of infinity, but there could be an astronomically large number and by far the greatest proportion of them (by a ratio measured perhaps in googolplexes) could be computer simulations.

This is fascinating stuff, only held in check by the very real likelihood that this is all fantasy and that it is simply mathematically and physically impossible for this to be the case. For instance, perhaps the necessary computational power cannot be contained in an external universe.

But it’s fun to speculate…


3 thoughts on “Virtual Universe

  1. universe could itself generate self-contained computer-generated universes which themselves could generate such virtual universes and so on ad infinitum,

    Ultimately computationally power on virtual university is smaller than on that computational unit what generated/calculated that virtual university.

    more recently it has become a subject of scientific

    That article which I linked, seems refer to certain scenario where simulation is done quite detailed on quantum level.

    Cornell University Library: Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation (, 9 Nov 2012)

    Observable consequences of the hypothesis that the observed universe is a numerical simulation performed on a cubic space-time lattice or grid are explored. The simulation scenario is first motivated by extrapolating current trends in computational resource requirements for lattice QCD into the future. Using the historical development of lattice gauge theory technology as a guide, we assume that our universe is an early numerical simulation with unimproved Wilson fermion discretization and investigate potentially-observable consequences.

    That is quite low level (pdf):

    These simulations are currently performed in femto-sized universes where the space-time continuum is replaced by a lattice, whose spatial and temporal sizes are of the order of several femto-meters or fermis (1 fm = 10−15 m), and whose lattice spacings (discretization or pixelation) are fractions of fermis.

    Yes, if our universe is a simulacrum then used simulation unit must be smaller or equal small scale what current physics (physical theories) handle. Therefore simulation must be on quantum level (or something more detailed).


  2. (1 fm = 10−15 m),

    Paste was not very successful. Another try:

    1 fm = 10−15m

    ( or 10**(-15) meter, if HTML filter does not accept it.)

    I suspect that simulation “need” to be scale of Planck length, which is 1.6 × 10−35 and scale of Planck time, which is 5.3 × 10−44 seconds.

    This is much smaller that what is used on lattice QCD.


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