After taking out all of the secular effects due to the Earth’s motion through space, a small anisotropy remains in the quadrupole and octupole modes of the cosmic background radiation, both of which appear to align with the plane of the ecliptic: the plane in which the Earth and other planets orbit around the Sun. There is no physical reason to expect such an alignment, and it has been dubbed the “cosmological axis of evil”.
If this effect is genuine, and not due to some instrumental error or mistake in interpreting the data, it is either an extremely improbable coincidence or a rebuke to the Copernican principle, which asserts there is nothing special about the Earth’s position in the universe.
Adding to the mystery, a 2020 paper, “Multipole alignment in the large-scale distribution of spin direction of spiral galaxies” found the spin direction of galaxies belonging to different superclusters to be aligned with a quadrupole mode at a significance of 6.9σ. Could the whole universe be spinning?
Gallileo was prohibited from teaching that the Earth enjoyed a privileged place in the universe. That prohibition was reversed by John Paul II in 1992. Now that this proposition may again be espoused, it would be interesting if it turns out the church was correct in the first instance! Of course, today’s secular inquisition has its own certainties, even more important to cosmology: white privilege and global warming.
Jokes on us? Are we are in a simulation?
I was just about to post the observation that these (the CMB and galaxy spin correlation) are precisely the kind of artefacts you’d expect to find in a simulation where the pseudorandom number generator used to specify the initial conditions was flawed. In fact, plotting pseudorandom data in arrays of various dimensionality and looking for patterns has revealed flaws in a number of computer pseudorandom algorithms that were initially believed to be of high quality, and this is a test which is routinely applied to candidate generators.
I have long believed that we’ll eventually discover evidence of being in a simulation due to round-off errors detected in precision experiments (for example, the anomalous acceleration of the Pioneer spacecraft, the discrepancy in acceleration during planetary fly-by maneuvers, the apparent slow secular increase in the astronomical unit, or inexact adherence to conservation laws), but evidence of structure in what should be random data is another promising area to explore.
Now that we have proof that we are living in a simulation, we can focus our attention on decoding and reverse engineering reality to our benefit – WHAT FUN ! I’LL BE THE GUY PASSING YOU IN A LEVITATING CAR.
Serious response. Big bang assumes it all started at a single point. Why not two points, three …etc and perhaps cycling in and out among three points. Perhaps we are only seeing part of the universe. If mass of the universe is double, triple, or greater than what we see, it is possible our region of universe is bending light in such a way that we are only seeing a fraction of the universe.
It is absolutely certain that we are only seeing part of the universe and, if the inflationary theory is correct, a tiny fraction of it. This is a consequence of the finite speed of light and finite time since the big bang. We can’t see anything whose light would have taken more than 13.7 billion years to reach us. Every year, we can see one light year further.
If the universe is spatially flat, then it is probably infinite, which means the part we can see has measure zero and there is infinitely more we can’t. There is no reason to believe the parts we can’t see are anything like what we can, but there’s no way to know if this is true or not. In his book Our Mathematical Universe, Max Tegmark calls this the “level I multiverse” which I described in my review as:
The level I multiverse consists of all the regions of space outside our cosmic horizon from which light has not yet had time to reach us. If, as precision cosmology suggests, the universe is, if not infinite, so close as to be enormously larger than what we can observe, there will be a multitude of volumes of space as large as the one we can observe in which the laws of physics will be identical but the randomly specified initial conditions will vary. Because there is a finite number of possible quantum states within each observable radius and the number of such regions is likely to be much larger, there will be a multitude of observers just like you, and even more which will differ in various ways. This sounds completely crazy, but it is a straightforward prediction from our understanding of the Big Bang and the measurements of precision cosmology.
There was a time when fuddy-duddy old European universities did not have Physics Departments; rather, they had Departments of Natural Philosophy. They may have had a point there. Push most branches of physics far enough and we end up staring into a philosophical abyss. And I am not talking just about Thermodynamics!
There certainly are observational data that would lead us to extrapolate back in time to a Big Bang. Fair enough. But then we have to ask the question – What was there before the Big Bang? Only to be told that is not a valid question; it is like asking who created God. The line between science and religion becomes rather hazy.
If this universe is merely a simulation, then in theory it should be possible to hack the code and get Scarlett Johannson to give me a call.
If we are living in a simulation . Then something created the simulation and it’s inhabitants.
Can’t escape a creator.
We only see objects in our past light cone using EM waves and massive particles like cosmic rays.
PQM EPR Signaling aka Precognitive Remote Viewing claimed by Russ Targ of CIA SRI is another mode clearly not surprising in a simulation same for time travel back from the future.
“Nick Bostrum, a philosopher at the University of Oxford, in 2003. He proposed that members of an advanced civilization with enormous computing power may run simulations of their ancestors. Perhaps to learn about their culture and history.”
Lots of us are fascinated by alternative histories. If Napoleon had not been suffering from piles at Waterloo, might he have won that battle and changed the history of Europe? But if there is a very advanced civilization running simulations (we got the Napoleon with piles version; another simulation got the healthy Napoleon version), we would have to conclude that the civilization is advanced only in the technological sense, not in the moral sense. Simulated humans experience real (to us) pain & distress when injured in battle, or tortured, or when a child dies of a disease.
If the designers of the simulation are so bereft of compassion, then a curse upon them! – May they themselves suffer horribly painful deaths in their own world! Of course, their “real” world could itself be a simulation by a yet more advanced civilization exploring the willingness of humans to impose pain on others. How many layers of simulation do we want to contemplate?
As for me, none. The theory of simulation is just another way to theorize God out of the human equation.
To me, It takes a hell of a lot more faith to believe in a simulation than to believe in a creator.
No offense intended to the atheist’s or agnostics who disagree.
Here are the reasons I believe that simulation is possible and that if so, it is more likely than not that we are in one, as stated in my review of Rizwan Virk’s 2019 book, The Simulation Hypothesis.
This raises the question of how far it can go—can computer simulations actually approach the complexity of the real world, with characters within the simulation experiencing lives as rich and complex as our own and, perhaps, not even suspect they’re living in a simulation? And then, we must inevitably speculate whether we are living in a simulation, created by beings at an outer level (perhaps themselves many levels deep in a tree of simulations which may not even have a top level). There are many reasons to suspect that we are living in a simulation; for many years I have said it’s “more likely than not”, and others, ranging from Stephen Hawking to Elon Musk and Scott Adams, have shared my suspicion. The argument is very simple.
First of all, will we eventually build computers sufficiently powerful to provide an authentic simulated world to conscious beings living within it? There is no reason to doubt that we will: no law of physics prevents us from increasing the power of our computers by at least a factor of a trillion from those of today, and the lesson of technological progress has been that technologies usually converge upon their physical limits and new markets emerge as they do, using their capabilities and funding further development. Continued growth in computing power at the rate of the last fifty years should begin to make such simulations possible some time between 2030 and the end of this century.
So, when we have the computing power, will we use it to build these simulations? Of course we will! We have been building simulations to observe their behaviour and interact with them, for ludic and other purposes, ever since the first primitive computers were built. The market for games has only grown as they have become more complex and realistic. Imagine what if will be like when anybody can create a whole society—a whole universe —then let it run to see what happens, or enter it and experience it first-hand. History will become an experimental science. What would have happened if the Roman empire had discovered the electromagnetic telegraph? Let’s see!—and while we’re at it, run a thousand simulations with slightly different initial conditions and compare them.
Finally, if we can create these simulations which are so realistic the characters within them perceive them as their real world, why should we dare such non-Copernican arrogance as to assume we’re at the top level and not ourselves within a simulation? I believe we shouldn’t, and to me the argument that clinches it is what I call the “branching factor”. Just as we will eventually, indeed, I’d say, inevitably, create simulations as rich as our own world, so will the beings within them create their own. Certainly, once we can, we’ll create many, many simulations: as many or more as there are running copies of present-day video games, and the beings in those simulations will as well. But if each simulation creates its own simulations in a number (the branching factor ) even a tiny bit larger than one, there will be exponentially more observers in these layers on layers of simulations than at the top level. And, consequently, as non-privileged observers according to the Copernican Principle, it is not just more likely than not, but overwhelmingly probable that we are living in a simulation.
Thank you for your explanation. I still find it more fabulous than belief in a Creator God.
If we push far enough, science and religion converge. If life evolved spontaneously from inorganic matter, where did the matter come from? Is there really much difference between believing in God and believing in the Big Bang?
What troubles me about the simulation idea is the morality question. People today play lots of shoot-em-up computer games today, but none of the algorithms displayed on the screen feel any pain when they have limbs shot off. In contrast, in the world we inhabit, when Hutu meets Tutsi there is real pain & suffering. What kind of depraved society would create a simulation in which (for example) Plains Indians would torture someone from another tribe for days, reviving & treating him as need be so they could continue the torture?
There would be something deeply wrong with any society that would write the code to “simulate” real suffering – excruciating pain which feels very real to us mere objects in their simulation.
Yep, simulation relieves us by it’s very nature of morality. Or does the computer throw us into the void for our behaving badly.
Simulation is an escape from an ultimate accountability.
But then, couldn’t one say that this presents precisely the same problem as the question of the presence of evil and suffering in a universe made by a benevolent Creator? Of course, vast amounts of ink have been spilled over the millennia discussing this question, and it doesn’t seem to me to change it at all whether the creator is a hands-off supernatural being as envisioned by many religions or those who started a simulation and then allowed it to run without intervening. In fact, those who created such a simulation would be, in every sense of the word, “supernatural beings” to those within it, since they were external to the nature accessible to those inside.
Certainly, you are right. The existence of evil & suffering in this world will always be a major theological question.
For now, let’s assume we suddenly have the power to create a simulation which will seem as real to the objects in the simulation as our reality is to us (regardless of whether or not we are already in a simulation). Would we create a simulation in which those objects would feel real pain? I hope the answer would be – NO! Whatever the objective of the simulation, does it justify creating real pain? We don’t allow children to pull the wings off butterflies or to torture kittens. Why would we acquiesce to programmers doing the equivalent?