Science & Tech

A scientist may have just proven that we all live inside a computer simulation

A scientist may have just proven that we all live inside a computer simulation
Warner Bros. Announces Plans for ‘The Matrix: Resurrections’ NFT Project | THR …
Prometheus - THR / VideoElephant

The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now in this very room."

So says Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus in sci-fi classic ‘The Matrix’ as he offers Keanu Reeves’s Neo the choice to find out just how “deep the rabbit hole goes”.

Now, just as Neo discovered that the "life" he'd been living was little more than an algorithmic construct, scientists and philosophers are arguing that we could be stuck inside a simulation ourselves.

In a paper published earlier this month, physicist Melvin Vopson, of the University of Portsmouth, offered scientific evidence for a philosophical theory known as the simulation hypothesis.

This, in a nutshell, posits that the entire universe and our objective reality are just super-advanced virtual reality illusions.

Elon Musk is among the well-known fans of the theory, which – as Dr Vopson notes in his paper – has been “gaining traction in scientific circles as well as in the entertainment industry”.

The university lecturer also pointed out that recent developments in a branch of science known as information physics “appear to support this possibility”.

Elon Musk is a proponent of the simulation hypothesisGetty Images

Information physics suggests that physical reality is made up of bits of information.

However, Dr Vopson has gone further and is working to prove that information has a physical mass and is a fundamental building block of the universe.

He even claims that information could be the mysterious dark matter that makes up almost a third of the universe.

In previous research, the physicist proposed that all elementary particles (the smallest known building blocks in the universe), store information about themselves, much like DNA in humans.

Then, in 2022, he discovered a new law of physics, christened the second law of infodynamics, which states that entropy – the degree of randomness or disorder – within an isolated information system either remains constant or decreases over time.

In other words, the system becomes less and less chaotic, implying that there is some kind of mechanism governing it rather than random chance.

“I knew then that this revelation had far-reaching implications across various scientific disciplines,” Dr Vopson said in a statement released by the University of Portsmouth.

“What I wanted to do next is put the law to the test and see if it could further support the simulation hypothesis by moving it on from the philosophical realm to mainstream science.”

Is the Universe a Simulation? | Melvin

Dr Vopson employed the law in a range of different fields, including genetics, cosmology and even symmetry.

Here, he found that the abundance of symmetry in the Universe (think snowflakes and facial structures) could be explained by the second law of infodynamics.

"Symmetry principles play an important role with respect to the laws of nature, but until now there has been little explanation as to why that could be,” he said.

“My findings demonstrate that high symmetry corresponds to the lowest information entropy state, potentially explaining nature's inclination towards it."

Again, put simply, nature prefers things to be as well-ordered as possible.

He continued: “This approach, where excess information is removed, resembles the process of a computer deleting or compressing waste code to save storage space and optimise power consumption.”

As a result, this “supports the idea that we’re living in a simulation.”

Dr Vopson provided some examples of naturally occurring symetries in his paperMelvin M. Vopson/AIP Advances

Dr Vopson is serious about this idea and, last year, even launched a crowdfunding campaign to test it.

At the time, he announced that he had designed an experiment to determine whether we are all just characters in an advanced virtual world.

“There is a growing community out there looking seriously at the possibility that information is more fundamental to everything than we think,” he said in a statement released back in December.

“If information is a key component of everything in the universe, it would make sense that a vast computer somewhere is in control.

“Assuming the universe is indeed a simulation, then it must contain a lot of information bits hidden everywhere around us. I’ve devised an experiment that proposes a way of extracting this information to prove it’s there.”

Dr Vopson believes that information is the fundamental building block of the universe and has physical massiStock

His proposed experiment is based on his conclusion that information is physical and that elementary particles have a DNA of information about themselves.

He posited that the information in an elementary particle could be detected and measured by using particle-antiparticle collision.

“We can measure the information content of a particle by erasing it. If we delete the information from the particles, we can then look at what’s left,” he said in the December statement.

“This experiment is highly achievable with our existing tools, and I’m hoping the crowdfunding site will help us achieve it.”

And whilst the crowdfunder closed well before reaching its proposed £185,000 target, Dr Vopson still hopes to carry out the ambitious test.

Following his most recent paper, he suggested the experiment had the power to confirm the “fifth state of matter in the universe” and “change physics as we know it.”

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