Might Reality be Virtual?

“If you fell outward to the limit of the universe, would you find a board fence and signs reading DEAD END? No. You might find something hard and rounded, as the chick must see the egg from the inside. And if you should peck through that shell (or find a door)…Might you look through and discover our entire universe is but part of one atom on a blade of grass?”

― Stephen King

“There’s as many atoms in a single molecule of your DNA as there are stars in the typical galaxy. We are, each of us, a little universe.”

― Neil deGrasse Tyson

I remember vividly something my first year chemistry teacher said while explaining the composition of an atom (as it was understood back then, somewhat more simplistic than we know now but still sufficiently acurate as an illustration): an atom is a nucleus that has orbiting it smaller particles called electrons and protons, much like a star has planets orbiting it, and millions of atoms – little solar systems, if you will – make a single cell – which is thus a mini-universe. And what if the universe we live in, with its gazillions of solar systems, is but one cell in someone else’s fingernail?

That mental picture I’ve never forgotten. But now I’ve read something that goes way beyond that.

Could we – and everything else we know of – be constructs in some cosmic Sims City or Minecraft video-like game? That our world is “virtual” and we are characters whose moods and desires are satisfied by the home built for us by some invisible video-gamer?

Physicists at the University of Bonn, Germany, studying quantum chromodynamics (the theory describing the interactions between quarks and gluons which make up things like protons and neutrons) and using powerful supercomputers, have simulated a few femtometers (a femto is metric unit of length, mathematically 10 to the minus 15) of our universe and discovered it to be virtually indistinguishable from reality, thus posing the possibility that our universe – as we know it – may be nothing more than a simulation on a computer network (published on arVix).

Scary, if true. 

Scarier yet, what if that gamer’s console suffers a power-outage and everything wasn’t saved into the memory chip?

Or what if the player decides to just erase everything and start over?

Now, there’s a mental picture, God with a laptop.

– Bill


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