Is our universe really a giant computer simulation?

I thought this quite pertinent for a discussion on this blog; copied from Slashdot:

Mathematician Edward Frenkel writes in the NYT that one fanciful possibility that explains why mathematics seems to permeate our universe is that we live in a computer simulation based on the laws of mathematics — not in what we commonly take to be the real world.

According to this theory, some highly advanced computer programmer of the future has devised this simulation, and we are unknowingly part of it. Thus when we discover a mathematical truth, we are simply discovering aspects of the code that the programmer used. This may strike you as very unlikely writes Frenkel but physicists have been creating their own computer simulations of the forces of nature for years — on a tiny scale, the size of an atomic nucleus. They use a three-dimensional grid to model a little chunk of the universe; then they run the program to see what happens.

“Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom has argued that we are more likely to be in such a simulation than not,” writes Frenkel. “If such simulations are possible in theory, he reasons, then eventually humans will create them — presumably many of them. If this is so, in time there will be many more simulated worlds than nonsimulated ones.

Statistically speaking, therefore, we are more likely to be living in a simulated world than the real one.” The question now becomes is there any way to empirically test this hypothesis and the answer surprisingly is yes. In a recent paper, “Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation,” the physicists Silas R. Beane, Zohreh Davoudi and Martin J. Savage outline a possible method for detecting that our world is actually a computer simulation (PDF).

Savage and his colleagues assume that any future simulators would use some of the same techniques current scientists use to run simulations, with the same constraints. The future simulators, Savage indicated, would map their universe on a mathematical lattice or grid, consisting of points and lines. But computer simulations generate slight but distinctive anomalies — certain kinds of asymmetries and they suggest that a closer look at cosmic rays may reveal similar asymmetries. If so, this would indicate that we might — just might — ourselves be in someone else”s computer simulation.

63 thoughts on “Is our universe really a giant computer simulation?

  1. That’s more like it! Plenty to discuss here! An intriguing piece of this for me is if this were to be true is then between Godel and Heisenberg, are we mathematically capable of solving this puzzle, or are we forever locked inside of a set of numbers that we can never get outside of? Or is there much more to this story?

      1. But really my question is about us. What are we in this scheme? Is what we are capable of solving what we stand inside of? I don’t expect a complete answer, I’m just clarifying my own question.

  2. G….. ” If so, this would indicate that we might — just might — ourselves be in someone else”s computer simulation.””
    Now, to me your post is reality, I have seen in recall dozens of these wonderful realistic games. . When I read that we have free will, that was not real… I have wrote a post about KARMA what is.. Karma is that we are captured in the game and cant get out till these games are confronted individually by the experiencer. I wonder how you see what you have written, what is your belief.

  3. In my view, it is not a problem created by a single universe programer or even by some. It is a problem of each one of us contributing to the process as it is ongoing, in real time. That is why I commented at Chris and Vinaire´s blogs my opinion about the reality as a probabilistic one.

  4. ok, ok. To me it’s like a Facebook. A game. Someone invents Facebook and then others join. And then they start playing by agreeing to the rules of the game. Is Zuckerberg alone in this? No. We all take part in it by agreeing to it. But then we forget we just entered the game (physical universe) and forget all about the co-creation of its laws. Thetans love games.

    1. The problem or challenge with that thesis is a) How do others join?, b) Who are those others?, c) Where do the others come from? and d) How do the others get to know about this new creation?

      1. Geir without offence, you are OT 8, I am not. So you wanna go back to some of your sessions and look.

        It looks like people though insist SEEing with their MEST eyes or “conceiving” with their limited mind what’s there to be known only by a Thetan.

        Since Theta Perceptions I am afraid are drastically diminishing on this planet I cannot make more evaluations for you and others here. The reasons for the shrinking of Theta Perceptions, as I come to think of it now, must have to do with various things including the broader use of electronics and the presence of more and more electromagnetic waves due to the expansion of the electronic devices used in general now in our everyday lives. But that is besides our point, here.

        As I said, this is my opinion and Theta Knowingness. Unfortunately that Reality cannot be shared objectively but only subjectively as it’s Knowledge which is not just a solid thing, it’s just Certainty.

        The analogy of Facebook gives you a good basis on how it is done. Thetans do agree on things and games (including Universes as games) so then that Agreement becomes Solid (Reality). That’s the closest I can get.

        1. Theo: Thetans do agree on things and games (including Universes as games) so then that Agreement becomes Solid (Reality).

          Chris: This veers off onto an imaginary boulevard where anything that one says goes. The OP takes a poke at reality and how we could verify reality having “what” to relate reality to? What do we compare reality to in order to verify whether it is there? Who and what are we? Can we verify a thetan beyond anecdotal ideas about it?

        2. theosis….theta perception diminishes because ”THE BELIEVE IN THAT EYES SEE”
          I have spent considerable time auditing solo on this topic.. When removing the beliefs, why we see, what is the reason one uses the eyes, than when one looks at the reasons why one has given up seeing without the eyes, what one can see when not having the body or eyes,
          There are hundreds of consideration and equal amount of agreements existing : like we are getting old our eyes sight weakens we cant see as when we were younger, he gone blind, cant see a thing, I only see close up, I only see far, what I see is fuzz.. etc etc etc.. blindness alone within that concept there are dozens of other related considerations all these are in place stopping the person seeing without the eye, and when in occasion still see something WILL NOT BELIEVE what he seen but ignore that picture as some kind of freak imagination, his mind is playing a trick on him.
          Without the eyes one sees HOLOGRAPICLY, observes the whole holographic energy-mass picture in faction of the second,, understand everything about it, what it is…the theta just knows. This happens when one becomes aware of the item, on what one puts the attention on.

          LRH talked about going exterior, in my reality is when one uses the object=eyes seeing with the camera the body part one is inside-looking through the lenses so only have a view from that angle and a limited view and when one do not use the machine part than one observes what is in whole. and that happens also when one is without the body.

          Theo ”’As I said, this is my opinion and Theta Knowingness. Unfortunately that Reality cannot be shared objectively but only subjectively as it’s Knowledge which is not just a solid thing, it’s just Certainty.”

          How true…. Best to you..Elizabeth Hamre

          1. Thanks Elizabeth. I think we can agree on that. I wish I was more trained to not use the machine so much, lol. But I do see what you are saying.

            1. glad that we agree,, we can say ”we live in the machine” age. 🙂 we really do. Best E.

            2. By the way not the training but auditing will allow one to ”see-perceive” as a spiritual being. In auditing one erases the barriers.

      2. a) How do others join?

        I was asked to join this NEW universe. Silly me for trusting 3 thetans who kept pestering me.
        Its Fun they said.
        You will enjoy it they said.
        Come with us they said.
        Reminds me of CO$

        b) Who are those others?

        Other Thetan`s who had knowledge of this NEW universe. It was sold to me as FUN. They remind me of the CO$ street recruiters selling Scientology. Same concept. Who are those people on the street selling Scientology?
        In the beginning one could enter and leave at will. But later one was caught up in the enjoyment of MEST and forgot how to leave. And here we are today 🙂

        c) Where do the others come from?

        There is no where. All is here. Its just a perception or view point change to view something else. I cant quite recall where I read or heard it but it went something like “You don’t go anywhere, everything comes to you. It is an illusion that you move”
        I guess it is like virtual reality. You put on your headset and you see this new world. You can move within the world but really you are just standing there and the movement is only visual through the headset.
        So with a Thetan, the headset is what it perceives.
        The Thetan is always in the same spot.

        d) How do the others get to know about this new creation?

        From the first creator presenting it to another. How did Scientology start or how does a company start or how does a country start. It is long process. 1 becomes 2 then 4 then 8 then 100 then 5000. Soon nobody recalls who the number 1 was. So we call it GOD 🙂 but we all had a hand in helping it persist and grow. Maybe even some of us added to it and possibly that is why we cannot find the EXIT sign. The original design might have been modified. The BIG BANG could have been the modification of the original. This just my 2 cents worth of theory 🙂

        IMHO and recalled experience

    2. Thetan is simply a postulate around which a hypothesis has been formed. It does not provide a proper reality IMHO… nor does the postulate of God. I prefer scientific (mindful) reality, which is not the same as mathematical reality.

      1. Vinaire, I hope I answered to your reply by my new comment above. I am sorry that our viewpoints do not coincide. But what would life be if they did?

        1. I stated more fully what I mentioned here on my own blog:

          Thetan (soul) is simply a postulate around which the hypothesis called Scientology has been formed. It does not provide a proper reality, IMHO, being inherently inconsistent..

          Earlier religions have been formed around the postulate of God. These are also hypotheses that I do not find it to be consistent.

          Quantum Mechanics has been formed out of mathematical reality that has increasingly lost touch with physical reality. I do not find that very consistent either.

          But there are physical and metaphysical realities, which we perceive. It is exploring the consistencies among these realities that I find very satisfying.

          I prefer scientific (mindful) approach that seeks out inconsistencies and resolves them to come up with a consistent reality.

            1. Theosis, all you have to do is check your physical and mental perceptions, because

              (a) Reality proceeds from physical and mental perceptions.

              (b) Reality is convincing to the degree perceptions are consistent.

              (c) Reality is delusionary to the degree perception are inconsistent.

              (d) Physical realities are perceived through physical sense organs.

              (e) Metaphysical realities are perceived through the mental sense organ.


    3. Thetan is simply a postulate around which a hypothesis has been formed. It does not provide a proper reality IMHO… nor does the postulate of God. I prefer scientific (mindful) reality, which is not the same as mathematical reality.


  5. Most of us probably prefer to think that we are creating the virtual reality that we inhabit. There’s the old argument that improving a person’s ability to see mockups improves their ability to see the ‘real’ world – but not the other way around. We pick up sensations of many kinds – whoever might be their original source – and build a mental model of a physical world to rationalise them.
    If we were intrinsically parts of someone else’s virtual reality system, we would never know about it unless they wanted us to know.
    Or taking a weaker version of that hypothesis, if we were imprisoned like Truman in someone else’s simulation we might eventually remember how we got in.

  6. The more I look into the setup of this Universe, the more it seems to be dependent on the viewers point of view. All points of view are valid from that point of view..

    When I look at it from the GOD created (Religion) point of view, every part of my life seems to be a test. Obstacles that have been put in front of me to see if I stray or stay on the path of what GOD has set forth for me. I can actually view this point clearly when I exclude the other points below.

    When I look at it from a SCIENCE point of view ( What I Understand of the Science ) everything becomes Logically Energy Vibrations interacting with each with attraction and repulsion that I am viewing in my brain. The interactions of things I view interacting with me make clear sense that it is all energy that is interacting to a given mathematical rule. If I exclude all other points.

    When I look at it from a Spiritual point of view ( My understanding of ME / Spiritual ) everything seems disconnected from me. I feel I am IN this universe and not part of the universe. It seems that I am visiting, moving, experiencing, controlling, adjusting, affecting this environment that I am in but not part of.

    Depending on the point of view we hold we see this thing called the universe differently. So,

    And you can add any new theory to this list and the answer will always SEEM to be YES. Again, depending on the view point you hold at the time of learning of the new theory, it will SEEM to be or not be true.

    As we look deeper into what this universe is, it will give us what we need as an answer for the times that we are in. As we evolve/experience/create/learn/change the answers will also evolve/experience/create/learn/change. History has shown us the gradual change in our knowledge of what is the universe. Each new knowledge building on the other. The only true answer would be when we find the EXIT sign.

    Is it a GOD created Universe YES.
    Is it a Science based vibration/energy expanding Universe, YES.
    Is it a computer simulation, YES.


  7. Maybe I need to study more physics and mathematics in order to fully appreciate this reasoning. Maybe I lack imagination (which would be terrible for a fiction writer like me). Maybe I’m just a stubborn Neo who refuses to take the red pill once and for all. I don’t know. But it seems to me that mathematics is a language created by humans to understand and explain the universe. That is, mathematics is a product of the universe, not the universe a product of mathematics. “Computer” and “simulation” are concepts that outline human actions and devices, and I get the feeling that using them, as Frenkel does, to explain the universe may be the result of the same anthropomorphic bias we find in many religious creation myths. Now, don’t get me wrong. I acknowledge my ignorance in mathematics. Therefore, I strive to keep part of my mind open and part of it skeptic. I’m looking forward to see those tests of Frenkel’s hypothesis and more reactions to it. But in the meantime I can’t help but see his idea as just an actualization of Plato’s ideal world or, worse, as a sophisticated, non-religious evolution of intelligent design theory (no pun intended).

    1. Mathematics is simply a tool used to understand reality. It does not define reality completely. There is more to reality than just mathematics.

      Like hypertexta I see an anthromorphic or even professional bias here by Mathematician Edward Frenkel.

    2. Mathematics is a precise language whose purpose is to describe accurately the proportions between things. I think it does this very well. The universe conforms to this or the math conforms to the universe? Has Man invented mathematics because he himself conforms proportionately to the universe? Or is mathematics a basic code upon which the entirety of the Universe rests? Beautiful questions these!

      1. Beautiful questions, indeed. The way I see it, the minute one shakes off the anthropomorphic bias I was talking about, that self-referential standpoint from which we humans tend to measure everything around us, one tends to see mathematics as a mere historical, evolutive product of mankind in its effort to explain reality (which in no way strips mathematics of its inner beauty). To me, the universe is fascinating enough without superstition or extraordinary theories.

            1. I think that all “think” involving a firming-up or crystalizing of the self reinforces this anthropomorphism. Thetan-centric is one form of this.

            2. I believe that those who get attracted to thetan-centric hypothesis are already self-centric or wed to anthromorphism.

            3. Agreed but we humans train our young in this path of anthropomorphism. Religion has anthropomorphism at its heart — certainly western religion. Christianity certainly does. Islam takes a stab at removing it by making it illegal to make art with using the images of man. I’m not sure about Judaism on this matter.

              Reification underpins anthropomorphism. Possibly this is the primary activity of man. Other purposes such as surviving might be secondary activities. I’m trying to bring this thought back around to the OP but it sort of evaporated for me.

  8. The following is my understanding of the universe:

    1. There are no absolute certainties.

    2. Underlying all reality there seems to be an undisturbed primordial field.

    3. When this field is disturbed by primordial energy, the disturbance takes the form of undulating electric and magnetic fields of finite frequency, wavelength and period.

    4. This basic electromagnetic disturbance defines the very nature of space, time, and inertia.

    5. The harmonics of this electromagnetic disturbance may be represented by disturbance levels of doubling frequency.

    6. The inertia of electromagnetic disturbance increases with doubling frequency of disturbance levels.

    7. Increasing inertia is accompanied by a condensation of space and time.

    8. The speed of propagation of electromagnetic disturbance is expected to decrease with increasing inertia.

    9. The electromagnetic disturbance propagates in the form of discrete wave packets of finite number of wavelengths.

    10. Particle-like properties come to dominate at higher disturbance levels.

    11. The location of an object in this universe is only as certain as its inertia.

    12. The universe is made of multi-layered spacetime.

    For details please visit


    1. KHTK Postulate M-1: When the primordial field is disturbed a condition of awareness arises.

      The undisturbed primordial field may be considered to be absolute zero. The disturbance level of 0 (frequency = 1) may be taken as the dividing point between physical and metaphysical. This is an arbitrary point.

      As disturbance increases with doubling frequency (positive disturbance levels) we are going deeper into the physical domain. As disturbance diminishes by “halving” frequency (negative disturbance levels) we may be going deeper into the metaphysical domain.

      When the primordial field is first disturbed a condition of awareness arises. The basic questions of “Where?”, “When?”, Who?” or “What?” are not yet there. It is awareness and awareness only that is aware.

  9. For the very first time in my presence on this blog, the only comment I can make is a big…silence! Whenever it’s a beautiful night with a clean sky, whenever I look to the stars and try to imagine the Universe, I feel so, so small…

    1. I’ll join you on this one dragos72, at this time. And I’ll add… and insignificant, not in a bad way!

        1. “Desiderata” that reminds me of one of my favorite books from the 60’s when I first started searching. Me old brain at the moment can’t remember the name that went with it. One of those tip of the tongue things and can almost see it. Thanks for the calm memories Chris.

            1. Looked up on wiki when the name came to me. Disraeli is the book I read. Hey, who said one has to think straight always, eh? 🙂

  10. Fractal mathematics, the building block of time (t), dooms man’s attempts to build stable and long lasting government. It is describes why there is exists no unchanging condition. It is upon this basis our computer simulation is built. (An opinion)

      1. I really wonder about that — what I find fascinating is that Geir is sensitive to the consequences of “automated” solutions where the input and output are assumed to be “standard.” That is what algorithms assume and enforce. I can’t help thinking about the idea that if something isn’t encompassed in a particular mindmap, then for all intents and purposes it doesn’t exist — the problem is, I think it does exist and reaches a problematic tipping point as it builds in reality and momentum. And then, wow, where did that come from? i.e. never saw that coming?

        1. Here is how I see it:

          KHTK Postulate M-1: When the primordial field is disturbed a condition of awareness arises.

          The undisturbed primordial field may be considered to be absolute zero. The condition of awareness arises out of disturbance just like electromagnetism does. However, awareness seems to be an earlier harmonic much closer to the absolute zero of the primordial field.

          The disturbance level of 0 (relative frequency = 1) may be taken as the point where the condition of electromagnetism arises. Disturbance level 0 (DL0) may be postulated as the start of the physical harmonics. Prior to this point we have metaphysical harmonics.

          As disturbance increases from DL0 (positive disturbance levels) we are moving forward into the physical realm. As disturbance decreases from DL0 (negative disturbance levels) we seem to be receding back into the metaphysical realm.

          When the primordial field is first disturbed a condition of awareness arises. The basic questions of “Where?”, “When?”, Who?” or “What?” are not yet there. There is only awareness.


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