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I Are we in a simulation and quantum tunneling?

  1. Sep 27, 2016 #1
    Preface: As I understand it, according to quantum mechanics, there is a very good probability that I am sitting right in my chair right now, typing this question out. However, there is a non-zero, ever so small probability, however infinitesimally small chance that I am somewhere else in the Universe, like sitting on the ice on Europa.? Do I have this situation stated correctly?
    Now onto my main question: Realistically speaking, there is ZERO chance I would ever be sitting on the ice sheets on Europa. Yet, allowing for such a possibility, however small indicates to me something akin to video game development, where you set the boundaries of the world/universe. It's like whoever, whatever, however the Universe was created, allowed for the potential and the possibility that I might actually be on Europa, or one day or somehow. Yet in this reality, as I am experiencing it, that is impossible, frankly speaking (especially during my lifetime). It's like this is indeed a simulation, whereby the boundaries of the game (the Universe) are set, and myself as a game character can move anywhere within the game limits, or have allowed the possibility to do so, however small.

    I'm not sure I'm being clear, and sorry if I'm not, but when you spend time thinking about the why and how this is, it really does implicate a simulation hypothesis.

    Any input on this would be greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 27, 2016 #2


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    Sorry, but what part of quantum mechanics exactly are you applying here?

    You need to be extremely careful not to do a Deepak Chopra on us (i.e. uses something he knew superficially, and then extrapolates from there). It might be helpful if you narrow down the principle that you think is the part of QM that you are using, and ask if you have understood that first.

  4. Sep 27, 2016 #3
  5. Sep 27, 2016 #4
    I'm applying the theories that both our position and velocity have some non-zero probability which extends beyond our current (classical) position and velocity. I am mixing this with some practical everyday philosophy.
    Let's simplify my question to the typical, particle quantum tunneling through a mountain to the valley beyond. Can this be extrapolated to a larger collection of particles? Ie. a human? Could a human quantum tunnel through a barrier? Could a particle originating from me quantum tunnel through a barrier? If it could and did so, does that mean that some part of me (myself) teleported through a classically impervious barrier? And in reality as I know it, that is impossible. However, say we are in a simulation (computer program), that has to calculate my position and 'render' me, allowing for the possibility that I might be in different positions within the boundaries of the simulation itself (game), which all sounds very reasonable, except we know that in reality I could NEVER pass through a mountain or other solid barrier.
    My poorly worded question was really, does this discussion indicate that we might be living in a computer simulation/video game?

    It seems that the findings of quantum mechanics lead towards the possibility that we are indeed living in a simulation, because reality is, I can't pass through a solid piece of metal/mountain,etc.
  6. Sep 27, 2016 #5


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    Start with this:


    There's a bunch of FAQs in the General Physics forum that you might want to browse through as well.

  7. Sep 27, 2016 #6
  8. Sep 27, 2016 #7
  9. Sep 27, 2016 #8
    Zz, sorry for Deepak Chopra'ing it..LOL.
    Let me ask further and hope I'm not wasting your time.
    Let's say we shine a light onto me standing on one side of a metal wall. At someintensity or wavelength, I will experience photoemission right? So electrons will leave the surface of my body.
    If I spent all my time sitting at my desk which is placed on one side of that wall and the light/photons shone on me all day, everyday for my working life. Assuming some x number of electrons are photoemitted from me, is it reasonable to say that it's possible some small percentage of those electrons which originated from me, might quantum tunnel through the wall?
    In some way, some 0.00001% (example) of me quantum tunneled through that wall.
    Assuming I didn't fudge up the above example, then extrapolate to my original post? 00000.1% of me actually quantum tunneled through the wall.
    Is this being facetious? But theortectically.
  10. Sep 27, 2016 #9


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    So every bits and pieces that came off you are now considered to be "part of you"? The electrons that left you are part of you STILL, even after it left your body? Is this even legal?

    But is this what you are really after? Isn't the original question is whether an entity can tunnel, rather than parts of the entity?

  11. Sep 27, 2016 #10
    More like a practice in consideration of the theories mentioned.
    Technically, we are all just cells, combined to make a greater whole classified as an animal (hominid). If I donate my kidney, is that not part of me? If I bleed, is it not my blood stain on the floor? repeat, blood cells, we could continue to break down the scale of consideration and so on until we get to elementary particles. They originated from me. Yes?

    So let me rephrase the question as, could a part of me quantum tunnel through a physical barrier, and let's say that part of me is an electron that was cast off the surface of my skin as light/photons were shined at it through the process of photoemission.

    If indeed that is possible, then a part of me did in fact quantum tunnel, however low the probability through that wall etc. (even though I as a whole could not tunnel through the barrier in some conceivable time period)

    this being the case, then in theory and in accordance to the properties of quantum mechanics, part of me did something that it should not be able to do.
    Because, when you truly break it down, every electron or particle in my body has a waveform of probabilities for their position and velocity.
    this being, that my question is, it does seem that the argument for us living in a simulation seems more likely especially when you look at it by comparing it to computer game development. Same rules and processes apply when generating.
    Even the portions of theory that items in the game may not be generated, or exist in a definite position or velocity until observed, at which point they are measured to be at a classically fixed position. Such as render distance and world generation (in game)
  12. Sep 27, 2016 #11


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    That's not quite what the theory says. It says something sort of like that (but only sort of) about ideal point particles, so if your body were an unusually massive point particle, you could extend the analysis for subatomic particles to it. But your body isn't an unusually massive point particle, it is a very complex multiparticle system and we have to use statistical methods to predict its behavior from the principles of quantum mechanics applied to the individual particles of which it is composed. One of the predicted behaviors is that you will have, with probability effectively indistinguishable from 100%, a classical position and velocity.

    Something similar happens in classical mechanics. An individual gas molecule obeys Newton's laws and that's all there is to its behavior. However, when you assemble Avogadro's number or thereabouts of these molecules into a single physical system and apply statistical mechanics to their Newtonian interactions, you will find, with probability effectively indistinguishable from 100%, that the system obeys the ideal gas law ##PV=nRT##.

    Of course "probability effectively indistinguishable from 100%" is a still a probabilistic statement. If all of the molecules in a mole of gas just happen to hit the walls of the container at the same time, the ideal gas law will be violated. However.... That never happens, and it would never occur to you to suggest that the remote possibility that it might is an argument that we're living in a simulation. So why should the similar statistical nature of the fact that your body has a classical position and velocity suggest that we're living in a simulation?

    Of course the proposition that we are in a simulation can neither be proven nor disproven, so is no part of science.
  13. Sep 28, 2016 #12


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    No, try adding a few hundred zeroes before the number. I don't think the human mind is capable of grasping numbers this small.
  14. Sep 28, 2016 #13
    More precisely, it's not a theory of science. It's just another ontological interpretation.
  15. Sep 29, 2016 #14
    Thanks for the replies!
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