Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What is real?

  1. Dec 19, 2003 #1
    Heard the most amazing theory today, I've been thinking about it since this morning, and only now have I been able to disproove it...

    The Theory
    Processing power is increasing an a fast rate, doubling every year or so. This will no doubt become a faster increase in years to come. Now imagine after a few billion years, the processing power available to us would be phenominal. So powerful infact, that we could create a replica of say, Earth, but 1,000 years in the past, as we see it to be.. As time went on we would eventually have the ability to create vast amounts of replica Universes, each a fraction of a second from the other. You would have billions and billions and billions of billions of 'fake' galaxies and one 'real' galaxy. Taking this into account, our current odds of being 'real are billions and billions and billions of billions to one.

    The Disproof (is that a word?)
    Chaos theory would mean that after a short while the universes would be unrecognisable from each other since atoms can't be modelled exactly. Wavefunctions associanted with them and their constituents are probabilities. Although this doesn't actually disproove it does show that the Universes would not have the same 'path'.

    Pretty cool I thought :-)
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2003 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Currently, processing power is doubling about every 18 months. This won't speed up, it will slow down unless there is a major breakthrough that allows processors to be made that work nothing at all like the way they do now (one that works on light for example). The barriers are fundamental and have been known about for some time. They include the size of the transistors (you can't make a wire smaller than an atom for example), power density (power consumption doubles about every 3 years), and data density (you can't hold more information than you have atoms to hold it). The limits of silicon will be reached in maybe 20 years and within the next 5 we'll start to see the effects of the limit slowing down the doubling rate. Power issues are already delaying the next version of the Intel P4 for example - it dissipates 100w.
  4. Dec 20, 2003 #3
    Aside from the chances of our reality implication of the theory, there are more interesting effects it would have (I've thought about this alot before, heh):

    If we created this model of the universe (programmed the laws of physics into a computer and generated some matter), we needn't have it start at the big bang. We can create a model of the earth (indeed, the entire universe) with everything customized exactly as we see fit. Now... Imagine that we did this, and imagine that we programmed in a life-supporting planet, like earth, and then programmed in actual life. We could program a virtual human being (starting by programming a zygote, for instance, and letting it grow). There could be entire intelligent cultures existing in these "fake" universes. And if we program the same laws into them as we have in our own universe, how can we actually consider them "fake"? Those beings we created might actually be conscious, sentient creatures- as validly as we ourselves are.

    If we can program humans in this way, we could easily create ONLY an environment suitable for a human brain to survive and program in the correct genetic sequence to create it- we can also program virtual hoook-ups to this brain that take information from it/feed it sensory input. We can have a video camera's data fed into the brain as sight, a microphone's data as sound, etc. Then we've got AI- we could even give it an entire body.

    There are many implications like this... Some very interesting stuff :)


    Actually... you can. The periodic table currently contains 118 different types of atoms. That means that instead of using binary code (two based) we could concievably use 118-based code! That would open up tremendous oppurtunities.

    Of course, there are also isotopes of each of these atoms... Then there are ions. And if we based our computers on compounds instead of the base types of atoms we would gain an inconcievable amount of new abilities.

    Naturally though, we don't have a way of storing information as atoms like this. A way will most likely be found at some point in our future- but if not... We can save complex and large ammounts of information through ammounts of electrons present in certain atoms, we can store information as geometricly shaped compounds or using subatomic particles... The possibilities are endless. :)

    Anyway, I think I've gotten my point(s) across... Heh. Like I said, interesting stuff.
  5. Dec 22, 2003 #4
    As you said this is not really a disproof,the microscopic details can safely be overlooked,people connected in 'the Matrix' have little chances to realize they live in a simulation.

    The idea of 'brains in vats' has a long history in philosophy (even the Berkeleyan type of idealism is a variation of this) being perfectly coherent internally and basically irrefutable.That's why one of the basic assumption of science (axioms of science) is that all types of idealism are invalid.

    The 'theory' you talk about is in fact a logical argument,proposed by N Bostrom,in favor of idealism (at least in its 'Matrix' form) which additionally propose a probabilistic approach based on some observed facts (the rate of processing power doulble every few years,the developments in AI and virtual reality and so on).It alone does not succeed to make a belief in the hypothesis that what we observe belongs to a virtual reality rational but if other such probabilistic arguments will be found then the degree of confidence in this hypothesis will raise very much...

    See Bostrom's argument at:


    Things are not at all so simple,as I've already argued some idealist hypotheses,matrix hypothesis included,have not been refuted soundly.See a very interesting article of Chalmers at:

    http://www.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/papers/matrix.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  6. Dec 22, 2003 #5
    i watched this documentary thing
    on horizon (bbc 2) about what your
    talking about.
    Using computer programs, virtual reality etc
    to recreate past events and stuff.

    it was really interesting, hmmm
    cause im currently learning
    a little about VR and computer simulation
    in IT.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook