Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One Plus One Equals Life, The Universe And Everything

English: Max Tegmark Cropped from a photograph...
Max Tegmark (Wikipedia)
by John Prytz

The Universe IS just mathematics according to physicist/cosmologist Professor Max Tegmark (Department of Physics, MIT).

It's called the "Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH)" or the "Ultimate Ensemble", one of those proposals for a 'Theory of Everything' (TOE), that ultimate theoretical equation so beloved by physicists that describes life, the Universe and everything.

It will be so concise that it can be printed on just the front of a tee-shirt. Tegmark's mathematical universe hypothesis is: our external physical reality is a mathematical structure. All structures that exist mathematically exist also physically. That is, the universe IS mathematics in a well-defined sense.

Mathematics has an external reality, and since everything is built from the ground (i.e. - mathematics) up, everything ultimately is mathematics and therefore can be expressed in that ultimate theoretical TOE tee-shirt equation.

Mathematics is the universal language. Whether you're a Frenchman or a Chinaman; an Englishman or even ufonauts like those alien LGM (Little Grey Men); a Klingon or a Romulan; you understand the Pythagorean Theorem and the quadratic equation; topology and the calculus.

The most fundamental science is physics. That's the bedrock on which chemistry is formatted. The earth and space sciences are in turn supported and explained by those two building blocks.

All of those collectively form the foundations of the biological sciences, which in turn support anthropology, psychology and the other social and behavioural sciences. Even economics and the arts have ultimate foundations in mathematics.

But what supports physics? Mathematics, that's what. Ultimately that's where it all begins. The Universe (including life and everything) is mathematics. You exist inside of geometry. You are receiving information about life, the Universe and everything encoded in mathematics; it takes mathematics to reveal the information.

You cannot come to terms with understanding space and time, matter and energy, and the four (or more) fundamental forces that govern the Universe, hence ultimately you and your surroundings, without resorting to maths.

Your day is constantly filled with how much, how many, and how fast - mathematical relationships. 'Where' is maths; 'when' is maths; 'what' is often pure maths. You may not be a physicist, but economics probably rules your roost.

There's gambling (even if just on the stock market or getting away with running a red light) involving probability theory. Every day in every way you add and subtract and multiply and divide numbers. You even do fractions! Your calculator may crunch the numbers, but you press the buttons.

Music and sounds in general play a massive role in our lives. Acoustics, harmonics, sound waves, and the like are all expressible in, and based around, mathematics. Ditto for navigation and GPS and related.

Now think of the mathematics supporting the physics (or its applied alter ego, engineering) behind your home, your transport, your entertainment, your comfort conveniences, and what goes into making you able to get through your day.

What holds all your bits and pieces together and holds you to the ground yet doesn't allow you to go through it can be expressed in equations? What mathematical physics fuels the sun that ultimately gives you your daily bread? What mathematical physics keeps your home planet a goldilocks planet, not too far away from, or too close to the sun with an atmosphere over your head?

24/7/52 you are governed by time and space; matter and energy, all of which have reality as mathematical constructs. And where would sports teams*, NASA and the military be without the basic mathematics behind the basic physics that guide and govern their activities?

There's another kind of mathematical universe apart from the one promoted by Max Tegmark, though maybe they are actually one and the same. That's my hypothesis. There's another way of looking at this. There's another possible, even probable, Mathematical Universe - the Simulated Universe. Could these two universes be one and the same?

Firstly, why is a Simulated Universe our probable Universe?

Well, for the exact same reason that while you suspect there is just one real Universe, the one real Universe the really real you lives in, you would be aware that Planet Earth in that really real Universe has an intelligent human population that has evolved computer technologies and has created thousands upon thousands of virtually real simulations, both for the purposes of instruction (say astronaut flight training) as well as for entertainment (video games).

The ratio of virtually real landscapes to really real landscapes is therefore multi-thousands to one.

Further, in most cases there are thousands upon thousands of copies of those simulations, a sort of Multiverse, where say a character in one video game has thousands of 'clones' because there are thousands of copies of that game. That character of course couldn't meet any of his or her or its identical copies, which is probably a good thing.

However, if you could ask that character whether they felt they were really real or simulated, they would of course answer really real not knowing or suspecting that a human being was their creator and the creator of their simulated landscape.

Go one level up from Planet Earth and humanity's numerous simulation creations and extrapolate and the odds are high that someone or something out there, a Supreme Programmer, created a simulation that's our Universe.

There are numerous copies of this video game simulation called say "The Life and Times of Planet Earth" created by this unknown and probably unknowable Supreme Programmer, and thus there are really numerous copies of you, but fortunately only one copy per game! Your day-to-day reality is just a virtual reality because you don't really exist in the way you think you do.

Another way of thinking about the numerous copies of the video game "The Life and Times of Planet Earth" is that this amounts to the concept of Parallel Universes. In another copy of "The Life and Times of Planet Earth" another copy of you has led a different life and lifestyle to the you that exists in your copy or version of "The Life and Times of Planet Earth".

Now, the interesting bit, IMHO, is what if our Universe or Max Tegmark's Mathematical Universe which is also our Universe was just a Simulated Universe; a virtual reality computer software generated Universe? Well, what is computer software?

Computer software is just bits and bytes, ones and zeros, binary code, or in other words mathematics. You can construct life, the Universe and everything via mathematics by constructing or programming appropriate computer software. Ultimately a video game 'Universe' or landscape is just mathematics. An astronaut's training simulator is just a mathematical construction. If you are a computer software generated, simulated being, inside a virtual reality, then you are a mathematical construction.

What's the appeal of a Simulated Universe? It explains a lot that's currently unexplainable.

Why are all electrons (or positrons or up and down quarks, etc.) identical? Because all electrons have the exact same binary code, that's why. Forget vibrating strings as the reason. String theory isn't even in the hunt. Any and every anomaly is explained as easily as "run program" as there is no such thing as the concept of impossibility in a simulation or a video game.

Joshua can indeed make the Sun and the Moon stand still in the heavens! You can even have a virtual reality afterlife! In fact, for the physicist, a Simulated Universe scenario should be pleasing since in fact there are two separate sets of incompatible mathematical software running the Simulated Universe - gravity software and quantum physics software.

I bring this up because physicists have been trying to marry those two branches of physics for decades now into a Theory of Everything, and haven't scored a run yet.

In conclusion, our Universe is a Mathematical Universe; a Simulated Universe is a Mathematical Universe. Therefore, it's possible or even probable as I noted above, that our Universe is a Simulated Universe and you therefore live in a virtual reality landscape that exists as a mathematical construct!

*There's an entire book, for example, devoted to the physics of baseball, and no doubt many "How To Play... " books focus on the physics behind the scenes and the mathematics behind the physics.

Baseball can be reduced to pure mathematics apart from the mathematical physics relating to bat and ball, which will come as little surprise to most baseball fans, players and managers. There's percentages this; statistics that, all of which make baseball about the most mathematical oriented sports on the ground.

Science librarian; retired.

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