The leading singer of Queen, Freddy Mercury, probably didn’t mean this in literal words when writing the Bohemian Rhapsody, however the real meaning isn’t that different because the main point is: How real is the reality we are living in?
A lot of people watched the movie series “The Matrix” and most of them watched it for entertainment, but looking deeply into the movie, we can see that it holds a very important question specially with all the technology advancement we have today.
Do we live in a simulation? And can we know if we live in one if we actually are?
To answer the two questions, we must first define what a simulation is? A simulation is an imitation of a situation or a process and can be done by the production of a computer model of something, especially for the purpose of study.
Modern simulations that are used today are of short periods that ranges from few seconds to few days and are used in different fields like economic simulation models, social simulation models, mathematical simulations etc…
The Blue Brain project is one of the most known simulations that started in 2005 and which was conducted in The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne which goal is understanding the multilevel structure and function of the brain.
Another famous simulation is a simulation for the life cycle of the M. genitalium bacteria.
How is it possible that we live in a simulation?
To make the idea simpler and clearer, some video games can be good examples of simple simulations like the computer game Red Alert, and today’s famous video game Sudden Strike. Such games have rules built in them, like ways to generate money in that virtual world, every character’s function and abilities, enemy’s possible strategies etc. All these rules are set prior to playing the game and there is no way of them changing after the game starts.
If we apply the video game to our reality, it is not very different really, because we live in a universe that abides to laws and rules (gravity, thermodynamics etc.), and even our actions are biological reactions which are chemical reactions which in their base are physical reactions.
Although we do not know all the laws that our universe work by, we do know that these laws exist. Even the Big Bang which we know is the origin of our universe, could be nothing but the start button to the big simulation we are living in.
How Complex and Detailed Could this Simulation be?
We discussed that our universe could be one big simulation that we all live in, but it could be more complex where every portion of this universe is a separate simulation itself, like our galaxy, solar system, or even our planet could be a small simulation and everything we know outside our globe is a part of the model that is being simulated.
A similar idea was introduced In the science fiction book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” in 1979 where the earth represents a computer design that runs a simulation to determine the final answer to life and the universe and everything. If you google “answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything” you will get “42”, which was mentioned in the book as the answer the simulation gives, but this answer is irrelevant, because despite knowing the answer, we do not know what the question is, so we need to know what the ultimate question is to analyze what the ultimate answer means.
When thinking about it and linking this to the previously mentioned “Blue Brain project”, our brain itself could be a simulation where the structure of it and the information we know are being uploaded consecutively and during the simulation, and our thoughts and brain activity is the result of that simulation. Many refuse such theory, but technically, it could be that everything we know is nothing but uploaded information to a computer model or simulation.
If we are in a Simulation, who is Running it?
Technically it is not possible to answer this question because the possibilities are endless. If you have watched Rick and Morty before, you might have bumped in to the episode where Rick’s ship breaks down due to a non-functioning battery, his battery turns out to be a simulation of a universe where the people there work to generate their own power using a special device and big portion of that power goes to power Rick’s battery.
This is an example of how simple a simulation’s goal can be and how complex the operations in it are.
Some hypotheses state that it could be a school project done by higher creatures, similar to the science projects we do monitoring micro creatures. Another hypothesis is that our reality is a simulation done by humans to determine how our world would have turned out if a main even occurred or changed, for example if Hitler wasn’t born, or if Australia did not exist geographically.
Therefore, our reality could be a simulation to another reality trying to determine what it would be like to have a moon orbiting earth.
Are We in a Simulation?
No one really can give a definite answer for this question, where although it is a possibility that does not mean it is real; There could be a planet somewhere in the universe habitable by smurfs where it rains chocolate and snows ice cream, does it exist? There is no definitive yes or no answer and we can never know with our technology today.