We live in a hologram, in countless parallel worlds, or in computer simulations. These at first glance shocking theories of how the world works gained adherents and became mainstream. According to the widely accepted version of the world order, we are composed of atoms and live on a spherical planet in the expanding Universe, which was formed during the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago.

Trying to fill in the gaps and inconsistencies in this hypothesis, physicists and philosophers put forward many complementary and alternative theories. We are offering to get acquainted with the three most breathtaking of them.

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The holographic principle. The universe is two-dimensional, we are a hologram


As you know, the scientific picture of the world is based on theories irreconcilably conflicting with each other. The mathematical equations by which distances on the scale of the Universe are calculated give ridiculous results (for example, infinity) in the microworld.

“Scientists have been working for decades, trying to combine Einstein’s theory of gravity with quantum mechanics. As a result, many people come to the conclusion that it is necessary to reconsider their views on how the Universe was formed and what it consists of, ”commented the theoretical physicist from the Canadian Perimeter Institute Niesh Afshordi.

According to him, more and more serious scientists are beginning to apply the holographic principle – the paradigm according to which all the information that forms our 3D “reality” (plus time) comes from an ever-changing flat 2D field.

Accepting the hypothesis that we and our whole world are not three-dimensional, but are a kind of hologram, allows us to abandon the theory of relativity and describe simplified quantum theories all the phenomena of the universe, including paranormal phenomena, such as telepathy.

“For thousands of years, we have believed that space is made up of dots and lines,” says Craig Hogan, director of the Fermilab Center for Quantum Astrophysics. – Perhaps this view is incorrect. All matter and energy can be made of waves. ”

“To understand the idea, imagine watching a 3D movie in a movie theater,” explains Costas Skenderis, professor of mathematical sciences at the University of Southampton, England. “You see moving images that have a height, width, and depth, but in reality, they are just projections on a flat 2D screen.” In our 3D universe, however, we can touch and feel objects – and the “projection” is “real” from our perspective. ” Scientific experiments at the moment can neither prove nor disprove the holographic nature of our world

From the point of view of scientists, the holographic principle is a powerful tool that allows you to create more accurate mathematical models of the Universe and understand how it works and how it functions.

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Theorists began to apply the holographic principle to the real world in the late 1990s. Since then, many mathematical models of the Universe based on it have appeared. By comparing the predictions of these models with the latest satellite data from the Planck Space Observatory, scientists have weeded out some of them. But some new models of the holographic universe turned out to be almost as accurate as of the theory of relativity.

What is considered real and what is not is everyone’s personal business. Scientific experiments at the moment can neither prove nor disprove the holographic nature of our world.

The most famous of these experiments is Holometer. It’s being held at the Fermilab Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois with support from the US government. A device constructed from high-precision lasers and mirrors collects data to detect the alleged holographic noise — vibrations of matter lasting a millionth of a second and having an amplitude a thousand times smaller than the size of a proton.

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The concept of the multiverse. We and our world are a statistical accident


Our Universe, according to some estimates, may consist of 2 trillion galaxies. Each of which contains on average 100 million stars and many times more planets. But can there be other universes? And if so, are they related?

A whole galaxy of outstanding physicists of our time, led by Stephen Hawking, promotes the idea of the existence of an infinite number of universes. This concept is very convenient in that it explains everything that modern science is unable to answer. In addition, there is a large and complex field of mathematics and a number of promising physical theories behind it.

Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, published in 2010, the popular science book The Higher Design. They argue that current trends in string theory suggest a huge ensemble of universes (multiverse). And we should not be surprised that there is life in our Universe. There are so many universes in this ensemble that ours must have appeared somewhere.

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“The concept of the multiverse can explain why the physical parameters of our world are so precisely tuned. Moreover – without the need to involve a benevolent God who created everything for our benefit. Our Universe of the Big Bang is just a statistical accident that occurred in the multiverse during its long existence. ” writes Hawking and Mlodinow. The multiverse can be compared with bubbling foam.

In their opinion, the multiverse can be compared with bubbling foam, in which universes are continuously created in a process called eternal inflation. Some of them are absolutely dead and do not expand, they never explode and particle formation. Others explode so much that particles fly apart and cannot combine into atoms. In the third, atoms appear, but everything works according to completely different physical laws than in our world. However, countless universes are very similar to ours.

Where are all these universes located? Many physical theories suggest that in addition to the four dimensions we perceive – three-dimensional space and time – there are other dimensions that we cannot detect with our senses. In these dimensions, new universes can continuously budge from existing ones.

The idea of branching worlds was first put forward in 1957by the physicist and mathematician Hugh Everett to explain the paradox of quantum physics – how a particle can be in two states at the same time, or, on a macroscopic scale. Like a Schrödinger cat who can be both dead and alive. Everett suggested that when we observe a particle or test a cat, reality branches out into several realities. One of which continues to exist with a living cat, and the other with a dead one.

“When I heard about Everett’s interpretation in the late 1970s, I thought it was crazy,” says Stephen Schenker, former director of the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics. Today, most of the people who are involved in string theory and quantum cosmology think in terms of this interpretation. And due to recent advances in quantum computing, these issues are no longer purely theoretical. ”

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Simulation hypothesis. The universe inside a computer, we are a program, life is an algorithm


What if we live inside a computer simulation? This question may seem absurd at first. But the possibility that our existence is an illusion has been exciting philosophers since antiquity. In recent years, the supercomputers used for experiments have begun to model such complex virtual universes that many representatives of the scientific world have seriously begun to think – and yet we ourselves can be in one of them.

“The strongest argument that we might be inside a computer simulation is this: 40 years ago, people played ping pong tennis simulator. It was a white dot and two rectangles on a black background … Games were at this level. Now, 40 years later, we have photorealistic 3D simulations. Every year millions of people play them and every year they are getting better. And soon we will have virtual reality, augmented reality. If the games continue to improve, they will become indistinguishable from reality, ”said the famous billionaire inventor Elon Musk.

Proponents of the modeling hypothesis, first formulated in 2003 by philosopher Nick Bostrom of Oxford University, argue as follows: if computers continue to evolve at an ever-increasing speed, then after a hundred, one thousand, or one million years, humanity will receive almost unlimited computing power.

With their help, future historians will be able to model various scenarios of human development. The enormous computing capabilities that they will have may be enough to draw every geographical detail of the virtual world and endow each entity inhabiting it with the same level of complexity and intelligence as living beings.

According to Nick Bostrom, a computer program can be equipped with perception and consciousness indistinguishable from the perception and consciousness of real people. And this program will exist in the artificial Universe. It will consider itself a human being, and the modeled world will be a reality.

Possibility of our existence inside one of these simulations

In April 2016, a group of physicists and philosophers held a conference on the possibility of our existence inside one of these simulations. Experts agreed that the modeling hypothesis should be taken seriously. It may be possible to confirm it, but it is unlikely that it can be refuted by any experiments.

To think about our existence inside computer simulations of physicists and mathematicians is forced by the dead ends they encountered, trying to describe all phenomena in the Universe with mathematical formulas. For example, it is completely unclear how to describe consciousness. In addition, both in space and in the microworld, researchers have to observe anomalies that go beyond the mathematical rules by which the Universe should work.

“In my research, I discovered a very strange thing,” said theoretical physicist James Gates. “Physicists work for a company called“ Equations – This Is Our All. ” Because this is how we make a living by solving equations. I was engaged in solving equations. I was attracted by things that many people know about – these are codes for correcting errors.

Corrective codes help browsers. But where do they come from in the equations about quarks, and leptons, and supersymmetries? This is what led me to a very persistent realization. I can no longer talk about people who believe in computer simulation as crazy. On the contrary, studying physics for a very long time, you can clink glasses. ”

Arguing that we and our reality can be computer programs, philosophers propose to perceive this with humor (our world is drawn quite well), with optimism (after death you can hope for a reboot) and not relax. Try to live interestingly so the follower of our simulation, the higher mind did not get bored and disconnect us.

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