I tried to glitch the simulation and all I got was a bottle of pee.
August 29, 2019 4:38 PM   Subscribe

Given that modern life is so regularly baffling, it can sometimes feel like the only explanation for it all is that we’re collectively experiencing a Sims playthrough as directed by some sadistic cosmic being. But what if there was a way to pull back the curtain — to gain another perspective on the high-definition simulation we call reality, and to unravel the physical mysteries of our world? A small but quickly growing online community believes that transforming randomly generated numbers into clusters of location data could help us tunnel out of reality. Their name for themselves: Randonauts.
posted by Johnny Wallflower (70 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
Make me think of that episode of Star Trek:TNG where they were caught in a time loop and left themselves all those threes as clues.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:45 PM on August 29, 2019 [5 favorites]


Do I think this is likely to produce proof of the universe-as-computer-simulation idea? No.

Do I think it sounds like a really good way to get people looking at things and places they might not have otherwise encountered? Sure, but if you play Pokemon Go you can also fight Team Rocket on the way.

Will I do this when they make an actual app for it? Probably. It sounds fun, and is no less valid than any other form of la dérive.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 4:46 PM on August 29, 2019 [18 favorites]


i was just thinking that the Simulation Argument people don't really have any religious elements yet, in the way that the UFO movement has. there are lots of weird philosophical arguments, but nobody has ever claimed to have an extraordinary experience revealing to them specific information about the nature of the simulation. this sort of thing might grow in that direction, though.
posted by vogon_poet at 4:55 PM on August 29, 2019 [7 favorites]


It’s like a guesswork version of the ending of The Truman Show (which seems more apt with each year that goes by, especially in the Reality Show President era). The stage has to end somewhere.
posted by sallybrown at 5:06 PM on August 29, 2019 [1 favorite]



i was just thinking that the Simulation Argument people don't really have any religious elements yet,


Which is odd, right, because if you're inside a simulation, then it was designed by someone(s), who by definition is(are) God.
posted by grumpybear69 at 5:15 PM on August 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


Doing this in London is playing on easy mode.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 5:25 PM on August 29, 2019 [5 favorites]


I don't understand the thinking. if we're in a simulation, then the random number generator is part of it, so wouldn't it just be sending people where the program wants them to go?

Even if the number generator and everybody's conscious exists outside of the program, what do they hope to gain by sending a lot of people to a single random location? Is the idea that putting that many sentient AIs in a single geographic space will somehow overwhelm program resources? This is a program with the power to create a very high fidelity version of reality at least from our perspectives. Why do they think amassing a crowd will in anyway overwhelm the system?

Visiting a random place on your own may make sense I suppose if you don't believe that the world has been fully rendered. Granted, I'll probably only encounter a few thousand characters I'll interact with so the rest of them could be NPCs or just figments of my programming that aren't even there, but it seems super unlikely to me even if you are willing to accept the premise that this is a simulation.
posted by willnot at 5:30 PM on August 29, 2019 [7 favorites]


As a hardly-reformed That Guy, I think there are two different kinds of simulation being mashed up together in this article as a single incomprehensible Simulation Theory.

One "hypothesis" is that the simulated universe we're living within works something like The Sims, where a complex and fairly arbitrary world is modeled around where it is we're looking currently. Things outside of our perceptions are rendered at a lower fidelity to save computing resources, like how your computer doesn't bother to render graphics that are off screen until they actually scroll into view. This is what the Randonauts are trying to hack by upsetting the patterns in their life using randomness, confounding the heuristics of the simulation we live in and potentially finding Weird Stuff.

The other "hypothesis" is what Schmidhuber (the "Father of Modern AI" from the article) seems to have been describing to the author, which is that the program which runs the universe is actually extremely basic and mathematically regular, and really only describes something like the interactions between elementary particles (sub-sub-sub-quarks or whatever). Our lived experiences happen as a result of interactions between these computing units which eventually scale up to atoms and gravity and all the other physical phenomena, and our brains and consciousnesses aren't fundamentally different from e.g. a rock sitting alone in the desert. The computer system we're being simulated by doesn't care what it's simulating or how long that simulation takes to run, and so the Randonauts' experiment is meaningless to it because it actually IS simulating the universe at the same level of fidelity throughout.

The Randonauts believe we are in a simulation crafted by another intelligent entity and— as everyone else in this thread happens to note—are basically founding a new religion. Schmidhuber is more likely to believe that we live in a holographic universe or other cellular automaton that may still be a natural phenomenon.

Apologies to our actual physicists in residence.
posted by books for weapons at 5:31 PM on August 29, 2019 [18 favorites]


7523846748184676694051320005681271452635608277857713427577896091 7363717872146844090122495343014654958537105079227968925892354201 9956112129021960864034418159813629774771309960518707211349999998 3729780499510597317328160963185950244594553469083026425223082533 4468503526193118817101000313783875288658753320838142061717766914
posted by sammyo at 5:35 PM on August 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


Just to be clear, do I have to pay Mastercard this month or not?
posted by maxwelton at 5:39 PM on August 29, 2019 [14 favorites]


WE HAVE NO PHYSICAL EVIDENCE OUR UNIVERSE IS NOT REALLY RUN BY A SHORT [COMPUTER] PROGRAM

I think that's what you call a "category mistake"
posted by thelonius at 5:42 PM on August 29, 2019 [5 favorites]


It feels like they're reinvented flanneurie by mediating it with a computer program and some handwaiving mysticism about random numbers. I'm all for taking walks to random places and paying attention to interesting things on the way! Just a thoroughly contemporary way to do it.

What they really need to do is combine this with Tinder / Grindr somehow so a second person is also taking the same walk at the same time.
posted by Nelson at 5:53 PM on August 29, 2019 [13 favorites]


If we’re in a simulation we have no basis for thinking we are the subjects of the simulation. For all we know we and the entire universe are a side-effect of an algorithm designed for an entirely different purpose. We could be a kind of statistical noise.

Anyway, wasn’t there an exploit in Ultima Online where spamming a certain area-of-effect spell would crash the server? Maybe we could try something similar. Nuking a hurricane might do it.
posted by um at 5:57 PM on August 29, 2019 [7 favorites]


I think it is also worth pointing out that this is one of those "haha jk only serious" things that Flat Earth started out as, and that the "Rand" in "Randonaut" probably does double duty for "Ayn Rand". Also be careful with the term NPC because that's already an alt-right term for minorities and it's not a coincidence.
posted by books for weapons at 6:01 PM on August 29, 2019 [23 favorites]


What happens when one of them meets the Atlas? The Korvax will probably be ok with it but the Vykeen are going to be pissed.
{sixteen} {sixteen} {sixteen}
posted by thatwhichfalls at 6:02 PM on August 29, 2019 [5 favorites]


INT. MAIN DECK
MORPHEUS
What if I told you there was a way to cross Pokemon Go with simulated annealing
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:12 PM on August 29, 2019 [29 favorites]


Stuff like this just makes me realize how terrified people are, and how desperate we have become to find a reason--any reason--to believe we are not actually living in the world we made for ourselves and are now so rapidly destroying.

Unfortunately, simulation or not, we are.
posted by The Bellman at 6:41 PM on August 29, 2019 [23 favorites]


Simulation Theory by Muse is a really fun album and their concert on that tour was probably the most enjoyable concert I've ever been to. That is all I have to add to this thread.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:50 PM on August 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


"The other "hypothesis" is what Schmidhuber (the "Father of Modern AI" from the article) seems to have been describing to the author, which is that the program which runs the universe is actually extremely basic and mathematically regular, and really only describes something like the interactions between elementary particles (sub-sub-sub-quarks or whatever). Our lived experiences happen as a result of interactions between these computing units which eventually scale up to atoms and gravity and all the other physical phenomena, and our brains and consciousnesses aren't fundamentally different from e.g. a rock sitting alone in the desert. The computer system we're being simulated by doesn't care what it's simulating or how long that simulation takes to run, and so the Randonauts' experiment is meaningless to it because it actually IS simulating the universe at the same level of fidelity throughout."

Someone could easily say, "But it's incredibly unlikely that those starting conditions - the rules and initial state - would result in intelligent life! So excplain why we're currently experiencing a world in which intelligent life exists!" To which the answer is hilariously obvious: how could you NOT experience such a universe? Welcome to the anthropic principle.
posted by BiggerJ at 6:57 PM on August 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


So if you read the actual "Randonauts" this thing doesn't seem to have much, if anything, to do with the simulation theory. (It does seem quite nonsensical but harmless.) Never trust a journalist!
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:03 PM on August 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


It makes no difference if you're in a simulation or reality, the experience is exactly the same either way. The only reason to care if you're in a simulation: can you hack the simulation to benefit yourself in a way that wouldn't be possible to "hack" the real world?
posted by maxwelton at 7:06 PM on August 29, 2019 [3 favorites]


As it's free to try and secure (uses Telegram), I thought I would try it. The first 'attractor' I was served up was right in the Yarra River. Ummm..

Apparently there's been some weird/spooky things found at destinations rendered by the bot. Many accounts of these are on /r/randonauts and some related pics are posted on the Fatum Project Instagram account

A bit of harmless kookiness I reckon.
posted by joffaboy at 7:20 PM on August 29, 2019


Is the idea that putting that many sentient AIs in a single geographic space will somehow overwhelm program resources? This is a program with the power to create a very high fidelity version of reality at least from our perspectives. Why do they think amassing a crowd will in anyway overwhelm the system?

First, they have a bad goal. Introducing bugs into the program that is simulating you would probably cause you to just stop working. Get a few gliders going in Conway's life, then crash the program; bye bye gliders.

Second, my 99-percent-a-joke personal crackpot theory is that energy imposes additional simulation requirements that slow down the process responsible for simulating a patch of space, and that slowness makes space itself have an index of refraction; gravity is the emergent result. Get too much hard-to-simulate stuff in one spot and you get a black hole :-P
posted by Jpfed at 7:35 PM on August 29, 2019 [12 favorites]


Do people really trust Telegram? Like, are they good with the data they collect?
posted by hippybear at 7:40 PM on August 29, 2019


If the upcoming app succeeds in recruiting new Randonauts, he said, “I think reality is going to get a bit more weird.”

The thing is, reality is already weird. They're just finding it. I like the encouragement to look for a little more weirdness.
posted by capricorn at 7:41 PM on August 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


WHAT DO YOU GET IF YOU MULTIPLY SIX BY NINE
posted by SansPoint at 7:52 PM on August 29, 2019 [9 favorites]


"...nobody has ever claimed to have an extraordinary experience revealing to them specific information about the nature of the simulation. this sort of thing might grow in that direction, though." -- posted by vogon_poet

But to make room for that "thing" to grow - it would require making room for it via, say, a hyperspace bypass, n'est pas?

Eponysterical.

Somedays I think 2012 happened, McKenna was right, we hit the singularity but we don't know it yet, because what we're experiencing is the Shockwave of the singularity. We haven't caught up to the singularity we're only seeing it's echoes as we dance around it and skip on its surface...

Echoes like the death of Prophet Bowie. The arising of the Orange Anti-Christos, this setting up of himself as a god. The end times are here again, same as it ever was, same as it ever was. The circuit repeats, for it is, after all, a circuit. Don't break it. Or do. Break it again and again. And each time you do, you merely create a new circuit.

Marx and Hegelian Dialectics. The future feeds on the past. The past feeds the future. The old philosophers are consumed, devoured and spit out, regurgitated to their children as food, but modified by their own insides. A synthesis.

The dialectic of the simulation is the dialectic of the q-bit. The dialectic of the superposition of the old order and its resistance, it's negation, the one and the the thing and it's not-thing. A new stable ground, an equilibrium,. Always carrying within itself the primal broken symmetry.

Without the broken symmetry there is stasis only ever pure stasis a frozen block of death, it is only in this rupture that we can arise, the chaos itself is impregnated by itself and contains within itself all possibilities. That, as time goes on, the ever more improbable occurs, for that which was already probably already has been that which is less probably can only become. More and more as time goes on until the improbable is all that remains, the improbably act of its own creation out of itself.
posted by symbioid at 9:02 PM on August 29, 2019 [6 favorites]


"It makes no difference if you're in a simulation or reality, the experience is exactly the same either way..." posted by maxwelton

Who invites this Samuel Johnson guy to our parties, anyways?
posted by symbioid at 9:06 PM on August 29, 2019


This reminds me of another (albeit fictional) attempt to invent a cult around the simulation hypothesis. The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks posits a religion called The Truth, which if I recall correctly has as its doctrine the ideas that:

The universe we perceive is indeed a simulation.

It sucks, so the purpose of the simulation must be to serve as a kind of hell for the sentiences trapped inside it.

A simulation is no good if everyone inside it knows it's a simulation.

Therefore, we must convince everyone currently alive that the universe is fake, so that whoever is running it will turn it off and spare us from our suffering.
posted by contraption at 9:19 PM on August 29, 2019 [5 favorites]


Somedays I think 2012 happened, McKenna was right, we hit the singularity but we don't know it yet, because what we're experiencing is the Shockwave of the singularity. We haven't caught up to the singularity we're only seeing it's echoes as we dance around it and skip on its surface...

Reality ended on 12/21/2012 and was immediately replaced by Hollywood Screenwriter Reality. Unfortunately over time, no thanks to Disney, this has become Hollywood Cinematic Universe Screenwriter Reality and also Streaming Service Binge Series Writer Reality, and so now we get no rest whatsoever.
posted by hippybear at 9:19 PM on August 29, 2019 [5 favorites]


Not soon, but I cant help but think that eventually this is going to result in a bunch of dead people in a bunker. I mean, that was what the UFO cults eventually lead to...
posted by happyroach at 9:20 PM on August 29, 2019 [3 favorites]


Who invites this Samuel Johnson guy to our parties, anyways?

Invite? The app sent me here.
posted by maxwelton at 9:29 PM on August 29, 2019 [7 favorites]


Is the idea that putting that many sentient AIs in a single geographic space will somehow overwhelm program resources?

We expect the Eschaton engine to fix this, so this release will ship with Screwtape’s patch: crowd intelligence drops O(n^2).
posted by clew at 9:30 PM on August 29, 2019 [4 favorites]


"sentient AIs" is not actually a thing in 2019.
posted by hippybear at 9:37 PM on August 29, 2019


Is the idea that putting that many sentient AIs in a single geographic space will somehow overwhelm program resources?

Bekenstein Bound
"In physics, the Bekenstein bound (named after Jacob Bekenstein) is an upper limit on the entropy S, or information I, that can be contained within a given finite region of space which has a finite amount of energy"
posted by thatwhichfalls at 9:37 PM on August 29, 2019 [5 favorites]


Skimmed the article till I saw this:
For a better sense of what Schmidhuber’s getting at, consider the one-millionth digit of the number Pi. While that specific digit might appear to be random to us, there are already computer programs which use an algorithm to figure out the pattern at play and place the digit exactly. By this logic, there could very well be an equation we’re unaware of that explains all events that have happened or will happen.
This sounds like a really convoluted way of saying "we can compute the millionth digit of pi, therefore wabba wabba wabba."

Then I pretty much stopped.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 9:38 PM on August 29, 2019


Pi does have random digits, in the sense that it's irrational and there is no repeating pattern. That paragraph is science journalism nonsense. Unless he's trying to talk about division as the algorithm the computer is using, in which case he's just being unnecessarily wordy.
posted by axiom at 10:01 PM on August 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


"In physics, the Bekenstein bound (named after Jacob Bekenstein)

Wasn’t it spelled “Berenstain” before?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:07 PM on August 29, 2019 [33 favorites]


This practice seems to have a lot in common with some of the things the surrealists did in the service of objective chance, only this has a bit of cod science attached to it, which to me, gives it a little bit of a pataphysical flavor, albeit in an 'extremely online' sort of way.

In other words, I'm all for it.

Fist bump to Rush-That-Speaks for mentioning la dérive.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:43 PM on August 29, 2019 [3 favorites]


Has anyone explained how a high-fidelity simulation with no apparent purpose that's an appreciable fraction of the size of the universe it's in (given how much it's keeping track of now) even got funding

because my colleagues have grant applications to do
posted by Merus at 10:47 PM on August 29, 2019 [7 favorites]


Saying the Universe is a sim explains nothing; in fact it's the opposite of an explanation, since it replaces the mystery of the nature of our universe with the much greater mystery of the nature of the universe which is hosting the sim which constitutes our universe.

These people are dumber than flat-Earthers, and their theories are even more tedious.
posted by jamjam at 11:05 PM on August 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


see also: geohashing
posted by rlio at 11:06 PM on August 29, 2019 [3 favorites]


See also: cannabis sativa.
posted by spitbull at 11:22 PM on August 29, 2019 [8 favorites]


and Permutation City
posted by clew at 11:37 PM on August 29, 2019 [5 favorites]


If this is true, it’s the very best VR you’re ever going to get for free. And if you don’t like it, you can always pay money for lesser ones.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:16 AM on August 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


These people are dumber than flat-Earthers, and their theories are even more tedious.

This isn't really a great comparison. Not only is there literally no evidence for the earth being flat, but there is also plenty of evidence against that overwhelms any possible subjective feeling that one might have about the Earth being flat.

The simulation hypothesis, on the other hand, is not disproven by any evidence and is even consistent with some of the apparent properties of our reality, though there is no real evidence known at present that speaks in its favor, either. That it increasingly appears to be computable (in principle) also seems suggestive, but again proves nothing either way.

Personally, I don't find it at all convincing, but neither do I consider it entirely implausible. I fail to see how the scheme discussed in the article tests anything at all, though. In that very narrow sense, the comparison does hold, but the test is not anti-science, it is simply not scientific.
posted by wierdo at 12:28 AM on August 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


I support these theories because they enable amusing things like flamewars about Roko's Basilisk. It's all fun and games as long as nobody's claiming to make falsifiable predictions.
posted by ryanrs at 12:52 AM on August 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


I support these theories because they enable amusing things like flamewars about Roko's Basilisk.
posted by ryanrs at 12:54 AM on August 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


Our lived experiences happen as a result of interactions between these computing units which eventually scale up to atoms and gravity and all the other physical phenomena, and our brains and consciousnesses aren't fundamentally different from e.g. a rock sitting alone in the desert.

Is that not how pretty much everyone who doesn't insert mystical explanations into their view of the universe sees it? I fail to see what the functional difference would be between these "computing units" and the normal interactions of fundamental particles, especially if things like spacetime turn out to be quantized.
posted by Wandering Idiot at 1:08 AM on August 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


Every generation thinks it invented surrealism.
posted by acb at 2:11 AM on August 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


Okay, what I'd like to know is why all this assumes that the simulating entity is basically a super-powerful version of an earth-type computer that works according to rules we understand and can hack. That seems weird to me.
posted by Frowner at 4:11 AM on August 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


Isn't this just an extremely simple, boiled down, (boring) form of "Chaos Magick" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_magic) (Not sure if it's as popular now as in the 90s or I just haven't heard about it recently.)
posted by thefool at 4:15 AM on August 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


Garnet already tried this in an episode of Steven Universe with adorable results.
posted by snortasprocket at 5:13 AM on August 30, 2019


If we consider the Simulationists' universe - the one in which the simulation we're in is actively executing - it must fall into one of these ridiculously broad classes:

Class 1: No appreciable limits to resources, energy, entropy, or time such that literally nothing matters so applying in-simulation familiar concepts is a waste of energy.

Class 2: At minimum resources are not infinite and causality exists in some form that makes a simulation worth running (solve a problem, gain an insight, effectively create information of some flavor).

Class 3: Many it not all of some same limits are at work but the simulation tweaks, adds, or limits one or more, again for some purpose similar to what we might ourselves have for creating a simulation.

If it's class 1, who cares. Nothing matters, God is unknowable don't bother.

For any other class, however, it's probably fair to test how certain fundamental universal concepts and limits are applied using our own experience as a basis. Sure, there an Anthropic Fallacy of presuming that just because we experience fundamental limits on some abstraction like computing power versus consistency and availability or, whatever, the speed of light, everything else must also suffer these. In general, we must always choose between trying to reason from what we experience or not reasoning at all. I'll pick the first and see what happens.

Presuming, always, that figuring out the simulation earns something cool. Like a cookie. Or aiding an N-1 layer to figure out how to avoid climate catastrophe. Or successful strategy for productive harmony among sentient beings. Or the nature of free will. Or emergent consciousness. Or the most effective pan-multiverse marketing strategy for
diet hyper-cola.

Of course I'm interested in the base reality, but I also recognize that I have emotional connections to this reality and kind of distrust any philosophy that sounds suspiciously like regulatory arbitrage executed on a Planck scale.

Anyway this reality has all my stuff in it.
posted by abulafa at 6:33 AM on August 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


Aw it’s a derive
(This is great and I’m completely going to try it)
posted by velebita at 6:45 AM on August 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


As stupid as this is, it would have made a decent Borges story.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:27 AM on August 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


I think that's [appealing to absence of physical evidence that we are not in a simulation] what you call a "category mistake"

Although there was that thing a few years ago where some physics experiment purportedly had relevance to the issue. I think it would show that there was resolution-level detail at a scale that was implausible for a simulation.

My favorite take on all this is that it is unethical and dangerous to try to make simulated universes. This is because, if you accept Bostrom's argument that we are probably in a simulation, the same applies to our simulators, and also to theirs. At the top level, there must be a non-simulated universe, and, in the supercomputers there, the entire stack of simulations within simulations is running. Spawning even one more of these processes may be enough load to crash the entire thing, and cause our existence to just blink out.
posted by thelonius at 9:45 AM on August 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


Alright, suppose you were running a sim to see what some characters were going to do under certain conditions, and suddenly they began to notice that it was a sim?

Well, you might — actually probably would — decide it was spoiled as far as your original aims were concerned and scrap it.

So this religion at least has a decidedly apocalyptic overtone, and could actually be seen, within the context of its own cosmology, as a serious threat to destroy the Universe, and as such, a faith which should at all costs be stamped out and expunged completely if there was any chance it could be true.
posted by jamjam at 12:06 PM on August 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


Is that not how pretty much everyone who doesn't insert mystical explanations into their view of the universe sees it?
Bingo.

For anyone who didn't get the reference to Permutation City above, it's a decent novel with a spectacular premise which I'm going to spoil. The characters basically observe that universes which are completely and totally defined by a set of rules and a starting state (i.e. some maths and values) don't care about how fast you simulate them, you could run them so that one time increment takes a second or a day or a year to calculate on the outside, it's literally impossible to observe from within said simulation how fast it is running. But then they also observe that the simulated universe doesn't care where it's being run, on a single super computer or on random computers dotted around the world in the cloud. But then also it doesn't matter which order you compute the succeeding states in, so you could go backward or restart or replay intermediate states which you recorded, it's all the same to the passengers inside.

The Big Idea is then that maybe the simulated universe doesn't actually care that it's being simulated because there is literally no allowable communication with an "outside" universe, given again that every future state is produced entirely deterministically from the preceding one. And so maybe that universe also doesn't care if we stop simulating it because does it really matter if we bother calculating it out fetishistically and linearly on our own computers when the entirety of its (possibly infinite) future is completely implicit in the math?

To make it more palatable the book posits a "Dust Theory" which says that you could recognize states of the simulated universe in the configurations of arbitrary bits of our own universe, e.g. dust, and that you could even find future states of the simulated universe in our own past, or indeed scattered arbitrarily throughout the entire span of history, allowing the simulated universe to have an infinite existence even if our own universe is finite. In the novel it's the act of observing a coherent simulation from both the inside and the outside that "launches" a universe.

I think that's a useless bit of consciousness-as-magic and that if you were to take this wacky idea seriously you'd have to come to terms with all mathematically well-ordered universes existing whether you notice them or not. We might then both be a self-inventing mathematical construct and a simulation by another technological civilization, in which case they shouldn't really be given credit for inventing us. This whole paragraph is probably nonsense but I had a lot of fun writing it.
posted by books for weapons at 12:56 PM on August 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


I vaguely remember something from a few years ago. I think it was related to NASA testing a propulsion device invented by an outside scientist that defied the laws of physics but that was claimed to generate thrust nonetheless.

Anyway, in some article I read someone posited a theory for why the device generated thrust. The idea was that it could be explained by us being in a simulation, that the propulsion device was affecting something at a magnitude smaller than the simulation's resolution could represent, and that was causing the simulation to round up to the next unit or basically do something similar to the way Photoshop averages adjacent pixels together when making an image smaller. If the simulation had higher resolution, this averaging/rounding wouldn't need to be done, and the propulsion drive would show zero thrust, which would be in line with physical laws.

I'll be really excited if someone else knows about this and knows where I might have seen it.
posted by duoshao at 1:46 PM on August 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


Content warning: fake science quackery. duoshao, the drive you are thinking of is probably the EmDrive. And one explanation for it is something called the Unruh effect. See discussions here and here. Again, this is all bad science, none of it is true. The EmDrive doesn't really work.
posted by Nelson at 2:16 PM on August 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


Even the current best look for quantum foam didn't come up with much in favor, evidently.
posted by clew at 2:55 PM on August 30, 2019


Ken MacLeod did it first and did it way better.
posted by heatherlogan at 3:43 PM on August 30, 2019


what I'd like to know is why all this assumes that the simulating entity is basically a super-powerful version of an earth-type computer that works according to rules we understand and can hack.

Viz. every movie that features computers ever.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:33 PM on August 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


Thank you Nelson, that was it! Both the EmDrive and the theory that the thrust was caused by Unruh radiation.

What the article seems to be saying is that because the acceleration imparted by the microwave radiation is so immeasurably small, and because the wavelength of heat it would generate would be physically impossible in this universe, instead of that acceleration being expressed as an increase in warmth (BBR), it becomes "quantized" as a change in the object's inertia (the object gains "movement"/"push" in a certain direction).

I knew that it was quackery at the time, but I found this Unruh explanation really entertaining. Pretty sure someone in a post I saw somewhere back then brought up the idea that this is a sign of limited resolution of our shared simulation. Just love the concept!
posted by duoshao at 5:28 PM on August 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


The most magical thing in this world would be to create a mundane reality at this point.
posted by symbioid at 5:50 PM on August 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


A timeless and unchanging n+1 dimensional spacetime seems pretty mundane to me, and is entirely plausible.

Also, it is an undeniable fact that there is a minimum possible energy of any field in Earth's reference frame: That energy which corresponds to a wavelength that doesn't fit within our Hubble volume. I'm not really sure how one gets from there to unexpected acceleration in a system that is supposedly closed in respect to everything except gravity.
posted by wierdo at 6:13 PM on August 30, 2019


I was a bit surprised not to come across any reference to the Situationist International, Guy Debord, or the Dérive; this seems like an excellent repurposing of the practice for the 21st century...
posted by jrb223 at 7:50 PM on August 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


Why am I less impressed by all this cool-ass rabbit-hole theory fun and more concerned that this is a massively orchestrated marketing move done up by the people at Telegram messaging app?
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 10:02 AM on September 1, 2019


(still going to do it because I work from home and this is a massive antidote to laptop torpor)
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 10:03 AM on September 1, 2019


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