05-06-12, 12:30 AM #1
Has James Gates Discovered Computer Code in String Theory Equations?
Is physical reality ultimately constructed of computer code?
Dr. S. James Gates, Jr., a theoretical physicist, the John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, and the Director of The Center for String & Particle Theory, is reporting that certain string theory, super-symmetrical equations, which describe the fundamental nature of the Universe and reality, contain embedded computer codes. These codes are digital data in the form of 1′s and 0′s. Not only that, these codes are the same as what make web browsers work and are error-correction codes! Gates says, “We have no idea what these ‘things’ are doing there”.
Physicists have long sought to describe the universe in terms of equations. Now, James Gates explains how research on a class of geometric symbols known as adinkras could lead to fresh insights into the theory of supersymmetry — and perhaps even the very nature of reality.
However, with the observation that structures from information theory — codes — control the structure of equations with the SUSY property, we may be crossing a barrier. I know of no other example of this particular intermingling occurring at such a deep level. Could it be that codes, in some deep and fundamental way, control the structure of our reality? In asking this question, we may be ending our "treasure hunt" in a place that was anticipated previously by at least one pioneering physicist: John Archibald Wheeler.
As for my own collaboration on adinkras, the path my colleagues and I have trod since the early 2000s has led me to conclude that codes play a previously unsuspected role in equations that possess the property of supersymmetry. This unsuspected connection suggests that these codes may be ubiquitous in nature, and could even be embedded in the essence of reality. If this is the case, we might have something in common with the Matrix science-fiction films, which depict a world where everything human beings experience is the product of a virtual-reality-generating computer network.
Which leads to the spooky idea that our universe is a computer simulation...
05-06-12, 02:16 AM #2
05-06-12, 03:38 AM #3
As for the work in question he's dealing with spinor structures, specifically spin 1/2 structures so you get binary representations naturally. This structure can be written as 0,1 structure instead, so it's not like binary representations are unknown things in physics. In this case it happens the particular spinor constructs he's considering also can be put in a graph structure. Again, this is not a new concept, using graphs to represent decompositions of algebras is a centuries old procedure, known to anyone studying theoretical physics, particularly gauge theory. In this case the graph structure happens to be equivalent to error correcting code.
It's important not to fall into the trap of confirmation bias. As I said, there's many many years of physics involving graph structures, spinors, decompositions and symmetries. It's not terribly shocking that at some point someone comes across a structure which has been seen elsewhere. Saying "Wow, this is clear justification for the Matrix view of the universe!" is a bit like me asking someone to think of a number between 1 and 1000, trying to guess it and when I finally guess right after many failed tries I declare it evidence I'm telepathic.
Part of being a good mathematician is noticing structures which link seemingly different concepts. Realising "Oh, if I just write this like that then it becomes a well known expression whose solutions are known" is something every mathematician will do at some point in their research. In this case it's connected error correcting code with string theory and so people have started reading all sorts of things from it.
If this is reason to consider the universe as just a computer simulation can we therefore use the same reasoning to say the thousands of things not related to computer programming in string theory are pieces of evidence against that notion? Because if we can't then you're making a logical fallacy.
05-06-12, 05:18 AM #4
Definition of PLAUSIBLE
1 :superficially fair, reasonable, or valuable but often specious
The notion is indeed plausible, albeit fantastical.
05-06-12, 08:47 PM #5
Math and reality ...what is the connection?
I explore physics implications of the External Reality Hypothesis (ERH) that there exists an external physical reality completely independent of us humans. I argue that with a sufficiently broad definition of mathematics, it implies the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH) that our physical world is an abstract mathematical structure. I discuss various implications of the ERH and MUH, ranging from standard physics topics like symmetries, irreducible representations, units, free parameters, randomness and initial conditions to broader issues like consciousness, parallel universes and Godel incompleteness. I hypothesize that only computable and decidable (in Godel's sense) structures exist, which alleviates the cosmological measure problem and help explain why our physical laws appear so simple. I also comment on the intimate relation between mathematical structures, computations, simulations and physical systems.
05-06-12, 09:07 PM #6
How many scientists have claimed the universe computes? What does it mean?
Does it just underline that any information we record (or observe) is the result of some physical process which can be argued is like an algorithm? Why do scientists balk at the idea of the universe (and all the information in it) being algorithmic? Or why do they mostly take the view that such a claim is somehow "lowering" the status of physical theories, to "just a computer simulation", isn't that like saying "the universe is just a universe"? Well, yeah, I guess that's what it is, just a universe. Maybe only just . . .
It seems a bit contrary: every physical equation I've ever seen is arguably algorithmic, it describes what happens to a given input, or what some physical system does to an input--it either gives an output or perhaps goes into a nonterminating loop of some kind.
05-08-12, 04:40 PM #7
It depends on how far you take it. Someone like Wolfram (of Mathematica fame) believes the universe is, at it's most basic, a cellular automaton which is computing the passage of time. This is a somewhat extreme view lacking justification. On the other hand the rules of the universe do seem to be consistent and allow for systems to be set up and then just allowed to evolve under said rules to then spit out some 'answer' to a question encoded within the initial conditions. This is precisely what a computer does, we set up all the electrons and silicon to compute a new state from which we extract an answer. Using this we can even compute the answer to some set of equations which we model the universe (or some part of it) by, so you could argue that the universe itself computes the exact answer to such questions as it evolves in time. The reason a lot of scientists don't like phrasing it that way is that it seems to imply there's some kind of intent behind the universe doing what it does, ie what or who is asking the questions or that the universe isn't just doing whatever it is it does but actually 'computing' something. For example, when I jump in the air I don't have to compute the acceleration imparted on me by my leg muscles so I can compute how high to rise, it just happens. I can indeed make a machine or some algorithm for me to do in my head which will compute those answers but the universe doesn't compute "You will rise 0.442 metres in the air", things just bounce off one another, interact, exchange energy and momentum etc and that's it.
So while anyone doing physics is obviously implementing an algorithm to allow them to determine the outcome of some set of dynamics based on initial conditions saying the universe computes is saying something else and it's that scientists don't like the connotations of.
05-09-12, 12:15 AM #8
Originally Posted by AlphaNumeric
You're implying that "compute" how high you rise when you jump in the air means "return an answer in metres" say, but despite that your height above the ground still changes. The change (whatever you want to call it, or however you measure it) is the output.
That is, the height your body rises above the ground is the output "computed" by the energy you impart to it, via leg muscles, a bungy cord or whatever. You know your height changes because you experience the change, so you therefore "measure" the output, you don't need to specify it in metres or any other standard.
So the universe does compute that you will rise in the air; that it doesn't "tell" you what that is in some arbitrary measurement standard is clearly irrelevant.
The critics of digital physics—including physicists who work in quantum mechanics—object to it on several grounds.
Physical symmetries are continuous
One objection is that extant models of digital physics are incompatible with the existence of several continuous characters of physical symmetries, e.g., rotational symmetry, translational symmetry, Lorentz symmetry, and electroweak symmetry, all central to current physical theory.
Proponents of digital physics claim that such continuous symmetries are only convenient (and very good) approximations of a discrete reality. For example, the reasoning leading to systems of natural units and the conclusion that the Planck length is a minimum meaningful unit of distance suggests that at some level space itself is quantized.
Some argue that extant models of digital physics violate various postulates of quantum physics. For example, if these models are not grounded in Hilbert spaces and probabilities, they belong to the class of theories with local hidden variables that some deem ruled out experimentally using Bell's theorem. This criticism has two possible answers. First, any notion of locality in the digital model does not necessarily have to correspond to locality formulated in the usual way in the emergent spacetime. A concrete example of this case was recently given by Lee Smolin. Another possibility is a well-known loophole in Bell's theorem known as superdeterminism (sometimes referred to as predeterminism). In a completely deterministic model, the experimenter's decision to measure certain components of the spins is predetermined. Thus, the assumption that the experimenter could have decided to measure different components of the spins than he actually did is, strictly speaking, not true.
Physical theory requires the continuum
It has been argued[weasel words] that digital physics, grounded in the theory of finite state machines and hence discrete mathematics, cannot do justice to a physical theory whose mathematics requires the real numbers, which is the case for all physical theories having any credibility.
But computers can manipulate and solve formulas describing real numbers using symbolic computation, thus avoiding the need to approximate real numbers by using an infinite number of digits.
Before symbolic computation, a number—in particular a real number, one with an infinite number of digits—was said to be computable if a Turing machine will continue to spit out digits endlessly. In other words, there is no "last digit". But this sits uncomfortably with any proposal that the universe is the output of a virtual-reality exercise carried out in real time (or any plausible kind of time). Known physical laws (including quantum mechanics and its continuous spectra) are very much infused with real numbers and the mathematics of the continuum.
"So ordinary computational descriptions do not have a cardinality of states and state space trajectories that is sufficient for them to map onto ordinary mathematical descriptions of natural systems. Thus, from the point of view of strict mathematical description, the thesis that everything is a computing system in this second sense cannot be supported".
For his part, David Deutsch generally takes a "multiverse" view to the question of continuous vs. discrete. In short, he thinks that “within each universe all observable quantities are discrete, but the multiverse as a whole is a continuum. When the equations of quantum theory describe a continuous but not-directly-observable transition between two values of a discrete quantity, what they are telling us is that the transition does not take place entirely within one universe. So perhaps the price of continuous motion is not an infinity of consecutive actions, but an infinity of concurrent actions taking place across the multiverse.” January, 2001 The Discrete and the Continuous, an abridged version of which appeared in The Times Higher Education Supplement.
Last edited by arfa brane; 05-09-12 at 12:30 AM.
05-16-12, 07:41 PM #9
I agree with AlphaNumeric, I think that it is a coincidence. Sort of like the Bible codes found in the Bible, that it correlates to known codes doesn't mean that it was intentionally put there or that they even function the way they function in computers. If they do function as error-correcting methods in reality then you might be on to something though but I don't see from the quote that this is the case.
Another explanation could be that the theory is, in fact, man-made and structures could have been put there that are borrowed from other fields (such as the technology of computers), that a theory works to describe reality doesn't mean that all the structures within the theory has to apply to structures in reality. In fact, if the theory auto-corrects itself through those structures then it could be a indication that it is false.
05-17-12, 02:54 PM #10
it can prove anything it wants
so is string theory the of everything ?
05-18-12, 11:14 PM #11
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