Some Weird, Late Night Thoughts on Quantum Physics

Imagine, for a moment, a different point of view on the universe we live in. This view challenges many conventional beliefs, but it is a viable model.

I have previously discussed some thoughts on the origin of universes and have written fiction about simulated universes. These ideas come into play in this path.

We understand the world through a web of theories and particles. Through advancements in science we have been able to drill deeply into the fabric of our universe to describe many of the foundational particles on which it is built. Still other particles are theoretical and we are still searching for their existence.

There is likely to be some theoretical minimum after which we can no longer break things down. This limit could be caused by some type of dimensionality to the universe or constraints of whatever system binds the universe together (such as software, mathematics, etc.)

As we get closer to this theoretical minimum, or at least the minima of what we can current theorize and observe, things start to get weird. Things like spooky action at a distance and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

Some, possibly all, of this weirdness arises from observation.

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

What if most of what is happen in the universe is programmatic. The program could be some currently imaginable software or physics or something else. But for the sake of semantics, let us:

define Program to mean the rules under which our universe operates

Such a program would systematically execute according to its rules building whatever universe arises from that execution. Until something looks at any part of that universe, there is nothing to show.

For example, a server somewhere is off executing its program as designed with no visible output. But when you go to look at a specific webpage or use an app the program delivers actual output. Constructing this output is work. In math, for example, many complex formulas can be computed, but visualization makes it much easier to see what is happening and, often times, to understand the output.

The Program, the one we discussed that runs the universe, could potentially need two forms of visualization:

  1. External visualization: This would give any external observers to see (and possibly interact with) the universe that the Program is running.
  2. Internal representation: This would allow things in the universe the ability to observe what is happening from their perspective in the universe.

External visualization might have been designed as part of the original Program to allow its creators (if there are creators) to observe the universe. If the universe was created by scientists this would be logical functionality to incorporate as part of the Program. External visualization is of less interest because it is not likely to effect the Program, other than possibly the speed at which it executes. Internal observers would probably not be able to perceive this change in execution performance because it would uniformly impact everything.

Internal representation, however, might not be part of the original design. For example, this might be an emergent outcome of the rise of life. Before the arrival of living things in the universe there is no need for internal representation because nothing can see.

If life is an emergent element caused by a confluence of events during execution of the universe’s Program than it might cause also sorts of problems. It might also be create scenarios that are hard to imagine.

For example, all the things we imagine we see, here, taste, touch, etc. are computational signals that our brain is processing in a certain way. We have an internal representation of those things that allows us to process these inputs. But in reality the way our brain is presenting these things is not necessarily a true representation of the reality we are observing. It is shared, which leads us to accept reality as real, because we all see, touch, smell, and hear things in roughly the same way. But this just means that this internal representation is shared by all humans.

An artificial intelligence, for example, may perceive things in a completely different way since its foundation is numbers whereas humans cannot process what their eyes are seeing except via the images presented to our consciousness by our visual cortex.

Internal representation, whatever form it takes in the Program, requires living things to process information about the universe around them in a comprehensible way. This means the universe has to be mapped to whatever senses the living things develop to explain the reality in which they exist.

This translation is where things could easily get weird and lead to things like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Because the Program is now forced to translate from it’s pure execution level to an internal representation layer there are many opportunities for quirks.

For example, the delay in that translation could explain a certain amount of fuzziness in our ability to measure the most minute details of the universe around us.

Another possibility is going from a formulaic model of pure execution by the universe Program to a rendered model for internal representation could effect some properties. For example, a polynomial can be mathematically defined. However, when that polynomial is graphed it will never be a perfect curve because eventually (possibly under significant magnification) the pixels that are rendering the curve will be visible.

That final level detail, the theoretical minimum of our ability to observe, may be revealing deeper issues about the construction of our universe. The point when the formula is rendered and its tiniest details are fully observed.

That may be the point at which we can see the pixels of our universe.