II: Project 3A7T4

The student logged into the system and generated a new template. Yawning, he decided that was enough work for the day and moved to close out. When prompted with a request for a file name he paused, typing out 3A7T3 shortly after. He let the simulation run for a little while. He prepared to watch the universe expand but just as soon as he had begun to do so, it had collapsed within itself, condensing into a singularity. Confused, he thumbed through his manual for help. Apparently, he had forgotten to change the presets in which the rate of time progression was ridiculously high. Rookie error. It was easier to start over from scratch so he deleted the project and created a new one. When prompted for a file name, the student simply wrote “Project 3A7T4”

This time when he ran the simulation he was greeted with a blinding light on his screen. The Big Bang. He turned his volume up. He saw the starting of a new world, watched it expand and slowly take up more space within the environment. To accommodate, he changed his field of view and expanded the casing of the virtual environment. He moved his cursor around, before settling on the menu which held the speed controls. The symbols were strange and not human-like but the student simply clicked one of the options from the menu. The simulation began to speed up. A few seconds had passed before a vast expanse of the environment was filled with galaxies and stars and cluster formations. He looked for the randomized life seed. It was located in a galaxy and he zoomed in. The life seed was placed on a now marble blue appearing rock. It had wonderful swirls of white and gray and orbited a bright star. Well, it wasn’t the only one. It was the third farthest large body orbiting the star. The rock had a large, centered mass. The student returned the pace to normal. He prepared to take notes. Slowly, the mass began to split and drift apart. Soon enough, the darkness that would cover half the oblate sphere became speckled with tiny flecks of light. Projectiles flew out of its sides and landed on a much smaller, orbiting rock. Some projectiles continued indefinitely past the range of the large sphere’s gravitational field. The student scratched some more notes into his pad. He wondered where the beings were going. What did their future hold?

I: “Binary”

Fictional piece related to last week's article.

The old café’s weathered sign hung above its entrance. People flowed in and out throughout the morning. Most days, the stream of traffic would subside by the late afternoon. The café had been around for decades, and while the stores in its vicinity evolved every couple of years, it became more of a relic of the community’s past. While the café was considered a popular location for the smartest minds of the era, its inner atmosphere worked as a laxative for Sturtevant’s tired mind. He had set out a stack of files in front of him, the assorted papers tucked neatly within. Taking his glasses off, he set them on the pile. Rubbing the bridge of his nose, he settled into deeper thought.

A stack of books dropped in front of him, snapping him out of his reverie.
“Printer’s on the fritz,” said Francis as he sat down. “Third time this week.” Francis was a few years younger than him and still had much to learn about the research field office.
“Again?” Sturtevant replied, slowly. “Use the one on the second floor. Always works for me.”
“Second floor?” Francis sounded flustered.
“Yeah, uh, by the East Wing”
“Never heard of it.”
“Which is why it’s perfect,” Sturtevant replied. The café had been filled with a sort of warmth. Another block of overworked college students had joined the fold. Most were weary while a scarce few babbled excitedly as they’d left the worst of final examinations behind them.
“Your results come in?” asked Francis. Sturtevant motioned to the stack of files on his desk.
“In here somewhere. Looks cleaner but it’s still a mess.”
“Hmm. Sounds a lot like my desk. Jenny gives me hell for it, but I’ve got a perfect batting average when it comes to finding what I need.” He checked his watch. “Oh, I gotta run but I’ll see you around Stert.” Sturtevant merely nodded as Francis walked out the café door, sending a cool breeze into the warmth of the packed café.

Sturtevant reassessed the files in front of him and fished out the clean folder from the middle of the pile. The papers within were crisp and orderly, unlike the crumpled lumps of papers in the other folders. Taking a deep breath, he opened the file. All that was on the sheets were lines and rows of seemingly random 1s and 0s. Funny, he thought to himself, the printer may have malfunctioned.

However, the time stamps on the paper were accurate. Everything was as it were. That’s what he was looking at, jaw agape. His universe was composed of binary.

The Case for Our Universe as a Computer Simulation

3 Fictional Pieces in the next few weeks

One question. Is our universe just a computer simulation? By that I mean, are we a version of the Sims that could easily be created or destroyed at will? Now, that does seem like a dreadful question to ask but it’s quite interesting to consider. If our universe is indeed a simulation, how would we be able to test it? How would we determine that our universe is the reality? One way would be to look for ‘glitches’ in our reality that wouldn’t be possible in any physical context. But why are people like Elon Musk entertaining the idea, even going as far as to support it?

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