One day, Zhuang Zhou had a dream, in which he became a butterfly, vivid and lifelike. The butterfly flew happily, and suddenly Zhuang Zhou woke up, only to realize that it was a dream.
If it is an ordinary person who achieves such a realistic dream, he would not think too much, but Zhuang Zhou is different. After waking up, he thought this way: whether Zhuangzi turned into a butterfly in his dream or turned into a butterfly in his dream Zhuangzi? This is the earliest question that mankind has about the authenticity of the real world.
It may seem to many people that the world we live in is so real, how can it be fake? However, with the continuous advancement of human science and technology, especially the continuous advancement of virtual reality technology and quantum mechanics, many scientists have begun to rethink and study the question that Zhuang Zhou once posed: Is our world real?
Nick Postom, a philosopher at Oxford University, pointed out that the world we live in may be virtual reality “simulated” by advanced civilizations. Once this “simulation hypothesis” was put forward, it caused a lot of controversy. Some people supported this hypothesis, while others opposed it. If this hypothesis is correct, then all the physical rules that humans now perceive and study are either wrong or just the tip of the iceberg of the real universe.
Hilary Putnam also proposed the famous “brain in a tank” hypothesis in 1981. So what is a “brain in a tank”? Hilary Putnam pointed out that since everything we perceive is transmitted to the brain by nerves, is there such a possibility: a scientist uses advanced science and technology to simulate various environments for a brain. As far as this brain is concerned, he is experiencing a different life every day, thinking that everything is real.
But in fact, all of these are set and simulated by scientists, so for the consciousness of a brain, how can it distinguish whether its own world is real or virtual? Some people may think that the brain consciousness cannot tell whether the world is real, just like when we are in a dream, it is also difficult to know that it is a dream.
So is this really the case? In fact, it may not be necessary. It is necessary to know that there is no perfect thing in this world. As long as it is fake, it will inevitably have some loopholes. If the world is virtual, it is impossible to be without flaws, there must be some loopholes. As long as we can find this loophole, it is possible to judge whether this world is real.
So does our world have such loopholes? We use an experiment in high school to illustrate, perhaps we can give the answer. The “double-slit interference experiment” is believed to have been done by all friends who have gone to high school. This is a very simple experiment. This experiment proves the wave-particle duality of photons. The wave-particle duality means that the particles in the universe have both particle and wave states.
It was originally a simple experiment, but huge changes have taken place later. Scientists upgraded this simple experiment, hoping to use electronic cameras to observe the process of photons passing through the gap to generate waves and particles. But when the scientists turned on the electronic camera, everything changed. The photons did not leave interference fringes on the baffle behind, but merely showed the state of particles.
This result surprised scientists. What is going on? Later, after turning off the electronic camera, the photon interference conditions magically appeared again. Through repeated experiments, the results were the same. Later, the scientists did a delay experiment, that is, after the photon passed through the gap and produced interference fringes, the camera was placed, but the result was still the same, and the interference conditions disappeared.
Through this experiment, let us understand: the behavior of the observer directly affects the way the photon passes through the gap, and even our behavior can affect the “past” of the photon. How to explain this phenomenon? Scientists try to explain this problem with the theory of parallel universes, but some people think of virtual universe theory, thinking that this experiment can prove that the world we live in may be simulated.
In fact, in addition to this “double-slit interference experiment”, there are also some theories that also have some doubts, such as the theory of constant speed of light. In our universe, the speed of light is the fastest speed of matter, and no matter can exceed the speed of light. However, the universe is vast and vast. The current observable universe has reached 93 billion light-years. If the speed of light cannot be surpassed, it means that humans will always be trapped in a limited space and cannot truly explore the universe at all.
Since the universe is so vast, why is the speed limited to the speed of light? This is very strange to us. Some people think that this is deliberately set. The purpose is not to let mankind truly understand the universe and discover the truth behind it?
If this conjecture is correct, who will set the speed limit for humans? If it is in the real universe, the speed is very difficult to limit, even if the alien civilization is much more advanced by us, it cannot influence the rules of changing the universe. But what if our universe is a simulated virtual universe? It is very simple to set the limit of speed.
I believe that many friends like the game, and the rules in the game can be set freely through the degree. You can set the speed as fast as you want to make the objects in the game, and there is no problem at all. In the same way, if our world is simulated by an advanced civilization, then all the physical rules of this world can be easily set.
Seeing such results, many people may feel scared, so what impact will it have on us? In fact, it has no effect. Regardless of whether our world is real or virtual, human life will not change. What should we do and continue to do? Even in the near future, when virtual reality technology matures, we can also create a virtual world and set rules for this world. People living in this world can’t feel that this is a simulated virtual world either.
Of course, all of the above are just conjectures for human beings. Whether this world is real or virtual requires the continuous efforts and exploration of scientists. I believe that as long as human science and technology continue to advance, more cosmic laws and more truths will be discovered. I believe that in the near future, all doubts will be answered.