Author of the Month

A Simple Explanation (cont.)
By Mike Knowles

I decided to change the subject. "There could be a way of proving this," I said. I told him about this article I'd read some time ago in the "New Scientist." There was speculation whether the concept created by the film, "The Matrix" could be reality. This led to a suggestion that one way of finding out would be to look for anomalies. Things that couldn't be explained by science. These would indicate glitches or bugs in the master program.

"I can think of quite a few anomalies," said Hubert.

I mentioned another article in the "New Scientist" in which some professor proposed that when you strip everything else away from the universe you're left with mathematics. In other words, the universe is constructed out of mathematics. "And isn't there something else that creates virtual worlds using mathematics?" asked Hubert. I gave a whistle. "Wow! Do you think someone's trying to tell us something?"

"We're trying to tell ourselves something," corrected Hubert. "And it looks like UCI's using the "New Scientist" to get its message across. I just wish I could read."

"Your theory sounds fascinating," I said. "But I'm sure, if we think about it, we'll find some flaws."

"Of course you'll find flaws!" cried Hubert. "Nothing in VTR is perfect. "Not only that, VTR allows us to come up with any number of theories about why and how it exists. Some reasonable, others not. And we each pick the one we think is closest to the truth. If you want to believe in my theory, go right ahead. If you want to disbelieve it, then do so. The choice is yours."

"But surely one theory must be true?" I said. "What about this Theory of Everything scientists are on about?"

"It's just a theory," said Hubert. "Like mine and all the others. Of course, they may be able to prove it's a fact by constructing a universe in the laboratory. In a huge flask. One containing intelligent life on another planet earth. And this intelligent life in the flask will come up with it's own Theory of Everything and prove it by creating another universe in a small flask - and so on, ad infinitum. And then there's the theory that this is just one universe in an infinite number of them. So how do you come up with a Theory of Everything to cover that one? Let alone start proving it."

"Hmm," I said. "That would be a bit of a problem."

"We're just an infinitesimal portion of UCI and that means our ability to gain knowledge is limited. There will always be things we'll never know. Only that won't stop us trying to find them out. Why? Because the game of reality played in VTR has to go on. If we suddenly knew everything there is to know..."

"Our goggles would explode!"

"Something like that," laughed Hubert. "Anyway, philosophical concepts like truth and reality only exist within VTR where they perform a specific purpose. Outside of VTR there's just...something."

At this point the Carer arrived to escort Hubert back to the home. It had been an interesting conversation. And one that left me totally confused. Hubert had argued that those who refuse to believe anything could be that simple were merely contradicting themselves. Because if they were right, then it would have been impossible for Hubert to come up with such a simple theory. The fact that he had doesn't prove that things are that simple, but that they could be. On the other hand, scientists are always saying that Nature prefers simplicity. And what could possibly be simpler than this?

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