FW: reality

From: Higgo James <james.higgo.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 09:14:15 +0100

Treatment for article submitted to _The Middle Way_ - comments welcome.

> For the best part of a century, physicists have yearned for an ontology,
> a meaning behind quantum physics. Each different interpretation has its
> own proposed ontology, and most of these have been compared with eastern
> religions.
> A new set of ideas is being developed which combines quantum mechanics
> with computer science to develop a view of reality which, once again,
> has strong parallels with an eastern religion, particularly Buddhism.
> The two key ideas are the 1957 Everett 'many worlds' interpretation of
> quantum physics (MWI) and the concept, attributed to Tegmark and
> Schmidhuber, that the universe contains almost no information when seen
> as a whole.
> The MWI implies that everything possible actually occurs. Every 10E-43
> seconds, 'our universe' branches off into googols of other universes,
> some very similar and others very different. The Weak Anthropic
> Principle (you only exist in universes hospitable to life, so only see
> those outcomes) accounts for the fact that we see constants and laws
> around us.
> The Tegmark/Schmidhuber idea is as follows. The information content of a
> system (its Kolmogorov complexity) is defined by the length of the
> computer program required to generate it. In an infinite universe, which
> contains everything possible, the program can be very short. Wei Dai has
> suggested a counting algorithm. For example, the BASIC program LET
> A=A+1; GOTO START will generate an infinite set of natural numbers.
> These can be mapped onto a physical (infinite) universe, or what Deutsch
> calls the 'multiverse'. On the other hand, the program required to
> generate a single classical universe would be about as large as the
> universe itself.
> We see ourselves as a subject undergoing successive experiences in time
> in a classical universe simply because our view is so restricted. If we
> could see the whole multiverse, we would not really be able to see
> anything: it is all noise unless you 'squint' and look down a certain
> fissure in the multiverse, choosing a time line and spatial
> co-ordinates. But, like a creature which inhabits the Mandelbrot set, we
> see amazingly rich complexity around us. We, outside that set, can
> understand that the Kolmogorov complexity of that world is very small -
> a short equation.
> What would someone who fully understood and believed this feel? They
> would see that their universe is purely subjective. Nothing is
> objective. Everything is relative to the observer: space, time, truth.
> From an Archimedian perspective, you can see what you like in the
> universe - it makes no sense to single out one person, one universe, one
> set of physical laws or constants.
> Understanding that you are not an objective feature of reality, that
> your self does not really exist as an independent entity, is a major
> tenet of Buddhism (anatta). This is shown in the parable of the ocean
> wave: on seeing the looming shore, the wave screams in horror at the
> thought that it will soon be obliterated. Like us, the wave cannot see
> that it is simply part of a much bigger, and more wonderful, reality.
> A full, deep understanding of physics is equivalent in some ways to the
> Buddhist concept of enlightenment. The idea of self is relinquished. The
> very fabric of reality is seen to be subjective. The absurdity of
> attachments becomes clear.
> References
> Tegmark, Max, 1995, Does the universe in fact contain almost no
> information? , Foundations of Physics Letters, Vol 9, No. 1, 1996, pages
> 25-42
> Schmidhuber, Jürgen, 1998, A Compurt Scientist's View of Life, the
> Universe and Everything, available at http://www.idsia.ch/~juergen
> Everett III, Hugh, 1957, "Relative State" Formulation of Quantum
> Mechanics, Reviews of Modern Physics, Vol 29, No. 3, pages 454-462
> Kolmogorov, A. N, 1965, Inf. Transmission Vol. 1, No. 3
> Dai, Wei, comments from the 'everything-list' at escribe.com
Received on Thu Jul 22 1999 - 01:23:47 PDT

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