How can computing help us understand The Multiverse?
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How can computing help us understand The Multiverse?


In the computer code I’m playing God as it were I am able to create different universes that start off from different initial conditions So this would be equivalent to different physical universes where say speed of light is different or force of gravity is weaker or stronger In our universe we have life, you know we have a lot of beauty and intricate behaviour and emergent forms Is this unusual? The surprising feature of contemporary cosmology and theoretical physics is that our theories seem to predict the existence of the multiverse So let’s take the very simplest idea of a multiverse which is that all configurations all permutations of matter that can exist, will exist Which poses some interesting questions; if there are infinite copies of me then how do I know that this is the real one? how can it mean that they are all real in which case do I lose sense of any determinism? In the dynamical systems that I’m exploring here every time we run a simulation we are exploring a different universe In conjunction with my PhD student, Lior Ben Gai we’ve been looking at a type of dynamical system which is called a cellular automaton The world if you like, the animated world is composed of a grid of cells Here we have two rules; if a cell is black, if it’s got two or three friends close by it continues to live On the other hand a cell that is grey or dead if it’s surrounded by three living cells then it will come alive It’s a strange rule where you need three people if you like, to make a baby When I press the space bar the rules will come into play and the analogy here is the Big Bang, the explosion And we see that very quickly that random pattern of black squares of live squares produces little blinking geometric shapes This is all entirely by chance we don’t yet know how to systemise this exploration So I was quite pleased when I discovered this one and it seems to produce these digital frogs that’s swimming across the surface of a pond So the work I’m doing with Lior, one heading it might be under is Artificial Life Out of all the universes that there are it seems hard to believe that ours is special In a sense I’m also exploring possible universes like the parallel universes of science fiction, of fantasy and how can we explore in some systematic way the spectrum of possibilities within these mini multiverses that we’re creating

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