The Science Channel’s new series Through the Wormhole looks at life’s big mysteries, and what bigger mystery is there than “Is There a Creator?”
In this premiere episode, astronomer Rich Terrile takes intelligent design to a whole new level by suggesting that God is a programmer and we are the program.
Quantum Mechanics, the branch of mathematical physics that deals with atomic and subatomic systems, shows that when you zoom up on our universe, it’s pixelated.
“Look at the way the universe behaves. It’s quantized.” says Terrile. “It’s made of pixels, and it’s made of individual atoms. Space is quantized. Time is quantize. Energy is quantized. Everything is made of individual pixels, which means the universe has a finite number of components, which means it has a finite number of states, which means it’s computable.”
This is illustrated by a famous an experiment in which an electron beam is fired at a piece of graphite. The resulting ricochet is not random, as it would be on a larger scale, rather it forms a pattern that corresponds to the atoms in the graphite. This indicates that the electrons are not dots but are spread out, allowing them to sense their much larger target.
“Matter, even though it behaves when you’re looking at it… when you’re measuring it, as individual particles; when you’re not measuring it, matter is diffused. It spreads out. It doesn’t have a finite form in the universe,” explains Terrile. He likens this apparent contradiction to the way a video game renders frames, “the universe gives you what you’re looking when you’re looking at it. When you’re not looking at it, it’s not necessarily there.”
Given the age of the universe and considering how close we are to creating truly realistic virtual worlds populated with sentient artificial life (think The Sims), Terrile calculates a 1 in 300 million chance that we would be as close as we are to essentially “manufacturing God” and not have already done it. He surmises that “More likely than not… we are a simulation on the other side of that threshold and the deities that exist are our future selves.”
– An encore of “Is There a Creator?” airs Wed June 23rd, 9 PM and Midnight.