The entire universe we see around us may be nothing more than a simulation, according to famed astronomer Neil DeGresse Tyson. This theory has been debated by astronomers and astrophysicists for decades, and now, the host of the Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey states the concept is, in all probability, the truth.
The Issac Asimov Memorial Debate held at the Hayden Planetarium provided researchers with a forum for discussing unusual ideas about the universe. It was here that Tyson made his pronouncement.
"What may have started as a science fiction speculation — that perhaps the universe as we know it is actually a computer simulation — has become a serious line of theoretical and experimental investigation among physicists, astrophysicists, and philosophers," the American Museum of Natural History reported.
The astronomer made the following argument in an effort to address the question. If the Cosmos is truly infinite, then every possibility has occurred somewhere. If it is possible to simulate the universe in a Matrix-type simulation, then one or more alien civilizations (in an infinite universe) has already accomplished that feat. Therefore, it stands to reason that we likely live within such a virtual reality.
To add an extra layer of confusion to the idea, it may be possible that members of virtual civilizations may, in turn, create their own simulated Cosmos. If this is the case, there may be an infinite number of virtual universes, and only one "real" one.
Philosophers have spent centuries asking one question — how do we know reality is reality? The 17th Century French philosopher Rene Descartes summed up his thoughts on the subject with the Latin phrase "Cogito ergo sum," or "I think, therefore I am." In short, he reasoned, the fact that the question is being asked requires a thought that exists in space and time.
If aliens far more advanced than human simulated the universe, they may think of our race as primitive, slow-witted animals.
"And if that's the case, it is easy for me to imagine that everything in our lives is just the creation of some other entity for their entertainment. I'm saying, the day we learn that it is true, I will be the only one in the room saying, I'm not surprised," Tyson said.
Tyson spent time on Earth Day tweeting facts about the Earth, aimed at showing how small humans are in the grand scheme of the Cosmos.