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January 19, 2018

CATEGORY: Is Reality Digital or Analog? Essay Contest (2010-2011) [back]
TOPIC: Exploring the Virtual Reality Conjecture by Brian Whitworth [refresh]
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Author Brian Whitworth wrote on Jan. 5, 2011 @ 11:50 GMT
Essay Abstract

We take our world to be an objective reality, but is it? The assumption that the physical world exists in and of itself has struggled to assimilate the findings of modern physics for some time now. For example, an objective space and time would just "be", but by relativity, our space can contract and our time can dilate. Likewise objective "things" should just inherently exist, but the entities of quantum theory are probability of existence smears, that spread, tunnel, superpose and entangle. Cosmology even tells us that our entire physical universe just "popped up", from nowhere, about 14 billion years ago. This is not how an objectively real world should behave! Yet the usual alternatives don't work much better. That the world is just an illusion of the mind doesn't explain its consistent realism and Descartes dualism, that another reality beyond the physical exists, just doubles the existential problem. It is time to consider an option we might normally dismiss out of hand. This essay explores the virtual reality conjecture, that the physical world arises from non-physical quantum processing. It finds it neither illogical, nor unscientific, nor incompatible with current physics. Its implications include that the world is digital at its core.

Author Bio

Brian Whitworth is a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences. Massey University, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand. With a B.Sc. (Mathematics), B.A. (Psychology), M.A. (Neuro-psychology) and Ph.D. in Information Systems, he has published in journals like Small Group Research, Group Decision & Negotiation, The Database for Advances in IS, Communications of the AIS, IEEE Computer, Behaviour and Information Technology (BIT), Communications of the ACM, IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, and the online journal First Monday. With Aldo de Moor he edited the Handbook of Research on Socio-Technical Design and Social Networking Systems (2009). See

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jan. 7, 2011 @ 00:39 GMT
Dear Brian Whitworth,

A truly masterful essay and overview of physics and philosophy. There are so many things that I find quotable, that I would simply reproduce your paper if I yielded to the temptation to quote you approvingly.

Nevertheless, some of your points are better than others, and I will address your weakest points. But before beginning, I want to thank you again for writing your excellent essay. I believe that you actually follow through on logical implications of some of the current interpretations of physics, taking things farther than others have done. Although I think you are wrong, I find your arguments original and well stated and I am glad to see these issues rise to the forefront of physics. For this reason I hope you win high placement, in spite of believing you are mistaken. I think you're dealing with major issues that need to be worked through.

Since, I believe, the foundation of your arguments is your interpretation of entanglement, I will begin there. I hope you enjoy all of my sincere compliments above, because my following comments will be far more critical.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jan. 7, 2011 @ 01:22 GMT
Dear Brian,

We start from opposite axioms: I claim that we cannot go outside of the physical universe for physics--all else is equivalent to an appeal to God (which is legitimate, but not physics). By contradicting this "prime axiom", that "There is nothing outside the physical universe", the floodgates are open to let anything convenient through, no matter how unlikely or even absurd. ...

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Brian Whitworth replied on Jan. 7, 2011 @ 05:44 GMT
Dear Ed

Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comments. You are right, it is just a conjecture, a question not an answer, but one that I do feel needs airing. When I started this I also thought it would soon fall apart, so am also surprised it still hangs together. Maybe someone here will change that!

Re that "the floodgates are open to let anything convenient through" - it isnt so, as...

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Jonathan Smith wrote on Jan. 7, 2011 @ 15:19 GMT

Very enjoyable essay. Extraordinarily interesting as expected.

Best regards,


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T H Ray wrote on Jan. 7, 2011 @ 19:24 GMT

Your didactic is impeccable. I especially appreciate fig. 2. Although I belong to Wheeler's camp, 2a (though I would use the term metaphysical realism vice physicalism) I find much more to agree with than to disagree. Thanks for a delightful read.


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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jan. 7, 2011 @ 21:40 GMT
Brian, I am happy that you approach this as exploring a conjecture (as opposed to defending a religious belief) and I will be happy to explore it with you, as I see it as a very important conjecture.

I generally agree with your response to my 'floodgates' remark. What I meant by this is that one would seem to need 'math', so one goes and gets math. If one then needs something else, one goes and gets something else, all outside the universe. In my scheme (which I don't wish to expand here) math follows from the evolution of a self-interacting field that evolves our real universe. If I see any problems, I'll point them out, otherwise ignore my 'floodgates' remark.

The crucial issue is your next point: "If the properties of a photon can change en route, without physical intervention... isn't the objective reality hypothesis conceded?"

But I am not proposing "without physical intervention". In that case there is no violation of Bell's inequality. It is only violated when the photons are treated differently by polarizers or beam splitters, and I consider this "physical intervention". If the choice is to give up local realism or to believe that a beam splitter has a physical effect on a photon, the choice is easy.

For example, if the gravito-magnetic (C-) field described in my essay accompanies every 'object' with momentum (see fig on page 6), then there is definitely a 'mass-sensitive' (see my equation 7) field involved passing through the polarizing beam splitter. Although gravito-magnetism was conjectured by Maxwell, studied by others, and implied by 'weak field' general relativity, I believe recent experiments (discussed in my other comments) lend credibility to this as a 'real' field, whereas, after 80 years, we still don't know what a 'quantum field' is.

Since you are "letting the quantum fields be real, not just mathematical fictions" I suggest you give serious consideration to the C-field. At least say why it is less reasonable than a quantum field.

Thanks for the clarification that "the VR conjecture moves the word "physical" from the realism to the locality definitions." I had not quite thought this through, and will spend some time trying to absorb it.

Finally, you mention chap 3 , p 29 -- is that D'Espagnat, or your book, or what?

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Karl Coryat wrote on Jan. 8, 2011 @ 00:52 GMT
Brian, I too enjoyed your essay and appreciated Figure 2. Would you care to elaborate a bit on the differences between cases 2b and 2d? They seem similar, although 2d has two observers (or perhaps that's a single reflexive observer).

In my essay, I suggest that the fundamental observer of the universe is the entire techno-biological superorganism. Any individual sub-observer would experience the world as "internally real," as you put it, which includes the ability to observe itself. However, in that context, 2b and 2d seem to be identical cases. Can you shed any light on why case 2b would not be internally real to the observer?

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 06:39 GMT
Hi Karl,

Let me try.

In physicalism (2a) the world is as it seems - solid, real and self-existent - and consciousness "emerges" from physicality at the information complexity of the human brain, so machines will soon become conscious and replace us. Yet today's computers are socially dumb [1], as their architecture doesn't support the self-awareness to conceive an "I" [2]. And...

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T H Ray replied on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 15:28 GMT

Why shouldn't "... an immense multiverse ... copy everything that our universe might do"?

After all, if "our" universe and "the" multiverse are disjoint, there doesn't seem to be anything that prevents replication and a subsequent new initial condition for "the" history of a subset of the multiverse independent of "our" history.

OTOH, if there is communication among the universes of a multiverse, I can see that reality could not be other than virtual, because histories are malleable. I'm thinking of that movie "Inception" -- where the only connection between the dreaming subject and reality is a single code symbol known only to the subject. I get it.

The rub is, if our universe is not independent of the multiverse (implying time reversal symmetry between universes), I can't see a role for gravity. While we know that classical gravity requires conservation of time symmetry, I think that quantum gravity by information models (e.g., Jacobson-Verlinde, 't Hooft) need imply information entropy and thus some information loss. This would obviate reversibility on the classical-quantum boundary where maximum decoherence implies the lowest energy state for every subset of the multiverse, in which case "our" universe cannot dynamically interact with "the" multiverse. The worlds are disjoint, bounded in space and unbounded in time.


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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Jan. 14, 2011 @ 03:24 GMT
Dear Tom,

There is no reason why it couldn't be, in theory. Indeed, as I say, it is THE case for physicalism, given the strange findings of quantum mechanics. Many respected physicists consider it the best option.

But science works by comparing alternatives and deciding the most likely, not by absolutely deciding "truth". So that it is not impossible is not the question, but rather whether it is likely. Here is a case from (Whitworth, 2010), p31:

"While initially ignored, physicists today prefer it (many worlds theory) three to one over the Copenhagen view (Tegmark & Wheeler, 2001) p6, despite its staggering overheads. Billions of galaxies of photons, electrons and quarks each making billions of choices a second for billions of years means the:

". . . universe of universes would be piling up at rates that transcend all concepts of infinitude." (Walker, 2000) p107.

Many worlds theory offends Occam's razor by assuming more than it explains. Deutsch's attempt to rescue it by letting a finite number of universes "repartition" after each choice just recovers the original problem, as what decides which universes are dropped?"

Is MWT just a theory designed to support a pre-existent bias that the world is an objective reality? Does it add any value, apart from that?

In contrast, in the VR conjecture, what is "copied" are quantum entities, like photons, or more correctly, their processing is distributed non-locally. This is a lot simpler than copying the entire universe every time a quantum event occurs!



Tegmark, M., & Wheeler, J. A. (2001). 100 Years of the Quantum. Scientific American, (Feb), p68-75.

Walker, E. H. (2000). The Physics of Consciousness. New York: Perseus Publishing.

Whitworth, B. (2010). The Light of Existence. Available at

Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jan. 8, 2011 @ 01:06 GMT
Brian, my last comment addressed your "change enroute without physical intervention."

Entanglement experiments imply that local realism is false because they violate Bell's inequality based on D'Espagnat's 3 assumptions: local realism, Einstein locality, and logical induction, as you pointed out. But if properties change en route (due to interaction with the apparatus) then violation of Bell's inequality does not imply that properties don't exist until measured.

And if properties do exist, then all relevant properties are expected to conserve momentum and energy. (As you say: "ensure a constant spin zero" or "Keep one black if the other is white.") But then there is no necessary 'non-localism' since the existence of conserved properties means that if one is known, then the other is known. There's no need for 'spooky' communications between Bob and Alice's locations.

Why is this not obvious? Because the Copenhagen 'superposition of states' inherently does away with realism in favor of mysticism, claiming that quantum objects are 'ghostly' until measured. More than anything else, this probably derives from the two-slit experiments, but the same C-field 'pilot wave' that I claim interacts with beam splitters, etc, would also interact with two slit apparatus, potentially explaining interference observed by experiment.

As to your point 8: "Superposition. Objective entities cannot spin in two directions at once as quantum entities do...". The physical fact is that a magnetic field can only measure along one axis at once, and this has been distorted by probabilistic representation into spinning in two directions at once.

There seems to be inconsistency here. On the one hand, "properties cannot change en route without physical intervention" while on the other hand, "properties are in a 'state of superposition' described only statistically by a probability wave function. If only probability applies, why can't things change? One assumes that they are changing until the superposed wave function is measured, 'collapsing' the wave function (ie, the in-transit object) into a real, albeit unpredictable state.

The necessity for probability implies an essential randomness. You discuss randomness in your point 6, to which I'll return later, but if things can't change, then they are predictable, and if they are only statistically predictable, who's to say they can't change?

(This is a logical discussion. I contend they do change upon contact with the apparatus.)

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Jan. 14, 2011 @ 02:28 GMT
Dear Edwin,

You are right, the issue of localism is central.

I don't think Bell's logic is flawed. Take the simplest case. A Caesium atom sends off two photons in opposite directions with unknown spin. Define "en route" as being from that event until either photon is involved in any physical event. So traveling through space, air or glass is "en route", but any physical interaction,...

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Jan. 26, 2011 @ 03:00 GMT

You agreed that the issue of localism is central, then said Bell's logic is not flawed. I didn't say his logic was flawed, only that it doesn't anticipate changes en route and thus changes en route will not imply either non-locality or non-reality. Then you define 'en route' as until either photon is involved in *any* physical event, but 'en route' should mean from source to detector. Bell's logic is based on detected events.

You may or may not be correct when you say "That the spin outcome is probabilistic does not mean it is 'changing'." If it has a probability of being in a number of states, and if, according to Zeilinger's and others' interpretation of entanglement, properties don't exist until measured, change may or may not occur. Who knows?

You then ask, "If the 'apparatus' causes hidden 'changes', why does it always change one up and the other down?" My 'realist' assumption is that conservation of properties (spin, energy) caused one to be created up and the other down. The apparatus does not always cause change, it depends on the specifics of the interactions involved. And as long as the apparatus does the same thing to both of the pair, there is no violation of Bell's Law. It is only when the apparatus does different things to each of the pair that they change differently and Bell's inequality is violated.

I'm a little confused by the end of that paragraph, about 'empty space pushing one up and one down'. The realist's assumption of conservation of properties is that 'empty space' doesn't do anything to them. Makes sense to me.

You then switch topic, or at least emphasis, so I'll address these differently.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Jan. 26, 2011 @ 03:06 GMT
Continuing my response to your response (2:28 Jan 14)

Your two-slit experiment, based on the 'wave function collapsing' at point A or B is logical, but only if the 'wave function' is perceived as something real that collapses. The wave function in QM is probability, not real. The particle either hits A or B, with given probability. That's all that happens. Einstein was bright, but not...

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Peter Jackson wrote on Jan. 8, 2011 @ 14:16 GMT

Thanks for a superbly written essay. I wish my writing skills matched yours, which demonstrate how any hypothesis can be well argued. But I'd like to take up your challenge in support of Local Reality and Edwin's view. First you'd need to read my own essay - and discussions in Edwins thread.

I start from experimental science. Scattering means photons are not* conserved, i.e the signal is modulated and or polarised. This may be by detector, beam splitter, barbers shop, or the lightest of plasma or gas particle densities. *Chance means some will survive intact. This process itself allows a topographical 'ether' by which those may still communicate.

All reality is subjective. This is inductive logic. Every* point on a Schrodinger sphere carries a different signal. You causality 'grid engine' keeping photons in order collapses instantly with Einstein Lensing. The discrete field model of reality (DFM) predicted lensing light delays way over the few days expected. We've recently found over 3 YEARS delay! To clarify; photon 2, emitted later, arrived here over 3 years before photon 1.
guest-post- evalyn- gates-on-cosmic-magnification-or-invasio
n-of-the-giant-blue-space-amoebas/ MACS J1149.5-2223

I also show how Relativity has simply been poorly understood and use a quantum mechanism to logically complete it (only ever road blocked by Bells iniquity!).

I'll follow with an 'off the cuff' response to your other points. I hope you enjoy the determinedly 'feet on the ground' stance of my own essay, though it is based on a reality only ever subjective!


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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Jan. 14, 2011 @ 03:45 GMT
Hi Peter,

Thanks for the link. I couldnt get it to work but accept the point as true. You are quite right - in gravitational lensing, photons from the same cosmic event can arrive on earth at very different times because they take different paths. But that doesn't "collapse" the idea that the grid keeps photons in lock-step order for a given path. Obviously, different length paths will take different times, as there are more transfers. Even different paths of the same length will take different times if the grid is loaded differently on each, e.g. if one path goes by a massive galaxy that stream of photons will be slowed down. This is of course also well explained by general relativity, essentially the same way, though it talks of space "curving" while in this model it is a limited amount of processing being shared between movement and other things.

kind regards


Peter Jackson wrote on Jan. 8, 2011 @ 14:54 GMT
Brian, Your points - off the top of my head!

1. VR can only work with pre-ordained hard and software (I prefer a wave form expansion & contraction anyway).

2. 'C'. Objective and local realities MUST have limits or they are neither local or real. I also show how our personal subjective realities must also have the same limit. (It's so real and simple you'll kick a rock).

3. Planck Limits. Same point as above, although I show how the condensate, 'medium' not counting as mass, may indeed have structure below the plank limit.

4. Non-Locality. Just a misunderstanding. And the definition of 'impossible' is that it hasn't been done yet. It's being done 1,000 times a day. Reality has no issue with that when a real 'field' link is possible.

5. Malleable Space Time. Pure conjecture. I show how mass and motion alters space and time in both objective and subjective realities. This simplest of videos may help;

6. Randomness. We judge by our own standards. We have not yet started to conceive how big and complex our real causal world is. ("1,000th of 1%")

7. Empty Space. I've just re filled it and shown how simply it can work.

8. Superposition. 'Spin' is NOT 'spinning' as we know it. Our understanding is poor but better than that! The waves in a 'bundle' are almost countless. Huygens knew that in the 1600's! Even the surface of the sea can contain dozens at a time, also 'polarised' differently. We've recently managed to produce 'twin spin' ourselves in the Lab (a recent NS).

9. Equivalence. Not only are electrons not all identical but each may change within bounds quite regularly. The very variety of particles and 'random' behaviour will prove beyond VR.

10. Tunnelling. Again that word impossible!, joined by another human misconception 'impenetrable'. We well know all matter is made of particles with void between. Some denser than others, all the particles made of oscillating 'spin' energy. It would be equally 'impossible' for any medium to have enough

variety of particle spin to catch every single frequency/polarisation mode trying to pas through it. There will always be a resonant frequency.

A bit like the millions of tadpoles being eaten by ducks. If a few didn't get away there would be no real frogs. And if they croak like frogs they are real.

I propose the universe is real, and simpler than we thought because our conceptual pattern matching skills are as yet undeveloped. Most will not understand the fundamental implications in my essay. I hope you do, If only as I need to recruit allies!

Let me know if there are any points I've missed, or ask any questions.

Best wishes


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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jan. 9, 2011 @ 19:07 GMT

I have re-read your essay and each time admire it more. (I have given you a high score, but haven't seen it show up.) Although my name is mentioned in another comment above, I don't wish to associate my name with any comments other than my own. I hope to argue a number of points with you in the following weeks, but the problem of local realism is key to everything, so I'd like to nail it down before moving on to other topics. Thanks again for a delightful essay that pushes non-local reality to its, perhaps, logical limits.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 03:11 GMT

I can`t save a copy of your article. I can save a "copy"

but can't open it and Adobe giving back the message saying it is damaged.. How can I do it or what am I doing wrong?



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John O'Grady wrote on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 20:43 GMT
Dear Brian,

Many thanks for your excellent essay. It makes sense to me and has given me a fresh way to look at the world and reality.

I like the way your essay nicely explains some of the mysteries of Physics such as the Big Bang. I've always been unsatisfied with the view that what existed before the Big Bang was irrelevant. I know the conventional view is that even time was created in the Big Bang so such questions about "before" don't apply. you say it can't just have arisen from nothing. You tie up lots of other loose ends nicely too. Well done!

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Peter Jackson wrote on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 21:05 GMT

Just to advise the 'copy' function worked fine for me and it printed off ok.


I hope you didn't mind the 'assault'. Local Realism is also the key to my own thesis.

I think I've discovered we have a problem holding more than a couple of 'moving' variables in our minds and evaluating interactions with other variables - at one time. (then scaling to analyse implications in the big picture).

It's very 'virtual'. It seems our on board computers need a simple 'plug in' upgrade before we can fully understand inertial frames and curved space time. Once we see it, it's obvious.

The variables are; Two co-moving reference frames (but with the co-ordinate systems "rigidly attached to a body' as Einstein specified. An observer either in one or other of the frames (with transition in either direction) or transitioning with the light (or transitioning body). Then, different n values for the different media (each way!). Then consider f / lambda / 'c' and E in each case. Maths can only do it once we get the conception correct. I think the closest we've got so far is the integro-differential equations of Ewald-Oseen extinction, but they are still 2 functions and some variable short of the full picture.

I had to give up pure maths and train 7 years as an Architect to learn to think in a different enough way to hold it all in a mental matrix and manipulate it.

Anyway, the result is local reality, quantum relativity, and a stream of answers.

Do you fancy having a try at it? I promise it's worth it.

Best wishes


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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Jan. 14, 2011 @ 04:13 GMT
Hi Peter,

No problem. I think it is ok to speculate, as physics does it all the time, as long as the speculation is worked out in detail, generates some new knowledge value, and is logically consistent. We should all be free to speculate, e.g. Einstein was being consistent in saying that quantum theory implies no empty space, as if an electron's quantum wave can spread over a galaxy, how is its space "empty"?

In the VR model, empty space is entirely "full" of processing, whether it has a net output or not. A processing medium is a relative, non-physical "ether", whose output is physicality. It is as you say a discrete field - though it is just one, as you cannot logically have many grids. Its basic operation is electro-magnetism, and in an unfinished paper, gravity is the gradient of the same "field" that supports movement, i.e. SR and GR have the same origin.

kind regards


Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 03:58 GMT

I agree with many things you say, arguments you use, questions you ask. But by drawing a conjecture, you are not required to really look for any answer. Just speculate about it. I like your illustrations and your long bibliography. Just for the record, If you were to find the ultimate understanding of the universe, it would be so radical that, most likely, you would have no bibliography, no citation available to you. You would have not only to explain it, but also have to train the reader into thinking very differently. That is the hard part and you have done good on that, for your conjecture.


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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Jan. 14, 2011 @ 04:29 GMT
Hi Marcel,

No, I think anyone who claims to work in a scientific framework must do more than speculate, whether to produce a new logic of mathematics or new experimental data. This is the criticism of string theory, that it doesnt do this. So while this theory already accommodates a variety of past unexpected results, it must eventually predict an entirely new one.

And yes, it is difficult to go against our conditioning that the world we call physical is a self-existent reality. But then it was once equally self-evident that the sun went around the earth, so human frameworks can change, though it may take time.

kind regards


JOE BLOGS wrote on Jan. 14, 2011 @ 07:24 GMT
You can use Einsteins dice dice programmed 1 ODD THROW+ 1 EVEN THROW= 2 ODD THROWS.


You can program a virtual universe where the paths of particles are determined by EInsteins dice.......

And compare this to the real world which is governed by random dice..................

Maybe you can make predictions about determinism in the real world.


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narpse wrote on Jan. 17, 2011 @ 12:48 GMT
I’ve started reading your excellent essay and I feel later we will have an open fruitful discussion. Are our essays complementary? No answer is needed.

I will be back soon.

Good luck,

narsep (ioannis hadjidakis)

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narsep wrote on Jan. 19, 2011 @ 15:09 GMT
Dear Brian,

Starting from your conclusions:

“Indeed, a world of objects that inherently exist is a concept flawed at its foundation. If a photon is

a mini-object with hidden parts, they need still finer parts, and so on. If every object contains smaller

objects, how can it ever end? That physical objects always arise from other physical objects is like...

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Jan. 24, 2011 @ 02:25 GMT
Hi Narsep,

Sorry for the delay but was preparing for a US trip next week, to NJ. You raise some interesting points! Working from your statements:

"An entity (SuE) is in a collapsed quantum state (pure real state) just for a moment the “time moment” that it is on time line (X=Y=Z); the time of perception (measurement). The same is true for the “time moment” when it is in its...

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narsep replied on Jan. 25, 2011 @ 07:47 GMT
Dear Brian,

Starting from the end, the simple questions drive to fundamental answers if we take them seriously and I always take them seriously. When I refer to physical reality I mean the part of reality (real) that the front eye sees from the state we are (in space and/or time). The front eye sees the physical (real) reality of the observer, the back eye sees the virtual reality of the...

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attachments: answer_2.doc

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Anonymous replied on Feb. 4, 2011 @ 03:31 GMT
Hi Narsep,

Still dont follow the two-eye thing, but never mind.

Yes, a state is exactly as you say, a "condition of being". It arises when a substantial "thing" exists continuously and takes on different values over time, which are its states. In contrast, an event is an action that begins and ends, with no substantive nature. So my fingers, as things, are red if it is hot or blue if it is cold, which are states. But to snap my fingers is an event that comes and goes. There is no "finger-snapness" substantiality that exists in itself, but rather we say it just occurred.

A common sense view of the physical world sees substantial self-existing things in various states changed by events. So physicists see a series of quantum states with assumed transformation energy events between them. The focus is on the states, that are properties of presumed real things, not the transitory events between them.

But in the VR conjecture it is the other way around. Now it is the (processing) events that are real, while the "things" and their states are just fiction, e.g. as you view the screen the letters look like things, with states like bold or italics, but actually each letter is an event that the screen repeats at a certain rate, which is faster than the rate at which your eyes see. If the processing creating the letters stop, as when the power goes off, the letters immediately disappear, and nothing at all remains of them. So in this sense, they have the properties of an event.

So what the VR conjecture is saying, rightly or wrongly, is that our entire physical world is like this, that every "thing" is an event. So every observation, every measurement, every physical interaction is an information transfer. This is why we create the world, because we initiate the transfer. Nothing we see then has any objective reality.

That the physical world arises from processing events is one implication of the VR conjecture. Another is that it must be discrete, just as a screen must be composed of little dots. This derives directly from the definition of information as the choice between a finite set of options.

Bear in mind these ideas are very much still under development.


Brian Whitworth

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jan. 26, 2011 @ 03:20 GMT
Dear Brian,

In response to Tom you said: "Why a world should have such unseen and unusable dimensions is unclear", then you claimed a virtual world needs only one extra dimension; presumably on the basis of 'usefulness'. And your remark about complex number theory's "imaginary" dimension is misleading---complex numbers are simply 2D representations, as of course you know.

I don't...

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Jan. 30, 2011 @ 16:51 GMT
Dear Eugene,

Thanks for your comments which I am still thinking about. One point though. The VR conjecture is not a theory about God or one that requires a God to exist etc. It is a theory about this world that we see. The theory is that this world is created entirely by information processing, as an output. Its opposite theory is that this world is not created by anything else, but is objective, made of self-existing matter with permanent properties. The VR conjecture in contrast implies a world with the properties of an information simulation. These are considered in turn, e.g. that it began, that it has a maximum transfer rate, that "empty" space is not really empty, that its time and space are malleable, that "objects" can teleport, that the world is discrete at the lowest (Planck) level, etc, etc. and in each case our world is indeed like that. Conversely, I would argue that a world of solid "things" is impossible to reconcile with these findings, though you of course argue the opposite. Note that I encourage the latter and your C field work, where physicalism is a theory not an unexamined doctrine!

That there is something outside the physical universe is a logical corollary of the VR conjecture, but it does not presume to define it, except to say that it can create processing, and need not be of the nature of what it outputs, i.e. it need not be "physical" . Who knows what it is? It could be God it could be a Big Machine. This is NMP (not my problem). I leave it to the theologists and philosophers.

One could define a "God theory" as any one that references anything beyond the physical world we know by our senses, then by a classic circular argument say the VR Conjecture postulates God. Yet it is not true that to postulate something beyond what we see is to postulate God, e.g. Many Worlds Theory postulates things beyond what we can ever perceive, but it does not postulate God. Bostrom's simulation hypothesis also assumes something outside the simulation, but again it does not postulate a God. Likewise, VR theory does not postulate God even though it says the physical world is virtual. VR theory postulates that our world is information based, i.e. based on free choice, so fittingly lets the individual choose what to believe.

all the best


Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Jan. 30, 2011 @ 22:25 GMT
Dear Brian,

I'm happy that you take time to think about comments before replying.

You say "The VR conjecture is not a theory about God or one that requires a God to exist etc."

I agree. I was addressing your statement that "The theory is that this world is created entirely by information processing, as an output" combined with your hope to "reverse engineer" this output to...

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Feb. 1, 2011 @ 18:31 GMT
Dear Eugene,

Well had I known how hard it was earlier I probably wouldnt have tried, but as I didnt know this ten years ago I naively went ahead and reverse engineered a system to output time, space ( Ch2 Link ) and light ( Ch3 Link ), and now matter (Ch4 - being written). The latter derives electron and neutrinos as the first matter, and also quarks, including their one-third charges, as a variant of the same process. So all I can say is that it seems to be working out ok so far. Note that reverse engineering is not a postulate of the VR conjecture, nor does not prove anything in itself. It is just being used as a means to generate a more detailed model that can be tested.

Obviously non-locality, as demonstrated by EPR, is built into the VR model, as a program can alter pixels anywhere on a screen immediately (even though in our case, the "screen" covers the whole universe!). I don't know that I can really add to the Bell experiment evidence and argument on this, except to agree with their conclusions.

kind regards


Ted Vollers wrote on Jan. 26, 2011 @ 16:15 GMT
Dr. Whitworth,

I do not comment as a physicist or mathematician so you may all ignore my comments freely. My pile was made higher and deeper long ago in Engineering but my life long study has been metaphysics. I feel that you did an admirable job of describing, and the logical reasons to view it as so, the world that we know as "around us" as Illusion. In present day terms arriving at the same result as Siddhartha Gautama and other metaphysicians did so many centuries ago: that this world is Illusion. In present day terminology, a virtual reality. I only find you to fail in not taking that step too far for today's academic world, in not stating the source to be Mind/Consciousness. I believe your essay to be truly Foundational! Hopefully my opinion won't count against you in this environment.

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 04:58 GMT
Hi Ted

Thanks for your comment. The term Mind/Consciousness is not currently well defined, so people take it to mean whatever they want it to, without due consideration. In contrast the Buddha explicitly denied any reference to what he called the discriminating mind, which processes the senses. Equally, Hui Neng who founded Chan/Zen Buddhism spoke of Essence of Mind, not our ordinary minds. Yet current thought on consciousness is typically founded on qualia that derive from the senses, e.g. I see "redness", or I feel happy. So it is not in the same tradition. The topic must be addressed properly. Simplistic and inconsistent overviews, like Amit Goswami's book, just raise dust on the road.

all the best


Robert Spoljaric wrote on Jan. 27, 2011 @ 04:01 GMT
Hello Dr. Whitman,

It is a pleasure to read your paper. However, I think it is premature to pursue the VR conjecture at this point in time.

Most, if not all, physicists would agree that “The quantum world is in every way physically impossible, so physicality cannot be the nature of its reality.” But what if Einstein was correct?

In support of your VR conjecture, you give “Ten reasons to suspect that the physical world is a simulation.” However, in my essay is a generalisation of the energy of a photon, which (even at this early stage) unambiguously refutes some of those reasons.

Hence, it is premature to assert that “If science finds that it cannot be objectively real, it must explore if it is virtual.”

Kind regards,


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Rita replied on Feb. 3, 2011 @ 09:16 GMT
I agree. More importantly, the essay is speculative in that it provides no means of refuting its own speculations.

It's like saying I can tell you 10 reasons why God doesn't exit:

(1) Suffering and pain (no good God would allow that)

(2) Chaos (God would have everything in order)

etc. etc.

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T H Ray replied on Feb. 3, 2011 @ 12:28 GMT
There's quite a difference between citing reasons for the nonexistence of something (God) for which there is no objective definition, and citing reasons for the existence of something (virtual reality) which has a strictly objective definition and which the laws of physics do not rule out.


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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Feb. 3, 2011 @ 19:51 GMT
Hi Robert,

Well maybe it is a bit early, but physicalism has had 100 years to explain why quantum theory works and it just has the Copenhagen view that meaning doesnt matter. There has also been plenty of time to find Einsteins hidden variables. So how long should the traditional approach be given, another 100yrs? Physicists might be happy with just formulas but people want it to mean something too. I dont see how it hurts to give a choice of philosophical positions on quantum theory. It is another option to explore. Rita is correct to say the essay is speculative but it is incorrect to say that it provides no means to refute its speculations. The testing method is outlined on page one of this link ( Ch2 ) In my view every theory begins as speculative until it is tried out, e.g. atomism was. Also, contrary to assumptions, not every speculation that denies positivism is a "God Theory". The VR conjecture is a conjecture about this world we live in, not about God. Nor is it a "FAPP God Theory", as I comment to Eugene, unless Many Worlds Theory is also a God Theory, which few would see it as.



Karl Coryat wrote on Feb. 1, 2011 @ 02:16 GMT
Brian, I asked you a question a couple of weeks ago, and am embarrassed that for some reason I didn't check back. You wrote a lengthy reply that is very helpful (and it sparked additional discussion). Just wanted to say thank you very much.

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JOE BLOGS wrote on Feb. 1, 2011 @ 04:37 GMT
You can make dice that obey these simple rules 1 ODD+ 1 EVEN= 2 ODD.

And 2 ODD+ 2 EVEN= 4 EVEN.

You can then create a virtual reality on the computer with the standard equation determined by EInsteins dice so that everything in this virtual universe is determined...............

You can then use this model to make predictions about the real world governed by random dice.


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ih replied on Feb. 2, 2011 @ 17:29 GMT
Dear Steve (or Joe Blogs),

Is this a serious argument?


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Don Limuti ( wrote on Feb. 13, 2011 @ 02:40 GMT

What a pleasure to read your essay!

Are you making any new virtual reality games?

Please let me know.

Don Limuti

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 05:04 GMT
Dear Don

Well if we already have one that has run successfully for fifteen billion years, why bother?


Don Limuti ( replied on Feb. 21, 2011 @ 03:01 GMT

Are you sure it is just one running? Could it be several running simultaneously?

Don Limuti

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Feb. 21, 2011 @ 13:06 GMT
Hi Don

How can several run simultaneously given only one observer at each moment? If many observers "see" different views, is that not the same as several? By Occam's razor, if one suffices (for us), why postulate more? Everett invented a fantastic multiverse machine around the quantum ghost to exorcize it, but to just accept quantum reality and give up physical reality is the simpler option. Yet you are right, as if our universe is simulation running on the inner surface of a hyper-space bubble expanding into a larger bulk, there could be many other such bubbles we dont know of. A system that creates one simulation could indeed create others. Who knows?


Georgina Woodward wrote on Feb. 13, 2011 @ 22:56 GMT
Dear Brian,

I have read your essay. It is very clearly expressed and nicely illustrated. I think I would have enjoyed it but due to my own opinion on the nature of reality I experienced discomforting cognitive dissonance through out. I wanted to immediately protest at some of the assumptions and arguments made.

I do not think it would be constructive to go into lengthy debate of our differences of opinion here. I can understand why you would propose this VR conjecture from your biography. My background is biology and therefore the sensory detection and interpretation of reality by the organism has a greater priority in my thinking. Just a few questions...

What makes something real? Analogy ... Is the software more real than the screen display, the avatars that enact the game, and the visual experience of the player or are they all real in their own way?

Do you count all observation and experience of the world through the senses as unreal? Where does that leave practical science and the scientific method?

In a way you have sidestepped the contest question by making a conjecture and saying if it is true then reality is digital.It only considers an underlying reality, which leaves out a vast amount of "otherness" that could potentially also be regarded as reality. However it is an original and creative answer to the contest question because of your approach.

Good luck to you.

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 05:11 GMT
Dear Georgina,

You probably well describe how many feel when they read this - even me had I not written it! Yet unsettling as it is, the question deserves consideration because people are asking it.

Re what is reality, your example is telling. A computer game can be "real" to one so involved in it they see nothing else. It is a local reality, a world real within itself, even though...

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Jacek Safuta wrote on Feb. 15, 2011 @ 17:02 GMT
Dear Brian,

You say: if the mind creates the body as in a dream, why can't I dream the body I want?

The mind do not create the body but it does create an image of the body. I propose a simple answer given by Hoffman in his Interface Theory of Perception:

The shape of an icon doesn't reconstruct the true shape of the file; the position of an icon doesn't reconstruct the true...

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 05:15 GMT
Hi Jace,

Thanks for Hoffman's paper. As originally a psychologist, I accept that the brain constructs reality, rather than veridically reflecting reality. Yet as you rightly say, this doesnt mean that we create reality, as some assume. Yet quantum mechanics implies just that, as Wheeler observes:

"To the extent that it {a photon} forms part of what we call reality ... we have to say that we ourselves have an undeniable part in shaping what we have always called the past." (Davies & Brown, 1999) p67

So physics and psychology are two different levels of looking at things. I am not sure that they are easily connected - see this paper LINK.

all the best


Russell Jurgensen wrote on Feb. 17, 2011 @ 08:42 GMT
Dear Brian,

Your essay is fascinating throughout. It seems unique in its description of processing and programs. There are some things that could be argued but I think those would naturally go away as the model is refined with more specific detail on how it works. The concepts of local processing, how it is used up, and the rip are interesting and seem to ask for more definition. What I found the most interesting is the photon program or the Planck program. Do you have any thoughts of defining pseudocode for this program? It seems a code definition would help tighten up and logically define the ideas described. Could it be written in a standard programming language and simulated with a standard computer? I am interested in seeing a possible way it would work.

Thank you for a fascinating essay. Kind regards, Russell

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 05:18 GMT
Hi Russel,

You are right, running programs is the way forward. Physicists seek simple static formulae, but Nature doesnt work that way. It is dynamic and efficient. We should use simple recursive programs, like Mandelbrot's, and a language like Lisp, to reflect it.

This model uses a rotating discrete circle. Moving it gives a sine wave formula, Schroedingers equation is an expanding spherical wave, and after that the formulas get too hard. But simulations can still run such "unsolvable" problems, e.g. traffic simulations, given valid simplifying assumptions. But we are like the man looking for his keys under a lamp post, who when asked where he lost them said "In the bushes, but the light is better here", e.g. we assume a flat 3D Euclidian space when we know space curves; we assume triangular spin networks when even war gamers use hexagons not squares, to get more movement directions; we assume static links when even New York cell phone networks dynamically reorganize links under load. Yet it is possible, e.g. Bruce Maiers simulations using "boxel" cubes, see LINK .

Can we do on classical computers what nature does with quantum computing? Prime numbers that supercomputers take hundreds of years to find take only seconds on a quantum computer. Yet the model does suggest simplifying assumptions, e.g. that there are only four dimensions, that all node transfers use planar channels, with a finite capacity exactly equal to the total processing of any photon. The theory also explains why it is so hard to simulate even what a single photon does - because it distributes its processing to literally travel every possible path, even though it restarts at a node point when detected (See LINK Ch3, p19, The law of least action). I am jumping ahead a bit, but consider why the mass of an electron or neutrino etc is always a value range, but their charge is an exact value. In this model, the charge processing remainder after a channel overload is exact, while the mass is the processing the node does before it overloads varies with channel processing order effects.

So I think yes, it is possible, but realistically we are not too far down that track at present.

all the best


Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 02:35 GMT
Hello My Friend,

This essay does not disappoint. Both your stated premise and your methods of describing it keep getting better and better. I am truly impressed. This work is deeply meaningful, whether it turns out to be 'spot on' or not. Your proposal that we need a theory that is 'background independent' and 'foreground independent' may also be historic.

I think the section on the 'Planck program' is somewhat reminiscent of papers and talks by B.G. Sidharth, but by and large what you are presenting is highly original. You are to be commended. I could go so far as to say I agree with almost everything you say, except the very last sentence. I think there is a bias toward the idea that computers are digital, by nature, but a universal quantum computer that lives 'outside the universe?' Well maybe.

I must say that you make a convincing argument which suggests that if Godel and Chaitin are correct, about the limitations of what's knowable, the computer that generates the universe must live outside it.

Good luck!



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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Feb. 21, 2011 @ 13:18 GMT
Thanks Jonathan

Yes you are right, who knows what the "other" is, as we can only know this world that we can see and register, as positivists rightly state. Yet science could still conclude (from what we see) that the physical world is a simulation. The argument was just that this if the physical world we see is created by processing, then physical world must be digital, by definition. All the best with your essay!

kind regards


Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Feb. 21, 2011 @ 21:53 GMT

If one assumes that the 'processor' is 'otherworldly', as you do, I don't know why one wouldn't assume the existence of 'perfect' components used to build the processor, and, in that case, there is no reason that is obvious to me that the processing could not be analog, and not digital.

It's not even certain that so-called 'quantum processing' is not essentially analog in nature. If each 'node' on your 'grid' is an analog processor, suitably connected to other nodes, there is no evident reason, other than current technology and economics biases, to assume digital. Many of the 'oscillations' you concern yourself with come quite naturally to analog elements. And one need not assume 2-D processors that favor the logic 'layouts' and construction techniques used for today's semi-conductor processing. An 'otherworldly' processor should be implementable as a 3-D structure, in which case analog processing may be the preferred implementation.

Problems with analog processing were based on connectivity and on imperfect building blocks and on cost factors (among other things). I am not aware of any analysis that limits what can be achieved in principle with analog processing.

So your conclusion, "The argument was just that this if the physical world we see is created by processing, then physical world must be digital, by definition" seems unwarranted.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 03:44 GMT
Edwin Eugene Klingman

Hi Eugene,

I didnt use the word "otherworldy" as your quote marks imply, but the word "other". It is not my word but Fredkin's (the computer scientist who began the VR idea twenty years ago).

To say the VR conjecture assumes processing in another world misrepresents it. It asks a question of the physical world, namely, is it a virtual reality? Science is a way to ask questions of the world, not a set of assumptions about it, so it allows the question. I then assume it is true, as a hypothesis, in order to check its implications against the world we see. One of these is that a virtual reality needs a containing reality, as a system cannot output itself, just as a printer cannot print itself out. So that there is an "other" is a conjecture conclusion, not a conjecture assumption.

Hence the VR conjecture doesn't specify that "other", except to give it the properties of processing. It is you who are specifying it. However speculations of what it is made of or does, including yours, are idle if they dont link to the world we know, e.g. that our universe could be "saved" and "restored" (Schmidhuber, 1997), that one virtual reality could create another (Bostrom, 2002), that every quantum event creates a new universe (Everett), etc. This is science fiction not science. In contrast, that the physical world is created by processing, as we understand it, has definable implications for how it behaves.

Yes processing could be analogue, as Jonathan also says, but the VR conjecture applies to a processing output. The situation is that Processing generates an information Output. Shannon and Weaver define information using a choice between a number of options. If that number is infinite, the options cannot be enumerated to choose between. So information, and its processing changes, must always be finite. Indeed, in no case do our processors output infinite values and in every case their output is digital. In this argument, a qubit is just as digital as a bit, as the choices are equally finite. So the conclusion that if the physical world is a processing output, it must be digital, seems fine to me. It follows from the definition of an information output.

kind regards

Brian Whitworth

James Lee Hoover wrote on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 21:47 GMT

Your essay is impressive in its comprehensive arguments, professional presentation and a seeming objectivity.

One can never dispute a well-argued thesis, when reality can't be known. My view is simpler but still wedded to modeling assumption and characteristics.

Thanks for the read.

Jim Hoover

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T H Ray wrote on Feb. 23, 2011 @ 12:33 GMT

Just to let you know how impressed I was with your argument, I cited it in my essay ("Can we see reality from here?"). I'm convinced now -- process and reality are not differentiable.


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James Putnam wrote on Feb. 25, 2011 @ 00:41 GMT
Dear Dr. Brian Whitworth,

I have a few questions while I continue to read your essay:

"Nor is this solipsism, that the physical world is just a dream, which Dr Johnson is said to have refuted by stubbing his toe on a stone, saying "I disprove it thus"."

Is it your position that George Berkeley believed the world to be a dream?

"Randomness. If every physical event is predicted by others, a random quantum event is an impossible "uncaused cause", but a processor creating a virtual world can be its cause."

I assume you are using 'random' to have a technical meaning. In other words, not meaninglessness.


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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Feb. 25, 2011 @ 11:32 GMT
Hi James

Thanks for your kind questions. I define solipsism as that human minds create the physical world entirely, as a dream or illusion. Bishop Berkeley's claim that our senses create the world is a basis of perception psychology today - that the brain "manufactures reality", as illusions show. Yet it does not necessarily follow that things have no existence apart from our perception (the "esse is percipi" thesis). This contradicts realism - that the world exists apart from us. I dont know if Berkeley resolved this contradiction, though I gather he was more sophisticated than his critics made out. Maybe you can clarify that.

I argue against human-centric bias, e.g. Wigner's idea that the universe needs us to cause quantum collapse, or that it was in an uncollapsed superposed state for billions of years until beings came along to "observe" it. Physicalism, that the physical world exists in and of itself, is also "existence geocentrism" (my Ch2, p6) as it defines existence in terms of what WE register. Yet if science tells us anything, it is that we are not the centre of things.

In the virtual reality conjecture, like solipsism, the physical world is not objectively real or complete in itself. Yet it also holds that there is a real world out there, apart from us, so it is not solipsism. It concludes there is a real world, but that it is not the world we register. In it, every registration, by us or an electron, is an information transfer, a processing event that just looks like a "particle". It says that quantum mathematics describes what is really there, as processing waves. Science can, eventually, resolve this one way or another, because it is a contrast of two distinct hypotheses about the physical world.

A random event is defined as one that no preceding physical events, or combination, predicts, i.e. no physical world "story" leads up to a random event. Such events should not arise in a causal self-contained physical world, but they do in ours. Of course people read all sorts of human-centric things into this finding that it does not imply. Yet while randomness may be meaningless to us, my next chapter argues that this "free" choice was as necessary for the evolution of matter as it was for biological evolution.

Unfortunately, the conjecture to be consistent must derive all physics from abstract processing, i.e. it cant take space or time, energy, light, matter or fields as fundamental, but must derive all from processing. One cant adopt "half a theory" in this case. So it is not an easy position to maintain.

Hope this clarifies.

all the best


James Putnam replied on Feb. 26, 2011 @ 17:29 GMT
Dear Brian,

I asked about Berkeley because I thought your response would actually help me to understand your perspective. If I were to assign Berkeley to one of your Universal models it would be physicalism and not Solipsism. I would go even further based upon my own view and suggest that you might find that your work, as I understand it at this point, might be somewhat of an extension of George Berkeley's view. In any case, I am certain that Dr. Johnson did not refute Berkeley's view by kicking a stone. His act makes me wonder if he had perhaps not read Berkeley's writings for himself.

You: "In the virtual reality conjecture, like solipsism, the physical world is not objectively real or complete in itself. Yet it also holds that there is a real world out there, apart from us, so it is not solipsism. It concludes there is a real world, but that it is not the world we register. In it, every registration, by us or an electron, is an information transfer, a processing event that just looks like a "particle". It says that quantum mathematics describes what is really there, as processing waves. Science can, eventually, resolve this one way or another, because it is a contrast of two distinct hypotheses about the physical world."

I found this paragraph to be very clear and very helpful. The explanation of randomness is something I am still thinking about while I continue to study your essay. Thank you for your helpful resonses.


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John Benavides wrote on Mar. 12, 2011 @ 08:53 GMT
Dear Brian

You have written an excellent essay, your arguments are very conclusive and interesting. On my essay I have arrived to similar conclusions from a different perspective, I try to explain how we should understand emergence of classical reality just like how a world ruled by a non-classical logic (quantum reality) determines what is seeing by a world ruled by classical logic (the realm of general relativity). About discreteness I think there is nothing fundamental about it, we see discrete features on quantum reality just because we use tools based on classical logic to get a partial understanding of the quantum world. We can construct emergent universes based on a discrete ground basis as in a continuous one. I would like to hear your opinions about it.


J. Benavides

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Mar. 25, 2011 @ 02:38 GMT
Dear John.

To do as you do, turn around the common assumption that the physical world defines everything, and instead say the quantum world defines the physical, is a major shift that will need more than mere logic to be accepted, and rightly so. My paper doesnt try to "prove" this point, but to start people thinking about it as an alternative view, arguing that it is neither unscientific, nor untestable nor a God theory.

Discreteness is fundamental to information processing, as information is defined as a choice from a set of options. If that set were infinite it could not be enumerated to make the choice, i.e. every processing output must be discrete. That the physical world is discrete is built into the VR model. Whether the world we see is discrete or not remains an open question, but some support that it is includes:

1. Planck limits on length, time, energy etc suggest that everything we measure is discrete.

2. Heisenburg's uncertainty principle defines h as the discrete value.

3. Photon wave energy quantization suggests that wavelength changes are discrete

4. Non-discrete continuity creates infinities and paradoxes, e.g. Zeno.

5. A discrete world with no infinitely small has no infinitely large, e.g. black holes suggest a finite capacity to space, c is the maximum speed, etc.

6. In calculus infinitesimals "tend to zero" to approximate reality, i.e. it sets small discrete values to "zero". If this works because it really is so, then the world is discrete.

7. Spin networks, loop quantum gravity and all quantum simulations assume discreteness.

8. Cosmological models suggest fundamental upper bounds on the world's information processing rate, which as argued, implies lower bounds.

Others may have other points. Note that if the physical world is not discrete, of if any measure of it can be infinitely large, this model is immediately falsified.

all the best

Brian Whitworth

Janko Kokosar wrote on Mar. 15, 2011 @ 20:19 GMT
Dear Brian Withworth

You wrote amusing 10 points, why universe is simulation. But we can ask ourselves, what is objective universe. This is (probably) only classical Newtonian mechanics. When we pass to special relativity theory (SR), objectivity begins to disappear. I did one derivation of SR, which use more little steps in transition to SR.

Time is dilated. Longitudinal length is shortened as consequence of equivalent inertial frames. Only standstill matter becomes important as stuff, where time running. And this stuff is built up from elementary particles. Therefore, without general relativity and quantum mechanics, we almost obtain some 'subjective' conclusions.

You mentioned also ur-stuff. This is from Weizskacker and it is also used by Zeilinger and Brukner. Those three physicists are important as reference for this contest.

Otherwise, virtual reality can be a useful thought experiment for our physical world. It needs to be developed. But, it is not enough only digital nature of physical world. Unlocality is also important.


I was late for this contest, so my essay is:

The essay from 2009 is

I see how you save the space. Abstract is not in pdf. :)

Regards Janko Kokosar

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Alan Lowey wrote on Mar. 19, 2011 @ 11:11 GMT
Dear Brian,

Congratulations on your dedication to the competition and your much deserved top 35 placing. I have a bugging question for you, which I've also posed to all the potential prize winners btw:

Q: Coulomb's Law of electrostatics was modelled by Maxwell by mechanical means after his mathematical deductions as an added verification (thanks for that bit of info Edwin), which I highly admire. To me, this gives his equation some substance. I have a problem with the laws of gravity though, especially the mathematical representation that "every object attracts every other object equally in all directions." The 'fabric' of spacetime model of gravity doesn't lend itself to explain the law of electrostatics. Coulomb's law denotes two types of matter, one 'charged' positive and the opposite type 'charged' negative. An Archimedes screw model for the graviton can explain -both- the gravity law and the electrostatic law, whilst the 'fabric' of spacetime can't. Doesn't this by definition make the helical screw model better than than anything else that has been suggested for the mechanism of the gravity force?? Otherwise the unification of all the forces is an impossiblity imo. Do you have an opinion on my analysis at all?

Best wishes,


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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Mar. 25, 2011 @ 02:55 GMT
Hi Alan

Sorry, I havent really got to that yet - give me another year or two! Currently analyzing mass and charge in processing terms before going on to gravity and how matter moves (as distinct from how light moves which Ch3 covered). Maxwell got his equations by visualizing emanating electric vortices which interacted when the source moved to give magnetism. But to get published, he was convinced to just submit the mathematical results of his structural vision. I dont know where his original logic is written down. Today, the legions of mathematical physics are lost in the semantic desert of string theory. So a structural model like the one he used to get his equations might have a chance, but probably not. Certainly it cannot be a mechanical structure, but it could be a processing one.

all the best


Steve Dufourny wrote on Mar. 20, 2011 @ 13:29 GMT
Hello dear Bryan,

Your essay is well written, well explained, well presented.

The problem is that you confound the computing and the universal dynamic. Thus of course it exists one universe(sphere) and these mwi are just a play of computing. The realism never will be other than this pure objectivity of uniqueness and its entropy.

Now you can compute emergent universes on the 2D picture after all, but frankly for the convergences in 3D and the universal axiomatization...??? Let's be serious a little.If you can create a flower with your computer, tell me it ....

But beautiful essay as Tommasi ,interesting.Good luck thus.


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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Mar. 25, 2011 @ 04:29 GMT
Hi Steve,

Thanks for your comments. Well everything depends on where you sit. So I can indeed create a flower using my computer, but it will be a digital one (2D or 3D). To me it is not a "real" flower, but an avatar who sees only digital "things" might consider it as real as the rest of his virtual world. Who then is to say that the "real" flower I see outside my window is not also created thus? What proves that my world is objective?

Its all a matter of perspective, as a virtual world can be unreal from the outside but real from the inside. The movie 'The Matrix" made this point brilliantly, but cunningly kept its ultimate reality physical - Neo exits the matrix into a physical world, which is still objectively real. Hence the VR conjecture is the opposite idea. It "thinks the unthinkable", that all physicality is virtual, even though, as you say, it is real to us who are in it.

PS. the paper doesnt talk of computing but of processing, whose definition doesnt assume a physical base. Our computing is processing with a physical base, i.e. classical computing, but quantum computing is non-classical so could have a non-physical source.

A final point. Any theory that we are fundamentally deluded about the nature of the world is hard to take. The tolerance of this forum to oddball papers is a credit to its openness. Even readers who explicitly disagreed with this essays conclusions engaged its content honestly. For me, even to air this idea openly is a privilege, for which I thank FQxI members.

all the best


Steve Dufourny replied on Mar. 26, 2011 @ 11:42 GMT
Hi Brian,

You are welcome. It's beautiful explained, you know you are just arrived to explain me at this momment what is the mwi really. Thanks thus. In fact it's the computing. You know I liked so much the film Avatar, it's so wonderful these ideas.

All the best for the final.


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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Mar. 24, 2011 @ 22:45 GMT

You may recall that my essay analyzes Anton Zeilinger's logic and concludes that his logic fails if the state of one or more of the entangled particles changes en route from the source to the detector. You seemed to believe that there is no physical reason for the photon to change:

In a comment above you state: "Your Bell experiment logic is interesting. If the properties of a photon can change en route, without physical interaction, or just before it is observed, isn't the objective reality hypothesis conceded? That a physical photon "thing" can change its properties for no physical reason, is indeed a floodgate. So I think I support Zeilinger."

I de-emphasized this argument after becoming aware of Joy Christian's work implying Bell's calculations are in error, but, assuming Joy is wrong (which I do not) my argument still applies.

Yesterday I received Phys Rev Lett 106, 080404 (25 Feb 2011) Antonelli, Shtaif, and Brodsky's paper titled "Sudden Death of Entanglement Induced by Polarization Mode Dispersion" in which they note that the relation between the violation of non-locality and the sudden disappearance of entanglement are due to CHANGES OCCURRING EN ROUTE! The changes are due to the optical birefringence associated with the optical fibers over which the photons travel. They claim that understanding this relation to non-locality is of utmost importance and say "the arbitrary birefringence characterizing fiber-optic transmission produces a PREVIOUSLY UNOBSERVED combination of physical effects" [my emphasis].

They conclude that "The ultimate limits imposed by fiber birefringence to applications based on non-local properties of polarization entanglement were shown to be intriguingly related with the phenomenon of entanglement sudden death."

Without vouching for their calculations, I would point out that the concept of "change en route" as an argument against Zeilinger's (and others') logic is exactly what I proposed in my essay.

You may wish to look at their paper.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Anonymous replied on Mar. 25, 2011 @ 04:49 GMT
Dear Eugene,

You may be right but we must make haste slowly to interpret new results. Thank you for the paper you link to that I will read. Also, it is you I refer to in the last comment. The miracle of science is that we can disagree but remain colleagues. The unity of science lies not in its conclusions but in its method. Scientists are like an intellectual herd going into the unknown in all different directions, so when one breaks through the others can follow. If we all went into the unknown in the same direction, we would surely fail. It is in this sense that you are indeed my colleague.

thanks again and all the best,


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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Mar. 25, 2011 @ 21:07 GMT

Thank you for that gracious response. You state it perfectly, and it is a pleasure to consider you a colleague.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Paul Reed wrote on May. 23, 2011 @ 11:36 GMT
This will help clarify what constitutes Reality (it's only 2 pages, or you could go to the Facebook page referred to):



As it is not possible to know anything beyond the confines of our existence, it has to be assumed that our understanding of it involves presuppositions and limitations. There is always the possibility of other, unattainable, information. ...

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Wilhelmus de Wilde replied on May. 26, 2011 @ 16:16 GMT
Hi Paul,

Good to hear from you and your view on your reality.

I advise you to read the article in NEW SCIENTIST n° 2812 (14 may 2011) : "THE GRAND DILUSION" by Graham Lawton (deputy editor of New Scientist), it gives another view on the reality as we are aware of.

best regards


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Georgina Parry wrote on Jun. 6, 2011 @ 07:35 GMT
Hi Brain ,

want to congratulate you on your win. Congratulations! Thank you too for taking the time to respond to my questions posted here on this essay thread. Very thought provoking stuff. I think the whole "what is reality" question is very interesting.I am unsure if the "uncaused" definition is sufficient on its own but thank you for explaining.

Well done.

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Jun. 8, 2011 @ 07:31 GMT
Dear Georgina

Thanks for thinking of me and your question certainly made me think. A normal cause is an event between objects assumed to self-exist, e.g. the sun causes light to shine on earth. If the entities caused - the sun's photons - exist in and of themselves, we call them real. But if I see my image in a mirror, it is unreal as its very existence is caused, i.e. it doesn't exist in or of itself. It only exists because I look. Likewise, if the physical world only exists if we observe it, like an image thrown up on demand, it isn't objectively real. The hypothesis that the physical world is a processing output is testable, and the paper gives ten factual reasons in support. The next chapter, on matter, makes a prediction to test the theory.

all the best,


Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jun. 7, 2011 @ 00:36 GMT

Congratulations on your win. Yours was one of the most original papers.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Jun. 8, 2011 @ 07:36 GMT
Hi Edwin,

To win anything is nice, but really I posted to get feedback from knowledgeable people, like yourself, for which I thank you.

kind regards


Sridattadev wrote on Jun. 14, 2011 @ 19:14 GMT
Dear Brian,

Congratulations. You are right about virtual reality, this the nature of the relativistic view of the universe and hence it is digital. The absolute view of the universe is sigularity and it is analog. Please see my article submitted in this contest at your convenience.

Who am i?.

I am virtual reality i is absolute truth

I am digital i is singularity or analog.



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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Jun. 23, 2011 @ 15:47 GMT
Dear Sridattadev,

Thanks indeed for your kind good wishes, but note that if by sigularity you mean the singularity of physics, then this model has no such thing. In it, the big bang began with a single photon, that by a cascading process (inflation) tore apart the original grid to create existence, as space expanded to allow it, and then also stopped it. So the universe never was all at a point. Nor are black holes a singularity, though the equations suggest so, but rather many grid nodes processing at maximum capacity. Or if you mean that the universe is singular, or one thing, then physical realists would agree, calling it a closed system. Or if you mean that there is an absolute universal "I", then I am you and you are me, so why should we discuss if we are both one? In this model, every electron "observes" the virtual reality, so it does not claim that our minds create it. Rather we are not necessary for it at all.

kind regards,

Brian Whitworth

Sridattadev replied on Jun. 25, 2011 @ 18:47 GMT
Dear Brian,

Thank you for reading my comments. All I am trying to convey is that we are in the universe which is with in us. As scientific experimenting and mathematical theorization are one way of understanding what the universe is, so is spirituality and self realization. Singularities in physics are like unexplainable points in space-time. Can science explain what happens when one dies. We as humans can observe these phenomenon of death at a distance in the form of black holes. In the relativistic view (relativity theories) of the universe there seems to be multiple singularities in multiple black holes. But up on further understanding the scientific world will realize that all these black holes are indeed connected and there is only one singularity at the heart of them all, which means there will be no more singularities but just one continuous system. There is neither a begining nor an end to this system or whatever we might want to call this existence.

To the self realizaed there are no more unknowns. This asbolute observer becomes one with everything and is continuous, you may call this state singularity. You are right about saying that you and me are one and the same and this truth will be revealed either through self realization or death or by entering a black hole as in science. Please consider this a revelation of simple and inherent truth in all of us and not a discussion. All the spiritual teachers experience this singularity and speak of this absolute truth and ask the rest of us to love each other and respect each other. As science has become teh popular medium for our kind to understand and accept the truth, it is my humble attempt to merge spirituality with science for all of us to enjoy this beutiful experience called life in harmony in this vast play ground called universe. I hope that I have conveyed the truth in simple enough words to touch the scientific hearts.



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Sridattadev replied on Jun. 26, 2011 @ 13:52 GMT
Dear Brian,

We are in mutual agreement on our understanding of the universe, we differ in only the terminology that we use to express our understanding. I would like to eloborate my unerstanding of the truth in technical terms as I am a

software engineer as well. If we consider ourselves as objects instantiated from a class called human in some super system as you put forth, we...

view entire post

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narsep wrote on Jun. 22, 2011 @ 13:19 GMT
Dear Brian,

Congratulation for the prize. Thanks also for the limited discussion we had and your contribution to a new look of Nature that (I think) is closer to "reality".


narsep (I. Hadjidakis)

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Author Brian Whitworth replied on Jun. 24, 2011 @ 11:14 GMT
Thanks Narsep and and likewise!

PS. To listen to a Chronicle of Higher Education podcast discussion with Jeff Young on this theory with me talking, just post this link into your browser URL:

kind regards


Dinuka wrote on May. 7, 2012 @ 15:03 GMT
Dear Dr,

I have recently come across some interesting publications on your website, which exposit the idea that our universe is a virtual reality. Upon reading the papers, I have some questions which I would appreciate if you could answer in a timely manner.

The grid architecture of space you exposit, is based on grid computer networks that exist in this world. It is evident that the computer grids on earth are based on physical laws of our universe. Given the fact that your idea of the universe is a “non-physical reality observing itself virtually” and given the fact that the grid computers we know work based on laws of physics, wouldn't it imply that the grid architecture you mention as the source of our reality should also be running based on some underlying laws? If so, that implies that the non-physical reality you mention must also be physical since no non-physical reality could have laws of physics as we know.

With the above point being made, it begs the questions;

· If a non-physical reality is what is observing itself virtually, why would it need to use grid architecture?

o Why can’t it be a dream? , a hologram? Or something else? Why should it be grid based architecture?

· How can you use known physics of earthly computer grids to explain a virtual reality emanating from some kind of non-physical reality?

The questions I have posed above are not intended to outsmart, debunk/refute or undermine the points you have eloquently exposited in the multitude of publications you have formulated. Instead the above questions are asked due to genuine curiosity about the subject under discussion, which I am thoroughly interested in. I would be grateful if you can shed some light on my questions in a timely manner.

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Darius M wrote on Jun. 22, 2014 @ 09:49 GMT
Along the same lines but from a philosophical perspective:

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