Dumb it down
Are scientists really trying to see if an 'evil demon' is ruling the universe?
Early philosophers debated the idea that the world was being ruled by an 'evil demon'. Now it looks like scientists are trying to see if that's actually true.
Hang on, what’s all this about an ‘evil demon’ ruling the universe? I’ve never heard anything about this?
That’s because it was the idea thought up by the great philosophers back in the day. The likes of Plato and Descartes have argued that everything we see around us, even everything we can’t see, could have been created by something else, such as an ‘evil demon’.
Descartes once described the evil demon saying, "as clever and deceitful as he is powerful, who has directed his entire effort to misleading me”. He was basically saying that everything was just a game for this evil demon and nothing we did was by our own accord. However, Descartes also said "I think, therefore I am” so that might reassure anyone who’s feeling a bit unnerved by the idea of an all powerful evil demon.
But there’s no evil demon right?
Well, probably not. The scientists aren’t specifically looking for an evil demon, like Cthulhu (explained here), but they are going to try and recreate the universe using mathematical models.
Hang on a second… Scientists are going to try and recreate the universe?
Yes, if you remember back to last week we were talking about how scientists from the University of Bonn in Germany believed that we could be just a simulation of someone else’s universe. Well, now scientists from the same university are going to use a complicated mathematical lattice QCD approach to recreate a simulated reality – on a theoretical level, of course. Think, The Matrix.
Oh right, so there’s not going to be a mini-universe floating around a laboratory in Germany then?
No, not quite.
I’m still a bit confused. Is it even possible to know if we’re in a simulated universe even though we haven’t figured out other stuff? Sure the Red Bull bloke only broke the sound barrier the other week – the first person to do so…
Well you’re not alone on that one. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph in the UK, Dr Peter Millican of Hertford College, Oxford said: "There are two main issues, one is whether the speculation even makes sense and the other is supposing it makes sense whether there is any good reason to think it is plausible.”
He doesn’t really make it much clearer, in fairness, but he’s basically questioning absolutely everything, like a good scientist should. So all that’s left to do is see what the lads in Germany come up with.