Tag Archives: Food-for-Thought

Universal segfault

(I’m sick today with a stomach flu and have recently consumed NyQuil, so this may make much more sense in my own head. I’m also not an expert in quantum mechanics, so please excuse any misconceptions I have.)

I was reading an article about quantum mechanics and how many scientists in the field want to find a definite reasoning for the whole “Spooky action at a distance,” where two particles can be quantumly entangled, causing changes to one particle to affect the other, regardless of the distance between them.

So I began to think about this. I imagined the universe as a simulation program, exposing basic building blocks into the simulator that everything was built upon, so tiny in comparison to anything the developer would expect to grow or evolve in the simulator. The developer powers it on, watches for a bit, goes to grab a cup of coffee, and checks back periodically. Perhaps he even interferes just a bit in the affairs of the simulated life inside the system, and then goes away for a while.

Now at some point the “life” in the system gets curious and starts heavily investigating those basic building blocks. So far the simulation has been pretty stable, but now the basic building blocks are being messed with, poked at, accessed in ways that weren’t intended. And like any software, there’s bugs. The lifeforms in the system manage to get two of these objects to entangle with each other. They marvel at the fact that the objects are still somehow linked even across great distances. To the developer, this wouldn’t have been that surprising. Afterall, they’re just two objects with various properties, and location is just one of them. Perhaps they’re even designed to share certain types of data for memory optimization reasons, and they don’t sanity check locations between linked objects for performance reasons. It may not matter that much to the developer, but it certainly managed to confuse the lifeforms in the system poking at the objects. Fortunately it appears safe, but they’re poking at a whole lot of different things that weren’t meant to be exposed, and no program is bug-free.

So pretend for a second that this was the case for our universe.

What if it crashed?