Just last week, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology named Seth Lloyd published a paper in Physical Review Letters estimating how many calculations the universe could have performed since the Big Bang — 10^120 operations on 10^90 bits of data, putting the mightiest supercomputer to shame. This grand computation essentially consists of subatomic particles ricocheting off one another and "calculating" where to go.Has the next great revolution in reality finally made itself known?
As the researcher Tommaso Toffoli mused back in 1984, "In a sense, nature has been continually computing the 'next state' of the universe for billions of years; all we have to do — and, actually, all we can do — is 'hitch a ride' on this huge ongoing computation."
This may seem like an odd way to think about cosmology. But some scientists find it no weirder than imagining that particles dutifully obey ethereal equations expressing the laws of physics. Last year Dr. Lloyd created a stir on Edge.org, a Web site devoted to discussions of cutting edge science, when he proposed "Lloyd's hypothesis": "Everything that's worth understanding about a complex system can be understood in terms of how it processes information."
Naturally a lot of researchers, who consider computers no more than useful tools, react huffily to the suggestion that what they are doing is "old science." So far no one using the alternative approach has been able to match the equations of calculus in predicting, for example, the exact moment of last week's solar eclipse for any spot on the planet.
What the detractors are less likely to emphasize is the track record of traditional mathematical methods in forecasting, say, the recent gyrations in the stock market or the way a forest fire will burn. Here the usual methods of science are stretched to the limit ・and that is where an influential minority of scientists quietly agree on the kind of cure Dr. Wolfram is so loudly prescribing: replacing equations with a different kind of mathematical device called algorithms, simple little computer programs....
....proposing that reality is not continuous but discrete, with a smallest possible length and a smallest possible duration of time. Picture space-time as a kind of grid on which the universe unfolds tick by tick, like a pattern in a kaleidoscope or a program running on a computer.
In expressing their awe at the mathematical nature of creation, physicists have playfully suggested that God is a mathematician. Why not make him a software engineer? The result, says Edward Fredkin, another early promoter of digital physics, "might be the beginnings of a new intellectual revolution comparable to what was spawned by the development of mathematics." - NyTimes & Edge
This new approach would seem to solve a problem which has been bothering me for a while. When the acceleration of a moving body X increases, so too does its mass. In tandem with this, any entity watching X accelerate would perceive time, in relation to X, begin to slow exponentially. This, very simply put, is Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity.
Looking sidelong at light it appears to us that time has slowed infinitely, meaning it does not exist. That is time does not pass - at all - for the beam/photons of light. Yet, if light could talk to us it would probably be too overwhelmed to speak, as the exact opposite is true. Light would perceive time in infinite extension - time is relative.
Problem: Light exists everywhere simultaneously, yet it exists nowhere, nowhen, never...
A conceptual explosion occurs for me right about here, but wait...
If the universe is computational, and therefore better modeled in discrete packets, then there is a minimum absolute length of time which can exist. This cancels out our view of light completely because at some stage our belief that time has slowed infinitely is off set by the absolute discreet packet of time. On the flip-side of this, if time has not compressed infinitely it cannot have dilated infinitely either. The universe is dragged back into consciousness, kicking and screaming as it comes.
Now, forgive my physics and maths heads here; I'm sure there are important aspects of this idea I am missing, but doesn't this view of reality fit better with common sense? It is not often than The Huge Entity grimaces in the face of Einstein, but today I find myself unable to hold back the slavering raspberry which pierces my lips.
What am I missing here? Surely I cocked up my workings somewhere along the way....