We Live in a Gentlemen’s C- Universe


Physicist Eugene Wigner is the author of a famous paper called “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences.” Brad DeLong comments:

We are all, potentially, the Friends of Wigner. It has always seemed to me that anyone with the empathy and imagination to think of him or herself as one of the Friends of Wigner is then driven inescapably to either “quantum mechanics is totally wrong wrong wrong wrong and just predicts well for incomprehensible reasons” or “many-worlds”. There really are no other alternatives, or at least what alternatives there are are even stranger.

Au contraire. I consider quantum mechanics to be evidence that we are all constructs in somebody else’s virtual reality. All of the peculiarities of quantum mechanics are easily explainable if the universe is merely a computer-generated world subject to the whims of a programmer.

The only question left is why the programmer has created such a world. Whimsy? Amusement? As a test of some sociology theorem? Bad design?

Perhaps the last one is most likely. In reality, quantum mechanics is a desperate, ugly patch glued onto a poorly working universe by a stressed freshman at 2 am. Basically, the poor kid waited until the last minute, as freshmen everywhere do, and hadn’t really understood much of the text for the required “Plenum Creation and Maintenance” class. The result was a mess that kept falling apart even for small taus of only a few billion years. One thing led to another, and eventually the whole project became a Rube Goldberg monstrosity of black holes, 11 dimensions, wavicles, arbitrary speed-of-light caps on velocity, and observer-induced wave collapse as a last-ditch way of reducing the computing power needed to run it.

In the end it received a gentlemen’s C- from a sympathetic professor. That’s the universe we live in.