I was reading about interesting article here which suggests that our universe is a big computer simulation and the proof of it is a Quantum Physics.

I know quantum physics tries to provide some explanation about unpredictable behavior of universe at atomic scale but could not believe that thing has anyway relates to pixels of the universe ?

Can it be true that behavior of universe at atomic level coming from some super computer ?

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ This is an open question, and the topic it addresses is very speculative. Also, it appears you linked to a novel, not a physics article. If you have a more specific question, such as "is 'balanced universe' a legitimate technical term in quantum computation?" you'll get better, more targeted answers. $\endgroup$ Nov 14, 2010 at 4:45
  • $\begingroup$ To simulate means to imitate and thus the question is ill-formulated. $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2010 at 15:43
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is a positivistically meaningless question, but just to point out, if the universe is quantum mechanical, the computer is also of an absurd size, so that the aliens that are simulating us (unless they are running a quantum computer), must have a classical computer that is absurdly more enormous than our universe to get the answer, and this is a bit of a waste, since they are mostly calculating branches that are unreal. They might have a clever pruning algorithm, but we should notice such a thing as a violation of QM in large systems. This is then the hidden variable question in disguise. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Maimon
    Apr 21, 2012 at 4:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ dilbert.com/fast/2013-06-17 and xkcd.com/505 $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic
    Jun 19, 2013 at 22:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1'd because after considering that there are six answers with over 60 up votes here, and that other questions are being marked as duplicate and pointed to these answers, I think the down voting of the OP's question is excessive. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 14, 2018 at 7:51

6 Answers 6


No, quantum physics suggests no such thing. As Mark pointed out in his comment, the "article" you linked to is not an article at all; as far as I can tell, it's a promotional page for a science fiction novel. As actual science, it would be completely bogus.

  • $\begingroup$ Here an alleged test.. arxiv.org/abs/1210.1847 $\endgroup$
    – HDE
    Dec 11, 2012 at 22:05
  • $\begingroup$ Not a conclusive test, though. It's just some speculation on what sort of results we might expect in a simulated universe. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Dec 11, 2012 at 22:14

I'm the author of the novel mentioned above and I'd like to clarify. Neither I nor my novel claim the universe is a computer.

The operating principle of the novel's universe is that all things are One through balance. The protagonist, Paul, is asked if his universe is a computer. He answers that in a balanced quantum universe this would be impossible. Why? Here's a direct quote from the page cited above: http://donnee.com/universe-as-computer.htm

"Calculation is a process, or time-dependent function. A balanced quantum universe is a holistic, non-local phenomenon. There is no time and no process. Balance simply is. Balance requires no computation. So, my initial response—that the universe is a quantum computer—is correct only from a classical, local perspective. From a holistic, non-local quantum perspective, the answer is: No, the universe is not a computer."


  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Just saw this... thanks for contributing, Jim. Perhaps I'll take a look at your novel sometime soon. For what it's worth, there are a couple things on that page that might give one the misleading impression that it's talking about the real universe (footnote #2 for instance); plus, it's a little paradoxical that Paul starts out his answer saying "yes" when he really means "no." $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Nov 21, 2010 at 3:45
  1. The thing you are reading is NOT an article(that you should trust).
  2. Even if the universe were a simulation there is NO such proof in QM.
  3. Though physical processes can be thought of as computations it does not imply existence of "super computer".
  4. Also, even if such a "super computer" exists it must be a part of some universe. That universe must also be simulated by some "super-super-computer" and so on. So, its basically turtles all the way down.

While your reference does not quite meet the standards for scientific publishing ;), your question itself addresses a very profound notion. I disagree with the appraisal of any such notion of a computational universe as being dead on arrival. Some of the best minds in physics - Wheeler, Lloyd, Wolfram, Schmidhuber and others - have been strong advocates of this paradigm.

[This is not an attempt on my part to start, or indulge in any kind of war of words, but a simple statement of my opinion. Take it or leave it.]

Let me frame the question in a slightly less controversial form than the one you put it in Xinus:

Does it make sense to address the motions and interactions of elementary particles - working within the standard Hilbert space framework of quantum mechanics - from a computational perspective?

When put this way the question appears a little less shocking. I was planning to write more here but there is a wonderfully detailed wikipedia [entry][http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_physics] on this very issue which can answer your query in a much more complete way than I could attempt here.

Cheers !

ps: btw the novel in question by Jim Wills looks very intriguing and happens to be free to read online. So thanks for that !

  • $\begingroup$ Dear space_cadet, to make your links work, please change the second brackets to parentheses. $\endgroup$
    – Marek
    Nov 14, 2010 at 10:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As to the idea that it's worthwhile to pursue "digital physics": sure, you are free to formulate any hypothesis. But you should realize that usually any run-of-the-mill hypothesis doesn't describe our nature and, in fact, is often just a crackpot idea that can be disproved in few minutes. And most of the "digital physics", as I've seen it, is precisely of this crackpoty form. $\endgroup$
    – Marek
    Nov 14, 2010 at 10:44
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Marek, here are some definitely non-crackpot references: spin networks and quantum computation, more on spin networks, Seth Lloyd's work. There are many more, but this is just to give you some reading material from some people on the frontier. $\endgroup$
    – user346
    Nov 14, 2010 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ To be clear, my answer (and I believe TheMachineCharmer's as well) is not claiming that the idea of the universe as a computer simulation is DOA. It's certainly a possibility. I'm just saying that quantum physics provides no hard justification for it. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Nov 15, 2010 at 5:56

If the Church-Turing hypothesis applies to our universe, then this is equivalent to stating that the universe can be simulated on a computer. But just because it can be doesn't necessarily mean it is. This is an ontological question.

Epistemologically, we can never know for sure, and never will.

If quantum mechanics is purely a gadget for computing the output given some inputs, and we are forbidden to ask what happens in between, we might as well assume it's some black box computation mapping the inputs to the outputs probabilistically. In this abstract sense, computation is what quantum mechanics does, but this also applies to classical theories, and many other maps besides. But a computer is a physical substrate. Just because something is a computation doesn't necessarily mean it has a physical substrate, or a nonphysical substrate for that matter, but it doesn't rule that out either.


Even since Shanon linked information with entropy, there have always been speculations about the universe being run as a simulation and so on. John Preskill recently gave a talk at Holographic Cosmology 2.0 on this topic, I haven't seen the full talk yet, but just thought others might find this it interesting.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.