Random Ontologies, entry 3

Three concepts: Planck length, Planck time, Conway’s Game of Life. Read those Wikipedia entries and come back to this.

Imagine a game of Life, played on a three-dimensional grid in which each space is one cubic Planck length. Each “round” of the game takes one unit of Planck time. The grid’s resolution is precisely that of the universe itself. For the purposes of this game, we’ll call each “on” cell a quantum (plural “quanta”).

You start the game with a mostly empty grid, where all of the quanta are packed densely into the center. When you hit “Go”, you see that the quanta begin to expand out from the center, unstable at first but eventually forming into stable, simple shapes, which then begin to cluster into more complex stable ships.

Run this for 14 billion years.

I suspect that what you would have would contain almost precisely the same amount of information, measured in entropy, as the universe we reside in.

If we take the quanta as the smallest binary unit in the universe — a simplification, I know, but it kind of works — in this way we can understand the entire universe as a computation. The rules may not be identical to Conway’s rules, but they’re probably similar.

This is why digital physics is so interesting.

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