WELCOME to The Matrix. You’ve lived here all your life.
Everything you have ever done or will do could simply be the product of a highly-advanced computer code.
Every relationship, every sentiment, every memory could have been generated by banks of supercomputers.
This was the terrifying theory first proposed by British philosopher Nick Bostrom.
In his paper, Dr Bostrom suggested a race of far-evolved descendants could be behind our digital imprisonment.
The futuristic beings – human or otherwise – could be using virtual reality to simulate a time in the past or recreate how their remote ancestors lived.
Sound crazy? Well, it turns out NASA thinks Dr Bostrom might be right.
Rich Terrile, director of the Centre for Evolutionary Computation and Automated Design at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has spoken out about the digital simulation.
“If you make a simple calculation using Moore’s Law [which roughly claims computers double in power every two years], you’ll find that these supercomputers, inside of a decade, will have the ability to compute an entire human lifetime of 80 years – including every thought ever conceived during that lifetime – in the span of a month.
“In quantum mechanics, particles do not have a definite state unless they’re being observed.
“Many theorists have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how you explain this.
“One explanation is that we’re living within a simulation, seeing what we need to see when we need to see it.
“What I find inspiring is that, even if we are in a simulation or many orders of magnitude down in levels of simulation, somewhere along the line something escaped the primordial ooze to become us and to result in simulations that made us – and that’s cool.”
The idea that our Universe is a fiction generated by computer code solves a number of inconsistencies and mysteries about the cosmos.
The first is the Fermi Paradox – proposed by physicist Enrico Fermi during the 1960s – which highlights the contradiction between the apparent high probability of extraterrestrial civilisations within our ever-expanding universe and humanity’s lack of contact with, or lack of evidence for, these alien colonies.
“Where is everybody?” Mr Fermi asked.
It could simply be that Earth and mankind truly is the centre of the universe.
Another mystery explained by Dr Bostrom’s Matrix-like theory is the role of Dark Matter.
US theoretical cosmologist Michael Turner has called the hypothetical material “the most profound mystery in all of science”.
Dark Matter is one of many hypothetical materials used to explain a number of anomalies in the Standard Model – the all-encompassing theory science has used to explain the particles and forces of nature for the last 50 years.
The Standard Model of particle physics tells us that there are 17 fundamental particles which make up atomic matter.
The Higgs boson, which was first theorised by scientists during the 1960s, is amongst these 17 fundamental particles.
But the Standard Model is as-yet unable to explain a number of baffling properties of the universe – including the fact that the universe is expanding at an ever-increasing speed.