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WHAT IF: We’re Living in a Simulation?


Every Wednesday, we’re asking a what-if question – how would our world be different if something were changed? Today’s question is from QSFer Scott: What if this is all a simulation? How would we know? Live Science tackles the issue: Share your serious scientific analyses, your off-color jokes, and random thoughts on the topic on our FB and MeWe Groups: FB: MeWe:

SPACE: How Black Holes bend Light and Spacetime

Blach Holes Bend Spacetime - NASA

When two orbiting supermassive black holes get close to each other, the results can be pretty twisted. A new NASA visualization shows how the irresistible pull of extreme gravity bends and distorts light in the glowing rings of hot gas circling the black holes in a simulated binary system. The animation shows two black holes: The bigger of the pair, which is about 200 million times the mass of our sun, is surrounded by red rings of hot gas called an accretion disk. Orbiting that giant is a second black hole weighing in at about half of that mass, and … Read more

SPACE: A Star is Born

A Star is Born - Live Science

Astrophysicists have developed the first high-resolution 3D model of a gas cloud coalescing to form a star — and it’s mind-blowing. The “Starforge” model (which stands for “star formation in gaseous environments”) allows users to fly through a colorful cloud of gas as it pools into stars all around them. Researchers hope that the visually stunning simulation will help them to explore the many unsolved mysteries of star formation, such as: Why is the process so slow and inefficient? What determines a star’s mass? And why do stars tend to cluster together? The computational framework is able to simulate gas … Read more

Are We Living in the Matrix?


It is not often that a comedian gives an astrophysicist goose bumps when discussing the laws of physics. But comic Chuck Nice managed to do just that in a recent episode of the podcast StarTalk. The show’s host Neil deGrasse Tyson had just explained the simulation argument—the idea that we could be virtual beings living in a computer simulation. If so, the simulation would most likely create perceptions of reality on demand rather than simulate all of reality all the time—much like a video game optimized to render only the parts of a scene visible to a player. “Maybe that’s … Read more

New York Destroyed Again (In a Simulation)

New York - Deposit Photos

New York City, home to 8.6 million people and one hot duck, has perished in an apocalyptic meteor strike … in a simulation. Over the past week, some 200 space experts from NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and other organizations have been melding their minds in order to face the crisis of a hypothetical asteroid barreling through space toward North America. The gathering, called the International Academy of Astronautics Planetary Defense Conference, convenes every year with the not-so-simple task of figuring out how to save Earth from a head-on asteroid impact — sort of like war games, but on … Read more

SPACE: Soar Through the Heart of a Supernova

When the universe’s largest stars run out of fuel and die, they explode in technicolor tsunamis of gas and dust that can stretch on into space for dozens of light-years. To see the full array of cosmic colors left behind by a star gone supernova, you generally need some pretty sophisticated telescopes capable of seeing light beyond the visible spectrum. But today, you can grab a front-row seat to those cosmic pyrotechnics by clicking over to this new 3D simulation released by the Smithsonian. The interactive, 360-degree graphic allows armchair astronauts to navigate through the heart of a supernova remnant … Read more