Theories So Crazy They Question the Reality of Life
Tripping balls isn’t just for philosophy majors anymore.
By Heather Ware, Bowling Green State University
In life, there are a handful of things that you tend to take for granted: the objects around you, your own existence and a reliable Wi-Fi connection.
But what if everything that you knew turned out not to exist at all, like Bigfoot or a respectable Trump supporter? Well, thanks to new scientific advances, you can have all of your faith in reality completely shattered without ever tasting a “special” brownie. Here are three theories that will have you questioning the point of existence.
1. Time Is Bullshit
You know time, that thing that guides your life and allows you to gauge the events around you? Yeah, turns out that isn’t a thing. According to Julian Barbour, a world-renowned expert on physics and quantum gravity, time is something that people can perceive, but really doesn’t exist at all.
By Barbour’s definition, everyone exists in a series of Nows, and each one exists at the same time as all of the others. When you travel through Nows, that experience is what you know as “time.” Sort of like how 3 isn’t the past version of 5, no Now happens before or after any other.
The crazy part about this theory isn’t that it destroys one of the most basic understandings of reality, but that it has been supported by philosophers for years. Friedrich Nietzsche famously said that, “The future influences the present as much as the past,” and this is where things start to get really trippy.
If Nietzsche and Barbour are both correct, and most physicists would say they are, then the future can directly impact the present. Maybe in two weeks you’ll see a dog on the street and that will send ripples through “time” and causes you to dream about the dog: which means you just gave yourself déjà vu.
By the same logic, your fear of heights could be a residual effect of you dying by falling to your death, and because that moment is happening right now, you feel that fear and subsequently avoid tall buildings to make sure it never happens. Because time isn’t real, you may have just prevented your own death because of actions that you haven’t perceived yet. That isn’t the Alaskan kush you’re feeling, that’s just science.
2. Everything Is a Hologram
What if it turned out that you don’t exist and that everything you’ve ever known is just a hologram? Good news, friends, science says that you’re about as real as your Sims characters. You’d just better hope that nobody puts you in a pool and takes out the ladder.
Known as the holographic principle, this scientific bundle of fun posits that the entire universe is nothing but a computer simulation. Not only would this make an excellent plot twist for the new season of “The Walking Dead,” but it actually fills in some pretty big holes in Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity and would solve Steven Hawking’s information paradox.
The holographic principle basically means that the universe is a just a projection of 2D images which people perceive as 3D because they, like everything else, are two dimensional. This makes a lot of sense from a scientific perspective, but that isn’t the interesting part. The interesting part begins when you start to wonder why someone would make a simulation of the universe.
One popular theory is that the universe is a simulation being run by people a few thousand years in the future. Faced with a lack of understanding about their history and a metric fuckton of computing power, why wouldn’t they run a program to see how their ancestors lived? Try not to feel awkward the next time you’re watching internet porn and realize that your great, great, great grandkids are scientifically studying you while you jack it.
Of course, this is just an optimistic projection. There’s another theory that you do actually exist, but a mad scientist has trapped you in a simulation for the express purpose of tormenting you while your real body decays in a vat of nutrients. This idea may seem a little hard to swallow, but think of the possibilities. What if this article is just the scientist’s way of taunting you with the knowledge of a real life that you’ve completely forgotten?
3. Humanity Is Alone in the Universe
A survey conducted in 2012 found that 77 percent of Americans believe that alien life exists somewhere in the universe. On the surface, it seems like a safe bet. The whole of existence is a pretty big place, and it seems impossible that Earth would be the only planet capable of sustaining life. This logic has been around for quite a while, and was documented in the Fermi paradox, which essentially asks how humanity has never discovered alien life, given the vastness of the universe. What if the answer is that there is simply no life to discover?
The Rare Earth Hypothesis suggests that while there are most likely a lot of bacteria and microorganisms somewhere in space, humans are the only intelligent life in the universe. Why? Because a species has to hit some pretty specific markers if they ever want to evolve past throwing shit at each other in caves: they have to exist on a planet capable of supporting life; they have to win the evolutionary lottery to hit the top of the food chain; and they have to find a way to survive extinction events that pop up every few million years. According to this theory, intelligent life is such a rarity that it is probably a once-in-a-universe event.
At first, this is a relief. There probably aren’t any xenomorphs waiting to eat the face off of Sigourney Weaver, or intergalactic parasites that want to destroy humanity. On the downside, there are no potential allies in the universe or large-breasted alien women to ogle.
When humanity starts to colonize planets and discover new worlds, all that they will find are cells or, at best, unintelligent animals that will go extinct before getting the chance to evolve. The ultimate answers to the universe will leave humanity completely alone in an impossibly vast universe. Thank God that sex robots will be highly advanced at that point to keep everyone busy!
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