There has long been a thought experiment which suggests if creating artificial universes is possible, then mathematically we almost certainly live inside one. Even if time runs backwards.
Well, this isn’t quite proof of that. But if you’re feeling generous, it might be a dim foreshadowing of creepy things to come.
The Voyager probes have been discovered in an artificial universe.
Launched in 1977, Voyager I almost certainly became the first man made object to leave the solar system recently, following a long (long) journey through space.
Unfortunately its spluttering power supply means that humanity will soon lose touch with the probe forever – as well as its sister craft Voyager 2 – and we will never see it again.
That is, unless we develop some kind of insane almost-light-speed engine that can travel across space at vastly greater speeds than is possible today — something that isn’t remotely feasible in the near future — just for the sake of looking at its battered metal frame.
Of course there is one place that we can simulate that physically dubious achievement already: inside computers. And that’s just what has been done, inside the galaxy-sized expanse of Elite Dangerous.
The new online sequel to the classic 1980s space exploration sim was recently released to a largely glowing reception among hardcore gamers. And that affection has only grown after a recent update inserted both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 into the galaxy, which is modelled on our own, in positions roughly equal with where the probes will be in 3300 AD based on their speed and direction.
At first the probes’ existence in the game was only a rumour, and subject to various complex calculations by users on Reddit.
But soon a theory as to where the probes should be was drawn up. Gamers estimated they would be 664.9 billion kilometres from Earth – a long way, but barely a fraction of the distance to our nearest star Proxima Centauri.
Once that was known, all it took was for a player to go there and see for themselves.
Frontier Developments have even included the audio from the Golden Record placed on the probe, which contained greetings in 55 languages to whoever caught up with the spacecraft first. Well, turns out it was us — in a virtual world.