It’s the holidays. That magical time of the year when you get the annual story about the lady who shoplifted at Wal Mart so her daughter could have a nice Christmas. One of the nice gifts she got her daughter was a 24 oz can of beer. There is nothing like a mother’s love. Of course that happened in Florida, a state so insane that a list of its top 40 most unusual headlines barely scratches the surface and misses many of the gems we had here. Of course they did have the one about wild raccoons peeing on school kids and the Hulk Hogan sex tape (2 separate stories) which I somehow missed. Then again we had the story of the woman who fell in love with a bologna sandwich and had to be arrested. So I guess it all evens out.
Anyway, as I said, it’s the holidays. The one time of the year you’d think the Vatican couldn’t screw up. You’d be wrong, but it’s easy to see how you could think that. Before I comment further I’m just going to share this story.
The Vatican said on Thursday there was no link between its decision to accept the gift of a nativity scene in St Peter’s Square and allegations that it had previously paid inflated prices to have them built.
This year’s larger-than-life Christmas tableau depicting the biblical scene of Jesus’ birth, worth about 90,000 euros ($120,000), was donated by the southern region of Basilicata, one of Italy’s poorest.
Some of the documents that sparked this year’s ‘Vatileaks’ scandal indicated that in 2009 the Vatican paid an Italian company six times that amount, about 550,000 euros ($720,000), to build its nativity scene in the square.
The letters, leaked to the media, mentioned the payment as an example of corruption in the city state’s business dealings.
Monsignor Giuseppe Sciacca, deputy governor of the Vatican City, was asked by reporters whether accepting a donated crib was a response to the scandal.
“This is exclusively the result of the offer by the Basilicata region to give us this gift, which, with a minimum of good sense, has been accepted,” he said.
In the leaked documents, Sciacca’s predecessor, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, said the exorbitant cost of the 2009 crib was an example of how the Vatican was losing money through corruption.
Vigano said he had managed almost to halve the cost of the 2010 crib. He was subsequently transferred to the United States, despite an appeal to his superiors to be allowed stay in his job, in what he saw as punishment for doing his work too well.
Two people were convicted by a Vatican court over the leaks of documents.
Paolo Gabriele, the Pope’s former butler, is now serving an 18-month jail sentence in a Vatican jail cell for stealing sensitive papal documents and leaking them to the media.
A computer expert was given a suspended sentence for obstructing justice in the case.
Yes, you read that right, the people who exposed the corruption were punished and/or jailed. The people who committed the corrupt acts still have jobs. Just in case you need another reason to keep your kids from joining the priesthood.
Seriously, they’re weirder than Florida over there.
But what is the point of the Vatican? At its most fundamental level it is a conduit to allow man to talk with God. Recently a group of scientists got together and wondered if they could bypass the middle man and get a direct line to our creator. But, if they could, it would prove that we are the products of a computer simulation.
In other words, we may not exist in the purest sense of the word.
Eric Pfeiffer has the whole story.
Will you take the red pill or the blue pill?
Some physicists and university researchers say it’s possible to test the theory that our entire universe exists inside a computer simulation, like in the 1999 film “The Matrix.”
In 2003, University of Oxford philosophy professor Nick Bostrom published a paper, “The Simulation Argument,” which argued that, “we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.” Now, a team at Cornell University says it has come up with a viable method for testing whether we’re all just a series of numbers in some ancient civilization’s computer game.
Researchers at the University of Washington agree with the testing method, saying it can be done. A similar proposal was put forth by German physicists in November.
So how, precisely, can we test whether we exist? Put simply, researchers are building their own simulated models, using a technique called lattice quantum chromodynamics. And while those models are currently able to produce models only slightly larger than the nucleus of an atom, University of Washington physics professor Martin Savage says the same principles used in creating those simulations can be applied on a larger scale.
“This is the first testable signature of such an idea,” Savage said. “If you make the simulations big enough, something like our universe should emerge.”
The testing method is far more complex. Consider the Cornell University explanation: “Using the historical development of lattice gauge theory technology as a guide, we assume that our universe is an early numerical simulation with unimproved Wilson fermion discretization and investigate potentially-observable consequences.”
To translate, if energy signatures in our simulations match those in the universe at large, there’s a good chance we, too, exist within a simulation.
Interestingly, one of Savage’s students takes the hypothesis further: If we stumble upon the nature of our existence, would we then look for ways to communicate with the civilization who created us?
University of Washington student Zohreh Davoudi says whoever made our simulated universe might have made others, and maybe we should “simply” attempt to communicate with those. “The question is, ‘Can you communicate with those other universes if they are running on the same platform?'” she asked.
For the cleanest coding it would probably have to be a Linux based system.
Okay, but if we’re a simulacrum, why don’t we have super powers and stuff? Why make us boring? I mean if I were inventing an alternate universe I’d want to have some fun with it.
Well, for now, let’s continue to pretend that we’re real and see what happens.