Hyperreality in Physics

· fluid mechanics

Hyperreality = Simulation without Origin

The French post-modern philosopher Baudrillard (1929-2007) made a distinction between reality and hyperreality according to the following characteristics:

  • real: what can be reproduced
  • hyperreal: what is already reproduced
  • hyperreal : model of real without real origin
  • hyperreal: masks non-existence of real origin

as expressed in his treatise Simulacra and Simulation :

  • The simulacrum is that which conceals the truth–it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.

















Baudrillard identifies the following forms of simulation:

1st Order Simulation

  • map of territory
  • simulation with real origin
  • clear difference between simulation and origin.

2nd Order Simulation

  • map covers territory ( Borges On Exactitude in Science )
  • simulation cannot be distinguished from origin
  • including reproductions of original art, clothes,…

3rd Order Simulation

  • map replaces territory
  • simulation without origin
  • outside realm of good and evil
  • only performance counts
  • computer game


  • Disneyland: simulation of non-existing idyllic America
  • Barbie doll: simulation of non-existing female physics
  • Watergate process: mask of non-existing true judiciary process.

Hyperreal Physics

It is natural to make the followingparallel as concerns physics or more precisely mathematical models of physics in the form of systems of (differential) equations:

  • physics = solutions of certain defining equations
  • hyperreal physics = approximate computational solutions of equations without exact solutions
  • hyperreal physics = simulations without physics origin.

Examples of equations with computational approximate solutions but without exact solutions:

Euler/Navier-Stokes equations of fluid mechanics

In d’Alembert’s paradox and Clay Navier-Stokes Problem it is shown that stable exact solutions of the Euler/Navier-Stokes equations do not exist. What do exist are turbulent computational approximate solutions.

Schrödinger’s equations of quantum mechanics

Walter Kohn shows in his Nobel Lecture in Chemistry 1998 that Schrödinger’s equation, formally a partial diffferential equationin 3N space dimensions, where N is the number of electrons and kernels, does not have exact solutionsif N > 100. In Many-Minds Quantum Mechanicsit is shown that computational approximate solutions do exist.

Classical Physics vs Hyperreal Physics

Classical physics (here including modern quantum mechanics) is conventionally viewed as emerging from exact mathematical solutions of certain defining differential equations expressing basic laws such as conservation of mass, momentum and energy, under the names of Lagrange’s equations in particle mechanics, Euler/Navier-Stokes’ equations in fluid mechanics and Schrödinger’s equation in quantum mechanics.

By the above, the existence of exact solutions to these equations is an illusion, and if classical physics is defined in terms of such non-existing solutions, then also classical physics is an illusion. But computational approximate solutions do exist. and thus definining hyperreal physics in terms of these solutions, it follows that hyperreal physics exists, or with the terminology of Baudrillard that

  • hyperreal physics as simulacrum is true.

Since a non-existing entity cannot have features of interest, but an existing can, it follows thathyperreal physics can be meaningful (because it is true) non-existing classical physics is meaningless.

The Secret of Turbulence including a variety of applications gives an illustration of these concepts central to simulation and science as simulated reality. Evidently the notion of computational approximate solution is fundamentalin the new emerging field of Simulation Technology.

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