"All the Way Down"

Also, All the Way Up, and Sideways, Too

I derived considerable pleasure from getting ten more Futurama episodes on the Hulu streaming service. For eye candy, in case you missed it, here's Hulu's "sneak peek" video from the season-ending finale:

That episode's title was "All the Way Down", and I assume it's a reference to the infinite regression implied by the saying "it's turtles all the way down." Which, yes, has its own Wikipedia page, and here's a usage example they snipped from Stephen Hawking's book A Brief History of Time:

A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!"

The premise: Professor Farnsworth builds a little animated simulation of the Futurama universe that fits on the Planet Express conference room table. At first it's crude, with blocky simulated characters. But as the Professor brings more computing power to bear, the resolution improves, as does the simulation's realism. Pretty soon, the simulated characters begin to wonder if they are in a simulation. Which of course they are.

The real characters also start wondering whether they're in a simulation. Which of course they aren't. (Oh, wait…)

Everyone starts to wonder about the nature of their reality and how they could tell whether they're simulated or real. "Real" Bender in particular goes into a existential crisis. (The result is that clip's scene.)

My thought while watching: gee, I bet the inspiration for this episode was a college dorm bull session, fueled by beer, weed, and not enough sleep. One of the students: future Futurama writer David X. Cohen. Just a guess.

And my half-"baked" observation: well, of course the "real" Futurama universe is a simulation. Specifically, designed and built by Cohen and everyone else you see as the credits roll. Objecting that the characters have no conciousness or free will? Sorry, kid: many people argue that's true of you as well; your feelings otherwise are just an illusion.

(I should add: I am kidding about being half-baked. Just couldn't resist the pun.)

But we're supposed to wonder if we, you and me, are actually a simulation running on some supercomputer somewhere. Some say yes.

Last Modified 2023-10-24 11:39 AM EST