Does it contain the whole universe (whether obeying physics laws as we know it or not)? Or, is it just limited to solar system & fake EM radiations coming from outside?

I was just wondering how machines would manage to process detailed simulations of infinite astronomical bodies (which looks impossible due to limited knowledge of universe, too).. and, what would happen if Neo started to explore the universe with warp speed.

I have seen all three movies and Animatrix, but without any luck around this question. So, I am looking for answers from novels, comics etc.

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    who said physicist of the like of Einstein and Hawkings were humans plugged to the matrix? Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 19:52
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    OK, you've quoted Einstein. This still doesn't explain how Einstein and Hawking are "screwed".
    – phantom42
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 20:07
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    As far as the past few years go... the matrix wouldn't have to be very large at all. Just large enough to support a few "space-rafts". Perhaps that's why time re-winded in the matrix, to a time when space-travel is virtually non-existant. No one knows how the matrix is "rendered", if it's even based on an established map at all. Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 20:09
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    What's up with the downvotes? It's a perfectly valid option to have built the Matrix simulation with physics laws being violated in the simulation on cosmological scale (the way they are clearly violated on human scale by Neo). +1. Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 21:06
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    I didn't downvote this question but I don't think it's very well thought out and @SachinShekhar has asked several questions that are all basically the same without apparently doing any research.
    – user11295
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 19:48

5 Answers 5


During Morpheus' interrogation Agent Smith stated that the Matrix had been redesigned to match the peak of human civilization, which turned out to be circa 1999. Albert Einstein died in 1955, and Hawking had made his mark on physics by 1975. So, assuming Smith wasn't lying, Einstein and Hawking were working from real data collected from the real universe. Also, we certainly didn't have strong AI in 1999 so the Matrix and subsequent enslavement of humanity came later, much later.

As for the Matrix simulation itself, astronomical data is easily faked, as is data from atom smashers and other electronic proxies humans use to study nature. The whole universe doesn't have to be simulated, only the parts humans and their instruments are observing at any given time. Since all the astronomers and telescopes and neutrino detectors are in Matrix, this should be an easy problem for a civilization that can sustain a realistic non-stop VR MMORPG for six billion people.


Note that there's only one city in The Matrix, it doesn't even have a name it just 'The City'. From the wikipedia article:

In The Matrix Reloaded, Neo is transported to a remote mountainous area resembling the Alps or the Himalayas (supposedly the location of the Merovingian's mansion), from which he has to fly "500 miles due south" in order to return to the City.

If we assume that the Merovingian would place his mansion near the outer bounds, and that it is a roughly circular shape, then the minimum size of the virtual reality is approximately 1000 miles across.

While there is mention of other locations in the wikipedia article there is nothing in the movies directly states (as opposed to implying) there is anything else other than the city and it's environs.

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    Nice one, but if you can recall the beginning of the movie, Neo as Mr. Anderson worked at one of the best software companies of the WORLD.
    – user931
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 20:01
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    @Sachin this doesn`t invalidate the point. If the city is all there is, then the city is the world. AQuite a few arguments are based on our knowledge. You must consider that the knowledge of the people in the Matrix may be very different.
    – flq
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 22:13
  • @SachinShekhar as flq says that's hardly a decent argument
    – user11295
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 8:17
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    In the news articles in the first movie that appear on Neo's monitor, Heathrow airport is mentioned. So its fair to say that London exists. Therfore England exists, and seeing as the movie is set no where near england, the whole world exists Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 11:44
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    @harmingcola: Just because a place is mentioned, everyone has heard of it, and some people even think they've been there doesn't mean it exists. Shell Beach from Dark City would be a relevant example. Commented Jun 9, 2013 at 3:35

The only places visited in the Matrix are sites within the Mega City and outlying areas. However, it can be assumed that there are several other cities or even countries ourside of the Mega City. When Neo does a search on Morpheus early in the movie, it turns up a search result "Morpheus eludes police at Heathrow Airport". This seems to suggest that London is simulated inside of the Matrix as well as the Mega City. Also, when the Agents do a background check on Neo during the interrogation, it shows his birthplace as "Lower Downtown, Capital City", suggesting that there is at least another city inside of the Matrix, which would be called Capital City. There are counter-arguments for this, though. Some say that Capital City might simply be the official name for the Mega City.

  • This ignores the other locations seen in the Animatrix (also considered fully canon).
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 0:32

Something that was never mentioned but could easily be the case is that the Matrix may be quite poor with respect to the richness of the simulation of the Universe.

Considering that humans are born and raised in the Matrix, the knowledge of reality could easily be faked such that there are hardly any stars, let alone galaxies out there. For all we know, even the moon may be missing in the Matrix. Who would be there to question this?


In terms of size - even virtual size - it's incorrect to speak of any kind of scale. The Matrix is as "big" as each individual in it needs it to be. If you're on your own in a room, the Matrix is as "big" as that room so far as you're concerned. Why would the machines waste processing power creating an entire world outside of that room in your perception of it?

  • Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that... Mind it, outsiders' avatars were able to interact with avatars of insiders.
    – user931
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 14:00
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    Actually it very well could work like that. There would be no reason to render, say a deserted island in the middle of the ocean, if there wasn't anyone interacting with it. This would save on processing power.
    – Monty129
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 15:53
  • @Monty129 The problem is: Everything is dynamic. So, to resume any simulation, there's need of heavy processing to predict the state after certain duration. It wasn't going to save processing power..
    – user931
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 20:19
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    If you look at a typical persistent-world game engine, this is actually exactly what they do. The Matrix would be a surprisingly low number of orders of magnitude up from that, at least so far as simulation of the world is concerned.
    – user8719
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 13:58
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    That's more philosophical than needs to be @GauravAgarwal This is more of a technical statement. There would be no need to divert processing power to rendering something that didn't need to be rendered.
    – Monty129
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 20:52

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