Brace Yourselves: We May Live in a Hologram

This has been a big week for science announcements.

First, there was the announcement that there may be life on Mars, and now New Scientist is reporting suggestive new evidence that the universe may be a holographic projection, in three dimensions, of information contained on a two dimensional plain that curves into a sphere!

That’s right.

We may be living in a giant hologram, and the projection of ourselves is coming from the far distant two dimensional boundary horizon of space-time.

How fucked up and mind boggling is that?

You—and this universe—and me too—may be ultimately no more substantial than the ghostly image that hovers over the two dimensional plain of your credit card.

Money quote on the team of German scientists, using a giant detector looking for gravity waves, that may have stumbled upon this potentially monumental discovery:

For many months, the GEO600 team-members had been scratching their heads over inexplicable noise that is plaguing their giant detector. Then, out of the blue, a researcher approached them with an explanation. In fact, he had even predicted the noise before he knew they were detecting it. According to Craig Hogan, a physicist at the Fermilab particle physics lab in Batavia, Illinois, GEO600 has stumbled upon the fundamental limit of space-time – the point where space-time stops behaving like the smooth continuum Einstein described and instead dissolves into “grains”, just as a newspaper photograph dissolves into dots as you zoom in. “It looks like GEO600 is being buffeted by the microscopic quantum convulsions of space-time,” says Hogan.

If this doesn’t blow your socks off, then Hogan, who has just been appointed director of Fermilab’s Center for Particle Astrophysics, has an even bigger shock in store: “If the GEO600 result is what I suspect it is, then we are all living in a giant cosmic hologram.”

The idea that we live in a hologram probably sounds absurd, but it is a natural extension of our best understanding of black holes, and something with a pretty firm theoretical footing. It has also been surprisingly helpful for physicists wrestling with theories of how the universe works at its most fundamental level.

The holograms you find on credit cards and banknotes are etched on two-dimensional plastic films. When light bounces off them, it recreates the appearance of a 3D image. In the 1990s physicists Leonard Susskind and Nobel prizewinner Gerard ‘t Hooft suggested that the same principle might apply to the universe as a whole. Our everyday experience might itself be a holographic projection of physical processes that take place on a distant, 2D surface.

The “holographic principle” challenges our sensibilities. It seems hard to believe that you woke up, brushed your teeth and are reading this article because of something happening on the boundary of the universe. No one knows what it would mean for us if we really do live in a hologram, yet theorists have good reasons to believe that many aspects of the holographic principle are true.

Wowzers.

Who needs LSD?

To read the whole article, click here.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to Brace Yourselves: We May Live in a Hologram

  1. Pingback: 3-D for Real: Do We Live in a Holographic Universe? « Prometheus Unbound

  2. Pingback: Shadows on a Distant Wall: Nikodem Poplawski Says We Might Be Living in a Black Hole « Prometheus Unbound

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