The Holographic Universe: the Unbreakable Lightness of Being?

After reading yesterday’s mind-bending New York Times article on gravity (and the possibility that we live in a holographic universe), I think I’ve put it all together. But I need a very smart physicists or science oriented person to set me straight (if I’m wrong). I’m hoping that one stumbles on this post.

Is this the creation story that I should tell my children?:

The three-dimensional universe that we experience is probably a holographic projection emanating from the two-dimensional cosmological horizon (about 13.7 billion light-years away). We should think of the cosmological horizon as an expanding “skin” or “canvas,” with all of the universe’s fundamental information “tatooed” or “painted” on its two-dimensional surface, and projecting from there. The cosmological horizon is responsible for everything that we see, including ourselves, for it has cast our image into a three-dimensional, holographic space. And since the universe began in a state that was very hot, dense, and with high order (that is, with low entropy), as it has cooled and expanded, its entropy has increased. We experience the cooling and expanding cosmological horizon, and its increasing entropy as: (1) time; and (2) gravity. Stripped of appearances, the reality is this: we are two-dimensional beings, 13.7 billion light years away from where we think that we are, imagining that the three-dimensional projection of ourselves is the essential one.  

Have I got it?

Let me try to put it into one sentence:

We are two-dimensional beings emanating into three-dimensions from the 13.7 billion year old cosmological horizon, and we experience that horizon’s entropic disordering as time and gravity.

And if my kids ask me if a holographic universe means that divisions between people and things are ultimately illusory (for each piece that projects a holographic image contains the whole, and so can never really be divided), what should I say? 

Are we unbreakable?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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3 Responses to The Holographic Universe: the Unbreakable Lightness of Being?

  1. Grad Student says:

    Maybe you should tell your kids that this is one of the crazy stories physicists tell themselves about the universe. That this holographic idea is “probably” correct, as you say in the post, is a huge (or astronomical ;)) overstatement. I think I’ll quote Sean Carroll as saying the holographic principle applied to cosmology is “the good kind of crazy.” (Although Carroll was referencing a different theory at the time: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2009/10/14/spooky-signals-from-the-future-telling-us-to-cancel-the-lhc/).

  2. santitafarella says:

    Grad Student:

    “Probably” is too strong a term, you’re right about that. But it does seem to be more than plausible. Why? Because physics may be trending toward making a lot of things that seem fundamental (gravity, time etc.) into the emanations of strings (which I think that physicists posit to be vibrating in one-dimension). It’s wild to think that we are 13.7 billion light years away from where we think that we are, isn’t it? Talk about missing the off-ramp!

    If the holographic universe is right, Plato got it almost completely backwards. The two-dimensional cave wall, not the three dimensional big world, is the real one.

    Thanks for the link, by the way. That was a good post. I wish Carroll hadn’t stopped blogging.

    —Santi

  3. Pingback: Blogging Brian Green’s New Book, “The Hidden Reality” | Prometheus Unbound

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