Is the universe a hologram?

Paul Raven @ 25-10-2010

Wrap your head around this on a Monday morning, if you can: what we think of as the three dimensional universe we inhabit may in fact just be a holographic projection, and Craig Hogan is trying to prove it [via BigThink and Ian Sales].

The idea that spacetime may not be entirely smooth – like a digital image that becomes increasingly pixelated as you zoom in – had been previously proposed by Stephen Hawking and others. Possible evidence for this model appeared last year in the unaccountable “noise” plaguing the GEO600 experiment in Germany, which searches for gravitational waves from black holes. To Hogan, the jitteriness suggested that the experiment had stumbled upon the lower limit of the spacetime pixels’ resolution.

Black hole physics, in which space and time become compressed, provides a basis for math showing that the third dimension may not exist at all. In this two-dimensional cartoon of a universe, what we perceive as a third dimension would actually be a projection of time intertwined with depth. If this is true, the illusion can only be maintained until equipment becomes sensitive enough to find its limits.

“You can’t perceive it because nothing ever travels faster than light,” says Hogan. “This holographic view is how the universe would look if you sat on a photon.”

Coming soon to a Greg Egan short story collection near you…

I just never get tired of these existential cosmology ideas. As I’ve said before, this is the sort of stuff that makes me wish I’d actually paid attention at university and gone on to study hardcore physics… though given how much I sucked at calculus, it’s probably best that I didn’t.

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2 Responses to “Is the universe a hologram?”

  1. Robert Koslover says:

    Re: “…this is the sort of stuff that makes me wish I’d actually paid attention at university and gone on to study hardcore physics…” Three responses: (1) Been there, done that. (Verdict: I’m still pretty confused about the universe, but I know just enough physics to earn a living from it.) (2) Regarding those people suggesting novel multidimensional ideas, they are pretty darn confused too, just at a somewhat different level than you are. (3) Finally, these two scenes seem at least somewhat relevant to this discussion: (a) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOKK8mAkiUI and (b) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pWSwfVDiq8 . Armed with that, you should be able to think all the great thoughts you’ll ever need.

  2. Chad says:

    I’m beginning to think everyone is confused about everything. Every great thinker is proven wrong at some point. Einstein’s theories are already being tugged at pretty hard.