Why our world may actually be nothing but a hologram

No doubt as you have, by now, figured out, we physicists we here at dogsounds Towers pride ourselves on our crusade to bring little snippets of THE SCIENCE! and the knowledge of our universe to our readers in a way that is straightforward, plain-speaking and easy to understand.

We endeavor to cherrypick the best examples of current thinking and put them into your immense and powerful BRAIN  to enhance your world view. To bring to you enlightenment without the hassle of going to a university and being all socially inadequate around girls and that.

Okay, well, let’s be honest, we don’t do that much, But when we see an article or a news story about THE SCIENCE! that is the equivalent of waking up and finding dinosaurs in your car, then we have to pass it along as best we can.

But, I am afraid, dear, sweet gentle readers, for the first time we have totally failed. We have today found an article of THE SCIENCE! that is so staggeringly obtuse, we have not been able to break it down. More after the jump.

We came across an article at New Scientist that, frankly, even though we have read it several times, does not go in. It does just not go in. We have tried with and without glasses, with lab coats, and we even ran it through the Google translation thingy to see if it would tranlsate it into English or something. But we were bested. The article is made up of lots of little paragraphs that, in of themselves, make sense. But considered as a whole, it makes our BRAINS shut down in a flop-sweat.

Anyhoo. As far as we can tell, the article relates to a current idea that, based on evidence gathered from the  GEO600 experiment in Hanover – a observational project designed to detect and analyse gravitational waves – our world may be nothing more than a holographic projection. Or possibly we are real, and the universe is a 2 dimensional projection. Or something. On the details, we are fuzzy, very fuzzy. But it is weird-ass SCIENCE! thinking, so we are intrigued.

It seems to also include black holes, storage of information about the black hole and its 3 dimensions in the 2 dimensions of the event horizon (that’s the hologram part) and possibly dinosaurs with lasers.* 

As an example of how fucking mind-futzing the article is, even the teaser paragraphs – the bits in the middle in a massive font that are designed to attract your attention with a simple, subject-revealing tease and HUGE quotation marks  – make your brain fart. For example:

“Incredibly, the experiment was picking up unexpected noise – as if quantum convulsions were causing an extra sideways jitter”  

Buh? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN IN ENGLISH? Are we talking timey-wimey spacey-wacey here?

So, anyway, as we have no hope of offering any kind of useful brief summary of the article in any meaningful way, here is a totally random excerpt:

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.”

[dogsounds comment: that has to be one of the most awesome and random quotes ever uttered by a scientist: “If the GEO600 result is what I suspect it is, then we are all living in a giant cosmic hologram.” This scientist would give Slartibartfast a run for his money at a party.]

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.

Go read the full article at New Scientist here. If anyone can break this down for us, comment below. We’ll take all the help we can get.

And if you like the image above, it’s from wearscience.com who sell all sorts of awesome SCIENCE! themed apparel.


*Actually, the whole “dinosaurs with lasers” part may have just been us projecting to find something familiar and comforting to latch on to. Which we totally didn’t.



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  1. By The Eleven Dimensions of Space/Time - Part I on February 9, 2010 at 8:00 am

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