We’re living in a giant hologram

February 3, 2009 at 2:00 am 5 comments

I knew it! Our world is nothing more than a giant hologram. Some dudes in Germany have stumbled onto what could be the most important of scientific discoveries. There’s this thing called the GEO600 experiment going on in the countryside of Hanover. The experiment has been focusing on discovering Einstein’s theorised gravitational waves, which are ripples in space-time caused by dense objects such as supernovae, spinning neutron stars and black holes (the black holes in space-time are not to be confused with any black hole of an organisation you might be working in!).

But instead of detecting gravitational waves, scientists have been plagued by inexplicable noise and interference patterns. An American physicist, Craig Hogan, believes he has the answer. The noise is coming from the point at which space-time stops behaving like the smooth continuum Einstein described and becomes grainy. Granularity produces minute convulsions that are said to be characteristic of a holographic universe. So this would mean that scientists have literally stumbled onto quantum scale (ie very very small) points (imagine pixels).

The notion of a holographic universe is well-articulated in Michael Talbot’s book, based on the theories of David Bohm and neurophysiologist Karl Pribram (who both believe that the universe may be a giant hologram). I have a particular interest in Bohm’s work and wrote about holographic notions in my paper Is God Online?, which you can download here.

Because of convulsions being detected at the boundary of the universe, Hogan’s theory is suggesting that information about everything in the cosmos – including you and me – is encoded on the surface at the boundary of the universe (or event horizon) and projected so that we see the world and us as we do. This means that the world we seem to perceive and enjoy as 3-dimensional is in reality a 2-dimensional construct (so much for String Theory!) and projected from the far flung edge of the universe.

To understand this better, we need to consider black holes. Let’s think of a humongous star that has a hissy fit, implodes and becomes a black hole. As the star gets sucked into the black hole it passes the event horizon (ie the outer boundary of the black hole from which nothing can escape). The black hole’s entropy (or information content) is proportional to the surface area of its event horizon. So this means that all the information about the star’s 3-dimensional structure would be encoded in the 2-dimensional event horizon.

Given this, Hogan’s theory suggests that all the information inside our universe is encoded in the universe’s event horizon (ie the limit of the observable universe). It gets more creepy when we consider that the fundamental “grain” allowed by quantum theory in space-time is a planck length (1.6 x 10-36 metres). So this means that the information encoded in the universe’s event horizon would be held in planck length bits (ie really really really small).

From this (if I understand it correctly), Hogan is suggesting that each tiny bit of information encoded in Planck-length squares (or if you like, pixels or grains) would link or map to our reality somewhere inside the universe. And that reality is far bigger than the planck length scale I’ve been talking about.

The implications of this are quite staggering when you think about it.

  • when we see a beautiful landscape, perhaps as we are on a road trip and the sun is setting and the landscape is bathed in a beautiful golden light – well, we’re not really seeing that reality at all. We are seeing signals or information transmitted to where we’re standing from the edge of the universe. A signal that is contained within a tiny bit of information encoded in Planck-length squares at the event horizon of the universe. And these signals we receive in our brain so the holographic image exists only within us as series of electrical impulses.  And so the brain is a hologram.
  • and when was the information encoded? billions of years ago?  And so this means everything we are doing, absolutely everything, is predetermined and so there is such a notion as destiny?
  • where does consciousness exist? In the event horizon of the universe? Are we therefore nothing more than fancy antennas receiving signals? And does it mean that all consciousness is shared since we are all sharing the same encoded information?  if so, then that makes ESP an understandable concept I think.
  • how do we translate the information encoded into a sense of reality and, furthermore, into a sense of shared reality?
  • so does this mean that space-time is not continuous and therefore particles can act unexpectedly or erratically (well, we saw this in the double-slit experiment).
  • will this help scientists realise The Theory of Everything?
  • could the information encoded be duplicated so that there are multiverses out there (and creepy but what an intriguing question – exact copies of you and me?). In other words, there could be other states of our existence that we simply do not perceive.
  • and invoking The Matrix – who or what has created all the encoded information? A super computer? Some pimply kid from the year 5010 playing games with us?

So many more questions I could ask: What of God? What of the soul? Is Creation continuous?

You can get a more scientific run-down from this New Scientist article. But be quick, as NS only offers articles free for a short period of time before they disappear behind a subscriber-only wall. But at least I’ve summarised it for you.

If the NS article is scientific mumbo-jumbo, then you can watch these two interesting videos I found on YouTube – The Holographic Universe – Beyond Matter Part 1 and Part 2. Part 2 is probably more pertinent to this post although you may or may not agree with the conclusion.

Well off for a lie-down!

Image credit: HubbleSite

Entry filed under: Quantum mechanics, Quantum physics, Science, YouTube. Tags: , , .

Is change always good? How curious!

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jonathan Shearman  |  February 3, 2009 at 9:39 am

    So does Plato get the last laugh here?

  • 2. thinkingshift  |  February 3, 2009 at 10:07 am

    yep, we’re all living in Plato’s cave watching the shadows!

  • 3. Paris  |  February 3, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    I’m not sure mathematical equations are the best tool to understand microscopic or macroscopic world…
    Even though they were, our biggest computers are not powerfull enough to compute the billion parameters that are necessary to understand the relatively simple behavior of our climate (yeah i worked on climatic research), let alone ..the universe!
    Scientist are not rationale on this, but merely hopefull
    It’s so much human to believe in God, so much more hard to hit reality, cause it’s way beyond our understanding, anyway.
    There’s been no one on the Moon before I was born, and we have no clue how to save our climate.
    So when some scientists hoping to fund their expensive research sell big fantasies to journals, I take it as a myth, a beautifull dream, but no science.
    When we have colonised some outter stelar system, I’ll take them as serious scientists 😉

  • 4. Brian Bailey  |  February 3, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    I’ll make a note to check the specifications of enterprise content management systems and their ability to handle planck length square objects with the attendent universal metada

  • 5. thinkingshift  |  February 3, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Please get back to me on that Brian 🙂


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