The Universe Is (Probably) Not a Hologram

Odds are, the universe we inhabit is real. At least, strictly speaking, as far as being non-holographic is concerned. If you’re wondering why this might have been up for debate anyway, we need to get into a little (very, very little) bit of quantum physics.

A subset of string theory known as holographic principle has been floating around since 1978; like all things related to string theory the concept is a complicated one, but in brief, holographic principle speculates that the universe is a projection in 3D of information encoded in 2D on a structure at the edge of the universe. If true, this theory wouldn’t necessarily invalidate the “reality” of the known world to us, it would simply provide an anti-intuitive quantum structure for the universe as we perceive it. (I use the word simply in its loosest definition here.)

“WTF, Science?” you may ask. “Who fired up the Total Perspective Vortex?” You can blame the GEO 600 gravitational wave detector, which showed evidence of “blurriness” in its readings of gravitational waves at insanely tiny scales–indications that suggested a projection of pixelated data as might be found in a holographic universe.

You can lay aside your woes of existing as nothing more than a program in the Holodeck, though. Recent data collected by the European Space Agency’s Integral gamma-ray detector (an instrument with similar sensitivity to GEO 600) ” doesn’t appear to be registering any quantum fuzziness.” The European satellite has detected absolutely no quantum blurriness down to 10^-48 meters, or one ten-trillionth of the Planck length, or in layman’s terms, impossibly small measurements that can only exist in speculation, since Planck’s constant is theoretically the smallest measurement known to science.

For more about the data and a detailed explanation of the holographic principle (with bonus recommended reading), check out the post on Discovery News.

[via io9] [image: Hubble]