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]

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18 Responses to The Universe Is (Probably) Not a Hologram

  1. i bet the universe has just slightly evolved scince seeing the "fuzzyness" as the resolution was upgraded based on sudden awareness of the machine…. well done over seers and creators, well done.

  2. Funny thing. They don’t expect us to understand this, which makes it so interesting to read. Knowing you don’t understand any of it. Or atleast very little.

  3. 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.”

    But, doesn't that just mean whoever is controlling the holodeck upgraded their programming?

  4. 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.”

    But, doesn’t that just mean whoever is controlling the holodeck upgraded their programming?

  5. An age old question comes to mind: If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

    The question is equally true for visual information. The universe as we know it really only exists in our minds as a perceptual understanding of massive amounts of filtered stimulus. Our brains interpret only a small fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum and perceive that as "the universe," when in fact we ignore most of what is there (if anything at all). The universe is really a chaotic blend of vibrations, electromagnetic waves, and other forces. Only in our mind do these details form some rationality. We impose reality on the select subset of data we choose to interpret.

    Hence, a collapse of the wave function, if you will. The act of measuring creates a piece of data that we can point to and call "reality." Without measurement the universe does not exist, and when we measure something, its abstractness is collapsed into something logical through the mechanisms of the mind.

    The universe IS a hologram. However, the screen is the minds eye (not a Holodeck) and the rules are determined by human rationality (not the computer).

  6. An age old question comes to mind: If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

    The question is equally true for visual information. The universe as we know it really only exists in our minds as a perceptual understanding of massive amounts of filtered stimulus. Our brains interpret only a small fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum and perceive that as "the universe," when in fact we ignore most of what is there (if anything at all). The universe is really a chaotic blend of vibrations, electromagnetic waves, and other forces. Only in our mind do these details form some rationality. We impose reality on the select subset of data we choose to interpret.

    Hence, a collapse of the wave function, if you will. The act of measuring creates a piece of data that we can point to and call "reality." Without measurement the universe does not exist, and when we measure something, its abstractness is collapsed into something logical through the mechanisms of the mind.

    The universe IS a hologram. However, the screen is the minds eye (not a Holodeck) and the rules are determined by human rationality (not the computer).

    •  amazing explination…i do have to say though the question is of it being a hologram……. so if someone from another universe can suddenly see/feel this one as actually taking up some kind of physical space, it must not be a hologram…also in the details provided i think doesnt really contain what makes it a hologram or not just that it could be interpreted as "pixelated" before… acvcording to our only recent understanding of "pixelated"

  7. I remember when the quantum fuzzies first appeared. Someone suggested that it was much like Schrodinger's Cat in that we had yet to even glimpse in that direction of reality, metaphorically, and there for reality hadn't decided which it was to be. With the initial interest it seems that reality has decided and there is now a speed to which our consciousness travels to affect space-time. 

  8. this song always really hit me as a great story of manifest destiny….
    Project Pitchfork – The Seeker

    oliver had a dream . he dreamt that all made sense

    everything was very logical . he dreamt of birds and butterflies

    of dimensions in a stern structure . and time as the only truth

    mislead and blinded . by his logic

    caught in a labyrinth of time . neglecting speculations
    neglecting timeless existence . oh what a fool he is
    answers so near . understanding so far away
    oliver was so sure . that everything needs proof . to be true
    oliver thinks himself always right . but what can his opinion change
    I am so small – he thinks . but oliver when a small stone is thrown
    into a quiet lake . the whole sea is moved
    oh oliver . there are so many of your kind . too many of your kind