the giant hologram theory of the universe

Yes, yes, the Inauguration is a big deal. And I am soooo glad that our long national nightmare is finally over.

But.

There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our politics, fellow Horatios.

Recent physics results help stitch together a number of findings, unexplained phenomena, and the usual bizarre physics theories into something which I find both compelling and, frankly, a bit disturbing.

The gist is that the universe, as we know it, in its adorable 3-dimensionality, is really a projection of the 2-dimensional edge of the universe. No, seriously.

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.”

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.

Marcus Chown, “Our world may be a giant hologram”, New Scientist issue #2691 (Jan. 15, 2009).

You have to read the whole thing.

This is going to be rocking my brain for a long time to come.

hat-tip to larry shaw ….