The idea that the universe may be a hologram may be too radical or outrageous for most of us, but scientists have been mulling over the notion for some decades now. The holographic theory was proposed in the 90’s by Leonard Susskind and Gerard ‘t Hooft, which states that the universe, which we can perceive as a three-dimensional reality, may actually just be a projection emanating from a two-dimensional surface, much in the same way a television show is projected on a two-dimensional screen.
In our limited perception of our three-dimensional reality, we are able to perceive height, width, and depth, but according to the holographic universe theory, all of those are encoded in a two-dimensional surface — not much different from a hologram on a credit card.
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“Imagine that everything you see, feel, and hear in three dimensions (and your perception of time) in fact emanates from a flat two-dimensional field,” study co-author Kostas Skenderis of the University of Southampton explains in a statement. “The idea is similar to that of ordinary holograms where a three-dimensional image is encoded in a two-dimensional surface, such as in the hologram on a credit card. However, this time, the entire universe is encoded.”
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It’s a notion that’s difficult for anybody to wrap their minds around, but the team of scientists from the U.K., Italy, and Canada were able to examine and study the cosmic microwave background to detect irregularities that may prove that the universe is a hologram.
These scientists were able to come up with their results thanks to a new telescope and sensing technology capable of detecting information from the “white noise” or microwaves left over in the universe from the moment of the Big Bang. Using the information they found, the team was able to distinguish “irregularities” between networks of features and quantum field theory.
Using the Planck space telescope, they found observable data that are consistent with the mathematical equations largely used by physicists in the study of holography.
“Holography is a huge leap forward in the way we think about the structure and creation of the universe. Einstein’s theory of general relativity explains almost everything large scale in the universe very well, but starts to unravel when examining its origins and mechanisms at quantum level. Scientists have been working for decades to combine Einstein’s theory of gravity and quantum theory. Some believe the concept of a holographic universe has the potential to reconcile the two. I hope our research takes us another step towards this,” added Professor Skenderis.
The new finding from the international study gives physicists a new way of understanding and studying how the universe works, even more so on account of holography’s potential in bridging the gap between Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, which have always been in conflict with each other, as explained by Science News.
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“When we go into this concept of holography, it’s a new way of thinking about things. Even the scientists who worked on this for the past 20 years don’t have the right tools or the right language to describe what’s going on,” said Skenderis. “It’s a new paradigm for a physical reality.”
The study’s co-author, Niayesh Afshordi of the Perimeter Institute and the University of Waterlo, expressed his excitement about what this finding can mean for how we explain everything we see in the universe going forward.
“I would argue this is the simplest theory of the early universe. And so far, this is as simple as it gets. And it could help explain everything we see,” Afshordi said.
[Featured Image by Handout/Getty Images]