(ANTIMEDIA) With all that’s going on in the news and the toxicity we find on social media these days, it’s hard to pull back and think about life in the context of the great cosmic magic show unfolding around and within us. At first blush, one might hear the phrase “holographic universe” and dismiss it as sensationalism or “fake news.” But, incredibly, a new study released Monday concludes that the holographic universe theory is just as likely to be true as our traditional models of space/time.
The holographic universe theory, which originated in the 1990s, suggests that all the information in our universe — including space/time itself — is encoded on a 2D surface.
“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,” said Professor Kostas Skenderis of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Southampton in an interview with PhysOrg. “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.”
The new study, conducted by British, Canadian and Italian researchers, used theoretical physics and astrophysics to analyze irregularities in the cosmic microwave background (commonly thought of as the residual glow of the Big Bang). What their analysis suggests is that one: there are irregularities in current cosmic inflation models and two: the “holographic universe” theory checks out mathematically when applied to the evolution of the universe. In conclusion, the researchers say that there is presently as much evidence to support a holographic universe as there is for the standard cosmological model of the universe.
The holographic universe theory derived from attempts by scientists to describe quantum phenomena using a simplified version of the string theory — the theoretical framework in which particles are defined by string-like filaments. The original purpose of this research was to take on the Herculean task of reconciling Einstein’s theory of relativity with quantum mechanics — a profound mystery that has dogged scientists for decades.
Basically, these two major scientific theories govern our understanding of the universe: general relativity for the big stuff, like galaxies and planets; and quantum mechanics for the small stuff. The problem is that the two are mutually exclusive — in their current incarnations, both theories cannot be right. This means there is a massive, gaping hole in our understanding of the universe. For years, scientists have feverishly attempted to assemble a Grand Unified Theory — ideally one that also explains dark matter and dark energy — but despite this work, a cohesive understanding of the universe continues to elude us.
The holographic universe model is attractive to physicists because it may reconcile general relativity and quantum mechanics. It is far from proven, but the new study suggests the theory is mathematically consistent. While it will probably take decades — if not centuries — for scientists to conclusively prove the ultimate nature of our universe, the new study suggests our reality may be a lot stranger than we ever imagined.
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