Multinational researchers say they have found what they consider as the first observational evidence that the universe might be a complex hologram, and what we perceive as 3D ‘real life’ is actually a projection. While the idea itself is not breaking news, it relaunches the never-ending debate on the nature of our universe and fans the flame of the holographic principle.#ElonMusk says the chance we are not living in a computer simulation is one in billions.Click To Tweet
Cosmic Holographic Cave
In Plato’s famous Allegory of the Cave, reality is divided into two parts: the palpable world accessible to the senses, and the intelligible world accessible to reason, the home of ideas and truth. Imagine prisoners in a cave who are tied so that they can only see the opposite wall. Behind them, a fire projects the shadows of different objects on the wall.
The prisoners attribute the shadows to objects they perceive, such as a book. Plato argues that because the shadows are caused by things the prisoners do not see, the name “book” is a concept that only lives in the mind.
What if Plato’s allegory applies to cosmology and what we experience is merely shadows cast by objects we can comprehend?
It seems that tech billionaires in Silicon Valley believe so. Sam Altman of Y Combinator revealed that Silicon Valley is “obsessed” with this idea.
Elon Musk had also already expressed his belief that the world is nothing but a computer simulation. Many tech billionaires are convinced that we live in a simulation, and according to Altman, two of them have gone so far as to fund scientific research to break us out.
First Observation of a Holographic Universe
The theory of a holographic universe has been suggested by physicist Leonard Susskind in the 1990s. In a holographic universe, the information would be “encoded” in a 2D surface, or a gravitational horizon depending on the observer, meaning that there’s one more dimension.
A team of researchers from the University of Waterloo, University of Southampton, Perimeter Institute, INFN, Lecce and the University of Salento believe they found the first observational evidence of a holographic Universe.
The researchers published their findings in the journal Physical Review Letters. The cosmic microwave background, projected after the Big Bang, was the encoded structure of our universe projected as a hologram.
Like the characters and objects in 3D films, although emanating from a flat surface, they give the impression of having depth, height, and width. The difference is that in “real” universe we can feel objects and we consider them as real from our perspective.
To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers investigated the irregularities present in the afterglow of the Big Bang (the cosmic microwave background). They created a mathematical model on a computer, which simulates the beginning of the universe. But instead of 3 dimensions, they have parameterized the model on only two dimensions. Feeding their model with real information about the Universe, including data on the cosmic diffuse background or the leftover noise from the Big Bang, the researchers realized that the data fit.
Niayesh Afshordi, the co-author of the study, explained that the model doesn’t prove that the universe is a hologram now because it’s definitely 3D, but for the primitive universe, it’s probable. “I would say you don’t live in a hologram,” said Afshordi, “but you could have come out of a hologram.”
Physics as we understand it seems more suited to a two-dimensional universe than to three-dimensional one. The hypothesis of a 2D universe can answer some major problems of physics, such as reconciling Einstein’s theory of general relativity and quantum physics.
Obviously, there is still no direct and irrefutable evidence that the universe is a hologram.
Mathematical models and calculations will facilitate the work of physicists, yet leave us to wonder. If one day we succeed in confirming that we live in a holographic 3D projection, our understanding of the nature of the universe, of life, and the place of humanity in the cosmos will certainly change.