While Silicon Valley execs were debating the likelihood of life being a simulation, a team of international physicists were investigating an even stranger idea – that the early universe was a vast and complex hologram.
Professor Kostas Skenderis of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Southampton said: “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 researchers added that the model was not dissimilar to watching a 3D film: the pictures have depth, despite coming from a 2D screen.
Using data from advanced telescopes and sensing equipment, the scientists observed the microwaves which originated from the universe’s creation, finding that simple quantum field theories could explain nearly all their observations.
Trying to reconcile Einstein’s theory of relativity – the theory of the very big – with quantum field theory – models for subatomic particles – is one of the greatest challenges of modern theoretical physics.
Professor Skenderis, who worked with colleagues from the University of Waterloo, Perimeter Institute, INFN, Lecce and the University of Salento, is hopeful the holographic model could be a solution:
“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.”
Niayesh Afshordi, the study’s first author from the University of Waterloo in Canada, clarified to Gizmodo that the universe isn’t a hologram any more: “I would say you don’t live in a hologram, but you could have come out of a hologram. There are definitely three dimensions [now].”