Experiment Determines if the Universe is a Hologram

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Experiment Determines if the Universe is a Hologram

The Holometer

Scientists aim to determine whether or not the universe is a two-dimensional holographic illusion using a device called the Holometer.

Physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago, Illinois, announced this week that a device designed to test whether we live in a giant hologram- aptly named the Holometer- has started taking data. The device is assisting in an experiment that tests a theory that the universe is actually made up of tiny "bits", similar to how a photo in a newspaper or an old school comic book panel is made up of tiny, individually colored dots.

These fundamental units of space and time (if they exist) would be incredibly tiny- a hundred billion billion times smaller than a proton. Instead of acting in the way normal particles do, "bits" would behave more like waves due to the quantum behaviour of matter and energy. "The theory is that space is made of waves instead of points, that everything is a little jittery, and never sits still," said the brains behind the experiment Craig Hogan, from the University of Chicago.

The Holometer is designed to measure said "jitter". The device consists of two powerful laser beams, with both directed through tubes 40 metres long. The lasers precisely measure the positions of mirrors along their paths at two points in time. If space-time is smooth and demonstrates no quantum behaviour, then the mirrors should stay perfectly still. However, if both lasers measure an identical difference in the mirrors' position over time, it could mean the mirrors are being jostled about by fluctuations in the fabric of space itself.
The theory that the universe is made of these units comes from the belief that information cannot be destroyed, and that something similar to the 2D event horizon of a black hole "records" everything that gets pulled into it. If said notion is true, the boundary of the universe could also create a 2D representation of all things contained within the universe- like a hologram storing a 3D image in 2D.

What are your thoughts concerning this experiment? Be sure to leave us a comment, and check out more Science-y news right here at The Escapist!

Source: New Scientist

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My brain just hurt. Somebody went outside at night, looked up at the stars, and said "Yeah, that's fake."? The Moon Landing Conspiracy people have found their savior! I mean, come on. What is this, Big O?

Jesus Christ there are some extremely bored scientists out there.

I don't know, it's a tantalising theory but I have a feeling it may fall flat when it comes to finding convincing evidence.

FalloutJack:
My brain just hurt. Somebody went outside at night, looked up at the stars, and said "Yeah, that's fake."? The Moon Landing Conspiracy people have found their savior! I mean, come on. What is this, Big O?

Well, not so much fake as not... quite what we think it is? The universe is obviously not fake, since we and so many other things seem to actually exist. What they're trying to prove or disprove is a hypothesis (that apparently does stand up mathematically) to try and help us better understand what the heck reality and the universe actually is.

Personally, it wouldn't surprise me if they managed to find something. I think the universe and the nature of reality is so much grander and weirder than we can possibly imagine. Now whether or not it's actually possible for us to ever understand it is something else entirely, since we are a part of that system and all of our senses, and perception, and thought processes are shaped by it in some way.

If you want to get into crazier ideas about reality being 'fake' there are some that remain pretty interesting. The simulated universe hypothesis, for example. The idea is that if a species survives long enough, and advances its technology continually, then they *will* eventually have the capability to create a computer simulation of life, or even a galaxy, or universe. How would those living within the simulation even know? What happens if they survive long enough to create simulations of their own? Then you start getting this whole, simulation, within simulation, within simulation... and then you go cross-eyed. It' a neat thought experiment at any rate, I think.

If the universe is one big RTS game then I think we're going to seriously freak out whoever's in charge of managing the hologram.

Like if while playing Civ V your civilization realized it was in a simulation...

rcs619:

If you want to get into crazier ideas about reality being 'fake' there are some that remain pretty interesting. The simulated universe hypothesis, for example. The idea is that if a species survives long enough, and advances its technology continually, then they *will* eventually have the capability to create a computer simulation of life, or even a galaxy, or universe. How would those living within the simulation even know? What happens if they survive long enough to create simulations of their own? Then you start getting this whole, simulation, within simulation, within simulation... and then you go cross-eyed. It' a neat thought experiment at any rate, I think.

So basically, the plot of "The Thirteenth Floor". Great movie built entirely around that theory. But it came out at the same time as the Matrix so didn't get nearly the publicity that it should have. It was less rubber and leather gun fetishism and more smart people doing smart things, and maybe falling in love with a simulacrum of a real person.

they're not saying that the universe is a 2d hologram. The idea is that in 3d space, a 3d black hole has an event horizon that "transcribes" for a lack of a better word everything that falls into it into a 2d plane at the event horizon.

the idea is that if this were the case with the universe, it would answer some questions, but the question isn't whether the universe is some 2d hologram projected on a 3d black hole, but a 3d hologram projected on a 4d black hole in some greater 4 dimensional space

Man wouldn't that be a heck of an announcement.

SCIENTIST: MENTLEGEN! We are living in the Holodeck! We ARE God's Holodeck

So they're basically announcing this:

""Today we realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration. That we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here's Tom with the weather."

Well good to know that my brain is no longer capable of processing the furthest reaches of physics. I'm going to lay down and listen to some music.

JoJo:
I don't know, it's a tantalising theory but I have a feeling it may fall flat when it comes to finding convincing evidence.

I see what you did there....

Wouldn't inherent noise from their sensors, mechanical noise, and electrical noise completely overshadow the tiny signal they're trying to measure?

Bolo The Great:
So they're basically announcing this:

""Today we realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration. That we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here's Tom with the weather."

Well good to know that my brain is no longer capable of processing the furthest reaches of physics. I'm going to lay down and listen to some music.

I think I hurt myself in my confusion...I'm probably going to do the same thing.

This is as always, completely fascinating and simultaneously so abstract that it's also kind of boring. If this is true, it's like being colorblind. You don't know your colorblind till someone tells you that you are. It's that same kind of feeling... like the universe can't see itself like the brain can't see itself.

There are so many things about this that tickle my bullshit detectors, but I'm not studied up in physics enough to quite figure out why so much about this sounds like really bad pseudoscience. I need to go read QED again.

Pinkamena:
Wouldn't inherent noise from their sensors, mechanical noise, and electrical noise completely overshadow the tiny signal they're trying to measure?

According to an article about this experiment on Cnet, the energy fluctuations they are looking for and the operating frequency of the laser they are using are so high that the vibrations from normal matter would not really affect their results, similar to the concept of pseudo-steady state in chemical reactions. I assume this also includes their instruments but it isn't explicitly stated. Regardless, we'll all get to wait about a year for any results.

FalloutJack:
My brain just hurt. Somebody went outside at night, looked up at the stars, and said "Yeah, that's fake."? The Moon Landing Conspiracy people have found their savior! I mean, come on. What is this, Big O?

The universe isn't fake. It exists. The nature of it, however, is unknown to us. We don't know what the universe actually is or why it has to exist. It is therefore, entirely possible that we are artificially created by some higher power. Something like the "13th floor" scenario is entirely possible. You can call our creator(s) god(s) if you want to. It may not be the kind of god that religious people believe in. The omnipotent and omniscient being that rules everything. It might be a group of kids working on a science project for all we know, and we might just be bits of code. In such case, our creators would be so far beyond our comprehension that for our tiny brains we might as well call them gods. And here's another mind-blowing idea. Even they could be bits of code made by someone even more advanced and outside of their comprehension. We just can't know for sure. We're too tiny and our perception is limited to three dimensions even though we know there's more than 3. We can only think about others.

Adam Jensen:

FalloutJack:
My brain just hurt. Somebody went outside at night, looked up at the stars, and said "Yeah, that's fake."? The Moon Landing Conspiracy people have found their savior! I mean, come on. What is this, Big O?

The universe isn't fake. It exists. The nature of it, however, is unknown to us. We don't know what the universe actually is or why it has to exist. It is therefore, entirely possible that we are artificially created by some higher power. Something like the "13th floor" scenario is entirely possible. You can call our creator(s) god(s) if you want to. It may not be the kind of god that religious people believe in. The omnipotent and omniscient being that rules everything. It might be a group of kids working on a science project for all we know, and we might just be bits of code. In such case, our creators would be so far beyond our comprehension that for our tiny brains we might as well call them gods. And here's another mind-blowing idea. Even they could be bits of code made by someone even more advanced and outside of their comprehension. We just can't know for sure. We're too tiny and our perception is limited to three dimensions even though we know there's more than 3. We can only think about others.

I actually never saw that movie. Is it any good?

Altorin:
they're not saying that the universe is a 2d hologram. The idea is that in 3d space, a 3d black hole has an event horizon that "transcribes" for a lack of a better word everything that falls into it into a 2d plane at the event horizon.

the idea is that if this were the case with the universe, it would answer some questions, but the question isn't whether the universe is some 2d hologram projected on a 3d black hole, but a 3d hologram projected on a 4d black hole in some greater 4 dimensional space

This. I'm really excited to see the results from this experiment, I can hardly wait. This theory always did make a lot of sense to me, especially when one ponders the idea that our sense of "time" is really just our way of perceiving the 4th dimension breaking down in that quantum moment it crosses the 4-D black-hole's event horizon. Of course, just a thought. I really need to learn more mathematics to really dive any further into physics.

wait, so if this is right, then it means that the whole universe is just a recording of something that got sucked into a 4d black hole, and we're all just the echoes of a destroyed reality, essentially the dirt caked onto a 4d universe's plughole (or the solitaire win screen where the cards bounce away but leave a trail of copies of their sprites behing)?

... well that's fucking grim.

But how can a device measure jittery waves if the device itself is made of jittery waves?

What if the waves don't jitter randomly, but in a grid, like a photo on a LCD display, and synced to boot (like when you pan said photo)? The holometer would then shake in unison with the rest of the world and wouldn't measure anything.

Or maybe I should read the original article. Sigh, okay.

FalloutJack:
I actually never saw that movie. Is it any good?

Yes. The idea alone is worth giving it a shot.

Well, things aren't full of phlogiston and we're not drifting in the luminiferous aether, so we must all be holograms, right?

I enjoy these kinds of experiments at the edge of science. Not because they sort the science from the non-science, but because they show how the basis of all scientific endeavors is the human imagination.

Pinkamena:
Wouldn't inherent noise from their sensors, mechanical noise, and electrical noise completely overshadow the tiny signal they're trying to measure?

Indeed... Measuring motion a hundred billion billion times smaller than a proton with a 40 meter long tube?
Btw, first I read "smaller than a photon". I'm verrrry tired atm. ;)

Blackwell Stith:

Scientists aim to determine whether or not the universe is a two-dimensional holographic illusion using a device called the Holometer.

The NewScientist article cautions against just this kind of misunderstanding:

NewScientist:
Hogan cautions that the idea that the universe is a hologram is somewhat misleading because it suggests that our experience is some kind of illusion, a projection like a television screen. If the Holometer finds a fundamental unit of space, it won't mean that our 3D world doesn't exist.

In fact, the only context the word "illusion" appears in the article, is the warning above.

Every time a misread like this is published, a little Deepak Chopra gains it's wings.

But what happens if Hollow Graham goes on a rampage and tries to kill us all?!
-Captain Murphy

St3rY:

NewScientist:
Hogan cautions that the idea that the universe is a hologram is somewhat misleading because it suggests that our experience is some kind of illusion, a projection like a television screen. If the Holometer finds a fundamental unit of space, it won't mean that our 3D world doesn't exist.

In fact, the only context the word "illusion" appears in the article, is the warning above.

Every time a misread like this is published, a little Deepak Chopra gains it's wings.

This is actually what I clicked on the article to find out: "Surely they don't actually mean there's scientists out there wanting to find out if we really live in The Matrix or not..."

Gotta say that even the non-scientific jargon in this article makes it very confusing...specifically because of throwing around the word "hologram".

Adam Jensen:

FalloutJack:
I actually never saw that movie. Is it any good?

Yes. The idea alone is worth giving it a shot.

It's basically the grandfather of The Matrix, Inception, and movies of that type,......with arguably better acting.

If the Universe is just a hologram then we must be really sophisticated AI programs.

The great prophet Frankie once spoke of this:

I just hope the next level isn't an escort mission. Those always suck (although hopefully the devs will nerf that money exploit. Currently economics is majorly OP.)

RJ Dalton:
There are so many things about this that tickle my bullshit detectors, but I'm not studied up in physics enough to quite figure out why so much about this sounds like really bad pseudoscience. I need to go read QED again.

It probably sounds stupid because it's going to a sort of metaphysics about the nature of the universe. As someone who is reasonably studied up in physics, this all sounds fairly legit. I don't know if I agree with the hypothesis, but hey, that's what the experiment is for, right? Their methods seem sound enough.

rcs619:
If you want to get into crazier ideas about reality being 'fake' there are some that remain pretty interesting. The simulated universe hypothesis, for example. The idea is that if a species survives long enough, and advances its technology continually, then they *will* eventually have the capability to create a computer simulation of life, or even a galaxy, or universe. How would those living within the simulation even know? What happens if they survive long enough to create simulations of their own? Then you start getting this whole, simulation, within simulation, within simulation... and then you go cross-eyed. It' a neat thought experiment at any rate, I think.

The thing I've always been fascinated by is that religions that believe in an afterlife essentially subscribe to the "simulated universe" hypothesis, if not in name, then in details, with the higher plane of existence being the "true" reality and this one being "created," i.e., not "real."

OT: Can't say much else except "cool experiment," because even if they get data, how can you know whether it's actually useful or not? Even if it checks out, there's a chance that the nature of living inside the "holograph" skews the data one way or another.

...What.

I feel like I just accidentally stumbled into an episode of Futurama. "Good news, everyone! The universe is a hologram! We've been living in Brannigan's holodeck this entire time!"

I'm gunna... lie down or something.

So Bill Cypher was right all along?

Blackwell Stith:

The theory that the universe is made of these units comes from the belief that information cannot be destroyed, and that something similar to the 2D event horizon of a black hole "records" everything that gets pulled into it. If said notion is true, the boundary of the universe could also create a 2D representation of all things contained within the universe- like a hologram storing a 3D image in 2D.

So basically they're saying that it's possible that on the other side of this universe there's a 2D blueprint containing every piece of quantifiable information that ever existed on our side? This means it's possible that a pandimensional alien super-god collective consciousness (or its IT department) can reconstruct our universe according to how they feel fit. Or they can just store us away in some dusty inter-dimensional archival library.

I am so stoned right now.

And I just finished reading Echopraxia, no less.

I think the term "Hologram" is slightly misleading in this context, though I suppose it's not the scientists' fault that the colloquial usage has changed.

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