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The universe is just a big hologram, astrophysicists claim

There is as much evidence for the holographic universe as there is for traditional explanations, researchers said

Andrew Griffin
Monday 30 January 2017 16:21 GMT
A photographer looks at the sky at night to see the annual Geminid meteor shower near Provenzales' rock, in Maira Valley, northern Italy on December 6, 2016
A photographer looks at the sky at night to see the annual Geminid meteor shower near Provenzales' rock, in Maira Valley, northern Italy on December 6, 2016 (AFP)

The universe might just be one "vast and complex hologram". And our vision of life as being in 3D may just be an illusion.

That's according to astrophysicists who have studied the cosmic microwave background, or the afterglow that is left over from the Big Bang. After doing so, they have found substantial evidence that our universe is holographic, they said.

There is at least as much evidence for the strange theory as there is for the traditional idea of the structure of our universe, according to the astrophysicists from the University of Southampton, who worked with colleagues in Canada and Italy.

What we see of the universe might be compared with what it's like to watch a 3D film at a cinema, even though those are not made with holograms. Just like those films, we experience the depth of the image – even though we know that it really all comes from a flat screen.

Our universe may just be a more convincing version of the same thing – meaning that we can touch the objects and they look and behave as if they are real.

The idea that our universe is a hologram was first proposed in the 90s. It suggests that all of the information – what we think is our 3D reality, and time – is actually just contained on a flat surface on its boundaries.

"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 Kostas Skenderis, a professor of mathematical sciences at the University of Southampton. "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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The research could unify two of the most central parts of our understanding of physics – general relativity, which explains it at the biggest scale, and quantum theory, which explains it at its very smallest.

"Holography is a huge leap forward in the way we think about the structure and creation of the universe," said Professor Skenderis. "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."

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