The holographic principle of the universe has been a popular theory among crazies and string theorists for years.
In a larger and more speculative sense, the theory suggests that the entire universe can be seen as a two-dimensional information structure “painted” on the cosmological horizon, such that the three dimensions we observe are only an effective description at macroscopic scales and at low energies. Cosmological holography has not been made mathematically precise, partly because the cosmological horizon has a finite area and grows with time.
Take a look at the back of a credit card. You can see the metallic two-dimensional sticker on the back, right? When you tilt it back and forth, the image on the sticker appears to be three-dimensional as light reflects off of it in the changing light. The holographic prinicple of the universe says that this is how the universe behaves: the entire universe is two-dimensional and we only perceive it to be three dimensional because of a quirk of light, but also that we’re incapable of recognizing the holography of the universe as a result of the precision of the hologram (much like a really convincing 3D movie that you’ve been watching your whole life).
The idea that spacetime may not be entirely smooth – like a digital image that becomes increasingly pixelated as you zoom in – had been previously proposed by Stephen Hawking and others. Possible evidence for this model appeared last year in the unaccountable “noise” plaguing the GEO600 experiment in Germany, which searches for gravitational waves from black holes. To Hogan, the jitteriness suggested that the experiment had stumbled upon the lower limit of the spacetime pixels’ resolution.
The universe is probably not smooth. This has been theorized since the days of Max Planck around the turn of the last century and today the supposed graininess of the universe is relatively well-accepted, as far as new and crazy/mind-blowing/debilitating theories go.
Proponents of this theory have long been resigned to the ranks of stoner philosophy majors going on about how the universe is totally flat, man, totally. In the background, though, theorists have been refining the theory and now it’s time for them to shine.
“So we want to build a machine which will be the most sensitive measurement ever made of spacetime itself,” says Hogan. “That’s the holometer.”
The holometer’s precision means that it doesn’t have to be large; at 40 meters in length, it is only one hundredth of the size of current interferometers, which measure gravitational waves from black holes and supernovas. Yet because the spacetime frequencies it measures are so rapid, it will be more precise over very short time intervals by seven orders of magnitude than any atomic clock in existence.
The results from this experiment will likely be a hot topic of debate for a long time, but if a definitive answer is shown then it could revolutionize not only the field of quantum mechanics, but physics as a whole.
I’ve heard about things like this.