Fine Structure

The Universe as a Hologram

New Scientist is pushing an article around (actually, it's the front-page feature of the current issue) which claims that "our universe may be a hologram." It's based around some very, very tiny noise at the GEO600 gravitational wave detector in Germany and some interesting theoretical research done in the '90s by Susskind and 't Hooft about the amount of information contained in the entire universe. Another researcher, Craig Hogan, thinks that the noise within the GEO600 isn't really noise at all but the "grainy" holographic artifacts that show up when a 2D hologram of finite area is projected into three dimensions.

In short, I think Hogan is subtly trying to get a theory containing the smallest unit of "stuff" out there in a different way. I'm not completely sure what correlations exist between the noise from the GEO600 and the hologram research other than their apparent size (roughly 10-16 meters), so it sounds as though there's not much weight here (at least not yet).

Then there's the other issue I have with these kinds of articles... even if the GEO600 detector is finding fluctuations at 10-16 meters based on some sort of fundamental size limit, I don't think there's any indication that it has anything to do with some universal hologram projector. Holograms, as far as we know, are static objects recorded from a 3D source and appear 3D on a 2D surface. For us to be living inside a hologram, wouldn't we be projected from a dynamic 2D source that was either recorded or had at least some sort of "sense" of a 3D space? It doesn't quite make sense how these things match up...

Perhaps Hogan has these things all worked out, but to my (admittedly untrained) brain, I'm not convinced of the feasibility. Does anyone have any helpful explanations in more detail?


I remember seeing this.. fascinating stuff - especially the granuality of the universe/time...

April 12, 2009
1:24 PM

From Colin