Mindblowing! Our Universe Might Just Be One Giant Hologram
This story grabbed a lot of eyeballs Wednesday night when it topped the line-up Huffingtom Post. It seems that a team of physicists has provided what many in the science community are considering clear evidence that our universe could be a holographic projection.
The notion that our entire universe could potentially be a hologram is not brand new. In 1997, theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena proposed a new model of viewing a long-held theory regarding the universe, in which gravity exists as microscopically thin, vibrating strings, largely holding everything up like a marionette. This well-established concept, Maldacena argued, could be easily reinterpreted in the context of commonly understood physics, wherein the "strings" that bind the nine dimensions of space plus one of time, would be merely a hologram of a real simpler, flatter cosmos that exists without gravity.
Maldacena's theory caused some excitement within the physics community, as it served as the first bit of framework to help resolve the apparent inconsistencies between quantum physics and Einstein's theory of gravity, allowing a way of retaining both sets of principles by placing one set of rules in the real cosmos, and the other in the sort of parallel hologram universe.
Now, two new papers posted on arXiv repository by Yoshifumi Hyakutake of Ibaraki University in Japan, are providing compelling evidence that Maldacena's theory could very well be true. In one paper, Hyakutake computes the internal energy of a black hole, the boundary between the black hole and the rest of the universe (known as its event horizon) and other properties through the framework of string theory; in the other, he and his team calculated the internal energy of the corresponding lower-dimensional cosmos with no gravity, which Maldacena and others consider the "real" universe. The two computer calculations, shockingly, matched.
"[The findings] are an interesting way to test many ideas in quantum gravity and string theory," Maldacena told Nature.com. "The whole sequence of papers is very nice because it tests the dual [universe theory] in regimes where there are no analytic tests."
The mind-boggling findings are, of course, rather dense, and are a breakthrough in research really only for a community that understands the language itself, but one essential takeaway is that for the first time in history, there is numerical confirmation that the energy created by certain blackholes can be reproduced from lower-dimensional universes, meaning that the two drastically different worlds are actually, mathematically, identical in properties. While the universe used as the model for ours isn't exactly identical (the cosmos with a black hole has ten dimensions; the gravity-free one has just one), it's a huge step forward for both physics and stoned college conversation.