The holographic universe theory is a tenet of quantum gravity that suggests that the universe consists of a hidden order that connects one point to another. This, therefore, implies that there is a subtle connection between events and places that could be perceived as unconnected.
A holographic universe also relates to a virtual or simulated universe. A virtual or simulated universe or sensory experience is just a perception produced by an artificial reality.
Look around you. You will get the illusion that you live in a three-dimensional world filled with visceral shapes, patterns, and textures. You also feel that you can interact with these 3D objects and receive an instant subjective feeling in your body of their texture, weight, depth, temperature, and size. As a result, you get a sense of the reality of the physical space around you and your location within it.
However, according to some physicists, all this could be an illusion. What if this perception of depth, space, and location was merely a construct of your mind? What if it was only sustainable from moment to moment? And, what if the shape of the world and its solidity is a hallucination produced by your brain?
Is Holographic Universe Idea A Product of Our Mind?
The holographic universe idea implies that our perception of three dimensions is a product of decoding information from a flat, two-dimensional world. This means that the 3D perception could entirely be the product of your brain’s interpretation.
Think of it like this:
There are realistic and moving computer games constructed and embedded in a CD or hard drive. Yet we perceive them as realistic and moving. This is the same way the holographic universe idea works. We perceive the two-dimensional objects, textures, and patterns as three-dimensional.
Gerard’t Hooft first proposed the holographic universe theory. It was, however, given a precise string-theory interpretation by Leonard Susskind. Susskind combined his ideas and Charles Thorn’s ideas to develop modern principles of hologram universe theory.
According to Leonard Susskind, a three-dimensional world of everyday experience exists. And the universe is filled with stars, planets, galaxies, and people. He further states that this makes the universe a hologram where an image of reality is cited on a distant 2D surface.
Where Did the Idea That the Universe Is a Hologram Come From?
We have already mentioned that the black hole is a major inspiration behind the quantum hologram principle. Now in 1974, Stephen Hawking found out that black holes emit specific amounts of radiation over time, contrary to what was previously thought. The black hole should disappear as the radiation fades away from the event horizon of the black hole’s periphery.
However, Hawking’s idea prompted what is referred to as the black hole information loss problem. It has been thought that it is impossible to destroy physical information. This is because all particles retain their original form. However, if they change, the change only impacts other particles. Therefore, the first set of particles’ original state could get interfered with at the end.
It is much simpler to perceive it this way:
The result will be tiny pieces of paper when you feed a stack of documents into a paper shredder. The entire document no longer exists, but the information still exists on tiny pieces of paper. And the document has been cut into small pieces of paper; it has not disappeared completely. This means that you could reassemble the tiny pieces of paper and still know what was written on the document before the shredding.
This same thing was thought to happen with particles.
But a problem seemed to arise again:
If a black hole disappears, the information present in the particles appears to be sucked in. This is where the works of Leonard Susskind and Gerard’t Hooft come in. They proposed that when an object is sucked into a black hole, it leaves behind some 2D imprint that is encoded on the event horizon. Later on, when the radiation leaves the black hole, it will pick up the imprint of the data left behind. This means that the information is never really destroyed.
And the calculations indicated that you could store enough information on a 2D surface to perceive or describe 3D entirely. According to Susskind, we can independently think of a hologram as a 2-dimensional piece of film that can encode all the necessary information into a 3D region space.
So, how did this all move from a black hole theory to the whole universe?
Relating The Hologram Idea from The Black Hole to The Entire Universe
The physicists’ works did not prove that a black hole was a hologram.
However, earlier on, Susskind noted that perceiving the entire universe as a 2D object which only looks 3D might help resolve some deeper issues in theoretical physics. And he later found out that math was working well whether it involved a planet, a black hole, or the entire universe.
Later on, Maldacena also illustrated that a hypothetical universe could be a hologram. His hypothetical universe is referred to as anti-de Sitter space. Maldecena’s hypothetical universe has a curved shape over considerable distances to simplify things. This differs from our universe, which is supposedly flat.
Final Thoughts: So, Is the Universe a Hologram?
A hologram is a flat surface, or a 2D surface, that appears to have an additional dimension and depth, making it seem 3D when viewed. And there are a lot of physicists that mathematically believe that the universe is a hologram. This theory is not far-fetched. As much as we appear to live in a 3D universe, it may actually be 2D. A 2D surface contains all data needed to describe our universe. This is how they make characters in animations.
At first glance, it looks absurd. But it may be true that we live on a flat surface that appears to have depth. When physicists incorporate this in their calculations, complex problems such as the black hole and the nature of gravity and quantum mechanics become much easier to solve.