Prometheus/20th Century Fox

Here's What Scientists Mean When They Say The Universe Could Be a Hologram

It's less crazy than it sounds.

7 JUN 2017

For decades now, scientists have been investigating the possibility that our Universe is, or once was, a giant hologram, where the laws of physics require just two dimensions, but everything appears three-dimensional to us.

It sounds far-fetched, but if true, it would actually solve some pretty hefty questions in physics, and recent research has dished up some tantalising evidence that suggests the hologram principle works just as well as the standard Big Bang model in explaining the early Universe.


First proposed in the 1990s, the hologram principle is an attempt to unify the two major arms of thought in modern physics - quantum mechanics and general relativity.

As the Life Noggin video below explains, the idea is that all the information about a volume of space can be thought of as encoded on a two-dimensional boundary to that region.

Think of a black hole - some physicists think that information about all the stuff that falls into a black hole is actually retained (or encoded) on its boundary, the event horizon.

If we apply this principle to the rest of the Universe, all of the information that makes you, me, and all other matter we encounter, is encoded on a two-dimensional boundary and expressed in three dimensions.

While this hypothesis is obviously incredibly difficult to prove, over the past 20 years, more than 10,000 papers have been published on the idea.

One study earlier this year even claimed to have found what could be the first direct observational evidence that Universe once was a hologram, based on the cosmic microwave background - the 'afterglow' of the Big Bang.

So what hints is this 'baby picture' of the Universe giving off?

I'll let the Life Noggin episode below explain that to you, but let's just say this is one out-there hypothesis that we shouldn't write off just yet.


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