Could we be living in a holographic universe?

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Feb 12, 2017, 7:42 AM EST (Updated)

Imagine that everything we see and touch — more like everything that exists and ever existed in the entire universe — was nothing more than a 3-D image encrypted on a 2-D surface and playing hallucinogenic tricks on our eyes. Now imagine physicists trying to prove it.

"The idea is similar to that of ordinary holograms," said University of Southampton Professor of Mathematical Sciences Kostas Skenderis. "However, this time, the entire universe is encoded."

Holographic theory is a hybrid of quantum theory and Einstein's theory of gravity that first arose in the 1990s (coincidentally the era of holographic stickers), challenging traditional scientific views that explain creation and expansion of the universe with the theory of cosmic inflation. Some theoretical physicists are convinced that proving we live and breathe in a holographic universe will make these theories compatible and fuse them into something unprecedented.

Many in the scientific community believe that a reality in which we only perceive three dimensions is more fiction than science and more magic than math. Even microscopic particles have depth. Determined to prove that there is more to holographic theory than pages and pages of mathematical equations indecipherable to anyone who doesn't have a Ph.D. in physics, an international team of theoretical physicists and astrophysicists set out to validate the concept using aberrations in the cosmic microwave background as intangible proof.

Cosmic microwaves are a type of electromagnetic radiation that littered space in the wake of the Big Bang. They are also the key these scientists believe can open the portal to proving our existence in a holographic universe, especially since telescopes and other astronomical sensing devices have now become advanced enough to see previously undetectable data hidden in these microwaves. The research team compared this data to facets of quantum field theory, the theoretical skeleton physicists as a sort of bone structure to support models and interactions associated with quantum mechanics.

In findings published in Physical Review Letters, Skenderis and his team claim that models of a universe that emerged as an enormous hologram billions of years ago "are competitive to the standard cold dark matter model with a cosmological constant of cosmology" and "while they predict a different power spectrum from the standard power law used in [the cold dark matter model], they still provide an excellent fit to the data (within their regime of validity)."

Validity is the glaring issue here. Surprisingly, while the team found that irregularities in the microwaves they studied could be supposedly demystified by holographic theory just as thoroughly as they could be explained by the theory of cosmic inflation, doubt is still pervasive. These findings have only so far been proven through mathematical calculations and not on any direct evidence that the universe is really 2-D. Even computer-generated diagrams and simulations, for all the complexity that was programmed into them, cannot prove the on-screen result exists in the realm of science. Holography still remains on the very fringe of even theoretical physics.

While theories can be proven mathematically with pen and paper, whether or not the concept of a holographic universe actually has any depth still remains to be seen — if it can be seen at all.

(via Sci News)