(ORDO NEWS) — One of the most promising attempts to explain gravity is to look at it differently, like something like a hologram, a three-dimensional effect that appears on a flat two-dimensional surface.
The idea is that it only seems to us that we live in a three-dimensional universe – in fact, there can only be two changes. This view of the world is called the holographic principle.
So, let’s imagine that some remote two-dimensional surface contains all the data necessary to fully describe our world, and, like in a hologram, this data is projected in three dimensions. Like characters on a TV screen, we live on a flat surface that looks like it has depth.
How to understand the universe
To be sure, the holographic universe seems absurd. But when physicists, based on calculations, assume something like this, it means that all sorts of fundamental physical problems – for example, the nature of black holes and the reconciliation of gravity and quantum mechanics – become simpler.
Simply put, the laws of physics make more sense when they are described in two dimensions rather than three.
However, there are important differences. First, there is no direct evidence that our universe is a two-dimensional hologram. Secondly, such calculations are not the same as mathematical proof.
A hologram is an image of a system obtained using fewer dimensions, capable of containing all the information from the original system
Rather, these are intriguing speculations. It is also doubtful that it is impossible to test this theory experimentally. And yet, the very idea that our universe is a hologram arose from a couple of paradoxes that concern the strange physics of black holes.
Do black holes store information?
In 1974, famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking discovered that black holes emit small amounts of radiation over time. When this energy leaves the event horizon – the outer edge of the black hole – the black hole should disappear completely. This idea gave rise to the so-called information loss problem in a black hole.
For a long time it was believed that physical information cannot be destroyed: all particles retain their original shape, and if they change, they affect other particles. Thus, at the end of the life cycle of a black hole, one can determine the initial state of a set of particles.
Who knows, maybe our world and the whole Universe is a hologram
But here a problem arises: if the black hole disappears, then all the information present in any absorbed object, apparently, disappears too.
At the end of the 20th century, researchers suggested that when an object is inside a black hole, it leaves behind a kind of 2D imprint, information about which is encoded on the event horizon. Later, as the radiation leaves the black hole, it picks up the imprint of that data.
Thus, the information does not really disappear without a trace. The performed calculations have shown that it is possible to store information only on the two-dimensional surface of a black hole. And with the help of this information, you can fully describe any seemingly three-dimensional objects inside it.
All information contained in a certain region of space can be represented as a “hologram”
Recall that black holes behave in accordance with Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. But tiny particles outside of black holes play by the rules of the Standard Model of particle physics, which describes the universe on the absolute smallest scales.
From black holes to the entire universe
Seeing the entire universe as a two-dimensional object that only appears to be three-dimensional can help solve some of the larger problems in theoretical physics. The fact is that mathematics works regardless of whether we are talking about a black hole, a planet, or the entire universe.
Moreover, by considering the universe in two dimensions, the researchers were able to create string theory a broad framework in which the basic building blocks of the universe are one-dimensional strings rather than particles clearly consistent with the well-established laws of particle physics.
One could even say that the holographic principle unified the theory of gravity with the theories of particle physics.
And yes, all this is very different from the claim that our universe – and not this strange hypothetical one – is a hologram.
Mathematically, the universe requires only two dimensions. Everything else is just an illusion
But despite the lack of evidence, the holographic principle predicts that there is a limit to how much information spacetime can contain, because our seemingly three-dimensional spacetime is encoded by a limited amount of 2D information.
Holographic duality also suggests that the 3D universe, like the space inside black holes, is mathematically related to the 2D universe.
And if mathematics really is the language of the universe, then someday scientists will find answers to numerous questions about whether our world is a simulation, part of the infinite Multiverse, or something completely different that no one on our blue planet knows yet.
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