The Holographic Universe


Leonard Susskind, a specialist in quantum cosmology, describes the holographic universe:

The three-dimensional world of ordinary experience––the universe filled with galaxies, stars, planets, houses, boulders, and people––is a hologram, an image of reality cited on a distant two-dimensional (2D) surface. (2008)

This seems utterly ridiculous, or at least truly incomprehensible. The puzzle of the holographic universe is longstanding. But this is what the physics tells us without question. As stated by Lee Smolin, a theoretical physicist and philosopher who specialises in the subject, this is for sure:

… an idea which at first seems too crazy to be true, but which survives all our attempts to disprove it. (2000, 178)

The 2D World

But something extraordinary seems to have passed unnoticed in all this. This is simply and solely the personal world.

The seeming paradox is fully explained. Only what is observed is determinate, which means that only the observed surface is defined. In other words, the mysterious two-dimensional surface is simply the observed surface, the outer limit of perception. It is not distant, except when one looks up at the stars. But there is no question the definition is two-dimensional. It is a surface. It has no depth. In other words, this is the nature of the personal world. The form of the personal world is a holographic universe.

The Paradox

The holographic universe is the result of using quantum theory to explain gravity. A most remarkable implication is revealed. As described by theoretical physicist Robbert Dijkgraaf:

What’s happening in space is, in some sense, all described in terms of a screen outside here. The ultimate description of reality resides on this screen. (2019)

The paradox arises because of the assumption this must be the definition of the ordinary world itself. Which makes absolutely no sense, hence the paradox. But this is simply the personal world, the superworld, the world of the mind.

This may well be considered as strong evidence for the personal world. The observed surface is that which is defined by the world hologram. And only this observed surface is real. So the holographic universe is the world defined by the world hologram, the personal world of the conscious individual.

2D But Real

The real paradox of the holographic universe is that it is literally unreal. This is the extraordinary but apparently inevitable implication. As stated by Jacob Bekenstein, the implication is:

… that volume itself is illusory (2003, 59).

In other words, there is nothing really there. Whatever the physical reality is, it has no depth. It is just a surface, a two-dimensional artefact.

But in the relative world there is no mystery. The net effect is a reality with zero depth, but the actuality is the superposition of many ordinary worlds. And each one is a three-dimensional volume of matter and energy. So the personal world has volume because it is ‘made of’ these real worlds. It is all these worlds at the same time, and this superposition is naturally a domain that has volume.

The holographic universe is the cosmology of the relative, personal world. This is nature of the physical environment in which one finds oneself. Which is of course something of a scientific revolution.


Technically, the observed surface is the ‘intersection’ of all the worlds in the superposition, meaning this is the one and only thing common to all the worlds. By definition, the superworld is the class of all the worlds that contain this world hologram, and the world hologram is what defines the observed surface. This is the ontology of the holographic universe.