The Holographic Universe

There is powerful theoretical evidence for the relative world in the ‘holographic universe‘. This is the truly fantastic finding of quantum gravity. The real world is literally just a hologram. But this is exactly the effect of the relative world.

The 2D World

As described by Leonard Susskind, a specialist in quantum cosmology:

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, 410)

This is the holographic universe. It seems utterly ridiculous. It is too deeply at odds with everything we intuit about the world. But this is what the physics of quantum gravity tells us without question. It seems to mean we are actually like cardboard cutouts of zero thickness. We just think we are three-dimensional.

Illustration of a 2D figure of a woman thinking of herself as a 3D entity.
Illustration of a 2D figure of a woman thinking of herself as a 3D entity.

As stated by theoretical physicist Jacob Bekenstein:

Our innate perception that the world is three-dimensional could be an extraordinary illusion. (2003)

What seems to have passed unnoticed is that this is the exact definition of the relative world. This is what one of those is like. It is defined only on the observed surface. The reality of the three-dimensional space is defined by the observed surface. And this dissolves the paradox.

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 it is two-dimensional. It has no thickness. And it defines the physical reality. This effectively defines a three-dimensional world. This is the new evidence presented here, the ontology of the holographic universe.

The holographic universe is a real discovery, a well-established finding in quantum gravity. All attempts to find an alternative explanation of the physics have failed. 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 reason it seems so crazy is this is a different type of world. This is the nature of the superworld, a superposition of worlds. This is what has been discovered but not recognised.

The Paradox

The major paradox of the holographic universe is that there is no such thing as volume as Bekenstein also describes.

The holographic principle states … 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. So it is literally unreal in any ordinary physical sense. This is the extraordinary but inevitable implication. And this seems like the whole story because nothing more is required to explain the physics that has been discovered. As Bekenstein states:

… physical theory defined only on the 2-D boundary of the region completely describes the 3-D physics. (2003, 63)

But the relative world explains this weird implication. The net effect is a reality with zero depth, the 2D surface. But the actuality is the superposition of many ordinary worlds. And each world is a three-dimensional volume of matter and energy. So the personal world has volume because it is ‘made of’ these real ordinary worlds. It is all these worlds at the same time, so, naturally, this superposition is a domain that has volume.

In this light, the holographic universe is fully explained by existing concepts. This is the cosmology of the relative, personal world, determinate only where observed. In other words, determinate only where defined by this 2D surface. This is the nature of the physical environment in which we each find ourselves. And the personal nature of each world is also confirmed by this physics. As cosmologist Raphael Bousso explains:

… for physics to make sense, you must restrict your description of the universe to what a single observer can see (Gefter, 2010)

The reality defined by what a single observer can see is the relative world defined by the world hologram. By definition. All this may well be considered as strong supporting evidence for the relative world. This is a pretty sure thing.

The next main section is Strange Attractors.