Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

Fermilab Begins Testing Holographic Universe Theory 247

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the warp-life-0.1 dept.
Back in 2009, researchers theorized that space could be a hologram. Four years ago, Fermilab proposed testing the theory, and the experiment is finally going online. Jason Koebler writes Operating with cutting-edge technology out of a trailer in rural Illinois, government researchers started today on a set of experiments that they say will help them determine whether or not you and me and everything that exists are living in a two-dimensional holographic universe. In a paper explaining the theory, Craig Hogan, director of the Department of Energy's Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics writes that "some properties of space and time that seem fundamental, including localization [where things are], may actually emerge only as a macroscopic approximation from the flow of information in a quantum system." In other words, the location of places in space may constantly fluctuate ever so slightly, which would suggest we're living in a hologram.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Fermilab Begins Testing Holographic Universe Theory

Comments Filter:
  • by rfengr (910026) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @08:07AM (#47763915)
    The instant we realize it's all an experiment or simulation, the flip will be switched off.
    • Re:Flip the switch (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zAPPzAPP (1207370) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @08:13AM (#47763957)

      That's what we got religion for:
      No matter what 'we' realize, there will alwas be enough people wo believe something completely different for no reason, to keep the system going.

    • Flip the switch (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @08:17AM (#47763981)

      Why? I guess at that point observing us will get actually interesting. Assuming there is an observer. Even if this is all a simulation there might, or might not be an observer. Also, if you assume a simulation, is everyone else also simulated as having a "free will". Does "I think, therefore I am" actually mean anything? If this is all a simulation, how do I know if the people around me are simulated as their own entities or as part of the background? Does it even matter? Am I part of the background for observing someone else? Is life and planet earth just an anomaly in some holographic "heu lets invent some basic rules and see what happens" experiment? What if they are actually observing blackholes, and life just keeps popping out in every damn simulation, like some bacteria on a dirty petri dish?

      • Re:Flip the switch (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rasmusbr (2186518) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @08:36AM (#47764075)

        If it is a simulation you could argue that it is almost certainly optimized for sentient beings.

        Based on what we know about simulators, they are inherently slower and smaller in scope than the system they run on. You're never going to have a virtual machine that is more powerful than the metal that it runs on. Similarly, you're probably not going to have a simulated universe be more powerful than the universe that is hosting the simulated universe.

        Think about it this way: if you're going to build models of 2x4 Lego bricks using 2x4 Lego bricks, the models will be much fewer in number than the actual Lego bricks. If you find yourself being a Lego brick, odds are you are an actual Lego brick and not a model Lego brick.

        Also, tightly packed systems where the components of the systems are small and close to one another in space are faster than systems where the components are large and far from one another in space, because communication happens at the speed of light, which is constant (as far as we know).

        On the other hand, if we build a model that focuses on modelling one particular thing and neglects a bunch of other stuff then the probabilities change. Perhaps we live in a simulator hosted by a much larger universe where there is virtually no life except for the being that built the simulator, whereas our simulation is optimized to be relatively packed with life.

        • Since the idea is that this universe is a simulation, who says it is a simulation of reality? Maybe we are some kids crazy fantasy world in which the container has to be larger then its contents! FREAKY!

          The trick to thinking outside the box, is to stop thinking the box is real.

          IF this is a simulated world, there is no reason to assume the rules in the simulation are the same as the ones of the world in which the simulation is running.

        • Based on what we know about simulators, they are inherently slower and smaller in scope than the system they run on. You're never going to have a virtual machine that is more powerful than the metal that it runs on. Similarly, you're probably not going to have a simulated universe be more powerful than the universe that is hosting the simulated universe.

          I don't think that is necessarily true. You just can't simulate something more powerful in real time. Maybe the simulation takes an day in the simulator's universe to "render" one second in our universe (or any other ratio, it's just an example). To the people in the simulation, everything seems "real-time" from their point of view. We have no way to know how long the hardware in the "real" universe takes to run our simulation.

          I'm sure new CPU designs that are more powerful can still be simulated on olde

          • by rasmusbr (2186518)

            Based on what we know about simulators, they are inherently slower and smaller in scope than the system they run on. You're never going to have a virtual machine that is more powerful than the metal that it runs on. Similarly, you're probably not going to have a simulated universe be more powerful than the universe that is hosting the simulated universe.

            I don't think that is necessarily true. You just can't simulate something more powerful in real time. Maybe the simulation takes an day in the simulator's universe to "render" one second in our universe (or any other ratio, it's just an example). To the people in the simulation, everything seems "real-time" from their point of view. We have no way to know how long the hardware in the "real" universe takes to run our simulation.

            I'm sure new CPU designs that are more powerful can still be simulated on older CPU designs. Again, the simulation may run a lot slower.

            Yes, that would probably be the case, but the host universe would still be greater than the guest universe in some sense. The host universe would, over time, have a greater number of interactions between things than the simulation would have.

        • by barfy (256323)

          If we are in a simulation, we are also subject to the "Clock" inside the simulation. It doesn't matter how fast or how slow the system is that is running it, so long as we cannot escape the clock we live with. This allows a complicated simulation to exist, even on crappy original hardware, because we run at sim-speed.

      • by swb (14022)

        I was riding the bus home from the University about 20 years ago and this guy in front of me was going on and on to this girl sitting next to him, sprouting some Philosophy 101 nonsense about how "How do I know you're real, and not just a figment of my imagination?"

        After about 15 minutes of this I couldn't take it anymore and I looked at the girl and said "Go ahead and punch this guy in the nose, and then ask him whether he still wonders whether you're a figment of your imagination."

        • by timeOday (582209)
          But he was right of course. There is no way to prove ground truth, such as the continuity of existence - it's just assumptions. Some people never grasp that, most others tire of thinking about it and move on. But not because they solved or proved anything.

          Butting into somebody else's conversation just to blurt out that you don't understand it is silly.

    • by NotDrWho (3543773)

      Hang on. I'll find out.

      Computer, end program....

      Nope.

    • by Mr0bvious (968303)

      I've always found this interesting: http://www.simulation-argument... [simulation-argument.com]

      ABSTRACT. This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.

    • by Bengie (1121981)
      I thought the saying was as soon as we figure everything out, the current universe will be destroyed and a new and crazier one will be created.
    • by P-niiice (1703362)
      Wait til the mods get installed. Oh god, wait til the mods get installed.
    • The instant we realize it's all an experiment or simulation, the flip will be switched off.

      You probably meant "switch will be flipped off".

    • by gweihir (88907)

      I am fine with that. Everything for science!

  • by qbast (1265706) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @08:28AM (#47764039)
    Ok, so let's say experiment confirms that we live in holographic universe. And then what?
  • by jd2112 (1535857) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @08:33AM (#47764055)
    "Computer, End program."
    • by Pinkfud (781828)
      The universe is a sphere only 20 meters across. It looks bigger, but that's an illusion. It's done with mirrors. Large objects like the Earth fit in it because the universe is bigger inside than it is outside.
    • by sinij (911942)
      They have patched all input field sanitization bugs after some smartass called Merlin exploited the heck out of it.
  • by mitcheli (894743) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @08:45AM (#47764139)
    Scientists in a trailer in rural Illinois have just discovered that the world is indeed flat. Thus bringing an end to the several hundred year old scientific debate.
    • Can you just imagine the apology letters the scientific community would have to send out?

      "Dear Zeke Zebidia,

      We apologize for not accepting your theory on 'Modification to Pants Suspenders to prevent falling off edge of space' that you sent to us in 2009 written on the back of a cereal box. It appears that you were correct and that your studies on the 'crazy behaviors of bugs and stuff'' to arrive and this solution was indeed valid.

      If it would not be too impertinent, we would like to recommend you as head of

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @08:45AM (#47764141)
    There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

    There is another theory, which states that this has already happened.
  • So are they postulating that even non-matter has motion?
  • by RevWaldo (1186281) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @08:55AM (#47764205)
    This is what happens when physicists come up with ideas when they're high, and remember to write them down before coming down.

    .
    • by Type44Q (1233630)

      Operating with cutting-edge technology out of a trailer in rural Illinois

      Funny you should mention that; when I read the summary, I immediately wondered if that "cutting edge technology" included a Honey Bear Bong [msn.com]...

    • by Cragen (697038)

      This is what happens when physicists come up with ideas when they're high....

      A guy named Richard Alpert (a Harvard Psychologist) teamed up with a guy named Timothy Leary (another Harvard Psychologist) to do experiments with LSD to do just that. He later changed his name to Ram Dass [wikipedia.org]. In his book, "Be Here Now", he wrote that (short version) he couldn't figure out how to STAY high so he went to India hoping to find that answer.

  • by stox (131684) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @08:58AM (#47764229) Homepage

    The area around Fermilab hasn't been rural for at least 20 years, suburbia crept up and surrounded it. It was a rural area, when first built.

    • >> area around Fermilab hasn't been rural for at least 20 years

      I'd say "at least 40." 20 years ago I attended a high school program there - an hour away using mostly four-lane, stop-lighted streets.

      The "rural" part's just part of a decades-long marketing campaign to avoid alarming the millions of semi-illiterate residents nearby. E.g., "if cows can live on top of a nuclear accelerator, then you can too."

  • Operating with cutting-edge technology out of a trailer in rural Illinois....Me and Dr. Bubba J will test ... whether the Universe is a flat course and always turning to the left.

    Out of a TRAILER????

    I think they should have just left it as "Operating with cutting-edge technology...." and left out the "trailer" part.

  • 1) even assuming we are holograms, how do they know the imperfections are not simulated
    2) even if the experiment comes with results that confirm it, an irregularity does not mean we are holograms, it could simply mean some theories about the universe are adjusted
    3) Even supposing for a moment that we live in a simulated universe, what the heck are you going to do about it? ask for a refund? ask for a change in the simulation?

  • You're my only hope.
  • In special relativity, we find out that our velocity through spacetime is actually constant. If you move though space faster, you necessarily move through time more slowly.

    So I'm wondering if information about particles is somehow limited to a specific amount of information. If you have more bits of precision about one thing, then the certainty about some other property is necessarily weaker because it doesn't get as many of the total number of bits something can have. Can we work out the number of bits?

    • If you move though space faster, you necessarily move through time more slowly.

      Sort of... but what about the twin paradox? The travelling twin ages less. Couldn't you argue that actually they have moved through time faster? They find themselves in the year 2525 while their twin, who stayed at home, has only got as far as 2015 while experiencing the same amount of local time.

      I thought sqrt(x^2+y^2+z^2 -t^2) (not +t^2) was the constant... but it all gets very tricky when you try to consider the amount of time travelling through time takes.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Or Quantum theory. Ever notice how things are quantized (i.e., they come in discrete packets of stuff) rather than a continuous spectrum?

      Or how once you get below a certain size, the rules of physics just seem to break down and it all becomes random?

      Well, we hit the resolution limit of the simulation, and the quantum "foam" is the LSB of the simulation. Even in computing today (especially floating point) you have to be careful in how you order your operations so you don't lose TOO many bits in the mantissa

  • Just a thought (Score:5, Informative)

    by alaskana98 (1509139) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @09:34AM (#47764471)
    Upon reading the research summary, I don't see anywhere where it implies that we are in a simulation. I think they are just proposing that the fundamental construction of reality is 2D but is ultimately 'projected' as 3D due to quantum effect. At least that is the way I interpret this, I could be wrong though.
  • Ok, I don't have the time to RTFA right now but isn't this completely obvious? Nuclei, atoms, molecules all vibrate (if not more) all the time. From the macroscopic point of view these all are so tiny as to be an insignificant error in any measurement of location but none the less, the "error" does exist.

    • Nuclei, atoms, molecules all vibrate (if not more) all the time.

      What about individual particles, like lone protons or neutrons? Or photons?

  • In the mean time, they managed to cook the purest batch of meth yet known to men.
  • I do believe this research may actually yield some surprises, but it doesn't necessarily mean that "location fluctuations" would mean we are living in a 2D holographic projection. I believe it is the opposite of that; we are living in a 12 dimensional universe that we experience as 4 Dimensional (time is the 4th property). The Higgs Boson and Dark matter are artifacts of space/time itself existing in a 4 Dimensional space we don't directly interact with.

    Location can be manipulated and is influenced by a hi

  • Much Confusion (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fuseboy (414663) on Wednesday August 27, 2014 @10:42AM (#47764953) Homepage

    There's a lot of confusion about what this means, but to be clear: this has nothing to do with ghostly 3D things floating in a surrounding room.

    What it's saying is that the 3D nature of the universe might be only approximate. Let's say you (somehow) come up with a two-dimensional universe and physical laws, in which you can mostly accurately (but not completely) calculate the ongoing evolution of a 3D universe. The "mostly accurately" part translates into a slight blurriness, a fuzziness of the 3D world, but it occurs at such small scales that nobody will notice.

    Such models have been created theoretically - not long ago some bright spark concocted a ten-dimensional universe that had relativity and spatial deformations and whatnot, but which was mathematically equivalent to a one-dimensional universe that did not.

    This experiment is looking for the blurriness.

    Now, the story of how this got started is fascinating. Some other bright spark was investigating entropy (chaos), and in particular was interested in the maximum amount of chaos that could be contained in a three-dimensional volume. In a sense, this is like asking the maximum information density of a volume.

    Somewhat bizarrely, the equation for the maximum entropy is proportional to the surface area of the volume. This is really weird, and important. The maximum amount of information you can cram into a space is limited by the space's surface area, not its volume.

    The implication of this is that you could characterize the entire state of a 3D volume with a membrane. This has been proposed as one solution to the black hole information paradox - black holes are a place of no return, and so they seem to violate the law that information (like energy) can't be created or destroyed. The solution is this: as particles enter the black hole, you get tiny peturbations (bulges, dimples, ripples) in the black hole's event horizon. The idea is that the entire state of that particle retained in these peturbations as they play across the event horizon. The information isn't lost, it's just encoded in this 2D form.

    This leads to the startling idea that the peturbations as they evolve are actually modelling the ongoing state of the interior of the black hole. Modelling.. calculating.. simulating. The peturbations on the event horizon are a 2D calculation of the state of a 3D volume.

    This is the holographic theory - what if our entire universe, despite its apparent 3D nature, were in fact equivalent to a 2D simulation.

    • by myrdos2 (989497)

      Crackpot mode activated!

      Does that mean that the "computer" running our hologram might in fact be a black hole? A black hole whose mass is equal to the mass of the Universe. I understand that black holes spin very rapidly, causing the singularity to expand into a disk... might that be why galaxies are flying apart from each other, rather than collapsing together due to gravity?

      I mean, if the black hole were not spinning, and dark energy was indeed switched off, then the Universe would eventually contract int

      • by Fuseboy (414663)

        Yes, I suppose it does mean that the 'computer' running the universe might be a black hole.

        I'm not sure what we can say about the nature of that black hole. I doubt very much that its spin, for example, would impart motion to galaxies, any more than rotating your computer would do anything to your Minecraft game. It's not a fish tank or a snow globe, it's a computer.

        Similarly, remember that the 'inner' and 'outer' black holes don't even exist in the same universe, if indeed our universe is the result of a

  • Back in 2009, researchers theorized that space could be a hologram.

    The idea is older than that. From the very link, they "bolster[ed] the proposition" - they didn't come up with the idea.

  • Anyone willing to consider that 3D space is an illusion really needs to look into reading the new book Time Reborn by Lee Smolin.

  • Hey didja ever think what if we were actually living in a holodeck and didn't know it?
    Woww! You're totally blowin' my mind, man.

  • Operating with cutting-edge technology out of a trailer in rural Illinois...

    They'll more likely come to the conclusion that the universe is 16 years old and pregnant.

"Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberrys!" -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Working...