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Math Space Science

Fermilab To Test Holographic Universe Theory 166

eldavojohn writes "Scientists at Fermilab have decided that it's high time they build a 'holometer' to test the smoothness of space-time. Theoretical physicists like Stephen Hawking have proposed that space-time is not smooth but it's been a lot of math and no actual data. The Fermilab team plans to build two relatively small devices that act as 'holographic interferometers' to measure the shaking or vibration in split beams of light traveling through a vacuum. If the team finds the shaking in their measurements and records them, the theory of a holographic universe will have some evidence of non-smoothness in space-time and perhaps a foothold in bringing light to the heavily debated theoretical physics."
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Fermilab To Test Holographic Universe Theory

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  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @08:45AM (#33972242) Homepage

    Who knows? It's pretty hard to know if anything is constant when we on the universal scale has measured it just at one point. Maybe there's some other kind of "field" we don't notice because it covers the entire Milky Way and we wouldn't really realize it until we tried repeating the experiment in another galaxy.

    Of course we have tried doing simulations of what we observe and it seems all the universe works the same, but the data is very limited.

  • by AmonRa1979 ( 797618 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @08:56AM (#33972322)
    Wouldn't LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory) be a good place to test this? It's much larger and already built. It seems like this is something they would have noticed by now.
  • Re:Physicists (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Thursday October 21, 2010 @09:02AM (#33972380) Homepage Journal

    Isaac Asimov wrote a short story (one of my least favorites, as its premise was entirely false) similar to that. In the story, a scientist tries to find out why people laugh, discovers that there's no such thing as an original joke (the false premise), and the end of the story finds that humor is just aliens running a lab experiment on us. The story ends with the characters waiting to see what it's replaced with.

    There is a similar snippet in HHGTG. I'd look them both up, but I don't have my library with me.

    What TFA didn't say was, could this holographic universe be an artificial creation? It somehow seems to toy with the idea without actually coming out and saying it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @09:17AM (#33972522)

    It's become an issue because of LIGO. They have had a problem with 'noise' that they can't seem to get rid of. A holographic universe could be the source of the 'noise'. Because a hologram encodes 3 dimensions of data in 2 dimensions, there is a loss of resolution. It's blurry. The noise problem they have may be due to the fact that at the quantum level the universe is 'blurry' and is producing the noise.

  • by mcneely.mike ( 927221 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @09:38AM (#33972722)

    Yeah... i did a school speech on that in public school. Everyone else did speeches about their summer vacations or their dogs and such.

    Back then i was a bit weird... now i'm mildly autistic (although my wife says i'm getting weirder as i get older).

  • by hvm2hvm ( 1208954 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:14AM (#33973066) Homepage
    That might be true or it might just be that we as humans are so far away from being able to grasp the Universe's true nature and reason that we cannot believe it even has one. Similarly to monkeys or dogs not even thinking about physics or anything rational when they see us do stuff with electricity.
  • by adavies42 ( 746183 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:20AM (#33973140)

    "There is a theory which states that if ever for any reason anyone discovers what exactly 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 that states that this has already happened." -- Douglas Adams

    There is a third theory which states that Haruhi Suzumiya has already done this.

  • Not Hawking... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jedi Holocron ( 225191 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:52AM (#33973558) Homepage Journal

    Hawking's proposal that black holes destroy information lead to OTHERS developing the Holographic theory. Hawking had nothing to do with the development of the holographic theory, complimentarity, etc...

  • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Interesting)

    by radtea ( 464814 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:46AM (#33974356)

    The holographic universe theory is a return to beautiful simplicity.. the concepts are simple enough to understand and that math is really not all that hard either.

    But apparently too difficult for the author of the article to understand. Otherwise they wouldn't write gibberish like this: In this two-dimensional cartoon of a universe, what we perceive as a third dimension would actually be a projection of time intertwined with depth.

    And would instead write something like: In the holographic universe all of the dynamics in three dimensions can be fully accounted for by the boundary condition on a two-dimensional surface. The third dimension is a result of a perfectly real, actual, objective, existing process. It is not in any sense "unreal" or "an illusion", since it obviously exists and it is by studying it that we have come to the conclusion that the real, objective, existing three dimensional universe might arise from a two-dimensional boundary plus some really cool physics!"

    The use of gibberish language, in which perfectly ordinary, real, objective physical phenomena like the third spatial dimension are describe as "an illusion" and "not real" won't help anyone understand the holographic universe theory, which is extremely beautiful, elegant and might even be true.

    The use of such gibberish language will only create barriers to understanding in the minds of lay-people, and only people who have no clue what reality is would ever use such language unless they cared more about confusing people than enlightening them.

  • by Gizzmonic ( 412910 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:18PM (#33974862) Homepage Journal

    God as a programmer/BOFH?

    A little masturbatory, don't you think?

  • Re: Physicists (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @02:58PM (#33977708)

    When they say 'holographic universe', what they are saying is that while we think we live in three dimensions, we're really only living in two. The universe stores information that the rules of physics turn into the illusion of a third dimension.

    More specifically, Hawkin's view of black holes leads to the (apparently mainstream) notion that the entropy of a black hole is proportional to its surface area. The 'holographic universe' arises from extending the idea to the whole universe, which leads to the notion that the state of the system is described by an amount of information proportional to the area of a sphere that surrounds it, rather than proportional to its volume, which in turn means the volumetric state must be course-grained w.r.t. what you could measure on the surface.

    I *think* that means that the smallest meaningful unit of distance here inside is larger than the Planck length, so the experiment is looking for an unexpectedly large graininess to space.

    IANAPhysicist, but none of this seems to actually imply that the universe is really 2-D, nor that the state of the universe actually is working out on the surface of some sphere. Just that the universe will prove to be grainier than expected. Maybe a physicist will see this and comment between giggles.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen