It’s either the most bonkers or brilliant scientific theory I’ve heard in a very long time, and if it did by any chance, prove to be true then it’s going to change everything, forever.
The universe, apparently, is a hologram! Forget three dimensions, it’s all an illusion that we’ve taught ourselves to believe is real. An illusion that we have convinced ourselves possesses depth and substance, can be measured, touched and felt and yet, if the theory is correct, it has no more substance than a movie seen through polarising glasses.
There was a time when I would have scoffed at such an outlandish proposition and laughed it off as nonsense, but now I know, from experience, just how convincing and tangible a virtual universe can be. I’ve seen how the illusion of 3-dimensional space can be maintained in a physically 2-dimensional environment, and I can appreciate how the mind can be fooled into believing that a world can have depth and physicality, even when neither actually exists.
We call this Second Life, and whilst few of us could actually be convinced that it is at all real in the same sense that you and I are physical entities, it does a damn good job at mimicking those things that we rely upon to distinguish reality from the mere illusory. So, why shouldn’t the universe and everything that is, be something similar, albeit rather more convincing than our own favourite virtual world?
Personally, it’s still going to take a lot to convince me that everything I know and experience through my worldly senses and rational logic is nothing more than a hologram and about as substantial as a projected image – it’s just too perverse an idea to comprehend. On the other hand, I’m perfectly comfortable with treating SL as if it were another dimension of the real world, even though I know and understand full well that – aside from the interaction between avatars, (which may itself be entirely fictitious in content and spurious in nature) – none of it is ‘real’ in any tangible sense. The things I ‘do’ and the virtual environment in which I undertake them are no more real than a 2-dimensional representation of a non-existent reality, no more substantial than a hologram, yet like a hologram, I perceive SL as having three dimensions, depth and substance, which it clearly does not.
At times, I almost feel I can reach out and touch SL – and I daresay that if somebody ever develops some sort of virtual world haptic force-feedback device, it would be relatively easy to fool my mind into thinking the the virtual world is as real as the world around me, (unless that really is a hologram!), in which I’m sitting and typing this post.
That the mind can be misled so easily introduces an element, however small, in the proposition that the universe, and therefore everything, is simply a 2-dimensional veneer that is only pretending – extremely well – to be something that it is not. If that is the case, then what the heck is really happening? Is life, the universe and everything simply the result of some cosmic accident and a complete illusion, or is everything we think we know a deliberate lie and we ourselves are the white mice in some bizarre experiment? It’s tempting to think, if we’re going to pursue that line of enquiry, that we are merely avatars in some godlike version of SL… Freaky stuff!
Utter nonsense, of course – but then again, if we believe in a multiverse where everything is possible, as some physicists would have us believe, there will quite definitely be at least one holoverse that breaks all those rules of physics that, until now, we presumed were inviolate. And it would be just my luck to be stuck in it!
Then again, maybe SL is the holoverse… And our avatars, right now are puzzling over the same sort of questions?
Gosh, this is confusing – I think I need a lie down, although how the heck do I do that if I’m a 2-dimensional being in a 2-dimensional universe?
Well, I’ve had my lie down – somehow I achieved it – and I’ve re-visited the original scientific paper, and it turns out that those researchers weren’t suggesting that our current universe is a hologram at all: Their model was an early, just-after-the-Big-Bang-universe, which suggested that the early universe could have indeed been holographic in nature, just for a teeny weeny moment, and in a way that doesn’t break the laws of physics – a universe with only two, rather than three, spatial dimensions, and a time dimension – simple!
“The world is your exercise book, the pages on which you do your sums. It is not reality, though you may express reality there if you wish. You are also free to write lies, or nonsense, or to tear the pages.”
Richard Bach –