Today in silly questions your intoxicated friends have asked: Is the universe just a giant hologram? Maybe we’re all really flat like the people on TV and don’t even know it! Well, scientists at Fermilab have come up with an experiment to find out for sure, so maybe next time you’ll have a solid answer—or at least a holographic projection of one.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermilab conducts experiments in particle physics to delve into the origins of the universe, and they’ve just announced they’ll be looking into whether the universe’s 3D is any more real than your 3DS’s. If space-time itself is a quantum system just like matter and can be analyzed all the way down to its smallest units, its 2D “pixels” of information should demonstrate the same uncertainty of matter’s quantum building blocks, which can’t have both their exact location and speed measured at the same time.
So, finding those smallest units is a matter of looking for how their quantum uncertainty disturbs beams emitted by Fermilab’s holographic interferometer, which has the awesome name “Holometer.” The challenge is to separate out unavoidable disturbances from other sources like nearby electronics and seeing if anything is left after that’s all been cleaned out of the Holometer’s readings.
If there is, all of the information of space-time itself might be coded onto these “2D bits” according to Fermilab’s Center for Particle Astrophysics director Craig Hogan, who developed the holographic noise theory. That would make the 3D universe we experience just an illusion projected by tiny packets of information.
Hogan said in Fermilab’s press release:
We want to find out whether space-time is a quantum system just like matter is. If we see something, it will completely change ideas about space we’ve used for thousands of years. If we find a noise we can’t get rid of, we might be detecting something fundamental about nature—a noise that is intrinsic to space-time. It’s an exciting moment for physics. A positive result will open a whole new avenue of questioning about how space works.
That’d sure make it hard to hate all of those celebrity holograms, huh? They really are just like us!
(via Phys.org, image via Doctor Who)
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