A ground-breaking study released in the journal Physical Review Letters (arXiv.org version) offers what its authors call ‘the first observational evidence that the Universe could be a complex hologram.’ The study, led by University of Waterloo Professor Niayesh Afshordi, may lead to new beliefs on the Big Bang theory and quantum gravity.
Prof. Afshordi and his colleagues from UK, Canada and Italy, investigating irregularities in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the ‘afterglow’ of the Big Bang, have found there is substantial evidence supporting a holographic explanation of the Universe.
“We are proposing using this holographic Universe, which is a very different model of the Big Bang than the popularly accepted one that relies on gravity and inflation,” Prof. Afshordi said.
“Each of these models makes distinct predictions that we can test as we refine our data and improve our theoretical understanding — all within the next five years.”
A holographic Universe, an idea first suggested in the 1990s, is one where all the information, which makes up our 3D ‘reality’ (plus time) is contained in a 2D surface on its boundaries.
“Imagine that everything you see, feel and hear in three dimensions — and your perception of time — in fact emanates from a flat two-dimensional field,” explained co-author Prof. Kostas Skenderis, from the University of Southampton, UK.
“The idea is similar to that of ordinary holograms where a three-dimensional image is encoded in a two-dimensional surface, such as in the hologram on a credit card. However, this time, the entire Universe is encoded!”
Although not an example with holographic properties, it could be thought of as rather like watching a 3D film in a cinema.
“We see the pictures as having height, width and crucially, depth – when in fact it all originates from a flat 2D screen. The difference, in our 3D Universe, is that we can touch objects and the ‘projection’ is ‘real’ from our perspective,” the researchers said.