Do we live in a 2D hologram? There’s no short answer, but physicists believe it may be possible. The holographic principle – a property of particle physics’ string theory – proposes that information about a region of space can be ascertained by the information on the surface that surrounds it – much like you can determine, say, currents in water by the eddies on the surface.
But does this actually mean that our universe is an optical illusion created by light diffraction? Fermilab has just switched on a machine that may help a team of researchers figure it out: the Holometer, the most sensitive instrument ever built to measure the quantum jitter of space.
They liken the idea to a television, where pixels become less cohesive the closer you get to the screen. Those tiny pieces of data, however, holistically form a recognisable image when you move away from the screen; the researchers believe the universe may be contained in the same way, with the “pixel” size of space roughly 10 trillion times smaller than an atom – the smallest distance possible in the universe, called the Planck length.
The Holometer uses a pair of inteferometers – devices used to superimpose waves to compare them – placed close together to each send a one-kilowatt laser (equivalent to 200,000 laser pointers) at a beam splitter and down two 40-metre arms arranged in a perpendicular L-shape. The light is reflected back to the beam splitter, and, if there is motion, this will cause fluctuations in brightness. It is these fluctuations that the researchers will analyze, looking for holographic noise.
Your tax dollars at work :rolleyes: