The Holographic Universe

The Holographic Universe

For a hundred years the meaning of quantum theory has been a huge mystery. In fact, however, the physicists have not only discovered the nature of the reality defined by the new physics but described it in detail, but there has been no framework in which to understand what it really means. This is the ‘holographic universe’. As Kostas Skenderis explains:

The idea is similar to that of ordinary holograms where a 3D image is encoded in a 2D surface, such as in the hologram on a credit card. However, this time, the entire Universe is encoded. (2017)

This is the holographic principle of Gerard t’Hooft, discovered in 1993. The problem is it makes no sense. The entire three-dimensional universe is actually a two-dimensional surface that somehow gives the illusion of a real three-dimensional space. This would mean we are actually all like cardboard cutouts:

The holographic principle states … that volume itself is illusory and the universe is really a hologram which is isomorphic to the information “inscribed” on the surface of its boundary. (Jacob Bekenstein, 2003, 59)

What’s happening in space is, in some sense, all described in terms of a screen outside here. The ultimate description of reality resides on this screen. Think of it as, kind of, quantum bits living on that screen. And this, like a movie projector, creates an illusion of the three-dimensional reality that I’m now experiencing. (Robbert Dijkgraaf, 2019)

It sounds so surreal that it has received very little attention, but as stated by Lee Smolin, specialist in the subject, this is for sure:

… an idea which at first seems too crazy to be true, but which survives all our attempts to disprove it. (2000, 178)

The resolution is simple in the light of logical type. This is the correct description of a different kind than the one we were looking for. This is not, of course, a fiendishly counter-intuitive redefinition of the ordinary world, the objective physical reality of the quasi-classical world. This is the precise and correct description of the superworld.

The superworld is determinate only where observed by this individual. So it is the observed surface that is determinate, and all else is unreal. And the world hologram is the definition of the observed surface. So the holographic principle is precisely correct, but the ‘screen’ is not at the outer limits of the physical cosmos. The ‘screen’ is just the outer limits of the perception of the individual. Which makes rather more sense.

There is solid proof. As Leonard Susskind discovered in 1995, the ‘entropy’ of ordinary mass is proportional to surface area and not volume. The entropy is a measurable physical property that essentially defines the possible energy of a system. This leads directly to the holographic universe as Bekenstein describes because it means that everything is defined by the observed surface. Which is the definition of the superworld. In the superworld there is no mystery about why the entropy is defined by the observed surface. Everything not observed is the superposition of all possible states, so the only definition of the entropy is given by the observed surface because all else is indeterminate.

Key point, however. Volume is not in fact illusory. The superworld is a superposition of quasi-classical worlds, each one a three-dimensional volume of the arrangement of matter and energy events. It is all of these worlds all at once. So it is without question a volume phenomenon.

The holographic universe is an emergent effect, the result of the superposition of worlds. It nonetheless exists within the context of real physical worlds. Volume is not illusory.

The paradoxical nature of the holographic universe lies in conceiving of the quantum cosmology as a surreal description of the quasi-classical world, as a surreal spherical causal shell at the outer limit of the cosmos. The holographic universe is simply the observed surface of the physical environment of the superworld.