Some physicists now believe that on an incredibly tiny scale 100 billion billion times smaller than a proton, everything may be moving. If this is true, then no particle could ever truly be located, as it is constantly in more than one place on an infinitesimal level. This means that the universe could be made up of waves, not points. People have been referring to this possibility as that of “living in a hologram.”
Now, researches at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Chicago have developed a device that will help settle the matter. The “Holometer” will measure the “jitteriness” off the universe.
The surprisingly simple device is operated from a shed in a field near Chicago, and consists of two powerful laser beams that are directed through tubes 40 metres long. The lasers precisely measure the positions of mirrors along their paths at two points in time.
If space-time is smooth and shows no quantum behaviour, then the mirrors should remain perfectly still. But if both lasers measure an identical, small difference in the mirrors’ position over time, that could mean the mirrors are being jiggled about by fluctuations in the fabric of space itself.
The consequences of these findings are difficult to understand, but scientists describe the phenomenon in terms of the entire universe functioning like a hologram — a 2D object holding a 3D representation. New Scientist explains:
This stems from the notion that information cannot be destroyed, so for example the 2D event horizon of a black hole “records” everything that falls into it. If this is the case, then the boundary of the universe could also form a 2D representation of everything contained within the universe, like a hologram storing a 3D image in 2D .
It’s not like we’re really living in a hologram, scientists clarify. It’s just a metaphor for describing the possibility of these theories, not a revelation about the reality of our universe. Physicist Ann Nelson adds that if this theory is confirmed, its effects on physics are unknown. “It would mean that all our standard assumptions about space-time and effective local theories are wrong, at least when gravity is important,” she said. (Image: Tumblr)