Scientists at Fermilab are working on a new experiment that may change how we perceive the universe. A team has created a piece of equipment that they hope will be able to determine if our universe is actually a hologram. A crazy idea, but what exactly does that mean? To begin to understand this, let’s start with an overview of a normal hologram.
A hologram like the eye above is created by taking a photo of something and then covering it with a glass curved in such a way that the light inside is reflected back into our eyes filled with extra space. This extra space tricks the eye into thinking the hologram is real. This is an evolutionary trait that scientists think started with our ancestors who were trying to catch fish. When you look at a fish in a lake, you actually aren’t seeing the fish, you are seeing a hologram of a fish that your mind has created when light hits the water. If our brains didn’t do this, we would see the fish as two-dimensional cartoons. It would be like trying to catch Bugs Bunny!
The holographic principle allows us to catch the fish and eat it. Those cavemen who saw a better hologram caught more fish and thus were more successful at passing on their genes.
We know this because robots can’t see holograms. Studies have been done where we show holograms even to supercomputers and the result they spit out every time is that we are crazy! Give it a shot, upload a photo of a fish in a river to Facebook and see if it can identify it’s face. It can’t.
OK, lets look at another hologram to use what we’ve learned.
So, get a good look at this hologram. It’s a 2-D image “filled up” so that it’s it looks 3-D. It’s hard not to be scared that the alligator in this image isn’t jumping right out at you. Again, a good evolutionary adaptation. So, if Fermilab’s experiment works, it means the same illusion may be playing out in real time all around us in our lives that surrounds everybody. Crazy to think about, huh?
So lets delve a little deeper. Now that we understand how normal holograms work with light, how can they work with us? Well, scientists like Aaron Chou, the head of the Fermi holometer experiment, think that maybe the matter that makes up all of us is just like the light filling up holograms. You can kind of think of it like there are two kinds of light out there: “Light” and another kind of light that we call “Matter.” This makes sense because matter behaves a lot like light. Ever throw a ball? When you do a ball goes from one place to another. OK, now imagine shining a flashlight. The light goes from one place to another too — so we could say that when we are “throwing a ball” we are actually “shining” the ball, just at a much slower speed. Think of the body as a lamp — your arm is the filament, your hand is the glass, your clothes are the lamp shade, your blood is the plug, and your brain being told “over here!” is the switch. One way to demonstrate this is a classic grad-school experiment where you “turn on a light” with a bunch of rubber balls.
For this experiment all you have to do is find a small, dark room and bring a box of bouncing balls into it. Now just “turn on the lights” by dumping the balls on the ground. See how they bounce around and get everywhere? What does this remind you of? Exactly, light. Pretty cool. So now lets take this metaphor and expand it to the size of the universe.
So, imagine you are being shined through space in a rocket ship and you come upon a black hole. Black holes are spots in the universe that are so dense that the suck up the form of light called matter. So it’s like if you dropped all those balls but instead of bouncing around the room, they instead got sucked into a black hole. But when they do that, the MATTER inside is filled with extra space. Just like how the extra space in the light of a hologram tricks our brain into thinking it is 3-D, the extra space in the matter of a black hole tricks your brain into thinking it is reality! Pretty cool right?
Of course all this is just a theory but it has some pretty amazing implications. For example, if this is true then that means our entire universe is actually a black hole that we are all staring at. OK, then then where are we starting at if from? The answer may lie in gravity.
Scientists now think that gravity isn’t just a force that keeps us stuck on Earth, it could in fact be more like an amphitheater that we are chained into from which we stare at reality without realizing we are just slaves watching a glorified movie for the amusement of a super-intelligent creator that thinks it’s funny to watch primitive beings be fooled. Pretty neat, huh? Ever get the feeling that if only you could open your eyes big enough, scream loud enough, and flail your arms fast enough you would be able to “break through” what we think is reality and see the world as it really is? The thing that stops you from doing that is gravity.
One way to prove that this may be the case is to “break out of the chains.” We actually see people do this all the time. Ever hear of a mass shooting? Scientists now believe the people that commit those aren’t crazy, instead, their brains may have just lost the ability to process the hologram that is reality. They then try to find peace by “cracking the glass” they are trapped in. They do this by shooting the bound slaves that surround them in this life hoping that, in doing so, a few of their own chains will be broken. This is why studies show people who commit mass shootings are able to jump up to three inches higher than the general population. Gravity has less of a hold on them now. Makes you think we should start having Olympics held in prisons, huh?
It’s hard to overstate the importance of Fermilab’s hologram experiment and it would be amazing if it proved the theory true. But for now, all we can do is wait for it to continue collecting data.
Thanks for reading!