From the dawn of recorded history, philosophers and scientists alike have questioned the nature of our physical reality. Plato famously posited that our perception of reality is similar to individuals perceiving shadows on the walls of a cave, with the “real” reality existing just out of our view. Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zhou wrote a similar allegory, dreaming he was a butterfly which dreamed it was Zhuang Zhou; when he awoke, the story goes, he wasn’t sure which he actually was – the butterfly or the man.
While these stories are now viewed as antiquated anecdotes, they touch upon some of the same themes of recent developments made in the most advanced theoretical sciences. Some of the biggest names in science, from Elon Musk to Neil Degrasse Tyson, have claimed that we might actually exist inside of an advanced computer simulation similar to the one found in The Matrix. Research in quantum physics has revealed all kind of weird dimensions to our reality, possibly implying the presence of some sort of programming similar to computer coding.
Now, new research out of the University of Southampton has updated another mind-bending claim about the nature of the universe. Researchers there have claimed to have found substantial evidence to the theory that rather than a three-dimensional physical reality, the universe we perceive could actually be the holographic representation of a two-dimensional universe. Weird.
According to a press release issued by the University of Southampton, the researchers came to this conclusion after sifting through massive amounts of data gathered on cosmic background radiation left over from the Big Bang. Tiny fluctuations in this radiation were studied, revealing that recent quantum theories can explain many of the previously unexplainable deviations in calculations about the spread of this radiation. The holographic model proposed by the highly technical study claims that our 3D universe we perceive is only a representation of the true 2D universe being projected by cosmic background radiation.
University of Southampton mathematics professor Kostas Skenderis claims that this new research could be the first in a long attempt to successfully bridge two highly important areas of physics research, Einstein’s theory of general relativity and quantum field mechanics:
Scientists have been working for decades to combine Einstein’s theory of gravity and quantum theory. Some believe the concept of a holographic universe has the potential to reconcile the two. I hope our research takes us another step towards this.
Of course, this theory is just that: a theory. While the hologram model can reconcile many of the unanswered questions stemming from competing models of the universe and reality, it is still nearly impossible to gather concrete, empirical evidence for such claims.