Holographic universe may herald new era in fundamental physics

Researchers searching the depths of space to study gravitational waves may have stumbled on one of the most important discoveries in physics: A holographic universe.

Cardiff University researchers who are part of a British-German team searching the depths of space to study gravitational waves, may have stumbled on one of the most important discoveries in physics according to an American physicist.

Craig Hogan, a physicist at Fermilab Centre for Particle Astrophysics in Illinois is convinced that he has found proof in the data of the gravitational wave detector GEO600 of a holographic Universe – and that his ideas could explain mysterious noise in the detector data that has not been explained so far.

The British-German team behind the GEO600, which includes scientists from the School of Physics and Astronomy’s Gravitational Physics Group, will now carry out new experiments in the coming months to yield more evidence about Craig Hogan’s assumptions. If proved correct, it could help in the quest to bring together quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of gravity.

In order to test the theory of holographic noise, the frequency of GEO600´s maximum sensitivity will be shifted towards ever higher frequencies. The frequency of maximum sensitivity is the tone that the detector can hear best. It is normally adjusted to offer the best chance for hearing exploding stars or merging black holes.

Even if it turns out that the mysterious noise is the same at high frequencies as at the lower ones, this will not constitute proof for Hogan’s hypothesis. It would, however, provide a strong motivation for further study. The sensitivity of GEO600 will then be significantly improved by using ‘squeezed vacuum’ and by the installation of a mode filter in a new vacuum chamber. The technology of ‘squeezed vacuum’ was particularly refined in Hannover and would be used in a gravitational wave detector for the first time.

Professor Jim Hough of Glasgow University, one of the pioneer developers of gravitational wave detectors, says: ‘Craig Hogan made a very interesting prediction. It may be the first of a number of unexpected possibilities to be investigated as gravitational wave detectors become more sensitive.’

Professor Bernard Schutz, Professor at the School of Physics and Astronomy, member of the Gravitational Physics Group at the School, and recently elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society said: “It would be truly remarkable if GEO600 is sensitive to the quantum nature of space and time. The only way to confirm that would be to carry out controlled experiments, the results of which can be solely attributed to holographic noise. Such an experiment would herald a new era in fundamental physics”.

Proffessor Dr. Karsten Danzmann, director of the Hannover Albert-Einstein-Institute, said: “We are very eager to find out what we can learn about the possible holographic noise over the course of the coming year. GEO600 is the only experiment in the world able to test this controversial theory at this time. Unlike the other large laser interferometers, GEO600 reacts particularly sensitively to lateral movement of the beam splitter because it is constructed using the principle of signal recycling. Normally this is inconvenient, but we need the signal recycling to compensate for the shorter arm lengths compared to other detectors. The holographic noise, however, produces exactly such a lateral signal and so the disadvantage becomes an advantage in this case. You could say that this has placed us in the very centre of a tornado in fundamental research!

Searching for the graininess of space

The smallest possible fraction of distance is called the ‘Planck length” by physicists. Its value is 1.6 x 10-35 m – this is impossible to measure by itself. The established physical theories cease to function at this scale. GEO600 scientists are testing a theory by US physicist Craig Hogan, who is convinced he can hear the noise of space quanta in the data of the gravitational wave detector GEO600. Hogan suggests that the mirrors in an interferometer wander relative to one another in very rapid steps of the tiny Planck amount, that accumulate during the time of a measurement into something as large as a gravitational wave would produce. Hogan and the GEO600 scientists are following up the question whether a certain ‘noise signal’ in the data recorded by the detector can be traced back to the graininess of space and time.

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35 thoughts on “Holographic universe may herald new era in fundamental physics”

  1. You are so doomed. Think outside the little box…. the cat box. But never mind you guys seems had not read the Erwin ‘s originals in german from 1935.
    Erwin Schrödinger

  2. Susskind used the Holographic Principle to counter Hawking’s presumption that information was lost forever in a black hole, violating the fundamental theory of entropy. Susskind countered that, based on the Holographic Principle, information was actually preserved and determined the shape and “pixelation” of the outer shell of the event horizon. The informational content of the black hole is displayed on its outer surface, much like a hologram. And in some surprising ways, the universe acts exactly like the interior of an expanding black hole with the resultant pixelation noise. That is what is trying to be detected with the experiment mentioned in this article.

  3. The Holographic Universe was mostly fleshed out by Leonard Susskind, not Talbot so much. Talbot had an idea in the 80’s but then took it to all sorts of New Age fantasies. Susskind worked out the math.

    Susskind Original (2004):

    Susskind Update (2008)

  4. The author of the article probably doesn’t know what is meant by “holographic universe” and rather than attempt to define it and get it wrong, he just left it undefined. Of course that makes the rest of the article pretty pointless. Waste of electrons really.

  5. Does this mean that virtual pairs don’t exist? Would Hawking radiation now be fully explained my this new model?

  6. Here is the related book: The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot. It has got greet reviews such as:
    This is one of the most provocative books I have read in years.
    Simly Amazing

    I cannot wait to get my copy shipped!

  7. A book published in the mid to late eighties I think
    The Title Was the Holographic Paradigm; various physicists discuss the concept of a holographic universe within this book. Very interesting but I was a little young to understand everything I was reading and I remember re-reading many pages over and over just trying to grasp what was being discussed. I believe some of the physicists were Max Plank, Niels Bohr, Einstien, and a few more that I cannot remember.
    There was some discussion about the human brain being a biological computer that not only interprets the 3 dimensions we live in, but may actually define the holographic Universe.

  8. If this writer was in my class, as his teacher, I’d tell him – “Define your terms.” Without us knowing the significance of this so-called “holographic noise” – we’re no closer to understanding what any of this means.

  9. Um, I remember reading a science book about this very subject more than a decade ago… I believe the title was even “Holographic Universe”… I so I am doubting these guys came up with this “new” idea… I think they just have new data that points to it being a correct theory.

  10. I am with Huh? on this one.
    How can you write an article with the mysterious sounding name ‘Holographic Universe’ without ever defining what this term means?

  11. Holographic universe is idea from quantum gravity theory.

    Holographic because it says the universe is only 3D at low energies, when viewed as we view it , but at high energies, that it is actually a 2D structure that is somehow projected into a 3D one. Like a hologram.

    at least that’s what I think it says

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