Scientists Discover the Universe is a Hologram, but Misplace the Projecting Source

A hologram is an illusory three-dimensional image formed by the interference of laser beams.  The key feature of a hologram is that it is an illusion; the thing depicted as occupying three-dimensional space is not solid or “real,” but it has the appearance of being real.  Scientific American provides a helpful short video of the concept here.

As strange as it may sound, the notion that the entire Universe is Really a Hologram seems to be picking up steam in the scientific community.    In an August 2003 article in Scientific American,  Jacob Bekenstein, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, writes “our universe, which we perceive to have three spatial dimensions, might instead be “written” on a two-dimensional surface, like a hologram.  Our everyday perceptions of the world as three-dimensional would then be either a profound illusion or merely one of two alternative ways of viewing reality.” Continuing this line of thinking, Juan Maldacena, Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., writes that the third dimension might very well be an illusion; reality is really two-dimensional.  The driving reason for this line of thinking is that considering reality as two-dimensional may make it easier to solve certain confounding problems of the current scientific worldview, such as  reconciling gravity with quantum theory.

An article, The Black Hole at the Beginning of Time,  in the current issue of Scientific American, goes even farther.  The authors, Niayesh Afhordi, Robert B. Mann, and Razieh Pourhasan, ask the question, “Is the big bang, and all that came from it, a holographic mirage from another dimension?”

A mirage from another dimension?

The authors argue for this highly speculative theory because of a number of intractable problems they say plague the standard scientific model of the world: 1) Science doesn’t understand the source of the values of dark matter, dark energy, the density of ordinary matter, and the amplitude and shape of quantum fluctuations in the early universe; (2) Science doesn’t understand the inflationary big bang; and (3) Science doesn’t understand how it all began.

So the authors imagine that our current three-dimensional universe is encased in a four-dimensional parent universe.  This scenario “turns the big bang into a cosmic mirage.”

The amazing thing about this line of thinking is that physicists are coming close to realizing that there is no difference between the illusion of a reality and our concept of what reality should be.  They are in fact the same thing.  If we are imbedded in an illusion, then we too are an illusion and it would make no difference to us.

The notion that scientists believe the world is an illusion, though one spawned by a “black hole at the beginning of time,” provides  a sharp distinction between materialism and the real-dream worldview (or hardened idealism).  Even when modern scientists talk about the mirage of the big bang, they are imagining  a hologram created far out in space — and have absolutely no idea how a black hole or any other stellar object could possibly convert a two-dimensional surface or “information” into a three-dimensional image of a world.  They follow this approach for one reason: somehow it makes the math easier.  Note that at the end of the Afhordi et al article, the authors answer the question of  where the universe came from through a poetic reference to Plato’s famous allegory of the cave; there, prisoners saw only shadows passing by and did not see the “true” reality, by which Plato meant the certain ideal Forms.  In short, the authors have no idea of where the universe or the hologram came from.

We can contrast this wild speculation with our knowledge of the mind’s ability to project a real-seeming, 3-D ” holographic” world from nothing.  In short, we have absolute certainty that our own minds, in states of distress, illness or under the influence of drugs, can conjure a real-seeming world from nothing.  In his book, Hallucinations, Oliver Sacks recounts numerous instances of “compellingly three-dimensional” hallucinations.  He describes the account of Rosalie, who during a bout with Charles Bonnet’s syndrome  saw “figures [who] started to walk around; the room seemed to crowd up.  The walls turned into large gates; hundreds of people started to pour in.  The women were dolled up, had beautiful green hats, gold-trimmed furs, but the men were terrifying — big menacing, disreputable, disheveled, their lips moving as if they were talking.  In that moment, the visions seemed absolutely real to Rosalie.”

We know our own minds can create a holographic image.  This is what it means to dream.  Perhaps modern scientists are on the right track that the world is an illusion but have misplaced the projecting source: it is not a mysterious black hole far out in space, but our own, united mind.




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