It’s 8pm on a Saturday night and you’re headed to the movies. The usher gives you and your friends 3D glasses and you’re super excited to see that new flick. You sit in the theatre, and somehow the images on the screen come out at you. A hand reaches forward and you flinch even though you know it’s not actually real. What you are seeing is a two dimensional event (a film), but experiencing its depth in 3D. Welcome to the Holographic Principle.
The Holographic Principle, initially presented by Gerard‘t Hooft, theorizes that we are in fact living on a two-dimensional surface and that the universe contains all the information necessary for our brains to interpret a three-dimensional existence. Sounds like science fiction right? Until you sit in a 3D movie, or use your computer.
Humans today have a unique perspective into the way the holographic principle functions because we exist in an age of enormous technological advancement. Take this article you’re reading right now, the words on this page don’t actually exist, but are a culmination of lines of code that come together and present themselves as words on a page. The hypothesis is that the Holographic Principle works in a similar manner.
The principle actually comes from the study of black holes. Stephen Hawking found that adding information to a black hole would cause the black hole to grow, but in surface area, not in volume. Initially, scientists thought that anything that entered a black hole would remain within it, but it would appear that it actually becomes encoded on its surface, or the “event horizon”.
Quantum physicists have taken this phenomenon and applied it to the universe as a hole. Physicists believe that the energy in our universe is encoded in its surface, and some believe that this means we are projections of that two-dimensional code. On a quantum level, this could make sense. Everything we see represented to us is the result of measurable mathematics. When we see colors we are actually seeing photons of electromagnetic radiation at certain wavelengths that we interpret as color. Our brains are built to take the items that we are presented with and deliver them to us logically. This begs the question, what is the nature of reality?
Philosophical heavyweights like Descartes and Kant theorize that the nature of existence is subjective. Everything that we experience enormously affects how we view every aspect of our physical reality, so we know that humans don’t see the world objectively. But what is there is no physical objectivity at all?
If nothing in our universe exists in actual physical reality, and we do in fact exist in a hologram, is that hologram objective?
Physicists would say yes. Even though we interact with the world in a subjective manner, the Holographic Principle works on the objectivity of energy in the universe that is imprinted on its surface. If this is true, it means our perception of everything in the universe is completely unreliable, and if scientists eventually prove this theory, it would change the way we view the world forever.