Scientists release result of world’s first experiment on a ‘holographic universe’

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Black hole
A supermassive black hole with millions to billions times the mass of our sun is seen in an undated NASA artist's concept illustration. In this illustration, the supermassive black hole at the center is surrounded by matter flowing onto the black hole in what is termed an accretion disk. This disk forms as the dust and gas in the galaxy falls onto the hole, attracted by its gravity. Also shown is an outflowing jet of energetic particles, believed to be powered by the black hole's spin, according to a NASA news release. Reuters/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout

There are no signs that the universe exists as a hologram, according to the initial result of an experiment designed to explore the theory. Scientists are aiming to find evidence that humans could potentially be living in a holographic universe and to identify what type of hologram it is.

Researchers at the US Department of Energy's Fermilab conducted the world's first experiment to see the basic unit forming space and time. Fermilab noted that the current result is just the first in a series of their experiments.

The researchers explain that the universe could be something like a television screen. There are “pixels” that could be seen far from Earth that experts lack information about.

This indicates the potential presence of an finite amount of “data” making up the world, and scientists are aiming to see where that data start to fail, Motherboard reports.

To try to explore this failure, Fermilab is using a US$2.5-million (AU$3.4 million) Holometer, an instrument that uses a small range of lasers and mirrors. The movement of the mirrors through time would allow the lasers to measure their position, which any kind of uncertainty would potentially suggest that space-time is not a continuum.

"It means space and time aren't infinitely divisible, that they aren't a continuum,” Fermilab scientist Craig Hogan told Motherboard. “You can't divide the line into smaller and smaller points forever."

Hogan noted that the initial result of their experiment was only based on about 150 hours of data, and further experiments will be conducted to find a larger data set to provide “a more conclusive statement."

He added that even without signs of quantum weirdness, the nature of the universe could still be holographic. However, Hogan added that even if they would have the result they need, the scientists will still suggest that the universe is "real."

"We're not trying to prove that the three dimensional world is an illusion—it's obviously real,” he said. “But the thing is there might be more behind it, a deeper level of connectivity we didn't know about."

As the experiment can be considered complex, Gizmodo reports that some of theoretical physicists said that the Holometer is a flawed experiment.

“Holometer results are out: Nothing. Not surprising, as the idea underlying it is nonsense,” Sabine Hossenfelder, a physicist in Sweden and one of the outspoken critics of the experiment, said in a tweet.

Hogan disagrees but noted that he was not "disappointed." "Of course it would have been unbelievably exciting to make a discovery in the first round."

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