Monday, September 05, 2011

A Holograpical Universe

Plato likened our view of the world to that of an ancient forebear watching shadows meander across a dimly lit cave wall. He imagined our perceptions to be but a faint inkling of a far richer reality that flickers beyond reach. Two millennia later, Plato’s cave may be more than a metaphor. To turn his suggestion on its head, reality—not its mere shadow—may take place on a distant boundary surface, while everything we witness in the three common spatial dimensions is a projection of that faraway unfolding. Reality, that is, may be akin to a hologram. Or, really, a holographic movie.

The journey to this peculiar possibility combines developments deep and far-flung—insights from general relativity; from research on black holes; from thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and, most recently, string theory. The thread linking these diverse areas is the nature of information in a quantum universe.
Physicists Jacob Bekenstein and Stephen Hawking established that, for a black hole, the information storage capacity is determined not by the volume of its interior but by the area of its surface. But when the math says that a black hole’s store of information is measured by its surface area, does that merely reflect a numerical accounting, or does it mean that the black hole’s surface is where the information is actually stored? It’s a deep issue and has been pursued for decades by some of the most renowned physicists. The answer depends on whether you view the black hole from the outside or from the inside—and from the outside, there’s good reason to believe that information is indeed stored at the event horizon. This doesn’t merely highlight a peculiar feature of black holes. Black holes don’t just tell us about how black holes store information. 
Black holes inform us about information storage 
in any context. See:Our Universe May Be a Giant Hologram

See Also: Physics and Philosophie Pay attention too, #8. (And Stefan submits: What is the ontological status of AdS/CFT?)[also pay attention to comments relating to #8]

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