The universe could be a hologram
The three-dimensional life that we see is merely an illusion, so say astrophysicists who have been analysing cosmic microwaves.
The cosmic microwave background (CMB) is the afterglow of radiation left over from the Big Bang. By studying it, researchers claim to have unearthed substantial proof the universe is a hologram.
Niayesh Afshordi from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, said: "We are proposing using this holographic Universe, which is a very different model of the Big Bang than the popularly accepted one that relies on gravity and inflation.
"Each of these models makes distinct predictions that we can test as we refine our data and improve our theoretical understanding – all within the next five years.”
We could actually be living in a two-dimensional world
The researchers propose the way we see the universe might be the same way we watch a 3D movie at the cinema – we can experience the depth, even if it is simply a two-dimensional projection.
Kostas Skenderis, a professor of mathematical sciences at the University of Southampton, added: “Imagine that everything you see, feel and hear in three dimensions (and your perception of time) in fact emanates from a flat two-dimensional field.
"The idea is similar to that of ordinary holograms where a three-dimensional image is encoded in a two-dimensional surface, such as in the hologram on a credit card.
The Big Bang cannot explain certain laws of the universe
"However, this time, the entire universe is encoded.”
While the idea of a holographic universe does seem like something from a science fiction movie, many physicists agree that it would help solve some of the mysteries of the universe, mainly the Big Bang.
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Is life an illusion?
In the Big Bang theory, chemical reactions caused the universe to expand from sub atomic sized to the size of a golf ball in an instant.
While cosmic inflation, as it is known, is a probability, it has so far proved impossible to show what mechanism caused the universe to expand faster than the speed of light.
Professor Skendris continued: "Holography is a huge leap forward in the way we think about the structure and creation of the universe.
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"Einstein's theory of general relativity explains almost everything large scale in the universe very well, but starts to unravel when examining its origins and mechanisms at quantum level.
"Scientists have been working for decades to combine Einstein's theory of gravity and quantum theory.
“Some believe the concept of a holographic universe has the potential to reconcile the two. I hope our research takes us another step towards this."