The Universe Might Be A Giant Hologram. Cue The Existential Crisis...

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Is the world, which we live in, just a trick of the eye? Researchers have long assumed the world could be a huge hologram -- a two-dimensional realm that only appears to be three-dimensional -- and now a team of Viennese scientists have done the math to prove that such a picture isn't quite as far-fetched as it appears. The notion that the universe is a 3-D "projection" onto some kind of flat, cosmic surface arises from the "holographic principle." According to "holographic principle" all the data required to fully define a section of space can be programmed in just two dimensions. This idea was first offered in the 1990's by physicists Dr. Gerard 't Hooft and Dr. Leonard Susskind as a way to resolve an essential contradiction between quantum physics and general relativity.

Dr. Daniel Grumiller, a professor at the Vienna University of Technology's Institute for Theoretical Physics and also a co-author of a paper about this recent research, told The Huffington Post in an email "If you know Plato's Allegory of the Cave, then a way to understand the holographic principle is by saying that the information provided by the shadows is equivalent to the information provided by the objects that generate the shadows. This principle, if correct, explains a number of puzzles in black hole physics pioneered by Stephen Hawking." Though earlier study revealed that the holographic principle holds in theoretical worlds (anti-de Sitter spaces, anyone?), proof signifying that it holds under the situations found in our own universe has been limited, according to Grumiller.

Grumiller said in the email "Our main interest is to test the generality of the holographic principle. If it is correct, it must also work in flat space-time." For the new research, the physicists used two theories of flat space-time to calculate a physical measure known as "entanglement entropy." The term defines the amount of entanglement -- where particles are connected and apply influence on each other across a distance -- in a quantum system.

Grumiller said in a written statement “If quantum gravity in a flat space allows for a holographic description by a standard quantum theory, then there must by physical quantities [sic], which can be calculated in both theories –- and the results must agree,"

Certainly, they found that the rate of the entanglement entropy in both theories was similar, which means it's probable the holographic principle does apply to our universe -- and by addition, our universe could be holographic.

But if that outcome leaves you feeling flat, take heart. It's still not an evidence that we live in a hologram.

The research was published online on March 19 in the journal Physical Review Letters.
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