There are numerous unanswered queries about the cosmos that keep scientists awake at night, concepts like the birth, evolution, symmetries and stuff like that remain a puzzle for physicists. Recently, a group of researchers at the US’ Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory has started a ground-breaking experiment that will gather data to answer some of the bizarre unanswered questions of the cosmos — counting whether we live in a 2-D hologram. Craig Hogan director of Fermilab recently said “We want to find out whether space-time is a quantum system just like matter is. If we see something, it will completely change ideas about space we’ve used for thousands of years.” The holographic principle states that even though we observe ourselves as living in a three-dimensional world, with time as the fourth dimension, the truth may be very different, an illusion. Some researchers consider that it is probable that the space-time information is coded in minute packets in two dimensions in the equivalent way like the pixels of a TV screen that make a unified image.
|Image Credit: Fermi LAB|
If space comes in 2-D bits, then this ‘space-pixel’ would be approximately 10 trillion trillion times smaller than an atom, small enough to collapse under the rules of quantum mechanics. This model opens exciting prospects for the development of new types of physics. Obviously, the importance is to figure out if this theory is correct. To study the quantum character of space itself, Hogan and his coworkers have constructed a holometer — holographic interferometer — a device containing a pair of interferometers sited close to one another. Each one sends a one-kilowatt laser beam (a power equal to 200,000 laser pointers) at a beam splitter and down two vertical 40-meter arms. The reflected light back to the two beams where the two beams recombine, producing fluctuations in brightness if there is motion. If the scientists’ hypothesis is true, then “holographic noise” is projected to be present at all frequencies.
This “holographic noise” is very hard to discover because it can be influenced by other sources of vibrations. For this cause, holometer will work at very extraordinary frequencies – millions of cycles per second – so that motions of ordinary matter are not likely to cause problems. Fermilab physicist Aaron Chou said “If we find a noise we can’t get rid of, we might be detecting something fundamental about nature – a noise that is intrinsic to space-time.”
It’s a thrilling moment for physics. A positive outcome will open an entire new road of questioning about how space works.