Worldwide Collaboration Supports The Theory of a Holographic Universe

Image Credits: ESA/PLANCK Collaboration

The holographic principle: the idea that our entire universe is actually encoded on a two dimensional surface, like a hologram.

Whilst this may be a strange concept to grasp, a combined research effort from multiple universities in multiple countries believe they have evidence to prove the concept of a holographic universe.


UK, Canada and Italy based universities have all gathered data that supports this idea that the universe is a hologram. Potentially even stranger, the amount of evidence supporting this theory is the same as the evidence supporting more traditional theories.

To properly examine this theory, the researchers had to essentially look back 13 billion years. This was done by developing models that were based on quantum gravity. Classical gravity theories are the main opponent of quantum gravity.

By observing residual microwaves from the big bang, scientists have been able to detect hidden data. The data they found was used to draw comparisons between the data and quantum field theory. These quantum field theories were able to explain these microwave observations.

Holography is a huge leap forward in the way we think about the structure and creation of the universe. 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,” explains Professor Kostas Skenderis who is one of the mathematical scientists from the University of Southampton.

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.


The holographic principle incorporates string theories and quantum gravity properties. It suggests that the information that builds up our entire three dimensional universe is all stored on a two dimensional surface.

While many theories of a holographic universe have been doing the rounds since the 90s, the most updated study, published in the Journal Physical Review Letters, contains the first proof, the researchers say.

The theory starts off with what happens when an object crosses over the event horizon of a black hole, in which it enters an entirely empty space. It is then dragged into the centre of the black hole, which is called the singularity.

Professor Stephen Hawking initially thought that at this point, the energy would remain but the information of the object would disappear.

This obviously caused a lot of debate amongst scientists, as the concept of information just disappearing and being destroyed contradicted everything in physics.

The holographic theory suggested that the information in fact did not just disappear, rather it was stored on the horizon of the black hole.

This means that the information of the object hasn’t disappeared, it’s just been transferred onto the black hole’s surface. This is similar to a hologram – three dimensional information on a two dimensional surface.

It’s then been postulated that this theory, stemming from black holes, could potentially be correct on a much larger scale – our universe.

Timeline for a Holographic Universe. Image result for hubble deep field telescope.
This is the sketch of the timeline of the Holographic Universe showing time running from left to right. The far left is the blurry holographic phase because space and time are not yet well defined. Imprinted patterns in it carry information about the development of structures of stars and galaxies in the late time Universe (far right). Image credits: Paul McFadden

In 1995, Leonard Susskind was the first person to give a precise interpretation of the holographic principle. This was a massive breakthrough because it explained how gravity works on exceptionally small scales.

As the man that once proved Stephen Hawking wrong, his work is something to be taken very seriously. His studies on the holographic principle was the revolutionary breakthrough needed to prove quantum gravity as a legitimate theory and not just an alternative theory.

Einstein’s theory of relativity doesn’t seem to work that well when applied at a quantum level. This holographic theory has the potential to blend together Einstein’s theory of gravity with quantum theory.

Holography is like a Rosetta Stone, translating between known theories of quantum fields without gravity and the uncharted territory of quantum gravity itself ,” say Niayesh Adshordi from the Perimeter institute, the lead author working with professor Skenderis.

Still have doubts? Watch the video below:


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Source Physics Letters World Science Festival

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