Do we live in a Hologram?

hologram universe
Dubious Facebook meme.

For those wanting the quick answer – so far the actual evidence for this, and that includes the above claim, is no.

So the above appeared within my Facebook feed and the context was a group that claims to debunk both evolution and atheism. The guy posting it is deeply religious and also posted it into other places such as the Apologetics Academy. So what is his thinking here?

Basically this …

This discovery has huge implications. It means the material universe is not fundamental and since the universe is a hologram or a projection; something is projecting it, namely a Mind that is outside of the projected universe itself.

… and of course, in his mind, this one true mind just happens to be his specific belief, namely Jesus.

It also came with this link …

Initial Observations

  • Was such a paper actually published on 26th Dec 2017 … or at some point near that date? – No, that claim is false
  • Does any such paper get cited via his link or does it simply repeat the claim? – No citations or references for you to check, it just parrots the claim.

So we can dismiss it all then?

On the basis of the above, yes indeed. Oh but wait, it is not quite that easy a dismissal. I challenged the poster to cite the actual paper and he did actually manage that, sort of indirectly, so there is some basis to this, but don’t be fooled because we are still dealing with smoke and mirrors.

The best he did was this on …

Study reveals substantial evidence of holographic universe

Read and what you discover is not “evidence” that our universe is an actual projection of a mind, but rather that they explored this idea and did not rule it out as a possibility …

all the information that makes up our 3-D ‘reality’ (plus time) is contained in a 2-D surface on its boundaries.

… it could be thought of as rather like watching a 3-D film in a cinema. We see the pictures as having height, width and crucially, depth—when in fact it all originates from a flat 2-D screen. The difference, in our 3-D universe, is that we can touch objects and the ‘projection’ is ‘real’ from our perspective.

What was actually happening here was an attempt to combine Einstein’s theory of gravity and quantum theory and so an idea was being explored.

The Paper Itself

Dated to almost 1 year ago, and not just just a few days ago as claimed by the very misleading and quite frankly dishonest FB meme, it is published within Physical Review Letters and is entitled …

“From Planck Data to Planck Era: Observational Tests of Holographic Cosmology”

To be clear, they did not find “evidence”, but instead simply tested observational data against the 2D model and found that it does not conflict …

These models are based on three-dimensional perturbative superrenormalizable quantum field theory (QFT), and, while they predict a different power spectrum from the standard power law used in ΛCDM, they still provide an excellent fit to the data (within their regime of validity)

Media Reactions

The inevitable happened when that paper came out almost one year ago, various media outlets ran with the simplistic claim that “Scientists have found evidence that we live in a Hologram”.

Gizmodo leapt in and explained in detail why that was all nonsense on about 30th Jan …

You Aren’t Living in a Hologram, Even if You Wish You Were

You may have read today that the entire universe is a giant hologram. Maybe your mind was blown while you hit your Big Bong and contemplated a 2D universe, or that researchers had somehow found substantial evidence you were “living in an illusion.”

No, nope. Not what happened. Rather, physicists figured out that one of their models doesn’t break when they apply data from the real universe. Which is still awesome, but not insane.

That is just the opening, the article author had reached out to the authors of the science paper, hence it digs into what the paper actually did …

“It’s holographic in the sense that there’s a description of the universe based on a lower dimensional system consistent with everything we see from the Big Bang,” – Niayesh Afshordi, the study’s first author from the University of Waterloo and the Perimeter Institute in Canada, told Gizmodo.

…Unfortunately, the theory explaining how massive things work, general relativity, doesn’t fit nicely with the theory of how tiny things work, quantum mechanics. That especially sucks when you’re trying to describe the early universe, where literally all mass and energy was balled up in a tiny space. One theory trying to reconcile the two, quantum gravity, says that if you ditch a spatial dimension, you can also ditch gravity in your calculations to make things easier.

The researchers built a model with one time and two space dimensions from this insight, and plugged in real data on the universe, including cosmic microwave background (CMB), invisible light from several hundred thousand years after the Big Bang that hits Earth from all directions. The model accurately recreated the behavior of thin slices of the CMB

Lets be totally clear here, while interesting, nothing has actually changed – the holographic model isn’t preferred over the standard models of cosmology that scientists currently use to study both the present universe and the universe around the time of the Big Bang.

Last Thoughts

The religious guy went off on a tangent when faced with this reality and proceeded to slag off the peer-review process. That’s a rather weird response given that he started out with a scientific claim. Why would you proceed to then undermine the scientific methodology? Well because what he was actually practising was pseudoscience.

Basically time to simply roll my eyes and move on.

Even if it was established that 3D is an illusion that we really live in a 2D universe, it does not in any way justify the leap to his specific religious claim.

However, just to be very clear here, the author of the science paper himself makes things abundantly clear. He states …

“There are definitely three dimensions.”

In other words, if your basis for thinking that we actually live in a hologram is founded upon this paper, then the observation that the author of this paper does not think that is the case should give you some pause.

That’s perhaps akin to discovering that the Professor of the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religions at a university is an Atheist (She really is), or that one of the most prominent New Testament scholars is an Atheist (He really is).

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