For years, the scientists at the German GEO600 experimental facility have been baffled by an inexplicable “noise”. The GEO600 experiment is home to a detector that stretches for 600 metres which is supposed to detect gravitational waves – ripples in space-time thrown off by super-dense astronomical objects such as black holes and neutron stars. Since the birth of this experiment, none of these gravitational waves have been detected, instead, they may have made the most important discovery in physics for the past 50 years.
Craig Hogan, a physicist at the Fermilab particle physics lab in Batavia, approached the GEO600 team-members who had been completely baffled by this weird “noise”. He proposed that the “noise” they were detecting is the fundamental limit of space-time – the point where space-time stops behaving like the smooth continuum Einstein described and instead dissolves into “grains”, similar to zooming into a newspaper’s photograph to reveal the dots it is made up of.
“If the GEO600 result is what I suspect it is, then we are all living in a giant cosmic hologram” says Hogan. If this sounds completely insane to you, read on.
The holograms you’ll find on your credit card are in fact images etched on two-dimensional plastic films. When the light bounces off these films, it creates the appearance of a 3D image. 2 physicists, Leonard Susskind and Nobel prizewinner Gerard ‘t Hooft, in the late 90’s suggested that the same principle might apply to the universe as a whole. We may all be holographic projections of physical processes that take place on a distant 2D surface! It’s difficult to comprehend that you may be reading this because of something happening on the boundary of the universe. Theorists have good reasons to believe that many aspects of this amazing theory are true, such as work done by Stephen Hawking and Jacob Bekenstein.
Even though this sounds far fetched, the fact that we may have discovered the very essence of the universe is mind blowing enough! This will bring us one step closer to understanding where space-time “comes from” or potentially use this information to develop new technological advances. As I have always believed, anything is possible and that’s only possible by taking one step at a time. I’m very excited to see what they do with this new information and I’ll be watching closely for follow-up events. I’ll keep you posted.