Image courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight via Flickr.
If you’ve never wondered about the size and shape of the universe, or if all of the things you see and feel are real, there have been others wondering for you.
In fact, physicists are seriously investigating various mind-bending theories, including the universe as hologram, or computer simulation.
To the semi-rational human, these ideas may seem ridiculous; after all, we experience the world a certain way (ahem, 3D and static), and therefore have no reason to believe it could be otherwise.
But then again, most of us aren’t experts, and what seems absurd to the layperson could be the next huge “Earth is round” discovery for science.
Here are some seemingly outrageous theories about the universe, and why they may not actually be so crazy.
1.The universe is a hologram
[contextly_auto_sidebar id=”hebvryz8dVFtJG7nNWLasqTDNVyzArQv”]The holographic principle states that, because of contradictions between Einstein’s theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, our perception of the world in three dimensions may be a projection, stored in a two-dimensional information plain, and broadcasted on an enormous cosmic horizon.
It sounds loony, but surprising evidence is emerging. In 2013, simulations confirmed that a low-dimensional no-gravity universe can be reinvented in a multi-dimensional space. This resolves the aforementioned mathematical inconsistencies.
More recently, research has confirmed that the holographic principle can also be applied to flat spaces more closely resembling our universe.
2. The universe is a simulation
That reality is an illusion, through a Matrix-style simulation or otherwise, is a concept dating back to ancient Greek philosophy. The simulation hypothesis postulates that reality is a computer simulation, of which we are unaware.
This is the stuff of sci-fi, the arguments for it can’t be completely denied. The theory has it that, if it is possible that reality can be simulated in the future, humans will (and perhaps have, already) created them. Statistically speaking, then, it is more likely than not that we live in a simulated world, of which there would be more.
Already, physicists are investigating ways to test if we are, in fact, living inside a simulated universe by looking closely at cosmic rays for anomalies they’ve detected in small-scale simulations.
3. We live in a multiverse
Many prominent scientists, including Stephen Hawking, believe that there is not just one universe; rather, we live in a multiverse containing many parallel universes, our own included.
The multiverse hypothesis varies in dynamic. Some think these universes are quilted, exist in pockets, bubbles, or volumes. Such theories dovetail with quantum mechanics, and typically postulate that any action that could have more than one outcome produces a split in the universe, creating an identical copy for alternative outcomes.
The result? Infinite parallel universes, and possibly infinite versions of each of us (which some say means immortality). The evidence? Unfortunately, this one is (so far) damned near impossible to test. But if the universe is expanding infinitely, like most scientists believe, it makes sense that it would also be replicated.