The Holographic Universe

I’ve always had a weird relationship with reality. Part of it comes, I suppose, from having an especially vivid imagination. When I wake up in the morning, if I’ve had especially vivid dreams, it often takes me a moment to reestablish that the real world, or what we call the real world, actually exists. (It’s often a relief, actually.)

When I read about scientific theories, I have a tendency to ask myself, not whether they are true, but whether they are interesting and useful. So, for example, I find Sigmund Freud’s theories of the human mind incredibly useful for analyzing literature, but reading the case history he recorded in Dora: Fragments of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria destroyed any belief I might have had in his ability to understand an actual human mind. It was so obvious to me that, in Dora’s case, he was simply making stuff up (and ignoring evidence of actual underlying abuse).

I’ve been very interested recently by the strange experiments being done in physics. I love the idea of quantum entanglement, which seems to confirm in some way my fundamental instinct that the universe is much stranger than we think. And recently I came across the theory of the holographic universe. (I think I followed a facebook link to an article that led me to a book by Michael Talbot called The Holographic Universe: The Revolutionary Theory of Reality.)

So you know what I’m talking about, I’ll quote from an article of his I found online called “The Universe as a Hologram:”

“Does Objective Reality Exist, or is the Universe a Phantasm?

“In 1982 a remarkable event took place. At the University of Paris a research team led by physicist Alain Aspect performed what may turn out to be one of the most important experiments of the 20th century. You did not hear about it on the evening news. In fact, unless you are in the habit of reading scientific journals you probably have never even heard Aspect’s name, though there are some who believe his discovery may change the face of science.

“Aspect and his team discovered that under certain circumstances subatomic particles such as electrons are able to instantaneously communicate with each other regardless of the distance separating them. It doesn’t matter whether they are 10 feet or 10 billion miles apart. Somehow each particle always seems to know what the other is doing. The problem with this feat is that it violates Einstein’s long-held tenet that no communication can travel faster than the speed of light. Since traveling faster than the speed of light is tantamount to breaking the time barrier, this daunting prospect has caused some physicists to try to come up with elaborate ways to explain away Aspect’s findings. But it has inspired others to offer even more radical explanations.

“University of London physicist David Bohm, for example, believes Aspect’s findings imply that objective reality does not exist, that despite its apparent solidity the universe is at heart a phantasm, a gigantic and splendidly detailed hologram. ”

That’s actually inaccurate. If you read Talbot’s article carefully, what you find is that a hologram is a useful metaphor for how the universe works. That’s what the science actually implies. But I’m going to quote a little more:

“This insight suggested to Bohm another way of understanding Aspect’s discovery. Bohm believes the reason subatomic particles are able to remain in contact with one another regardless of the distance separating them is not because they are sending some sort of mysterious signal back and forth, but because their separateness is an illusion. He argues that at some deeper level of reality such particles are not individual entities, but are actually extensions of the same fundamental something.

“To enable people to better visualize what he means, Bohm offers the following illustration. Imagine an aquarium containing a fish. Imagine also that you are unable to see the aquarium directly and your knowledge about it and what it contains comes from two television cameras, one directed at the aquarium’s front and the other directed at its side. As you stare at the two television monitors, you might assume that the fish on each of the screens are separate entities. After all, because the cameras are set at different angles, each of the images will be slightly different. But as you continue to watch the two fish, you will eventually become aware that there is a certain relationship between them. When one turns, the other also makes a slightly different but corresponding turn; when one faces the front, the other always faces toward the side. If you remain unaware of the full scope of the situation, you might even conclude that the fish must be instantaneously communicating with one another, but this is clearly not the case.

“This, says Bohm, is precisely what is going on between the subatomic particles in Aspect’s experiment. According to Bohm, the apparent faster-than-light connection between subatomic particles is really telling us that there is a deeper level of reality we are not privy to, a more complex dimension beyond our own that is analogous to the aquarium. And, he adds, we view objects such as subatomic particles as separate from one another because we are seeing only a portion of their reality. Such particles are not separate ‘parts,’ but facets of a deeper and more underlying unity that is ultimately as holographic and indivisible as the previously mentioned rose. And since everything in physical reality is comprised of these ‘eidolons,’ the universe is itself a projection, a hologram.

“In addition to its phantomlike nature, such a universe would possess other rather startling features. If the apparent separateness of subatomic particles is illusory, it means that at a deeper level of reality all things in the universe are infinitely interconnected.The electrons in a carbon atom in the human brain are connected to the subatomic particles that comprise every salmon that swims, every heart that beats, and every star that shimmers in the sky. Everything interpenetrates everything, and although human nature may seek to categorize and pigeonhole and subdivide, the various phenomena of the universe, all apportionments are of necessity artificial and all of nature is ultimately a seamless web.”

This makes perfect sense to me, and it fits with the way I write about the world we live in. The underlying assumptions on which my writing is based are that the world is stranger than we can understand, but that it does have an underlying pattern, and that we see only part of that pattern. I think that’s why Miss Emily Gray weaves in and out of my stories.

Later in the article, Talbot proposes some things that you might think go too far: for him, the theory explains things like coincidences, premonitions, etc. All the small indications we have that the universe is following laws different than the ones we learned about in school, which we tend to ignore because they make us uncomfortable. I tend to ignore them too, despite the fact that they happen to me with some frequency: dreaming about the future, for example. In a sense, what he’s proposing is a sort of magical universe, or a universe in which magic can happen because the reality we think we live in is not actually the reality that exists – that underlying reality is far stranger than we can guess.

And true or not, that theory is interesting and useful. It certainly describes the universe I write about.

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12 Responses to The Holographic Universe

  1. And thus does Edwin Abbott’s FLATLAND once again prove profoundly meaningful.

  2. The holographic theory of the universe is pretty amazing, and makes sense in so many ways. I’ve been saying since the LHC fired its first shot that I’m just going to sit back and chuckle as we all find out just how strange the universe actually is. We are going to start seeing all of those “proven” and “established” theories pop like soapy bubbles on a hot summer’s day.

    ps: Another theory I find fascinating is the so-called Membrane theory, which suggests, in a nutshell, that our universe is one of many membranes, and that the big bang was a result of our membrane briefly crashing into another. Again with the chuckling, when recently watching a collection of BBC documentaries in which scientists are actually seriously beginning to accept parallel universe theories.

  3. And I can’t wait . . . All this new experimental data may change me from a fantasy writer to a stark raving realist, without having to change what I write at all! 🙂

  4. Also, I want to know what all the parallel Doras are doing.

  5. Kareem says:

    Thank you Theodora! I have been aware of a Holographic Universe for some time now and in certain states of consciousness it is readily accessible, we do have the capacities to become aware of that interconected holograph. But certain authorities trained us carefully to abandon those capacities. It is possible for people to re tune themselves to more subtle realms of experience with a little time and effort but we foresake our own inner Stillness so much we have become resistant to inter facing with the mediums of our consciousness that would deliver us there. You, like myself, never quite made the full and final cut from Universal Consciousness. You wrote about it and it grew within you as fantasy and you found an acceptable way to express it. All the while thinking it was fantasy, the world too, thinking it was lovely fantasy. What is “fantasy” and what is “reality”, we know so little as a society about our innate abilities. Thank you for writing~~

    • “You, like myself, never quite made the full and final cut from Universal Consciousness. You wrote about it and it grew within you as fantasy and you found an acceptable way to express it.”

      Yes, I feel that! What I write often feels true and real, as true and real as anything in the physical world. And I do think it’s coming from somewhere — a place I need to connect to more, as a person and a writer.

      • Kareem says:

        I think our friend JRR Tolkien would say the same thing. I have always thought that perhaps he did not make Middle Earth up, but that he was simply remembering it, and found a way to access the information and share it with the world. To me it is a very real place. It has a feeling-tone, a smell, a texture, a tangible subtle-body of its very own. Maybe that is why those of us who dive into Middle Earth as if it is home resonate with it so well. Maybe we remember it too? It sure feels that way.

  6. Jon Awbrey says:

    Cf. Leibniz • “the present is big with the future”

    P.S.That link to “http://twm.co.nz/hologram.html” is not working right now. Is there another?

  7. Bob says:

    Jon- There are many other sources; Here is one: http://www.relfe.com/A06/holographic_universe.html

  8. Bob says:

    Theodora: I just came across this post while searching for sources to the Talbot article on the Holographic Universe. You might also be interested in the work of Tom Campbell, author of My Big TOE, http://www.mybigtoe.com. His book is available freely through google books and he has many presentations and Q&A’s available on youtube. Tom’s ideas are in pretty good agreement with the Holographic Model ecept he takes it one step further in asserting that the reality that we experience is virtual and one of many virtual realities that we have access to.

    Quoting Talbot: “But the most mind-boggling aspect of Pribram’s holographic model of the brain is what happens when it is put together with Bohm’s theory. For if the concreteness of the world is but a secondary reality and what is “there” is actually a holographic blur of frequencies, and if the brain is also a hologram and only selects some of the frequencies out of this blur and mathematically transforms them into sensory perceptions, what becomes of objective reality?

    Put quite simply, it ceases to exist. As the religions of the East have long upheld, the material world is Maya, an illusion, and although we may think we are physical beings moving through a physical world, this too is an illusion.

    We are really “receivers” floating through a kaleidoscopic sea of frequency, and what we extract from this sea and transmogrify into physical reality is but one channel from many extracted out of the superhologram.”

    Raqther than “receivers”, Campbell would say we are bits of consciousness, but the idea is the same.

  9. les howell says:

    John 1:3-5
    3 All things were made (manifested ) by him; and without him was not any thing made
    ( manifested ) that was made ( or manifested ).
    4 In him was life ( existence, reality perceived); and the life was the light (photons, particles ) of men.
    5 And the light ( photons, particles ) shineth in darkness; and the darkness ( Lack of comprehension) comprehended it not ( the process of the universe ).

    James 1:17
    17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,( the source ) and cometh down ( projected ) from the Father of lights, ( source )with whom is no variableness, ( The original ) neither shadow of turning. ( variations of photon projection creating “shadows”, “turnings “ or angles of projections”
    = { “the source” }

    Rom 11:36
    36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

    Acts 17:28
    28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; ( manifestation } as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. ( manifestations }

    Les Howell

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