Well, my head hurts already. Physicists believe we may live in a 2D hologram. Say what? This theory was brought forth as a way to bring together Einstein’s general relativity theory and quantum physics. The two don’t play nice together, and scientists believe there must be an overall theory that brings the two together.

Physicists describe the theory as a television screen or a picture. Think of the tiny pixels that make up an image on your screen. Up close, they look unrecognizable. Far away though, they create an image. Some physicists believe that’s how the universe may look. Except, the universe’s pixels are 10 trillion times smaller than an atom.

How would you even go about testing this theory? Scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory will be conducting experiments using the Holometer. It’s a sensitive instrument used to measure noise at the quantum level.

Here’s how it works. Two high-intensity beams are split using a beam splitter. Then they travel down two 40 meter arms. At the end of the arms, the beams are reflected back towards the splitter and recombined. If the beams’ brightness fluctuates when it hits the beam splitter a second time, it would mean space is vibrating. The holometer was built to measure these vibrations.

“If we find a noise we can’t get rid of, we might be detecting something fundamental about nature – a noise that is intrinsic to space-time,” said Fermilab physicist Aaron Chou, lead scientist and project manager for the Holometer. “It’s an exciting moment for physics. A positive result will open a whole new avenue of questioning about how space works.”

This test takes time, though. The Holometer experiment is expected to gather data over the next year or so.

Image credit: Fermi


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