A Thin Sheet of Reality: The Universe as a Hologram


What we touch. What we smell. What we feel. They’re all part of our reality. But what if life as we know it reflects only one side of the full story? Some of the world’s leading physicists think that this may be the case. They believe that our reality is a projection—sort of like a hologram—of laws and processes that exist on a thin surface surrounding us at the edge of the universe. Although the notion seems outlandish, it’s a long-standing theory that initially emerged years ago from scientists studying black holes; recently, a breakthrough in string theory propelled the idea into the mainstream of physics. What took place was an intriguing discussion on the cutting-edge results that may just change the way we view reality.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.

The World Science Festival gathers great minds in science and the arts to produce live and digital content that allows a broad general audience to engage with scientific discoveries. Our mission is to cultivate a general public informed by science, inspired by its wonder, convinced of its value, and prepared to engage with its implications for the future.

Original Program Date: June 3, 2011
MODERATOR: John Hockenberry
PARTICIPANTS: Gerard ’t Hooft, Leonard Susskind, Raphael Bousso, Herman Verlinde

John Hockenberry's Introduction 00:15

Participant Introductions. 06:32

What is the Holographic Principal? 08:43

Are we real or are we just holograms? 11:40

Why can't information just go away? 14:53

How was the debate with Stephen Hawking? 18:53

Can we map every element in the known universe? 21:30

Where did you find the information being stored? 26:09

Finding the exact amount of information in a black hole? 33:02

Physics can describe everything in a 0 or 1 bit per Planck area. 40:10

What excites you about the Holographic principal? 46:58

Who thinks the Holographic Principle is rubbish? 57:24

Is there a more basic state that quantum mechanics? 01:05:44

What position do you all take on the Holographic Principal? 01:09:54

The universe is a giant computer. 01:18:30

The limits of knowing everything. 01:24:30

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