How did it all begin? The Big Bang Theory is well known enough to be a TV sitcom, but we don’t even know if that is the answer.
String theory gets some attention (even on that TV show). If staring up at the near part of the universe on a clear night makes you think we are just a grain of sand on a gigantic beach, then string theory should make you feel even smaller. It posits that our universe is just a tiny part of a much larger multi-universe that nine-dimensional. We see three of those dimensions.
Our little universe would appear flat in string theory. Like a sheet of paper, our universe can have other universes below or above us. And those other universes might have different rules of time, space, and size. If we travel far enough into these universes, we could meet parallel versions of ourselves.
Far more controversial is bubble theory of a universe in a vacuum of energy. Bubble theory came out of what we know about the rate by which the universe is expanding. Imagine a pot of water heating on a stove: the energy is the bubbles. Some bubbles pop, some bump into one another, some grow bigger, some get smaller. Each one is a universe.
No, I can’t imagine that.
I am feeling more comfortable these days with a holographic universe. You often hear this explained with a reference to the Matrix films. That makes it seem like a horrible universe.
Astrophysicists looking into anomalies in the cosmic background noise left after the Big Bang think there is evidence to support a holographic universe. You think you know that you exist in three dimensions. What about if we actually live in two dimensions?
How can we be in a 2D state in a 3D universe? That hologram on your credit card is a 3D image on a 2D surface. You can watch a 3D film on a 2D movie screen or on a 2D TV. You watch that 2D flat image but your brain sees 3D. Maybe everything you are looking at is 2D but our brain processes it as having three dimensions.
But our universe is not a movie. We can touch and smell objects.
“Reality as a simulation or hologram is no longer a fringe theory – with Nobel Prize winners and other thought leaders believing in it. All scientific discoveries start out as theories; some ultimately proven, some not. There is still the question of whether our universe actually exists? We may be simply living in something’s virtual reality simulation; very hard to prove one way or the other but we are getting closer.” source
Using more recent advances in sensing equipment, scientists have detected a vast amount of data hidden in the white noise left over from the moment the universe was created. What is its “purpose”? What is it “doing”? (That white noise data even accounts for some of the random black and white dots you see on a TV that is not tuned into a station.)
And there are some people who take the physics of this theory of reality and use it to explain the paranormal abilities of the mind and other riddles of the brain and body.
- Scientific American editor Michael Moyer explains why some think our universe a hologram. Prepare. Black holes ahead.
- Brian Greene explains why space is not nothing. Space is a dynamic fabric.
- And then, from the world of fiction, Philip K. Dick explains why he now sees scientific evidence for the artificial worlds he created in his novels and stories – and when he had a glimpse of another holographic world. But who changed the programming code?