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The Holographic Universe

  1. Aug 7, 2003 #1
    The latest scientific american has an interesting article online for free about recent research into a possible holographic interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. It's fascinating reading but conceptually deep. It seems that instead of taking the Bohmian approach of using an ad hoc modification of newtonian mechanics, they have had some success analyzing the statistical approach of entropy. Basically, the article states that the entropy of information has been discovered to be proportional to surface area, and that this implies the universe may be a three dimensional hologram.

    As I said, it's a deep well to contemplate, but it seems to me this means a statistical theory such as chaos theory may be able to provide predictions and a more complete discription than the traditional randomness of Indeterminacy (Ding Dong the witch is dead?) In other words, as in chaos theory we may not be able to say exactly what order exists beneigth the apparent randomness of indeterminacy, but we will be able to at least assert with confidence that some kind of order does seem to exist. Any thoughts on this article would be greatly appreciated.

    P.S.- the author concludes the article with this dramatic statement:

    ...although the holographic way of thinking is not yet fully understood, it seems to be here to stay. And with it comes a realization that the fundamental belief, prevalent for 50 years, that field theory is the ultimate language of physics must give way. Fields, such as the electromagnetic field, vary continuously from point to point, and they thereby describe an infinity of degrees of freedom. Superstring theory also embraces an infinite number of degrees of freedom. Holography restricts the number of degrees of freedom that can be present inside a bounding surface to a finite number; field theory with its infinity cannot be the final story. Furthermore, even if the infinity is tamed, the mysterious dependence of information on surface area must be somehow accommodated.

    Last edited: Aug 7, 2003
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 9, 2003 #2
    I read the article in the magazine when I was at walmart but I didn't under stand it. Was it saying that it is really 2d and when light is shined on it, it created a 3d image and effects kinda like a movie w/ shadowing and all? Or was it different than that?
  4. Aug 9, 2003 #3
    Like energy, information is neither created nor distroyed, it just gets around. In many respects, information appears more real than matter/energy in modern physics. Thirty years ago John Wheeler began urging physicists to reformulate physics in terms of information flow. Now it has led to the possibility our universe is really three dimensional, and the fourth dimension is illusory. The new discovery that information entropy is proportional to the surface area implies new laws of information flow are waiting to be discovered, and may help lead to a reconciliation of Quantum Mechanics and Relativity.

    I'm especially curious as to what other laws of information might be formulated...
  5. Aug 9, 2003 #4
    So the holographic principle says that the entropy inside a region is determined by the area of the boundary of the region. But to what entropy they refer, Shannon entropy or thermodynamical entropy?
  6. Aug 9, 2003 #5
    Read the article, it is the information entropy. There are a few other principles they've discovered as well.
  7. Aug 18, 2003 #6
    I loved that issue of sciam. I'm very speculative on the whole idea. It all makes sence, but not a whole lot of it. But then again, doesn't all science? It is yet very much a thoery. As you read in the article, some principles only exsist under certain circumstances. And on the other hand, to me as a human it seems entirely unreal. But then again, reality is just a figment of our imagination.
  8. Nov 22, 2003 #7
    Physical and Shannon ( Information ) Entropy Not the Same

    Bekenstein confuses Shannon's entropy with physical entropy. From the article:
    >>"Thermodynamic entropy and Shannon entropy are conceptually equivalent: the number of arrangements that are counted by Boltzmann entropy reflects the amount of Shannon information one would need to implement any particular arrangement."<<

    This is misleading; the two are closer to opposites. Shannon's 'information' refers to the reduction in uncertainty that a particular message provides. The reduction provided by a particular message will be higher if the 'pool' of possible messages was bigger, since a larger number of possible messages would make a person less certain that any particular one would come through. Physical entropy, or the "number of arrangements", is more accurately identified with the loss of such information towards a more uncertain ordering of things.

    That Shannon even used the word "entropy" is a bit confusing -- he was not "led by logic to a formula with the same form as Boltzamann's" as Bekenstein suggests.
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