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October 24, 2010

Fermilab Holometer will measure smallest details of space time and test if the universe is a hologram in 2011

If you "lived inside" a hologram, you could tell by measuring the blurring. Fermilab is building a interferometer to test space time for holographic blurring.

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Possible consequence of holography

Hypothesis: observable correlations are encoded on light sheets and limited by information capacity of a Planck wavelength carrier (“Planck information flux” limit)

Predicts uncertainty in position at Planck diffraction scale





Physics Outcomes

If noise is not there,
Constrain interpretations of holography
But no direct challenge to widely cherished beliefs

If it is detected, experiments probe Planck scale unification
Study holographic relationships among matter, energy, space, time
Shape interpretation of fundamental theory

If we find holographic noise, so what?

Directly verify the “movement without motion” of spacetime
Directly measure the minimum interval of space and time
Show that reality is a kind of hologram
Data on unification of mass-energy and spacetime, directionality of time measurements
Absolute limit to bandwidth: technology implications

Symmetry magazine has a less technical explaination.

The holometer’s precision means that it doesn’t have to be large; at 40 meters in length, it is only one hundredth of the size of current interferometers, which measure gravitational waves from black holes and supernovas. Yet because the spacetime frequencies it measures are so rapid, it will be more precise over very short time intervals by seven orders of magnitude than any atomic clock in existence.

“The shaking of spacetime occurs at a million times per second, a thousand times what your ear can hear,” said Fermilab experimental physicist Aaron Chou, whose lab is developing prototypes for the holometer. “Matter doesn’t like to shake at that speed. You could listen to gravitational frequencies with headphones.”

The whole trick, Chou says, is to prove that the vibrations don’t come from the instrument. Using technology similar to that in noise-cancelling headphones, sensors outside the instrument detect vibrations and shake the mirror at the same frequency to cancel them. Any remaining shakiness at high frequency, the researchers propose, will be evidence of blurriness in spacetime.

Hogan’s team liked the holometer idea so much they decided to build two. One on top of the other, the machines can confirm one another’s measurements.

This month, having successfully built a 1-meter prototype of the 40-meter arm, they will weld the parts of the first of the vacuum arms together.

Hogan expects the holometer to begin collecting data next year.

FURTHER READING

The Holometer presentations at Fermilab.

Holographic principle at wikipedia

The holographic principle is a property of quantum gravity and string theories which states that the description of a volume of space can be thought of as encoded on a boundary to the region—preferably a light-like boundary like a gravitational horizon. First recognized by Charles Thorn and later proposed by Gerardus 't Hooft, it was given a precise string-theory interpretation by Leonard Susskind.

In a larger and more speculative sense, the theory suggests that the entire universe can be seen as a two-dimensional information structure "painted" on the cosmological horizon, such that the three dimensions we observe are only an effective description at macroscopic scales and at low energies. Cosmological holography has not been made mathematically precise, partly because the cosmological horizon has a finite area and grows with time

Energy, matter, and information equivalence

Shannon's efforts to find a way to quantify the information contained in, for example, an e-mail message, led him unexpectedly to a formula with the same form as Boltzmann's. Bekenstein summarizes that "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..." of matter and energy. The only salient difference between the thermodynamic entropy of physics and the Shannon's entropy of information is in the units of measure; the former is expressed in units of energy divided by temperature, the latter in essentially dimensionless "bits" of information, and so the difference is merely a matter of convention.

The holographic principle states that the entropy of ordinary mass (not just black holes) is also proportional to surface area and not volume; that volume itself is illusory and the universe is really a hologram which is isomorphic to the information "inscribed" on the surface of its boundary

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