Holographic Nature of Our Existence

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Holograms are not suppose to be things of the near future.  We’re suppose to be swimming in holograms at this time.  Our present-day technology should be so advanced that we should be able to stay home all day in our pajamas and still be able to go about our business using our holographic representations.  If we need to be at meetings or to visit friends, we should be able to simply send our holograms out there to take care of our business.

Our computers, musical instruments, books, electronic devices, they should all be holographic in nature.


Why this has not happened yet, at this late date, I haven’t a clue.  We’ve known how holograms work  since 1971 when Dr. Dennis Gabor got the Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention and his development of the holographic method.  It has been over forty years, and we’ve barely even touched the surface of what holographic technology can do.

Most people, when asked about what they think of holograms, usually think of Star Wars characters like this alien guy.  That’s because there hasn’t been an overabundance of holograms hanging around in the public square.

StarWars Hologram

To be perfectly frank, other than the New York airport hologram that’s been out earlier this year, I really haven’t seen any floating around.  The holographic technology of humanity in 2012 sure looks better and more solid than the holographic technology of a society that has achieved spaceflight.  Look how nice and solid the holographic woman at the New York airport is.  The alien above is see-thru.  He can barely refract light back to our eyes!

airport hologram

My simple definition of a hologram is a 3D image of a real object or person that has been projected from a lighted source so that we can walk all the way around and see the image in 3 dimensions.  This is basically what most folks think about the subject.

Yawn.  (…wanders off and plays Xbox).

And I go off and do some research on how it actually works because I am just that curious about weird sciency-stuff like this.  As usual, I like recipe-style layouts because it simplifies the process, even if I never want to put one together.  Somehow, just seeing something in a recipe pattern makes things clearer and less confusing to me (see Recipe for Scrying Machine)

Here’s how it works.  Let’s say we want to make a hologram of an apple.  We need to collect the ingredients and follow the recipe.  Keep in mind that this is only one of several ways to create a hologram.  I chose it because it’s fairly simple.

Hologram of Apple


1 apple
2 mirrors
1 beam-splitter
2 diffusing lenses
1 holographic plate
1 laser.


  • Turn on laser beam at the top right of diagram.
  • Shine the beam into a beam-splitter which will produce two separate beams.
  • The first beam is sent through a diffusing lens, bounce off the apple at the bottom right, and onto the holographic plate.
  • The second beam goes to the first mirror, bounces off that first mirror and into the second mirror.
  • It then bounces off the second mirror, through the second diffusing lens, and onto the holographic plate.
  • The plate is then recorded.
  • To see the apple, simply shine another laser beam through the film and the apple reappears in 3D.

holograph diagram

Strange, isn’t it, that we can be able to reproduce the image of that apple in 3D from the patterns on a 2D holographic plate that does not even have the image of the apple on it simply by shining a light through the plate.  As a matter of fact, this holographic plate actually contains far more information than a regular focused image ever possibly could, and therefore allows us to see a true 3D image which will change its appearance to correspond with the direction we are looking at.  It will show us the apple from different angles, just as if we were looking at a real 3D object. How does it do this?

If we look closely at the plate, it’s got nothing but a bunch of concentric circles.  Here’s a closer look at the plate.

hologram plate

These circles are like concentric circles that occur when pebbles are thrown into a pond.  The waves from the pebbles hitting the surface of the water create a pattern called Interference.  The complex pattern that results from all those wave collisions is called an Interference Pattern.

Now, here is where the magic of holography begins.  If we take a regular photograph and cut it into pieces, all we can see are pieces of the photograph.  However, if we break that holographic plate into pieces, each individual broken piece will still be able to show the entire image, albeit at the angle where it was broken.  That’s because every portion of the holographic plate contains ALL the information of the whole.  The theory and mathematics behind this idea is kinda hairy, but…

Stay with me here!  This is an important concept and it is called the Holographic Principle.

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According to physicists, the holographic principle hypothesizes that our three-dimensional reality is a projection from information spread out on a two-dimensional surface called a cosmological horizon that is 13.7 billion light years away.

Dr. Garrett Lisi, an American physicist who wrote a paper entitled “An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything”, proposed that the universe’s cosmological horizon, when seen in 2D would look like this colorful circle that can be digitally created using a complex, eight-dimensional mathematical pattern with 248 points called an E8.  This E8 pattern contains the symmetries of a geometric object that is 57-dimensional and is itself is 248-dimensional.  Lisi says “I think our universe is this beautiful shape.” *


Amazingly enough, this pattern was first found in 1887 by a mathematician named Wihelm Killing, but only fully understood by mathematicians a few years ago.  “This dense object is so complex, in fact, that it was plotted by computer for the first time in 2007. It took a team of 18 mathematicians — the Atlas of Lie Groups project at the American Institute of Mathematics — four years to calculate and plot the formula for E8. The group spent two years on the calculations, and two more dedicated to figuring out how to calculate the shape on the computers available today.” **  E8 is now being used to calculate masses of new particles that have been churned up by the activities of the Large Hadron Collider.

This pattern is gorgeous!  It also gave me a bit of a headache because I was trying to figure out how something like this could generate galaxies and star systems, mountains and oceans, and you and me, not to mention my computer and my shoes and my little blonde cocker spaniel.

It is just mind boggling to imagine that this two-dimensional pattern laid out on a cosmological horizon can hold all the information we need to describe our universe.  I couldn’t visualize it, so I went looking through the internet to find something I could use to visualize this phenomenon (as an artist, I really need visualizations to grasp huge and difficult concepts).  Well, as luck would have it, I found this photo of a collapsible Hoberman expanding sphere toy.  It shows what the 3D sphere would look like if it was a flat 2D surface.

spherical toy

Now, imagine that the E8 Pattern is the holographic plate in our 3D Apple recipe from above.  The world we live in would be the holographic projection.  The information that is needed to form us would be laid out flat on a 2D E8 pattern.  The real objects would exist somewhere else beyond the holographic plate.  Sounds like a huge computerized holographic machine, doesn’t it?

But just like our computers, all this information has to be manipulated and stored somehow.  In the case of our Universe’s information, that’s a whopping number!  All that information has to have a data bank large enough to hold the information, much like our computer hard drives which do the bulk of the storage and archiving process of our computing activities.  The Universe’s data files are stored within the universe’s ultimate information-storage devices—black holes.

To understand how black holes store information, we should touch upon another concept called Entropy.  Entropy describes all the different ways we can rearrange the components of something—“a system”—and still have it look essentially the same.  If I tried to switch one page of a novel from its original placement to another section, the novel has changed and you would know it.  In this sense, it has very low entropy.  If, on the other hand, I took a bucket of pebbles and switched one of the pebbles from one position in the bucket to another, you wouldn’t know the difference.  Nor would you care.

Black hole in the nebula

What makes black holes amazing and unique is that all black holes look the same.  They all look like…well, they look like black holes!  Aside from a few qualities that distinguish them, such as mass, electric charge, and angular momentum, one black hole is as good as another.  There is no way to tell what has gone inside of a black hole.  Once it goes in, it’s gone.  This makes it the absolute top of the line storage unit because it gives black holes maximum entropy.  In an online report from Nova, a division of PBS, there is a good description of the entropic aspects of a black hole:

In the 1970s, Stephen Hawking and Jacob Bekenstein discovered that the entropy of a black hole obeys a different scaling rule. It is proportional not to the black hole’s three-dimensional volume but to its two-dimensional surface area, defined here as the area of the invisible boundary called the event horizon.  Therefore, while the actual entropy of an ordinary object—say, a hamburger—scales with its volume, the maximum entropy that could theoretically be contained in the space occupied by the hamburger depends not on the volume of the hamburger but on the size of its surface area. Physics prevents the entropy of the hamburger from ever exceeding that maximum: If one somehow tried to pack so much entropy into the hamburger that it reached that limit, the hamburger would collapse into a black hole.” ***

What this means is, my friend…everything that can be seen, tasted, touched, and experienced can all be described and called forth from a two-dimensional plane in space.  This suggests that the most basic nature of the Universe (and the ultimate grande finale of the theory of physics) have to have a basis in two dimensions, and that is the Holographic Principle in a nutshell.


* http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/large-hadron-collider/3314456/Surfer-dude-stuns-physicists-with-theory-of-everything.html

** http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/everyday-myths/theory-of-everything1.htm

*** http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/physics/blog/2011/11/holograms-black-holes-and-the-nature-of-the-universe/


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