It was long believed that the universe was three-dimensional. But researchers at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) has started a new experiment, called holometer, to provide proof of whether the universe is a 2D hologram. To determine if we live in a 2D world, 21 scientists at Fermilab will gather data over the next year.

Fermilab Hologram

Fermilab says the universe is much like TV

Whether the universe is a hologram is a crucial question to physicists. Scientists argue that information about everything in the universe might be encoded in small “packets” in two-dimensions. It’s much like the TV. If people inside your TV could care about it, they wouldn’t realize that they were just a 2D projection. Their world appears three-dimensional to them. From the point of view of people watching the TV, you see the whole picture from far-out. But you’ll see pixels once you get closer.

Researchers said information about the universe could be held in the same way. But there could be a big difference. Fermilab says the natural “pixel” size of space would be ten trillion trillion times smaller than an atom. Craig Hogan, developer of the holographic theory and director of Center for Particle Astrophysics at Fermilab, said that he wants to find out whether space-time is also a quantum system, just like matter.

Quantum theory says it’s impossible to know the exact speed and the exact location of subatomic particles. If space comes in small 2D “packets” with limited information about exact location of objects, then the space itself would be subject to uncertainty. Fermilab’s experiment is all about testing the universe’s capability to store information in bits.

How does Fermilab’s machine work?

The research institute is using holometer for the testing. It will look for jiggles in the hologram. Matter moves as quantum waves even if the temperature is brought down to absolute zero. So, the space “packets” should also have vibrations even at the lowest energy states. The holometer will measure the quantum vibrations of space. It uses two interferometers placed close to each other. Each interferometer will send a 1KW laser beam at the beam splitter, then down two perpendicular arms.

Fermilab Hologram

And then, light is reflected back to the splitter where the beams recombine. If there is a motion at this point, it creates a fluctuation. The holometer will measure those fluctuations.