The possibility that the reality we experience may be an illusion is quite improbable to a lot of people. This is so because we believe that we are the makers of our own destiny, we control the things we do in our life. Personal freedom is an integral portion of today’s social fabric. People want to be independent and assured with the notion of being the ultimate decision-makers. However, one of the most interesting theories in physics, the Holographic Principle, asserts that all of this may not be true.
The idea that our universe is basically a hologram has originated in the early 1990s. Then the scientists studying space believed that our reality basically results from a holographic projection of some data intrinsic to space. And that something or someone, is sending in this data encoded in some form of electrical pulses that our brain decodes into solid 3-dimensional objects. Some contemporary scientists discredit this theory because of the nascent affair of computers back then. The computers were the dream machines, and scientists were eager to hold their mysterious nature responsible for much of what had gone unexplained prior to their discovery and subsequent maturity.
However, as we have started understanding the true potential of computers in recent years – quantum calculations, complex iterative solutions to equations and, mostly importantly, 3D imagery, the idea that our reality may just be a holographic projection is seemingly looking more plausible than ever.
To simplify this notion, take out your credit or debit card. It will more than likely have a shiny sticker on it. This is a hologram. Try tilting your card from side to side while keeping your eyes fixed on the hologram. Yes, you will get an illusion of a 3-dimensional object from this 2-dimensional body. This is how holograms work. They basically trick your mind into thinking that there is a 3D object in front of you. This leads to an interesting question: is our observance of a hologram a mere optical illusion or is our brain is short-wired to respond to certain visual data in a particular manner?
Well according to James Gate Jr., a theoretical physicist at the University of Maryland, the latter is true. While working on the equations pertaining to the superstring theory – a scientific theory that aims to explain all the forces in nature through the vibration of theoretical strings, Gates discovered something very
interesting: computer code. Yes, according to Gates there were patches of 0s (off) and 1s (on) embedded in the said equations. A sort of a pulsing binary code that runs our computers. Gates, in a scientific panel discussion, further went on to say this sort of code is known as “doubly-even self-dual linear binary error-correcting block codes”, or in less specific terms, a code designed to remove errors in computer transmissions.
What is interesting is this leads one to infer that what we experience may just be the product of signals from a virtual reality generating computer network being broadcasted by some entity from the edge of space. An easier way to imagine this would be like living in the film, Matrix, where everything in the human experience is being generated by a farm of super computers.
So, how can a computer generate 3-dimensional objects from nothing but code? The answer lies in how the computer is wired
to work. For example, you are viewing a 3D object on your screen or are playing a computer game, you see all those solid objects without a problem. Meanwhile, behind the scenes the Central Processing Unit (CPU) is reading instructions off of your hard disk, processing them and then sending them over to the Graphical Processing Unit (GPU), which renders the 3-dimensional objects we see on the screen. So, in essence the computer is creating an illusionary experience from nothing but pulses of electrical energy – a myriad of zeroes and ones.
Therefore, can we say that our brain also functions as a computer and decodes the sensory information in front of it in a way to give us an illusion of living in this reality? While, in fact, there is nothing but flashes of light around? So, if this is true and we were able to escape our reality, and its definition of space and time, we just might see our world as a collection of pulses of weird light.
Pao Chang, a spiritualist, thinks that our reality is, in fact, a mere illusion. In his book, entitled Staradigm, he presents an interesting take on how reality works:
“The core structures of reality work similar to how a computer works. A computer communicates and operates through the use of binary codes, which are codes that consist of ones (on) and zeros (off). Binary codes are very simple but with the right combinations they can help computers create magnificent things.
For example, when we paint a picture using a computer software, the core state of the colors and shapes in the picture are basically made of ones and zeros. We do not see our picture as ones and zeros, because the central processing unit (CPU) and its counterparts process the binary codes as colors and shapes. The greatest thing about binary codes is that there are no limits to their combinations. …
The simple process of using binary codes to create things within the hardware of computers is very similar to how God creates our external reality or material world. The material world works very similar to a virtual reality. At its core, the material world is made of only light (energy) that flashes on and off to create energy codes.”
So, what does this theory entail? Well, it may help in proving the existence of an intelligent creator, God. That the reality we experience is being created and dispatched from somewhere far across the expanse of space while we are mere participants in the show. On the other hand, we just might be test-tube babies for a superior extraterrestrial race that is projecting this reality on us. In both cases, we just might not be living in a tangible reality we think we are living in. We might be blankly staring at a PowerPoint presentation while experiencing everything that we think we are actively taking part in. In short, our reality may just be a very elaborate illusion.
by LJ Vanier