A recent study has added new evidence to the controversial theory that the three-dimensional nature of our universe is actually a holographic projection from a two-dimensional plane. The holographic principle, as it is known, isn’t widely accepted by the scientific community, as it upends the classical model of physics. However, where the classical model has failed to reconcile quantum mechanics with the macroscopic world, the holographic principle does a much better job of doing so, and this latest study has also offered a real-world demonstration that the principle may be valid.

One has to bear in mind that, despite the name "holographic principle", this theory does not claim that the universe is necessarily an artificial, illusory construct, but is presented instead as a way to reconcile effects observed in the quantum world with Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The principle itself came about as an extension of the theory that black holes are 3-D projections from a 2-D surface, as a way to explain what happens to quantum information — the basis of the matter and energy involved — when it passes into a black hole.

The study author Professor Kostas Skenderis, from the University of Southampton, explains the effect: "Imagine that everything you see, feel and hear in three dimensions (and your perception of time) in fact emanates from a flat two-dimensional field. The idea is similar to that of ordinary holograms where a three-dimensional image is encoded in a two-dimensional surface, such as in the hologram on a credit card. However, this time, the entire universe is encoded."

In this study, the researchers applied a series of different models of the holographic principle against real-world data gathered by the European Space Agency’s Planck space observatory. Some of the models fell through, but others were able to accurately predict the subtle patterns found in the cosmic microwave background, the faint radiation left over from the Big Bang itself.

"We are proposing using this holographic Universe, which is a very different model of the Big Bang than the popularly accepted one that relies on gravity and inflation," said lead author Niayesh Afshordi, from University of Waterloo and Perimeter Institute in Canada. 

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