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Thought I'd share this interesting article.
It's an old article (june, 2009) so I'm not sure how many people have read/heard it.

Does Objective Reality Exist, or is the Universe a Phantasm?

In 1982 a remarkable event took place. At the University of Paris a research team led by physicist Alain Aspect performed what may turn out to be one of the most important experiments of the 20th century. You did not hear about it on the evening news. In fact, unless you are in the habit of reading scientific journals you probably have never even heard Aspect's name, though there are some who believe his discovery may change the face of science.

Aspect and his team discovered that under certain circumstances subatomic particles such as electrons are able to instantaneously communicate with each other regardless of the distance separating them. It doesn't matter whether they are 10 feet or 10 billion miles apart. Somehow each particle always seems to know what the other is doing. The problem with this feat is that it violates Einstein's long-held tenet that no communication can travel faster than the speed of light. Since traveling faster than the speed of light is tantamount to breaking the time barrier, this daunting prospect has caused some physicists to try to come up with elaborate ways to explain away Aspect's findings. But it has inspired others to offer even more radical explanations.

University of London physicist David Bohm, for example, believes Aspect's findings imply that objective reality does not exist, that despite its apparent solidity the universe is at heart a phantasm, a gigantic and splendidly detailed hologram.

To understand why Bohm makes this startling assertion, one must first understand a little about holograms. A hologram is a three- dimensional photograph made with the aid of a laser. To make a hologram, the object to be photographed is first bathed in the light of a laser beam. Then a second laser beam is bounced off the reflected light of the first and the resulting interference pattern (the area where the two laser beams commingle) is captured on film. When the film is developed, it looks like a meaningless swirl of light and dark lines. But as soon as the developed film is illuminated by another laser beam, a three-dimensional image of the original object appears.

The three-dimensionality of such images is not the only remarkable characteristic of holograms. If a hologram of a rose is cut in half and then illuminated by a laser, each half will still be found to contain the entire image of the rose. Indeed, even if the halves are divided again, each snippet of film will always be found to contain a smaller but intact version of the original image. Unlike normal photographs, every part of a hologram contains all the information possessed by the whole.

The "whole in every part" nature of a hologram provides us with an entirely new way of understanding organization and order. For most of its history, Western science has labored under the bias that the best way to understand a physical phenomenon, whether a frog or an atom, is to dissect it and study its respective parts. A hologram teaches us that some things in the universe may not lend themselves to this approach. If we try to take apart something constructed holographically, we will not get the pieces of which it is made, we will only get smaller wholes.

This insight suggested to Bohm another way of understanding Aspect's discovery. Bohm believes the reason subatomic particles are able to remain in contact with one another regardless of the distance separating them is not because they are sending some sort of mysterious signal back and forth, but because their separateness is an illusion. He argues that at some deeper level of reality such particles are not individual entities, but are actually extensions of the same fundamental something.

To enable people to better visualize what he means, Bohm offers the following illustration. Imagine an aquarium containing a fish. Imagine also that you are unable to see the aquarium directly and your knowledge about it and what it contains comes from two television cameras, one directed at the aquarium's front and the other directed at its side. As you stare at the two television monitors, you might assume that the fish on each of the screens are separate entities. After all, because the cameras are set at different angles, each of the images will be slightly different. But as you continue to watch the two fish, you will eventually become aware that there is a certain relationship between them. When one turns, the other also makes a slightly different but corresponding turn; when one faces the front, the other always faces toward the side. If you remain unaware of the full scope of the situation, you might even conclude that the fish must be instantaneously communicating with one another, but this is clearly not the case.

This, says Bohm, is precisely what is going on between the subatomic particles in Aspect's experiment. According to Bohm, the apparent faster-than-light connection between subatomic particles is really telling us that there is a deeper level of reality we are not privy to, a more complex dimension beyond our own that is analogous to the aquarium. And, he adds, we view objects such as subatomic particles as separate from one another because we are seeing only a portion of their reality. Such particles are not separate "parts", but facets of a deeper and more underlying unity that is ultimately as holographic and indivisible as the previously mentioned rose. And since everything in physical reality is comprised of these "eidolons", the universe is itself a projection, a hologram.

In addition to its phantomlike nature, such a universe would possess other rather startling features. If the apparent separateness of subatomic particles is illusory, it means that at a deeper level of reality all things in the universe are infinitely interconnected.The electrons in a carbon atom in the human brain are connected to the subatomic particles that comprise every salmon that swims, every heart that beats, and every star that shimmers in the sky. Everything interpenetrates everything, and although human nature may seek to categorize and pigeonhole and subdivide, the various phenomena of the universe, all apportionments are of necessity artificial and all of nature is ultimately a seamless web.
In a holographic universe, even time and space could no longer be viewed as fundamentals. Because concepts such as location break down in a universe in which nothing is truly separate from anything else, time and three-dimensional space, like the images of the fish on the TV monitors, would also have to be viewed as projections of this deeper order. At its deeper level reality is a sort of superhologram in which the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously. This suggests that given the proper tools it might even be possible to someday reach into the superholographic level of reality and pluck out scenes from the long-forgotten past.

What else the superhologram contains is an open-ended question. Allowing, for the sake of argument, that the superhologram is the matrix that has given birth to everything in our universe, at the very least it contains every subatomic particle that has been or will be -- every configuration of matter and energy that is possible, from snowflakes to quasars, from blue whales to gamma rays. It must be seen as a sort of cosmic storehouse of "All That Is."

Although Bohm concedes that we have no way of knowing what else might lie hidden in the superhologram, he does venture to say that we have no reason to assume it does not contain more. Or as he puts it, perhaps the superholographic level of reality is a "mere stage" beyond which lies "an infinity of further development".

Bohm is not the only researcher who has found evidence that the universe is a hologram. Working independently in the field of brain research, Standford neurophysiologist Karl Pribram has also become persuaded of the holographic nature of reality. Pribram was drawn to the holographic model by the puzzle of how and where memories are stored in the brain. For decades numerous studies have shown that rather than being confined to a specific location, memories are dispersed throughout the brain.

In a series of landmark experiments in the 1920s, brain scientist Karl Lashley found that no matter what portion of a rat's brain he removed he was unable to eradicate its memory of how to perform complex tasks it had learned prior to surgery. The only problem was that no one was able to come up with a mechanism that might explain this curious "whole in every part" nature of memory storage.

Then in the 1960s Pribram encountered the concept of holography and realized he had found the explanation brain scientists had been looking for. Pribram believes memories are encoded not in neurons, or small groupings of neurons, but in patterns of nerve impulses that crisscross the entire brain in the same way that patterns of laser light interference crisscross the entire area of a piece of film containing a holographic image. In other words, Pribram believes the brain is itself a hologram.

Pribram's theory also explains how the human brain can store so many memories in so little space. It has been estimated that the human brain has the capacity to memorize something on the order of 10 billion bits of information during the average human lifetime (or roughly the same amount of information contained in five sets of the Encyclopaedia Britannica).

Similarly, it has been discovered that in addition to their other capabilities, holograms possess an astounding capacity for information storage--simply by changing the angle at which the two lasers strike a piece of photographic film, it is possible to record many different images on the same surface. It has been demonstrated that one cubic centimeter of film can hold as many as 10 billion bits of information.

Our uncanny ability to quickly retrieve whatever information we need from the enormous store of our memories becomes more understandable if the brain functions according to holographic principles. If a friend asks you to tell him what comes to mind when he says the word "zebra", you do not have to clumsily sort back through some gigantic and cerebral alphabetic file to arrive at an answer. Instead, associations like "striped", "horselike", and "animal native to Africa" all pop into your head instantly. Indeed, one of the most amazing things about the human thinking process is that every piece of information seems instantly cross- correlated with every other piece of information--another feature intrinsic to the hologram. Because every portion of a hologram is infinitely interconnected with every other portion, it is perhaps nature's supreme example of a cross-correlated system.

The storage of memory is not the only neurophysiological puzzle that becomes more tractable in light of Pribram's holographic model of the brain. Another is how the brain is able to translate the avalanche of frequencies it receives via the senses (light frequencies, sound frequencies, and so on) into the concrete world of our perceptions.

Encoding and decoding frequencies is precisely what a hologram does best. Just as a hologram functions as a sort of lens, a translating device able to convert an apparently meaningless blur of frequencies into a coherent image, Pribram believes the brain also comprises a lens and uses holographic principles to mathematically convert the frequencies it receives through the senses into the inner world of our perceptions.

An impressive body of evidence suggests that the brain uses holographic principles to perform its operations. Pribram's theory, in fact, has gained increasing support among neurophysiologists.

Argentinian-Italian researcher Hugo Zucarelli recently extended the holographic model into the world of acoustic phenomena. Puzzled by the fact that humans can locate the source of sounds without moving their heads, even if they only possess hearing in one ear, Zucarelli discovered that holographic principles can explain this ability. Zucarelli has also developed the technology of holophonic sound, a recording technique able to reproduce acoustic situations with an almost uncanny realism.

Pribram's belief that our brains mathematically construct "hard" reality by relying on input from a frequency domain has also received a good deal of experimental support. It has been found that each of our senses is sensitive to a much broader range of frequencies than was previously suspected. Researchers have discovered, for instance, that our visual systems are sensitive to sound frequencies, that our sense of smellisin part dependent on what are now called "osmic frequencies", and that even the cells in our bodies are sensitive to a broad range of frequencies. Such findings suggest that it is only in the holographic domain of consciousness that such frequencies are sorted out and divided up into conventional perceptions.

But the most mind-boggling aspect of Pribram's holographic model of the brain is what happens when it is put together with Bohm's theory. For if the concreteness of the world is but a secondary reality and what is "there" is actually a holographic blur of frequencies, and if the brain is also a hologram and only selects some of the frequencies out of this blur and mathematically transforms them into sensory perceptions, what becomes of objective reality? Put quite simply, it ceases to exist. As the religions of the East have long upheld, the material world is Maya, an illusion, and although we may think we are physical beings moving through a physical world, this too is an illusion.

We are really "receivers" floating through a kaleidoscopic sea of frequency, and what we extract from this sea and transmogrify into physical reality is but one channel from many extracted out of the superhologram.

This striking new picture of reality, the synthesis of Bohm and Pribram's views, has come to be called the-holographic paradigm, and although many scientists have greeted it with skepticism, it has galvanized others. A small but growing group of researchers believe it may be the most accurate model of reality science has arrived at thus far. More than that, some believe it may solve some mysteries that have never before been explainable by science and even establish the paranormal as a part of nature. Numerous researchers, including Bohm and Pribram, have noted that many para-psychological phenomena become much more understandable in terms of the holographic paradigm.

In a universe in which individual brains are actually indivisible portions of the greater hologram and everything is infinitely interconnected, telepathy may merely be the accessing of the holographic level.

It is obviously much easier to understand how information can travel from the mind of individual 'A' to that of individual 'B' at a far distance point and helps to understand a number of unsolvedpuzzles in psychology.

In particular, Stanislav Grof feels the holographic paradigm offers a model for understanding many of the baffling phenomena experienced by individuals during altered states of consciousness. In the 1950s, while conducting research into the beliefs of LSD as a psychotherapeutic tool, Grof had one female patient who suddenly became convinced she had assumed the identity of a female of a species of prehistoric reptile. During the course of her hallucination, she not only gave a richly detailed description of what it felt like to be encapsuled in such a form, but noted that the portion of the male of the species's anatomy was a patch of colored scales on the side of its head. What was startling to Grof was that although the woman had no prior knowledge about such things, a conversation with a zoologist later confirmed that in certain species of reptiles colored areas on the head do indeed play an important role as triggers of sexual arousal. The woman's experience was not unique. During the course of his research, Grof encountered examples of patients regressing and identifying with virtually every species on the evolutionary tree (research findings which helped influence the man-into-ape scene in the movie Altered States). Moreover, he found that such experiences frequently contained obscure zoological details which turned out to be accurate.

Regressions into the animal kingdom were not the only puzzling psychological phenomena Grof encountered. He also had patients who appeared to tap into some sort of collective or racial unconscious. Individuals with little or no education suddenly gave detailed descriptions of Zoroastrian funerary practices and scenes from Hindu mythology. In other categories of experience, individuals gave persuasive accounts of out-of-body journeys, of precognitive glimpses of the future, of regressions into apparent past-life incarnations.

In later research, Grof found the same range of phenomena manifested in therapy sessions which did not involve the use of drugs. Because the common element in such experiences appeared to be the transcending of an individual's consciousness beyond the usual boundaries of ego and/or limitations of space and time, Grof called such manifestations "transpersonal experiences", and in the late '60s he helped found a branch of psychology called "transpersonal psychology" devoted entirely to their study.
Although Grof's newly founded Association of Transpersonal Psychology garnered a rapidly growing group of like-minded professionals and has become a respected branch of psychology, for years neither Grof or any of his colleagues were able to offer a mechanism for explaining the bizarre psychological phenomena they were witnessing. But that has changed with the advent of the holographic paradigm.

As Grof recently noted, if the mind is actually part of a continuum, a labyrinth that is connected not only to every other mind that exists or has existed, but to every atom, organism, and region in the vastness of space and time itself, the fact that it is able to occasionally make forays into the labyrinth and have transpersonal experiences no longer seems so strange.

The holographic paradigm also has implications for so-called hard sciences like biology. Keith Floyd, a psychologist at Virginia Intermont College, has pointed out that if the concreteness of reality is but a holographic illusion, it would no longer be true to say the brain produces consciousness. Rather, it is consciousness that creates the appearance of the brain -- as well as the body and everything else around us we interpret as physical.
Such a turnabout in the way we view biological structures has caused researchers to point out that medicine and our understanding of the healing process could also be transformed by the holographic paradigm. If the apparent physical structure of the body is but a holographic projection of consciousness, it becomes clear that each of us is much more responsible for our health than current medical wisdom allows. What we now view as miraculous remissions of disease may actually be due to changes in consciousness which in turn effect changes in the hologram of the body.

Similarly, controversial new healing techniques such as visualization may work so well because, in the holographic domain of thought, images are ultimately as real as "reality".

Even visions and experiences involving "non-ordinary" reality become explainable under the holographic paradigm. In his book "Gifts of Unknown Things," biologist Lyall Watson describes his encounter with an Indonesian shaman woman who, by performing a ritual dance, was able to make an entire grove of trees instantly vanish into thin air. Watson relates that as he and another astonished onlooker continued to watch the woman, she caused the trees to reappear, then "click" off again and on again several times in succession.

Although current scientific understanding is incapable of explaining such events, experiences like this become more tenable if "hard" reality is only a holographic projection. Perhaps we agree on what is "there" or "not there" because what we call consensus reality is formulated and ratified at the level of the human unconscious at which all minds are infinitely interconnected. If this is true, it is the most profound implication of the holographic paradigm of all, for it means that experiences such as Watson's are not commonplace only because we have not programmed our minds with the beliefs that would make them so. In a holographic universe there are no limits to the extent to which we can alter the fabric of reality.

What we perceive as reality is only a canvas waiting for us to draw upon it any picture we want. Anything is possible, from bending spoons with the power of the mind to the phantasmagoric events experienced by Castaneda during his encounters with the Yaqui brujo don Juan, for magic is our birthright, no more or less miraculous than our ability to compute the reality we want when we are in our dreams.

Indeed, even our most fundamental notions about reality become suspect, for in a holographic universe, as Pribram has pointed out, even random events would have to be seen as based on holographic principles and therefore determined. Synchronicities or meaningful coincidences suddenly makes sense, and everything in reality would have to be seen as a metaphor, for even the most haphazard events would express some underlying symmetry.

Whether Bohm and Pribram's holographic paradigm becomes accepted in science or dies an ignoble death remains to be seen, but it is safe to say that it has already had an influence on the thinking of many scientists. And even if it is found that the holographic model does not provide the best explanation for the instantaneous communications that seem to be passing back and forth between subatomic particles, at the very least, as noted by Basil Hiley, a physicist at Birbeck College in London, Aspect's findings "indicate that we must be prepared to consider radically new views of reality".

Is the Universe a Holographic Reality? - Global One TV

5,240 Posts
If this is true...AWESOME!!! :D

Though I do have to wonder if the part about someone seeing a shaman make trees disappear was made up or not...

2,284 Posts
This is such a beautiful and exciting hypothesis... I've been convinced that reality is an illusion for as long as i can remember, so of course i hope this is true and even though i'm not nearly smart enough to understand the physics behind it, i really want to believe it, if only because it's so damn poetic :crazy: I am he as you are me as you are we and we are all together... and the stars are projectors, projecting our lives down to this planet earth.

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The holographic principle is really interesting, as it resolves one of the main cosmological problems; the black hole information paradox, which basically calls into question whether a specific type of information, the unitary evolution operator of a quantum wavefunction, encoded into said wavefunction, can be destroyed by black holes. It resolves many questions involving the disparities in behavior of quantum systems at different scales and energy levels by defining a spacial volume as being defined as information encoded on a two-dimensional "horizon" of space time. This is what the holographic principle really does; it posits that the universe is information encoded in two-dimensions.

As such, I am not trying to discredit the actual holographic principle. But what this article is doing is peddling crap, frankly. It's another example of journalists and "philosophers" radically misinterpreting current scientific theories and engaging in embarrassing, cavalier discussion. The idea that there is no objective reality, that perception creates the reality, etc., which by the way is justified with out-of-date understandings of quantum mechanics (such as early versions of the Copenhagen interpretation), not the holographic principle, is what I like to call "quantum mysticism." But the Copenhagen (in its old "observation creates reality") interpretation is rapidly falling out of favor.

A currently very popular interpretation of QM (quantum mechanics) is "Quantum Darwinism." It and other currently popular interpretations, such as many-worlds and competing histories, a "conscious observer" is not required, because the environment is an "observer." In Quantum Darwinism, the environment allows the best quantum properties to prosper. As such, the "fittest" properties are the one's we're more likely to observe from the competing wavefunctions. This was formulated using many parts of the competing histories interpretation which uses Rirchard Feynman's probabilistic path integrals. When a particle moves in phase space from point A to B, it does not have a unique single history (note this refers to the trajectory prior to wavefunction collapse and/or measurement) but rather every possible history has an associated probability. These then "compete" in Quantum Darwinism, or simply have a "roll of the dice" in competing histories. Either way, in contemporary physics, there isn't a real dualistic "bu-but the observer" problem. This has been confirmed in studies such as, but not limited to Blume-Kohout, Zurek (2007) [0704.3615] Quantum Darwinism in quantum Brownian motion: the vacuum as a witness (<- link is to Cornell University copy of the study)

It should be noted that the holographic principle works with this, and ties in with an "inforealist" metaphysics whereby information, very possibly strings and quantum wavefunctions, is what is "fundamentally" ontologically real. In fact, this "inforealism" is in contemporary philosophy by far the strongest still-standing version of scientific realism, called structural realism, specifically a form called "ontic structural realism." For those more philosophically inclined, a great book defending this metaphysics is Everything Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized by James Ladyman. I know for sure it's from the Oxford University press, so it should be on Amazon.

Lastly, as for the para-psychological phenomena the article touches on, there's a reason it's "controversial," that being that it isn't accepted by almost any cognitive scientist or physicist. The supposed interdisciplinary ignorance between physicists, philosophers, and cognitive scientists is, I've noticed, often hugely exaggerated by those pushing their zany "shocker" theories, with another major offender being the biomedical researcher Robert Lanza with his "Biocentrism" garbage. Many of these phenomenon can be explained by a combination of contemporary neuroscience and philosophy, such as with Daniel Dennett's "teleofunctionalist" model of the mind. For a great overview of parapsychological phenomenon and the mind, I suggest Consciousness: An Introduction by Susan Blackmore, a leading figure in the field.

In short, while I think it's great that the public is being made aware of these legitimately intriguing ideas in contemporary physics, this article commits a common crime and misinterprets and misappropriates science to push the zany mystical garbage of a few rogue scientists who have found themselves in the "publish or perish" trap. But whatever gets headlines and challenges scientific realism, right?

521 Posts
I'm not buying it, just yet.

I'm such a buzzkill.

Holograms do contain many images, that when combined, produce a 3d image. You might even take a piece of the hologram and you would see the original object, but from only one of many vantage points. Which means, that it is a "part" of the puzzle, it's is not the "whole" in terms of 3d, it is only the whole image in terms of one vantage point. The reason you've got multiple images spread out all over the holographic photosensitive plate is because it could be no other way. The science behind our ability to push all of those vantage points into a sprayed mirage of wavy lines comprising the 3d whole is due to our ability to capture the wave interference pattern of light giving us the ability to capture multiple vantage points on a single flat surface.

Here's where the author made it sound far more "magical" than it really is;
If a hologram of a rose is cut in half and then illuminated by a laser, each half will still be found to contain the entire image of the rose. Indeed, even if the halves are divided again, each snippet of film will always be found to contain a smaller but intact version of the original image. Unlike normal photographs, every part of a hologram contains all the information possessed by the whole.
That could have been more accurately expressed by simply changing;
"each snippet of film will always be found to contain a smaller but intact version of the original image" into "each snippet of film will always be found to contain at least one 2d flat version of the original image from a particular vantage point."

So, in the real world, if I were walking around with just a snippet of an original 3d image, I would not have the whole. I would not have the sides, or the back. I'd have a flat view from a particular vantage point. Which would not give me enough information to reconstruct the object in it's entirety. At least not without all of the other pieces of the entire holographic plate. Dependent on the portion of the piece you cut off, you might have some overlap of frames, producing a fuzzy recollection of additional vantage points, but certainly if you dropped all the way down to the photon level you wouldn't have jack-squat to go on - a dot of light will get you nothing. The whole notion that everything knows everything about everything, and posses all the information required to reconstruct everything else, or that it dictates a forced deduction that we are ourselves living in a hologram like universe, based purely on the groovy nature of hologram production seems absurd to me.

I'm not saying we shouldn't contemplate ourselves living a super-hologram, or that this isn't an awesome way to learn more about the particle vs. wave nature of photons, it is like a lot of other things - something fascinating to ponder and consider. I would rather, though, that we not build an entire universe view, or some existential whack philosophy based on one groovy peculiarity. (Not that any of you did - I'm just stating my thoughts on the surreal misdirection of the article)

Disclaimer: I could be wrong on all of this, as it is just a combination of my own reading and my own assumptions. I invite you to formulate your own ideas, even if they radically differ from mine. I'd be thrilled to hear about them, and or correct my own understandings should yours prove better.
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Seems like people do need to engage in philosophical musings after all. Ever since philosophy got discredited as means of attaining truth (post WW2 times) it was regarded as nothing more than a past time of deluded individuals. Yet everything about the Holographic principle is pure Plato - "Reality is a shadow of a deeper reality", "What you think you see is not real it's a mere projection". Now they boast this view again but think that by sketching up a few mathematical formulas it will gain a whole different dimension. It doesn't. No glimpse of hard science anywhere. Why do people need to give different names to same things and ideas just so as to not get stigmatized by the mainstream I'll never get. Same with the Multiverse theory - Pythagoras with elegant mathematical formulas nothing more.

I'd like to see credit given where credit is due - "Pythagoras and Plato were talking about these ideas long time ago. We are now beginning to better understand what they mean." These theories stem from the education of the scientists who formed them - they all had Philosophy either in high school or college, responded to the ideas subconsciously and later these ideas emerged as a more sophisticated expression. I see theoretical physicists always try to somehow gain higher ground over philosophy in terms of seeking truth, yet everything in theory that doesn't have empirical evidence has already been covered by philosophy.
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