If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What is Reality?

There is a strange and mysterious world that surrounds us, a world largely hidden from our senses. The quest to explain the true nature of reality is one of the great scientific detective stories.

It starts with Jacobo Konisberg talking about the discovery of the Top quark at Fermilab. Frank Wilceck then featured to explain some particle physics theory at his country shack using bits of fruit. Anton Zeilinger showed us the double slit experiment and then Seth Lloyd showed us the worlds most powerful quantum computer, which has some problems. Lloyd has some interesting ideas about the universe being like a quantum computer.

Lenny Susskind then made an appearance to tell us about how he had discovered the holographic principle after passing an interesting hologram in the corridor. The holgraphic principle was illustrated by projecting an image of Lenny onto himself. Max Tegmark then draws some of his favourite equations onto a window and tell us that reality is maths before he himself dissolved into equations.

The most interesting part of the program was a feature about an experiment to construct a holometer at Fermilab described by one of the project leaders Craig Hogan. The holometer is a laser inteferometer inspired by the noise produced at the gravitational wave detectors such as LIGO. It is hoped that if the holographic principle is correct this experiment will detect its effects.

Clues have been pieced together from deep within the atom, from the event horizon of black holes, and from the far reaches of the cosmos. It may be that that we are part of a cosmic hologram, projected from the edge of the universe. Or that we exist in an infinity of parallel worlds. Your reality may never look quite the same again.

BBC Horizon (2011) - What is Reality?

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