We Are the Holo-Men

Galleons, I know that we spend a lot of time talking about CERN (because CERN is bitchin’), but that doesn’t mean I want to completely neglect our very own Fermilab. After all, it’s pretty rockin’ as well. And just because the LHC is bigger and badder than the Tevatron doesn’t mean that Fermilab should be discounted.

Mostly because neither Fermilab nor CERN is just a one-trick pony…

Recently, Fermilab announced it was building a ‘holometer’ to determine whether the third dimension exists or not.

Wait… what?!

Let’s back up a minute here and discuss the theory of the holographic universe. As far as theoretical physics goes, it’s perfect- drowning in complex mathematics, short on hard data, and completely fucking absurd.

The holographic universe theory states that spacetime is not perfectly smooth (much as quantum mechanics does), but instead becomes pixelated as you zoom in further and further, like a low-res image (and nothing at all like the security cameras on CSI). According to this theory, the universe exists in two dimensions. The third is merely an illusion brought about by the intertwining of time and depth. But the third dimension cannot be perceived as an illusion because to do so would require breaking the lightspeed barrier, which is impossible. And so, we go about our lives, thinking we’re hanging in three dimensions, but really chilling in two, just like the folk in Flatland.

Watch me wag my posterior like the sexy little line segment I am.

Anyway, Fermilab particle astrophysicist Craig Hogan is leading a team that’s creating a holometer, which is the most precise clock ever created, in order to test whether or not the third dimension is an illusion. The holometer (short for holographic interferometer) will magnify spacetime to see if it is indeed as noisy as the math suggests it might be at higher resolution. It will do this by, like a classic interferometer, splitting laser beams and measuring the difference in frequencies between the two identical beams. However, what makes the holometer unique is that it will measure for noise or interference in spacetime itself.

The holometer is built of two interferometers stacked on top of one another. Since they are measuring the same volume of spacetime, they should show the same amount of correlated jitter in the fabric of the universe.

The data from the holometer will produce the first direct experimental insight into the fundamental nature of space and time. Construction on the holometer is already underway, and data collection is expected to begin by next year.

So watch out, third dimension. We may or may not be coming for you… depending on whether you exist or not (Schrödinger’s dimension?).


The basic schematic of the holometer... to make this post seem more science-y.


You earn bonus points with me, dear galleons, if you caught the reference in the title of today’s post.

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