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    • CommentTimeMay 29th 2010
    I don't know a lot about string theory, but this is interesting.

    At NYC sci fest, asking 'What if we're holograms?'

    By SAMANTHA GROSS, Associated Press Writer

    NEW YORK – Brian Greene works in a world where scientific reasoning rules all and imagination leads to the most unlikely truths.

    Greene and other "string theorists" are exploring a possible scenario in which people and the world around us are actually a 3-D holographic projection of two-dimensional data that exists outside the accessible universe.

    It's a concept so mindbending for those who don't understand the complex math behind it that many might decide it's best left to the academics. But Greene wants to build public excitement about science, even as the U.S. loses ground in some areas — and intends to bring even the most complex ideas to the masses at this week's World Science Festival, which starts June 2.

    • CommentAuthorZJVavrek
    • CommentTimeMay 29th 2010
    ... Yes, that news article does seem to have been posted recently, even though I read about this idea months ago. Very strange.
  1.  (8322.3)
    This theory has been around long enough that Warren included it in Planetary.
      CommentAuthorAdmiral Neck
    • CommentTimeMay 29th 2010 edited
    There's also Ian Watson's The Jonah Kit, where the realisation that we are holographic sends humanity into a nihilistic death spiral that is averted by
    a mass suicide by all the whales in the ocean who sacrifice themselves to save us from an oblivion caused by us not believing we exist.
    It's a lot less mad than it sounds: brilliant, even.
  2.  (8322.5)
    This sounds suspiciously like the brain in a vat question.

    Is there something I'm missing here?
    • CommentTimeMay 29th 2010
    Really, if somebody told you straight out that your entire existence, and everyone else for that matter, was as a hologram - should that even matter? Consciousness is consciousness. If I kill a holographic person, they are pretty much still dead in all effective ways unless Science suddenly discovers a way to reassemble that particular individual.

    Aside from reasons having to do with physics research and so on, I've never understood why this particular line of argument has any moral implications. Existence is existence as given by experience - does the metaphysics of it really matter, so long as I and the people I (seem to) interact with exhibit Turing-test level evidence of free will?

    I don't give a damn whether or not I exist as part of a transdimensional game of /The Sims/, so long as for all purposes involved, I have my intentionality and so don't the people around me. An independent mind still challenges my freedom in the same way, whether it is made of photons or matter or Kraft singles.
    • CommentAuthor256
    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2010
    "What if we're holograms?"
    "So what if we're holograms?"
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2010
    Great. Now I'm going to walk around wondering which of the people around me are characters involved in Illegal gold farming.
  3.  (8322.9)
    You'd think we'd be in a better written mod...
    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2010 edited
    So we're all God's Excel spreadsheet and nothing more? That has to be boring, sitting at a big pearly desk, typing how many hairs Jacob grew today, day in and day out. The way the hologramoverse of ours is going, it seems he probably hasn't audited the accounts in awhile.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2010
    Then there's Olaf Stapledon's version, in which God runs simulation after simulation until he gets a self-aware cosmos worthy of his companionship.
    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2010
    My ego rejects this.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2010
    There's a word for people who can correctly percieve the true nature of existence.

    Barking fucking mentalists.

    Okay. Three words.
  4.  (8322.14)
    My philosophy teacher used a variation on this as a way to be 'edgy'.
    It came across like complaining that computers suck, because you get your GUI and you don't see 1's and 0's and therefore the world is a total useless lie.

    Personally, I prefer the metaphorical GUI. Much easier to deal with sometimes.

    As to the idea itself? I find it somewhat curious and interesting; but I don't see many real-world applications for this knowledge if it's true. Even if we're holograms, we still have to eat, sleep, poo, whatever. We still 'exist' verymuch in this holographic meatspace and have to deal with it.
  5.  (8322.15)
    Step 1- define the underlying nature of reality

    Step 2- play with it!

    Step 3- crash the system. Uh-oh...
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2010 edited
    I'm rocking my hologram.

    • CommentAuthorgzapata
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2010
    Reminds of of something I read awhile ago.

    In the theory there are only 2 possibilities- Either it is impossible to create virtual reality at a "matrix" level or that we are in one. It posits that if it is possible that virtual reality can be that realistic, the probability that we are NOT in one right now is extremely slim to nothing since those virtual reality worlds will eventually have the technology to create virtual reality worlds and those will eventually have the ability to create more virtual reality worlds and so on and so on.

    It was something interesting to think of
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2010 edited
    It's a silly, matrix-y idea I think. Ideal for comic books though!

    A hologram exists the other way round from reality as we perceive it. Holograms are an elaborate trick to create a 3d effect; we use artificial means to create a semblance of reality. Science sometimes seems to do the opposite; scientists take reality, and then try to make it more artificial by expressing it in thought constructs: mathemical formulas, or concepts, like the strings from string theory, or by comparing it to holograms. Or an endless stack of turtles...

    It still doesn't mean it's a virtual reality. If we relegate the one reality that is definitely there to the virtual sphere, we're left with no reality .

    edit: for what it's worth, I think reality is more like a neverending babushka doll...

  6.  (8322.19)
    Sounds like "hologram" is a culturally misleading, but interesting sounding term applied after-the-fact as a handy analogy for complex mathematics that would be utterly inaccessible otherwise. Greene's comment "The idea is to ... find the compelling narrative and stories that allow these programs to really feel like an experience and not a lesson," kinda makes it sound like it's a stretch to do that effectively.
    If normal quantum mechanics defies conventional analogy, I'm dubious that string theory should fare any better.
  7.  (8322.20)
    that would be outrageous.

    truly, truly, truly outrageous.