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Exploring the Possibility of Living in a Hologram: Why Physics is Still Fascinated by this Concept

In November 1997, an audaciously bold idea was presented by physicist Juan Maldacena: that space-time, the fundamental fabric of the universe and the backdrop against which reality unfolds, is a hologram.

At the time, Maldacena’s proposal was met with surprise and admiration by those working in the fields of particle physics and gravity. Prior to its publication, the notion of a holographic universe was considered far-fetched and speculative.

However, over 25 years later, the holographic universe stands as one of the most significant breakthroughs in recent decades. Its importance lies in its potential to address the enigma of quantum gravity – the elusive merging of quantum physics, which governs particles and their interactions, with general relativity, which explains gravity as a result of warped space-time.

Yet, one may question why this idea holds such high esteem despite being a mathematical conjecture, lacking proof, and describing a model universe with unconventional geometry that differs from our own.

The answer, it appears, is two-fold. Firstly, the holographic conjecture has proven instrumental in helping unravel otherwise challenging problems in particle physics and the study of black holes. Secondly, and perhaps more intriguingly, physicists have made strides towards demonstrating the applicability of the holographic principle to our own cosmic reality.

Maldacena, now situated at the IAS alongside other renowned physicists, drew inspiration from two distinct areas of research…

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