Theories of the Universe

The Holographic Universe

Shortly after this leap of insight, Bohm came across holograms and these proved to be the culminating metaphor he was looking for. In the same way that the ink drop existed in its dispersed state, the interference patterns recorded on film appeared disordered to the naked eye. Both possess orders that are hidden or enfolded from view. Well, the more he thought about this, the more he realized that the universe employed holographic principles—it was itself one giant hologram. Let's see exactly what he meant by this.

Universal Constants

Implicate and explicate mean respectively enfolded or hidden, and unfolded or clear. The essence of these two ideas can be found in Bohm's book, Wholeness and the Implicate Order. He also felt that since this process occurs endlessly between the two orders, he needed to use a different term to describe the holographic principles. Because a hologram is usually a static image, Bohm prefers to describe the universe as a “holomovement.”

Bohm came to the conclusion that the world of our everyday lives is really kind of an illusion, like a holographic image. Underlying our reality is a deeper order of existence, a vast, primary level of reality that gives birth to all the objects and appearances in the same way that holographic film gives birth to the hologram. This deeper level of reality Bohm calls the implicate or enfolded order and the level at which we exist is the explicate or unfolded order. The manifestation of all of the forms in the universe is the result of endless enfoldings and unfoldings.

For example, let's take the dual nature of light. Remember that it can manifest as either a particle or a wave. According to this theory, both aspects are always enfolded in a quantum ensemble, but the way the observer interacts with the ensemble determines which aspect unfolds and which remains hidden. And if we apply this idea to nonlocality as well, we can see that when something is organized holographically, all aspects of locality break down. In the same way that each piece of holographic film contains all of the information possessed by the whole piece, this is just another way of saying that the information is distributed nonlocally. This makes viewing the universe as being made up of parts, not the real reality. In the same way that Einstein clarified that space and time are not separate but a continuum, Bohm has taken that idea and just extended it to include everything. As a holographic universe, everything is part of a continuum.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Theories of the Universe © 2001 by Gary F. Moring. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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