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A Thin Sheet of Reality: The Universe as a Hologram

Friday, June 3, 2011
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

What we touch. What we smell. What we feel. They’re all part of our reality. But what if life as we know it reflects only one side of the full story? Some of the world’s leading physicists think that this may be the case. They believe that our reality is a projection—sort of like a hologram—of laws and processes that exist on a thin surface surrounding us at the edge of the universe. Although the notion seems outlandish, it’s a long-standing theory that initially emerged years ago from scientists studying black holes; recently, a breakthrough in string theory propelled the idea into the mainstream of physics. What took place was an intriguing discussion on the cutting-edge results that may just change the way we view reality.

This program was part of The Big Ideas Series, made possible with the support of the John Templeton Foundation.

Moderator

John HockenberryJournalist

Three-time Peabody Award winner, four-time Emmy Award winner, and Dateline NBC correspondent John Hockenberry has broad experience as a journalist and commentator for more than two decades. Hockenberry is the anchor of the public radio show The Takeaway on WNYC and PRI.

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Participants

Gerard ’t HooftTheoretical Physicist, Nobel Laureate

Gerardus ’t Hooft was born on July 5, 1946, Den Helder, the Netherlands. When he received his doctorate in theoretical physics in 1972 at Utrecht University on “The Renormalization Procedure for Yang-Mills Fields”, this work would later earn him, together with his advisor Martinus Veltman, the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics.

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Leonard SusskindTheoretical Physicist, Author

Leonard Susskind is the Felix Bloch Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stanford University, and one of the discoverers of string theory, a candidate for a theory that unifies all laws of physics. An award-winning author, he is a proponent of the idea that our universe is one of an infinite number.

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Raphael BoussoPhysicist

Raphael Bousso is recognized for discovering the general relation between the curved geometry of space-time and its information content, known as the “covariant entropy bound.” This allowed for a precise and general formulation of the holographic principle, which is believed to underlie the unification of quantum theory and Einstein’s theory of gravity.

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Herman VerlindeTheoretical and String Physicist

Renowned for his influential contributions to string theory and its application in mathematics, particle physics, cosmology, and black hole physics, Herman Verlinde’s research has been widely recognized through many awards and fellowships.

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Location

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