The Ultimate Joke

I was just saying the other day about a sense of humour being necessary to get through life, and my suspicions that not only does a joke now and again help you get through life, but that life itself is the big cosmic joke.

Only it turns out that there may well be more to that than homespun philosophy.

Apparently scientists by studying background radiation or some such have developed a theory that the normal three dimensions we experience might in fact just be a hologram projected from a 2-dimensional surface, and we could theoretically be able to determine this, although no-one is saying that this is definitely the case yet.

…according to Craig Hogan, a physicist at the Fermilab particle physics lab in Batavia, Illinois, GEO600 has stumbled upon the fundamental limit of space-time — the point where space-time stops behaving like the smooth continuum Einstein described and instead dissolves into “grains”, just as a newspaper photograph dissolves into dots as you zoom in. “It looks like GEO600 is being buffeted by the microscopic quantum convulsions of space-time,” says Hogan.

If this doesn’t blow your socks off, then Hogan, who has just been appointed director of Fermilab’s Center for Particle Astrophysics, has an even bigger shock in store: “If the GEO600 result is what I suspect it is, then we are all living in a giant cosmic hologram.”

New Scientist

It brings forward an interesting philosophical point, though. So much of our experience, our science, our thoughts of the world around us are constructed based on what we see, hear and experience. And we see, hear and experience in three dimensions. Or at least we appear to.

If I am a naught but a three dimensional representation of a two dimensional actuality, then all of my thoughts, experiences and memory are somehow also writ in two dimensions. Everyone I’ve ever known, every place I’ve ever been is flat in some great cosmic way that I can’t even begin to comprehend.

If you’re religious, calling it “the surface of the mind of God” or some such may appeal, but it doesn’t really make much difference to me how; I’m more interested in the idea that everything we know, see and experience is wrong.

Like I’m sat here, typing on what I perceive as a three dimensional keyboard resting on what I believe is a three dimensional solid table, only if you really think about it, if it’s all made out of protons, neutrons, electrons and so on, then really the vast majority of the keyboard and the table is empty space with only the tiniest amount being made up of something I would understand as matter.

Does your head feel messed with yet?

‘Cos there’s more.

It takes us back to Descartes: if we can’t trust our perceptions, then what can we trust? Taken back to principles, cogito, ergo sum. I think, therefore I am. It is impossible for me to know more than that.

I enjoy this sort of mind-mashing nonsense: thought experiments, if you will. Consider the idea that your waking life is but a dream, and it is your dreams that are real. Only you don’t really remember your ‘real’ life when you think you are awake…

Or what if our world, and everything in it, and all the stars and galaxies we can observe, are merely the equivalent of atoms and electrons on some great larger scale, and we are miniscule particles that go to make up some larger being?

Most of these thought experiments are interesting for mind-mashing but people shrug them off because they do not interface or change what we perceive as our shared reality in any way (sheesh! Chartroose is going to have a field day about me being strange with this one)… and people who describe themselves as scientists (but whom I would maybe class as “reductionist materialist scientists”) say that there’s no point in this mind-mashing because it’s irrelevant and it’s not science.

Only this time, it is science. The “blurring” is a scientific phenomena which may be caused by our reality actually being two dimensional. Our existence is carried out on a sheet of paper. It’s not lined paper, obviously, we know it’s a plane.

The question is, what happens when we fold it?

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