Tuesday, December 07, 2004

On the external representation of information in string theory

The New York Times > Science > String Theory, at 20, Explains It All (or Not)
....For years physicists have looked for the origins of string theory in some sort of deep and esoteric symmetry, but string theory has turned out to be weirder than that.

Recently it has painted a picture of nature as a kind of hologram. In the holographic images often seen on bank cards, the illusion of three dimensions is created on a two-dimensional surface. Likewise string theory suggests that in nature all the information about what is happening inside some volume of space is somehow encoded on its outer boundary, according to work by several theorists, including Dr. Juan Maldacena of the Institute for Advanced Study and Dr. Raphael Bousso of the University of California, Berkeley.

Just how and why a three-dimensional reality can spring from just two dimensions, or four dimensions can unfold from three, is as baffling to people like Dr. Witten as it probably is to someone reading about it in a newspaper.

In effect, as Dr. Witten put it, an extra dimension of space can mysteriously appear out of "nothing."

Hmm. Of course if one assumes that the "universe" being described by string theory is itself a sort of simulation running on god's own computer ...

I can see why Caltech's Dabney House was so popular with physicists in the 1970s.

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