Black Holes, Holograms, Inflation, and Other Possible Surprises From the Early Universe

Updated on October 23, 2017
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Leonard Kelley holds a bachelor's in physics with a minor in mathematics. He loves the academic world and strives to constantly explore it.


Much is still unknown about the formation and current workings of the universe. But several theories have arisen such as the Big Bang, dark matter and dark energy, all in attempts to reconcile the data we have. But something new has been brought forth that could rewrite how we view our very reality. Evidence suggest that we may actually be 3-D holograms arising from a 4-D black hole and that inflation was a phase change that resulted in forces being split. Yes, it is science, and the work behind it borders on the fantasy.

The Genesis of the Holograms

The main proponents of the hologram work are Niayesh Afshordi, Robert B. Mann, and Razieh Pourhasan, all from the University of Waterloo and all with connections to the Perimeter Institute. They started on this crazy concept when they picked up on work from scientists who examined some common problems eluding cosmologists: inflation, the Big Bang, and the famous 5 parameters (the density of baryonic matter, dark matter, and dark energy; and the amplitude and wavelength of quantum fluctuations), all of which led to the current idea of Lambda Cold Dark Matter. This prevailing model answers 1000s of observations of the universe and is therefore held with high regard, but it doesn’t answer everything involving those aforementioned aspects. Why is the density of matter about 5%, dark matter about 25%, and dark energy about 70%? (Afshordi 39,40)

That is where the Big Bang and inflation come into play. When the universe was at about 1027 Kelvin, inflation is widely believed to have taken place and flattened out the universe, making it isotropic. But inflation also flattened out the energy density fluctuations from quantum mechanics that would eventually lead to galactic formation sites and giving the universe the values for the 5 parameters. But we still are not sure if inflation really happened, only that it explains many features we see (40).

Enter the inflaton, a particle which was abundant in the early universe, according to some theoretical work. Its presence would have filled the universe with energy and it would have behaved like the Higgs Boson. The inflaton would have been directly responsible for inflation and would have been triggered by those quantum fluctuations releasing energy. But even if the inflaton existed, where is it now and why did inflation end? Maybe the two are the same question, some think, or at least have the same answer. To find out, scientists also looked at the Big Bang and tried to describe it. At best, it is the release of a singularity where everything came from, crunched into an infinitely tiny space. But we don’t know why it would have started at all (41).


Holograms and Black Holes

So it was with this that scientists began to try to use symmetry and come up with something analogous to help them unravel all these missing pieces. To aid them, they used the concept of holography, a well test concept. To be clear, don’t confuse the idea of a hologram with what you see in a science fiction movie. Scientifically, holography is the idea of using math as a way to transcribe the properties and physics of one dimension onto another. And sure enough, they found something: a black hole. It is considered a singularity of infinite density just like pre-Big Bang conditions. But a black hole is a 3-D object surrounded by an event horizon which prevents us from seeing the inner mechanics of a black hole and acts like a series of 2-D planes surrounding it. The Big Bang wasn’t like this at all they realized, because it would be crazy to talk about us in 2-D. But if our reality is a 3-D object, then by working backwards it would mean the singularity our event horizon originates from would be a 4-D singularity (38-9, 41-2).

Now, it may surprise you to hear that this work started in 1919, with Theodor Lalya. In the 1920s, Oskar Klein picked up on it but then it fell into obscurity until the 1980s when string theory began pointing to the hologram universe as a possibility according to work by Juan Maldacena. In it, our universe is what is known as a brane world, a 3-D space which exists inside s 4-D space known as the bulk, or a space where a collection of branes resides. The only force which works on both branes and bulks is gravity, which will eventually aid in the collapse of a star into a black hole. Maybe this is what happened but in the bulk, with a 4-D star becoming a black hole with us on the event horizon. Inflation would have been the birth of the black hole, and because of no time of origin for the bulk it would have been sufficiently flat already, explaining the uniform nature of the universe (43).

Now, how can we test for this? Well, other objects in the bulk could supposedly go through a similar process and thus may exert their gravity on us. Perhaps some signs in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) of that influence may be seen. And because black holes spin, some portions of the universe may have different structures, which could possibly be traced back to the CMB. And the scientists should have a great deal of confidence already, for their model only has 4% difference with the recent Planck results of the CMB. Other evidence includes computer simulations that take a string theory view of black holes with this lower-dimensional conditions of the early cosmos, and there were a close match (but both were in 8-10 dimensional space, so hold off on the predictive power for now) (Afshordi 43, Cowen). So who knows, maybe you are a hologram…

Inflationary Paradoxes

In our next discussion, we need to return to the ideas of inflation and look more in depth. The idea of inflation arose to address two paradoxes which arise when scientists look at the CMB. One is the seemingly uniform nature of the universe despite the large scale it exists on, and the other is the flat nature of the universe despite its ability to expand or contract to other geometries. General relativity shows how a flat universe (where space goes on forever and ever) is unlikely and either an open (or saddle) or closed (or spherical) geometry is more likely based on energy and matter fluctuations, which are considerable. For the universe to be flat, something needed to happen at the beginning to smooth out the features of the universe and ensure the flatness as well as the isotropic nature we see (Krauss 61).

Enter Alan Guth, who postulated inflation in 1980 as a means of resolving these dilemmas, which postulates how for a brief moment post Big Bang the universe expanded at several times the speed of light, flattening out the universe and making it isotropic. For the main crux of his work, he turned to particle physics to help describe the singularity (which was on a small scale) at the Big Bang. Guth also made use of the spontaneous symmetry breaking from the Standard Model, which helps discuss the dividing of the four elementary forces (EM, gravity, strong and weak nuclear) as well as the electroweak theory, which shows how EM and weak were one for a short period. Prior to inflation, the electromagnetic, weak, and strong forces were one force but about 10-30 seconds post Big Bang the strong separated and only the electroweak was linked together following a phase change of the universe. In this change, which resulted in the new expanding Higgs field, very massive particles (even larger than the Higgs Boson) were affected in such a critical fashion that as the temperature of the universe decreased, at about 1/10-12 seconds post Big Bang another phase change occurred when empty space became occupied by the Higgs field. The final separation of forces then occurred (61,64).

The work that would describe much of the mechanics of the above paragraph is known as the Grand Unified Theory (GUT) which would tie everything but gravity up. If the break in GUT really happened as described then it would solve many of the questions behind the Big Bang but only if the field which caused the break was in a “metastable state,” or when the temperature drops faster than the phase transition occurs. This results in latent heat being released upon the actual completed phase change, and for the universe that would have meant energy. In the case of inflation, if a metastable state was achievable upon the first phase change then that latent heat would have been enough energy to repel gravity and allow expansion of space time to the point that space was 25 times larger in 10-36 seconds, making everything flat and isotropic and thus resolving the paradoxes. But if GUT and the idea of inflation are to get any validation, it will require proof, and most scientists feel that imprints in the CMB caused by gravity waves will be the best bet. These imprints are known as E-modes and B-modes (64-5).

Works Cited

Afshordi, Niayesh and Robert B. Mann, Razieh Pourhasan. “The Black Hole at the Beginning of Time.” Scientific American Aug. 2014: 38-43. Print.

Cohen, Ron. "Is the Universe a Hologram? Physicists Say It's Possible." Huffington Post, 12 Dec. 2013. Web. 23 Oct. 2017.

Krauss, Laurence M. “A Beacon from The Big Bang.” Scientific American Oct. 2014: 61-5. Print.

© 2016 Leonard Kelley


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    • 1701TheOriginal profile imageAUTHOR

      Leonard Kelley 

      3 years ago

      I will have to check that out.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 

      3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Some points that you mention in this article made me think of

      Roswell Alien Interview on YouTube. You might want to listen to this, especially about science.

    • 1701TheOriginal profile imageAUTHOR

      Leonard Kelley 

      3 years ago

      Thank you! I agree, and it will be very interesting to see where it takes us.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Thks. for your article.this is a very interesting area of research.


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