General · Language · Problem

What the heck is the holographic principle?

Time to jot down some notes about the Holographic Principle [1]. Something which I’ve been encountering in articles over the years. Typically in reading about string theory and quantum gravity. And black holes.

But lately, in particular, in recasting (so-called) fundamantal particles as higher dimensional localizations in space-time. So that each represents just the “surface” of a higher dimensional “volume.”[2]

Wiki’s article is a place to start. Lots of esoteric terminolgy, however.

The holographic principle is a tenet of string theories and a supposed property of quantum gravity that states that the description of a volume of space can be thought of as encoded on a lower-dimensional boundary to the region … [as] inspired by black hole thermodynamics … that the informational content of all the objects that have fallen into the hole might be entirely contained in surface fluctuations of the event horizon.

Actually, this post was inspired by a NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day.

• NASA > APOD > “The Holographic Principle and a Teapot” (October 3, 2021)

(Image caption) Explanation: Sure, you can see the 2D rectangle of colors, but can you see deeper? Counting color patches in the featured image, you might estimate that the most information that this 2D digital image can hold is about 60 (horizontal) x 50 (vertical) x 256 (possible colors) = 768,000 bits.

However, the yet-unproven Holographic Principle states that, counter-intuitively, the information in a 2D panel can include all of the information in a 3D room that can be enclosed by the panel.

The principle derives from the idea that the Planck length, the length scale where quantum mechanics begins to dominate classical gravity, is one side of an area that can hold only about one bit of information.

The limit was first postulated by physicist Gerard ‘t Hooft in 1993.

It can arise from generalizations from seemingly distant speculation that the information held by a black hole is determined not by its enclosed volume but by the surface area of its event horizon.

The term “holographic” arises from a hologram analogy where three-dimension images are created by projecting light through a flat screen.

Beware, some people staring at the featured image … might claim it encodes a three-dimensional teapot. [Huh?]

Perhaps there’re some helpful visualizations for mere mortals? To be determined.


[1] Which I started in October 2021. And a recent article reminded me of the topic once again.

[2] As Sabine Hossenfelder notes in her book Lost in Math:

Or Leonard Susskind, who claimed in a 2015 interview that “almost all working high-energy theoretical physicists are convinced some sort of extra dimensions are needed to explain the complexity of elementary particles.” – Hossenfelder, Sabine. Lost in Math (p. 157). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

Imagine – in the Grid – twisty defects. Their “surface” properties, for example, may be mass, spin, and / or charge. But the “volume” of these localizations is a (gradient) pattern of kinked energy.

As an analogy (for lack of a better one), I often get kinks in my garden hoses, which are not fully relaxed even after years of use. Due to unresolved circular stress in coils of the hose (or between segments of the hose), as the hose is extended across my yard.

Perhaps these kinks act like topological solitons or “torons” as in old-fashioned coiled telephone handset cords. Points where a seamless transition is impossible. And energetic interaction is required to remove a kink by untwisting the hose (which may just pass the stress down the line). A kink does not naturally relax (decay) or become undone or de-tangled.

A kink can partially or completely block the flow of water.

A loose enough knot can loop-spin the flow of water. And present the issue of how to untie.

So, perhaps, in a sense, “particles” are defects where Grid energy flow is “frustrated.” Centers where space-time and the quantum vacuum are not relaxed.[3][4]

[3] Cf. Spin glasses which “are ‘stuck’ in stable configurations other than the lowest-energy configuration.”

[4] As in fluid dynamics, superfluid-like quantized vortices in space-time energy – tangles.


Superfluid vacuum theory (SVT) is an approach in theoretical physics and quantum mechanics where the physical vacuum is viewed as superfluid.

The ultimate goal of the approach is to develop scientific models that unify quantum mechanics (describing three of the four known fundamental interactions) with gravity. This makes SVT a candidate for the theory of quantum gravity and an extension of the Standard Model.

It is hoped that development of such theory would unify into a single consistent model of all fundamental interactions, and to describe all known interactions and elementary particles as different manifestations of the same entity, superfluid vacuum.

1: to unite or knit together in intricate confusion [“spin”]
2: to involve so as to hamper, obstruct, or embarrass [“mass”]
3: to seize and hold in or as if in a snare : Entrap [“charge’]

1a: to wrap or twist together : Interweave [superimpose]
b: Ensnare [confine]

1a: the action of entangling : the state of being entangled
1b: something that entangles, confuses, or ensnares

: to free from entanglement : Unravel

: to remove tangles from



Holography is a technique that enables a wavefront to be recorded and later re-constructed. Holography is best known as a method of generating three-dimensional images, but it also has a wide range of other applications. In principle, it is possible to make a hologram for any type of wave.

Related posts

A particle by any other name? – in particular, where the equivalence of energy, matter, and information is discussed by the it-from-qubit camp.

(quote) … whenever a system of qubits holographically encodes a region of space-time, there are always qubit entanglement patterns that correspond to localized bits of energy floating in the higher-dimensional world.

A force-less physics?

My June 3, 2020, comment, Note #2 re torons.

My June 15, 2020, comment, Note #1 re notion of “particles” as defects (or topological defects).

3 thoughts on “What the heck is the holographic principle?

  1. Making sense of gravity in quantum physics. Looking for signs – interesting interactions – in scattering experiments of particle colliders.


    AdS/CFT – “the AdS/CFT correspondence, in which a particular type of quantum field theory, called a conformal field theory (CFT), gives rise to gravity in so-called anti-de Sitter (AdS) space.”

    • Quanta Magazine > “Symmetries Reveal Clues About the Holographic Universe” by Katie McCormick, Contributing Writer (January 12, 2022) – Physicists have been busy exploring how our universe might emerge like a hologram out of a two-dimensional sheet [a three-dimensional effect that pops out of a flat, two-dimensional surface]. New clues have come from the symmetries found on an infinitely distant “celestial sphere.”

    … looking for a CFT for flat space — a celestial CFT.

    … researchers working on quantum gravity hope to translate scattering problems into symmetries on the celestial sphere, then use these symmetries to fill out the celestial CFT rulebook.

    Arkani-Hamed [theoretical physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey] considers the fact that concepts of space and time break down on the celestial sphere to be a feature, not a bug. It offers the potential to explain space-time as an emergent property of a more fundamental theory.

  2. A simplified mathematical model of quantum gravity using the holographic principle may bridge geometries of macro and microscopic physics.

    • > “Mathematical discovery could shed light on quantum gravity” by Joshua Worth, Chalmers University of Technology (March 9, 2022) – How can Einstein’s theory of gravity be unified with quantum mechanics?

    “The challenge is to describe how gravity arises as an ’emergent’ phenomenon. … we want to describe how gravity emerges from quantum mechanical system at the microscopic level,” says Robert Berman, Professor at the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Chalmers University of Technology.

    In an article [“Emergent Sasaki-Einstein geometry and AdS/CFT”] recently published in the journal Nature Communications, Daniel Persson and Robert Berman, together with Tristan Collins of MIT in the U.S., showed how gravity emerges from a special quantum mechanical system in a simplified model for quantum gravity called the holographic principle [“in a more precise way than has previously been done”].

    In Einstein’s general theory of relativity, gravity is described as a geometric phenomenon. … But according to Einstein’s theory, even the empty space – the “vacuum state” of the universe – has a rich geometric structure. If you could zoom in and look at this vacuum on a microscopic level, you would see quantum mechanical fluctuations or ripples, known as dark energy.

  3. I found this article interesting in view of speculation that moving beyond the Standard Model likely involves higher dimensions. What is an infinite-creasing strategy?

    • Quanta Magazine > “Father-Son Team Solves Geometry Problem With Infinite Folds” by Rachel Crowell, Contributing Writer (April 4, 2022) – How might objects be flattened from the fourth dimension to the third dimension?

    [The researchers] wanted to know whether it’s possible to take any polyhedral (or flat-sided) shape that’s finite (like a cube, rather than a sphere or the endless plane) and fold it flat using creases [without cutting or tearing, and preserving intrinsic distances].

    ‘You’re not allowed to stretch [or shrink] the material,’ … these constraints mean that simply squashing the shape won’t work.

    After resolving how to flatten orthogonal polyhedra, the challenge was addressing all finite polyhedra. How to deal with problematic vertices? [1] The conceptual procedure uses a reductionist operation which “breaks up the shape into smaller pieces and flattens it in sections” – an infinite series of steps.

    “Then we conceptually ‘glue’ these solutions back together to obtain a solution to the original surface.”


    [1] Article lacks any visualizations of these “notoriously challenging intersections.”

    At each vertex in the cube lattice, many faces meet and share an edge, making it a formidable task to achieve flattening at any one of these spots.

    Generally, I’d like to see a visualization of progressive deformation during flattening. In particular, so as to imagine how higher dimensional “knots” in spacetime “flatten” as energy density gradients.

    Entangled verse

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