In a field in Illinois sits a shed. In that shed sits a machine that is gathering data to determine whether the universe is a hologram. Created by physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago, a machine called the Holometer will determine if the universe is merely a series of bits, similar to how newspaper photos are composed of colored dots, or if a more substantial material reality exists.

"The theory is that space is made of waves instead of points, that everything is a little jittery, and never sits still," says Craig Hogan at the University of Chicago, who dreamed up the experiment.

The machine works by directing lasers at two different mirrors down two sets of 40-meter tubes. The lasers will measure the position of the mirrors over the course of about a year; if the mirrors move, this may be evidence that the space-time fabric is given to jittering. The machine is extremely precise: such space-time units would measure a hundred billion billion times smaller than a proton.

If the experiment confirms an inherently unstable space-time continuum, researchers may be a step closer to understanding the quickening expansion of our universe, which is currently (though weakly) attributed to dark energy. Inventive theories have been proposed to account for mysterious forces that contradict our current theories of gravity. One idea is string theory, which Dr. Michio Kaku explains in his Big Think Floating University lecture:

Read more at New Scientist

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