Our common sense and the laws of physics assume that space and time are continuous. The Holometer, an experiment based at the US Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, challenges this assumption.
We know that energy on the atomic level, for instance, is not continuous and comes in small, indivisible amounts. The Holometer was built to test if space and time behave the same way.
In a new result 1 Search for space-time correlations from the Planck scale with the Fermilab Holometer released this week after a year of data-taking, the Holometer collaboration has announced that it has ruled out one theory of a pixelated universe to a high level of statistical significance.
If space and time were not continuous, everything would be pixelated, like a digital image.
When you zoom in far enough, you see that a digital image is not smooth, but made up of individual pixels. An image can only store as much data as the number of pixels allows. If the universe were similarly segmented, then there would be a limit to the amount of information space-time could contain.
The main theory the Holometer was built to test was posited by Craig Hogan, a professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Chicago and the head of Fermilab’s Center for Particle Astrophysics. The Holometer did not detect the amount of correlated holographic noise—quantum jitter—that this particular model of space-time predicts.
But as Hogan emphasizes, it’s just one theory, and with the Holometer, this team of scientists has proven that space-time can be probed at an unprecedented level.
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