the holographic principle, crazy like a fox


In a packed lecture hall at Columbia University in 1958 — or so the story goes — the eminent physicist Wolfgang Pauli was presenting a radical new theory. In the audience was Niels Bohr, another eminent physicist, who, at lecture’s end, stood up and announced: “We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct.”

“Crazy enough” is no doubt a thought that occurred to Stanford theoretical physicist Leonard Susskind when he came up with his holographic principle — an idea that has recently gained traction in the physics community. The principle, which states that our universe is a three-dimensional projection of information stored in two dimensions at the boundary of space, certainly ranks as crazy. But is it crazy enough?

After reading Susskind’s entertaining new book, “The Black Hole War,” you may decide that, yes, the holographic principle may well be on the good side of crazy. But before he gets to the holographic principle, Susskind gives an explanation, both lucid and enjoyable, of why black holes are so crucial to the future of physics and to any eventual reconciliation of relativity and quantum mechanics.

more from the LA Times here.