The 0’s and 1’s of Bitcoin make sense within the context of processing power and gadgets, but could it be that there is something more fundamental to the universe itself in these 0’s and 1’s? Could it be that the universe is its very own block chain?
Craig Hogan, a physicist at the University of Chicago and director of the Fermilab Particle Astrophysics Center, believes that the universe is a jittery phenom made of chunks, blocks or bits. There’s a noise, too, Hogan says, which implies the universe is digital.
These conclusions are being pushed for a simple reason: the two most successful theories of twentieth century-quantum mechanics and general relativity – cannot be reconciled.
At the most microscopic levels, both are effectively gibberish.
Over the past couple of decades, physicists have continued to uncover profound implications about how the universe stores information.
“Information means distinctions between things,” explained Stanford University physicist Leonard Susskind during a lecture. “It is a very basic principle of physics that distinctions never disappear. They might get scrambled or all mixed up, but they never go away.”
In order to explain this, physicists have worked out the “holographic principle,” in which the world we see around us appears to take place in three dimensions, but really the information is stored in just two dimensions or some other apt metaphor.
So, take a holographic image, hold it in your hand. And now cut it apart. If you look at all of the bits that make up the former image, you can see parts of the hologram that appear to no longer actually be there. You just cut that part of the image off and it now lies on the floor beneath you.
Generally, physicists are accepting the notion that information on nearby surfaces contains all the information in the world. That the universe is a hologram. What they do not understand are the 1’s and 0’s which make up the universe. They don’t get the bits.
Physicists still remain fond of the holographic principle because it articulates a deep bond between information, matter and gravity. It is a signpost along the way of understanding. Scientists admit they need more many more signposts to really start understanding what the raw data appears to be telling them about the bits.
In his context, to bring all back around, Hogan has one question to answer: Is the universe a bitlike world, or isn’t it? If he can do that, a giant signpost has been paid pointing towards a digital universe.
Hogan argues that, in a bitlike world, space is itself quantum. And if space is quantum, then it is not a smooth backdrop to the cosmos. It is rather quantum fluctuations making space bristle and vibrate with everything married-yet-divorced.
When applying the holographic principle to a digital currency like Bitcoin, one can view the public ledger as the history of the system. In this history, all the information there ever was to know is stored. After all, it’s a hologram. The most recent block on this tree remembers its root , the genesis block.
In this way, Bitcoin is little more than a memory of its self. An autonomous, holographic universe nudged into existence with knowledge of the self.
And thus, the universe is its own block chain.