No, really, that’s probably the best way we could put it without confusing our readers further. According to a team of physicists, this hypothesis checks out with what we know about the universe and current mathematical models.
According to this new model, our universe may very well be a 3-dimensional “mirage” or “wrapping” around a 4 dimensional event-horizon. This would contradict the current model that the universe was born out of a singularity (i.e., a black hole). This new model suggests we are actually wrapped around the event horizon of a higher dimensional singularity. Sound confusing enough yet?
Via The Daily Galaxy:
“For all physicists know, dragons could have come flying out of the singularity,” Afshordi says in an interview with Nature.
The problem, as the authors see it, is that the big bang hypothesis has our relatively comprehensible, uniform, and predictable universe arising from the physics-destroying insanity of a singularity. It seems unlikely. So perhaps something else happened. Perhaps our universe was never singular in the first place.
Their suggestion: our known universe could be the three-dimensional “wrapping” around a four-dimensional black hole’s event horizon. In this scenario, our universe burst into being when a star in a four-dimensional universe collapsed into a black hole.
In our three-dimensional universe, black holes have two-dimensional event horizons – that is, they are surrounded by a two-dimensional boundary that marks the “point of no return.” In the case of a four-dimensional universe, a black hole would have a three-dimensional event horizon.
In their proposed scenario, our universe was never inside the singularity; rather, it came into being outside an event horizon, protected from the singularity. It originated as – and remains – just one feature in the imploded wreck of a four-dimensional star.
The researchers emphasize that this idea, though it may sound “absurd,” is grounded firmly in the best modern mathematics describing space and time. Specifically, they’ve used the tools of holography to “turn the big bang into a cosmic mirage.” Along the way, their model appears to address long-standing cosmological puzzles and – crucially – produce testable predictions.
Of course, our intuition tends to recoil at the idea that everything and everyone we know emerged from the event horizon of a single four-dimensional black hole. We have no concept of what a four-dimensional universe might look like. We don’t know how a four-dimensional “parent” universe itself came to be.
But our fallible human intuitions, the researchers argue, evolved in a three-dimensional world that may only reveal shadows of reality.
They even get a little mystical — and for you comic book and science fiction readers out there, I am sure none of this is that surprising. Think Philip K. Dick’s VALIS hypothesis about the twin universes or Grant Morrison’s hyper dimensional superheroes in The Invisibles. Still, it’s interesting to hear it when scientists start invoking Plato’s cave allegory:
They draw a parallel to Plato’s allegory of the cave, in which prisoners spend their lives seeing only the flickering shadows cast by a fire on a cavern wall.
“Their shackles have prevented them from perceiving the true world, a realm with one additional dimension,” they write. “Plato’s prisoners didn’t understand the powers behind the sun, just as we don’t understand the four-dimensional bulk universe. But at least they knew where to look for answers.”
Well alright then. Good to know that some physicists continue sound like the most diehard esotericists, trippy scifi authors and chaos magicians.
I, for one, can’t wait til’ we start attempting to test this hypothesis. Consider, if you will, the possibility that we’re a 3 dimensional “wrap” of a 4 dimensional star as its dying, collapsing into a higher-dimensional singularity — we’re that infinitesimal eternity, a mere holographic mirage as the 4D star gasps its last dying light. The notion is both awe-inspiring and horrifying. And it makes one wonder: if 3D creatures exist, might 2D universes exist around our own singularities? Are there 2D people hypothesizing about 3D universes there? And we’re back to Grant Morrison’s work again at this point (see Flex Mentallo for this question).
I rest my case. Science is weird.