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The holographic principle

The newest episode of The Big Bang Theory that was aired last night was called "The Holographic Excitation" (S06E05).

It's pretty cool that a TV sitcom manages not only to show a hologram but Leonard Hofstadter was even allowed to present a rather accurate definition of the holographic principle in quantum gravity i.e. string theory (you won't find it in any popular science TV program that claims to explain modern physics!). And as a result, he was able to have an intercourse with Penny right after she wore some glasses and was shown a moving holographic pencil and a moving holographic globe. (Later, he repeated the same achievement using Maglev.)

(And I even think that Prof Nina Byers whom I know rather well walks behind the main actors around 9:15. This theory seems to make sense because she's at UCLA, much like the TBBT science adviser David Saltzberg.)

The holographic principle of quantum gravity is an incredible example of the ability of the quantum gravity and string theory research to teach us things we really didn't and perhaps couldn't anticipate, force us to modify or abandon some prejudices, and adopt ideas about the unification of ideas and concepts that philosophers couldn't have invented after thousands of years of disciplined reasoning but physicists may be forced to realize them if they carefully follow the mathematical arguments sprinkling from a theory that they randomly discovered in a cave.

But let's return half a century into the past. Holography started in "everyday life physics" in the late 1940s.

So let us begin with this exercise in wave optics that has nothing to do with quantum gravity or string theory so far – but you will see that it exhibits a similar mechanism that is apparently "recycled" by the laws of quantum gravity.

Dennis Gabor's 3D images

Hungarian-British physicist Dennis Gabor was playing with X-ray microscopy and invented a new technology that is rather cute. One may create two-dimensional patterns on a piece of film which, when illuminated by a laser, create the illusion of a three-dimensional object floating in the space around it. I saw my first hologram sometime in 1985 – it was a Soviet one, the mascot of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow – in the National Technological Museum in Prague where we went to a school excursion. I couldn't believe my eyes. :-)

The basic setup involves a monochromatic laser beam, some interference, and a photographic plate. First, we must create the hologram – a film with strip-like patterns that don't resemble the bear at all but which allow the bear to jump out once you use another laser. Fine. Let's create a hologram.

You see that a monochromatic (one sharp frequency) laser beam is coming from the upper left corner. Each photon's wave function gets divided into two portions by a beam splitter – note that the wave function has a probabilistic interpretation for one particle but if many photons are in the same state, it may be interpreted as a classical field.

Two parts of the wave are moving from the beamsplitter. One gets reflected from a simple mirror. More interestingly, the other one gets reflected from the object we want to see on the hologram. They interfere – these waves are recombined – in the right lower corner and they create a system of interference strips on the photographic plate.

We have created a hologram and now we may sell it. What will the buyers do with it?

This interference pattern may be shined upon by a "reconstruction beam" of the same frequency and what we see is a virtual image behind the plate. You may actually move your head and eyes and the position of all points on the image are moving just like if the virtual image were a real object. So it's not just a stereographic image offering two different pictures for the two eyes: the hologram is ready to provide the right electromagnetic field regardless of the direction from which you observe it! If you want to see the right face of the object, you move your head to the right side, and so on.

Why does it work? It's very useful to think about the hologram for a simple object, e.g. a point at a given distance. The total wave function on the photographic plate parameterized by coordinates \(x,y\) is given by \(U_O + U_R\) where \(U_O\) is the complicated wave reflected from the object and \(U_R\) is the simple reference beam reflected from the plain mirror.

You may imagine that for an object being a point, \(U_R=1\) and \(U_O(x,y)=\exp(iks(x,y))\) where \(s\) is the distance between the point (the real object we want to holographically photograph) and the given point \((x,y)\) on the photographic plate. The wave number is of course the inverse wavelength, \(k=2\pi/\lambda\). The sum \(U_R+U_O\) gives you some simple concentric circles (with decreasing distances between neighbors) around the point on the plate that is closest to the photographed point. Fine. The total intensity – how much the point on the film changes the color – is given by \[

T \sim \abs{U_O}^2 + \abs{U_R}^2 + U_R^* U_O + U_O^* U_R.

\] I omitted an unimportant overall normalization and used the symbol \(T\) for this quantity because the darkness of the point of the film will be interpreted as the transmittance, the ability of the place of the hologram to transmit the other, reconstruction beam when we actually want to reconstruct the image.

For a simple explanation why you will see the reconstructed virtual image, assume that the reference beam \(U_R\) is much stronger than the object-induced wave \(U_O\) i.e. \(U_R\gg U_O\). So the total wave function may be written as \[

U = 1 + \varepsilon \exp(iks)

\] where \(\varepsilon\) is small, \(\varepsilon\ll 1\). You see that the squared absolute value is\[

T \sim |U|^2 = 1 + \varepsilon \exp(iks) + \varepsilon \exp(-iks) + {\mathcal O}(\varepsilon^2).

\] Imagine that this transmittance is just multiplying another simple reference beam \(U_R\to T \cdot U_R\) and produces some electromagnetic field in the vicinity of the hologram. For the sake of simplicity, assume \(U_R=1\) again. It's only \(U_O\) that carries the "complicated information about the photographed object" but we still need some nonzero \(U_R\).

You may see that \(T\) is almost the same thing as \(U\) except that it has an extra, complex conjugate term. So the electromagnetic field in front of the hologram (on the side with the air) will be the same field as the electromagnetic field we used to have when there was a real object in front of the hologram plus some complex conjugate term. One of these terms creates a nice virtual image behind the plate because it has a similar mathematical structure and when the fields have the same values, we see the same thing.

The other term induces the feeling of another copy of the object – a real image. It's because all the waves should also be multiplied by the universal time-dependent factor \(\exp(-i\omega t)\) (before you interpret the real and imaginary value of the overall sum as the electric and magnetic fields, respectively, kind of) and the complex conjugation is equivalent to \(t\to -t\) which means that the wave is kind of moving backwards in time which is effectively equivalent to moving from the other side of the mirror.

So when you look at the hologram, you actually see one virtual image behind the plate and one real image in front of the plate (which may overlap with your head). I don't want to figure out which term is which because odds would be close to 50% that my answer would be wrong. To be sure about the answer to this not-so-critical question, I would have to decompose the electromagnetic wave to the electric and magnetic components, consider \(x\) and \(y\) polarizations, be careful about the spatial dependence and all the signs, etc. But things clearly work up to this "which is which" question that I am not too interested in.

In this brute calculation, I have neglected the \({\mathcal O}(\varepsilon^2)\) terms which indicates that the hologram will be badly perturbed if \(\varepsilon\sim {\mathcal O}(1)\) but a more accurate analysis shows that the result won't be too bad even if you include these second-order terms. At any rate, I have created a virtual image of a point! By the superposition principle, you are allowed to envision any object to be composed of many points (perhaps as an "integral of them") and add the terms \(\exp(iks_P)\) from each point \(P\) and you get the idea how it work for a general object.

There exist generalizations – colorful holograms, perhaps moving holograms and holographic TV, and so on, but I don't want to go into these topics on the boundary of physics and engineering. Everyone knows that holograms are cool. What's important for us is that they store much more than some two-dimensional projections of a 3D object as seen from one direction or two directions; they store the information about the 3D object as seen from any direction (in an interval). They're the whole thing.

Instead of discussing advanced topics of holography in wave optics, we want to switch to the real topic, the holographic principle in quantum gravity.

The holographic principle

In the research of quantum gravity, the notion of holography was introduced by somewhat speculative but highly playful papers by Gerard 't Hooft in 1993 and Lenny Susskind in 1994. Charles Thorn is mentioned as having suspected similar ideas for years.

It may sound unusual ;-) but Lenny Susskind's paper was the technically more detailed one, getting well beyond the hot philosophical buzzwords. Susskind also suppressed some unjustified and unjustifiable "digital" comments by 't Hooft who had written that the information had to be encoded in binary digits (bits). Of course, there's no reason whatsoever why it couldn't be trinary digits, other digits, or – much more likely – (for humans and computers) some much less readable but more natural codes.

What's the basic logic behind holography in quantum gravity?

In classical general relativity, a black hole is the final stage of the collapse of a star or another massive object. Because the entropy never decreases, as the second law of thermodynamics demands, the "final stage" must also be the stage with the maximum entropy. So the black hole has the highest entropy among all bound or localized objects of the same mass (and the same values of charges and the angular momentum). I emphasize the adjectives "bound or localized" because delocalized arrangements of particles with a given total energy – e.g. the Hawking radiation resulting from a black hole that has already evaporated – may carry a higher entropy (that's inevitably the case because the process of Hawking radiation must be increasing the total entropy, too).

But we've known from the insights by Jacob Bekenstein and Stephen Hawking in the 1970s that the black hole entropy is\[

S_{BH} = \frac{A}{4G}

\] in the relativistic \(c=\hbar=1\) units. It's one-quarter of the area of the event horizon \(A\) in the units of the Planck area. In normal units, you must replace\[

G \to l_{\rm Planck}^2 \equiv \frac{G\hbar}{c^3}.

\] So the maximum entropy of a bound localized object of a given mass is actually given by the area of the black hole of the same mass. Because you can't really squeeze the matter into higher densities than the black hole, the black hole is also the "smallest object" that may contain the given mass.

To summarize, we see that the black hole is the "highest entropy" object as well as the "geometrically smallest" object among localized or bound objects of the given mass. It follows that it also maximizes the "entropy density" (entropy per unit volume) among the localized arrangement of matter of the same total mass. But the entropy carried by a black hole is only proportional to the surface area in the Planck units, \({\mathcal O}(R^2)\), so the entropy density per unit volume – the latter scales as \({\mathcal O}(R^3)\) – is therefore going to zero for large black holes i.e. for large masses or large regions.

The maximum density of entropy or information you may achieve with a given mass is actually going to zero if the mass is sent to infinity. If you try to squeeze too many memory chips into your warehouse, they will start to be heavy at some point and will gravitationally collapse and create a black hole which will have a certain radius – either smaller than or larger than your warehouse. At any rate, this black hole will only be able to carry \(1/4\) of a nat (a bit is \(\ln(2)\) nats) of information per unit surface area (by the surface, I mean the event horizon).

We see that the maximum information is carried by a constant density per unit area rather than the unit volume. You should appreciate how shocking it is. In some sense, it was completely unexpected by virtually all experts in the field. Quantum field theories predict some new phenomena at a characteristic distance scale. For example, Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) says that quarks like to bind themselves into bound states where their distance is comparable to the QCD length scale, about one fermi or \(10^{-15}\) meters. So by the dimensional analysis, the only sensible "density of information" we may get in QCD is "approximately one bit per cubic fermi" or per "volume of the proton".

People would expect a similar thing in any QFT – which was mostly right – but they thought it would also hold in quantum gravity. So quantum gravity may achieve "one bit per Planck volume". But that was wrong. You see that the previous paragraph assumed a bit more than the dimensional analysis: it also implicitly and uncritically postulated that the information is proportional to the volume. This assumption followed from locality. But this assumption breaks down in quantum gravity where the information only scales as the surface area.

Because the "proportionality to the volume" is linked to "locality" – each unit volume is independent from others – the violation of the "proportionality of the information to the volume" that the holographic principle forces upon us also means that locality is violated, at least to some extent. And indeed, this violation of the locality is a fact responsible for the resolution of other puzzling questions in quantum gravity, too. In particular, some tiny and hard to observe but nevertheless real non-locality occurs during the evaporation of the black hole which is why the information may get from the black hole interior to infinity, after all – even though classical general relativity strictly prohibits such an acausal export of the information (locally, it's equivalent to the superluminal transport of information which was already banned in special relativity). In quantum gravity, this "ban" is softened because the information may temporarily violate the rule in analogy with the quantum tunneling. In fact, the black hole evaporation is a version of quantum tunneling.

Whether the holographic principle was real and what it exactly it meant and what it didn't mean remained a somewhat open question for 3 more years or so. However, at the end of 1997, Juan Maldacena presented his AdS/CFT correspondence which is a set of totally controllable mathematical frameworks in which holography holds. The information about a region – namely the whole anti de Sitter space – is stored at the boundary of the region – which is the asymptotic region at infinity which nevertheless looks like a "finite surface of a cylindrical Penrose diagram" if you use the language of Penrose causal diagrams.

The holographic principle surely captures the right "spirit" of quantum gravity but it is a bit vague. The AdS/CFT correspondence is a totally well-defined "refinement" of the holographic principle but it is arguably too special. Nevertheless, one must be careful about deriving potentially invalid corollaries of the holographic principle in other contexts.

For example, if you replace the anti de Sitter space by a finite-volume region of ordinary space, it seems clear to me that the holographic principle will only be true in some rather modest sense: it will be true that the entropy bounds hold. You can't squeeze too much entropy into a given region. However, if you will try to find the "theory on the boundary" that is equivalent to the evolution inside the region, you will find out that such a theory on the boundary "exists" – but the existence of such a theory is just an awkward translation of the ordinary evolution to some artificial degrees of freedom that you placed on the boundary.

What is special about the AdS/CFT correspondence is that the theory on the boundary is a theory of a completely normal type – namely a perfectly local, conformal quantum field theory. In fact, the boundary theory is more local than the gravitational theory in the bulk – because we just said that the gravitating theory in the bulk must be somewhat non-local. I am confident this fact depends on the infinite warp factor of the AdS space at infinity and won't hold for finite regions. In other words, I think that the "holographic theory living on a boundary" of a generic finite region won't be local in any sense – the boundary still has a preferred length scale, the Planck length, and other things so it is surely not conformal etc. And because it won't be local, it won't be simple or useful, either.

So one shouldn't generalize the holographic principle as seen in the AdS/CFT correspondence too far and too naively.


In the 1970s, people got used to Ken Wilson's "Renormalization Group" inspired thinking about all effective field theories. Each theory predicted some phenomena at a characteristic length scale. The third power of the length scale gave us a characteristic volume. And one could expect roughly one nat (or bit) per one characteristic volume. It was nice, it made sense, it has lots of applications.

But Nature sometimes has surprises in store and quantum gravity had one, too. You may still use almost the same logic – one nat per unit region – but the region must actually be measured by its surface area, not its volume. So quantum gravity tells us that one of the spatial dimensions may be thought of as an "artificial" or "emergent" one and other mechanisms supporting this general paradigm have appeared as well.

A brutally arrogant yet extremely limited physicist who really sucks – think of Lee Smolin, for example – may think that he has all the right ideas how the final theory should look like from the beginning. Except that none of them works (except as tools to impress some stupid laymen). But other physicists who are much smarter but much more modest may see that all Smolin's prejudices are just wrong and Nature's inner organization is much more clever, creative, surprising, and forcing us to learn new concepts and new way of thinking more often than Smolin and many others would expect. One must still be ingenious or semi-ingenious to discover some important wisdom about Nature – e.g. holography and the AdS/CFT correspondence – but Nature just doesn't appreciate men who try to paint themselves as wiser than herself. Science is the process of convergence towards Her great wisdom; it is not a pissing contest in which idiots such as Lee Smolin try to pretend that they're smarter than Nature.

The story of the holographic principle also shows us that Nature recycles many ideas. The fields defined on the boundary CFT in the AdS/CFT correspondence literally emulate the waves \(U\) and \(T\) that I mentioned in the discussion of the "ordinary" holography by Dennis Gabor.

And the story of the holographic principle is another anecdotal piece of evidence in favor of the assertion that string/M-theory contains all the good ideas in physics. 't Hooft and Susskind, building on the work by Bekenstein, Hawking, and others, had some "feelings" about the right theory of quantum gravity and there had to be something right about them. And indeed, string theory showed us that they were mostly right. Because string theory is a much more mathematically well-defined a structure than "quantum gravity without adjectives", it also allowed us to convert the philosophical speculations into sharp and rigorous mathematical structures and equations and decide which of the philosophical speculations may be proven as meaningful ones and which can't.

The holographic principle is also another step in the evolution of physics that makes our theories "increasingly more quantum mechanical". While the spacetime remains continuous, we see that the information in a region may be bounded in unexpected ways and a whole dimension of space may be emergent. Needless to say, the equivalence between theories that disagree about the number of spacetime dimensions is only possible if you take the effects of quantum mechanics into account.

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reader Dilaton said...

Oh yeah yeah yeah, I look forward to read this :-)

... and darn, I want to see the whole TBBT episode about the holographic excitation too :-D !

reader Mephisto said...

Holographic principle was also hypothesized as a mechanism for memory at some point. Karl Pribram (neurosurgeon) and David Bohm (physicist) postulated some kind of holographic principle behind brain function because they noticed that memory is not localized in brain. If you remove some portions of the brain, memory stays mostly intact, that is why they thought that memory is stored as a hologram (if you break a hologram, every piece has an information about the whole). It is probably a bad analogy at best. memory is stored in the connection weights of synapses

reader Smoking Frog said...

Lubos, your first three paragraphs are faultless so far as the English goes, except one error, but the error is comically brilliant: "an intercourse." It should be "intercourse" (without the article), but please don't think of fixing the error in the future because "an intercourse" is just too good. Use it all you want.

reader Shannon said...

What's the difference ??

reader Shannon said...

The new season hasn't fully arrived in Ireland yet (and the dubbing is so bad in France... ).. My son says we can see in on the internet free TV. yeahy

reader lemon said...


reader Luboš Motl said...

Thanks, Smoking Frog, for the fix. This is just way beyond my linguistic skills. I've been taught to repeat many times that one is having a shower, we may have a walk, we did have a lunch, and so on, so I can't possibly understand why one can't have an intercourse as well. Is it because the native English speakers are puritans of a sort? ;-) So that if they mention the word at all, it must be formulated in such a way that one can't count them? :-)

reader Smoking Frog said...

Good question. On the grammar, I would have been too vague if I hadn't just now looked at the Wikipedia article "Mass noun," and I'm still not sure that "intercourse" is a mass noun or in some similar category (but not a collective noun).

"Have an intercourse" is something like "have a peanut butter"; to use an article, you'd have to say anything like "a spoon of peanut butter." For "intercourse," you could say "an act of intercourse," except that one does not "have" acts; one performs acts; so you pretty much have to say "have intercourse."

So the answer to your question is that there's no such thing as "an intercourse." But this doesn't really explain why it's so funny. Scratching my head ...

reader lemon said...

A bit OT. When you talk about quantum tunelling from the BH, do you mean tunelling whose result is ordinary Hawking radiation or a corrected (non-thermal) radiation? Here the authors argue that a tunelling mechanism leads to a non-thermal correction.

reader Smoking Frog said...

Hah-hah as to the Puritans. No, that's not it. See my reply to Shannon.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Once I wrote an article about the Holographic Principle to "Vesmír", a Czech journal for a broader scientific public, and it was cited by some of the Příbram's followers. That was fun because I do think theirs is a pseudoscience unrelated to the actual topic of my article - this one or the old one in "Vesmír".

reader Smoking Frog said...

Lubos - "Have a lunch" is an interesting case; you can also say "have lunch," and that's what most people say. There is something of a difference of meaning, but it's kind of fuzzy. If I say, "We had a lunch," I might mean that we hosted a lunch. So there's a difference. But I could also say it if you and I had lunch together. In that case, it would mean almost just the same as "We had lunch," except that I'd be thinking of the lunch as an event rather than simply "having lunch"; e.g., "We did have a lunch on one occasion."

reader Smoking Frog said...


reader Peter F. said...

Lubos, you've been taught wrong in respect of "having _a_ lunch". :-))

reader Luboš Motl said...

Maybe poor people from the post-communist bloc are only taught to have a lunch while the native English speakers are given lots of lunch... ;-)

reader Luboš Motl said...

Hi Lemon, in general, the spectrum seen at infinity is corrected by something that is called "greybody factors" indicating it's not exactly blackbody spectrum. Another question is whether the particular unusual calculation of them in the paper you mentioned is right.

For this reason, I think that your language "do you mean one or the other" is kind of strange because the exact spectrum emitted by a well-defined object in a well-defined theory is clearly uniquely determined so "if someone meant the other one", he would just be wrong. And I didn't say what the exact spectrum was, so I explicitly mentioned neither the right one nor the wrong one. But of course I meant the correct one whichever it is. ;-)

reader Peter F. said...

Haha, but it is better to forego having lunch if it will only consist if corn syrup containing junkfoods. ;)

reader Shannon said...

What makes me laugh about the word "intercourse" is that it sounds like something you'd be served during a meal. So "an intercourse" would be perfect between say the starter and the main course... or the main course and cheese, or desert... right ? ;-) My French upbringing probably ? ha ha

reader Gene said...

That’s really funny, Lubos, and it is wonderful to see your sense of humor re-emerge and blossom again!

reader Physics Junkie said...

I am showing my ignorance here, but is there some connection between Ads/CFT and the dualities in string theory that link different dimensional branes?

reader Eugene S said...

To make things even more confusing, in the U.S. people say "entree" but they mean the mean the "main course"; in France, "l'entrée" is the appetizer!

reader Shannon said...


reader Luboš Motl said...

Thanks, interesting, Smoking Frog.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Thanks for liking this change, Gene. It's a relief if one doesn't have to spend the bulk of his energy by thoughts about the bare survival.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Yes, there are many connections although perhaps a bit different than you expect.

First, the duality relating different dimensional D-branes is T-duality. There's an interesting T-duality one may apply to the theories in AdS/CFT, the most famous example of the N=4 gauge theory, and it maps the conformal symmetry to the dual conformal symmetry. Those can be combined into their (multiple) commutators to generate the infinite-dimensional Yangian, a bizarre form of symmetry known in the "integrable models".

Then the AdS/CFT correspondence is a sort of a duality itself. On the world sheet, it's most visibly visualized as the world sheet duality applied to a cylinder/annulus. It can be either interpreted as a closed string state propagating between a final and an initial state, or a loop of an open string in periodic time. AdS/CFT produces an "open/closed" duality in this sense: the AdS is the closed string side, CFT is the open string theory.

reader James Gallagher said...

Nice article, covering classical holography and QG Holographic Principle.

Because the HP suggests reality is (fundamentally) encoded on a 2D surface rather than in a 3D volume - it kinda naively explains why complex numbers, and in particular complex Hilbert Spaces, are required. A general 2D surface is parameterized by two real parameters or one complex parameter z. So we might deduce from this that the universe can be described by a simple (in)finite complex vector, evolving in a Hilbert Space.

I know it's a naive argument, but it suggests that the Holographic Principle is a VERY important discovery,

reader James Gallagher said...

actually, parameterised isn't a good word there, I mean a general 2D surface has only 2 degrees of freedom, which we may associate with two real numbers or one complex number

reader James Gallagher said...

oh, you know what I mean!

We don't have information for every 3D point (x,y,z) within the 2D surface only for each point on the 2D surface.

reader woodnfish said...

That's funny, and reminds me of a happy memory. Years ago at friendly gatherings we used to play Dictionary and the player with the best command of the English language was an Indian engineer.

Dictionary is a game where one person picks a word out of the dictionary, pronounces it for everyone who then write their own definitions and the other players vote to try and decide which definition is the real one. Scoring is based on how many people are fooled by phony definitions.

reader Smoking Frog said...

Eugene - I don't know French, but I've always wondered how "entree" could mean the main course!

reader Smoking Frog said...

You mean in France everyone has sex between the courses of a meal!!!??? :-)

reader Luboš Motl said...

In America, "entree" is the main course because after some foreplay appetizers and intercourses of the kind that "I didn't have with that woman", the entry finally comes.

reader Smoking Frog said...

Lubos, your English is already very good, so it's nothing to worry about.

It's sort of amazing that these subtle difficulties in language exist. You don't realize it unless you think about it. It's sort of hard to believe stories of spies who passed as native speakers.

reader Luboš Motl said...

I guess it must be possible for some adults to learn a foreign language just like the native speakers among children do - even though most people probably don't have the aptitude for such "full learning" of other languages.

The children just can't have any "unrepeatable" skills, can they? Learning many languages as an adult requires one to have "independent linguistic brains" of a sort that preserve "inconsistent" answers to pretty much the same questions.

reader Smoking Frog said...

I would like to be told how it works that a kid learns such things that not too many people could explain as clearly as you.

I forgot that part. I don't know the answer, but it might be related in some way to thinking about how other people think. As a kid in the lower grades of elementary school, when the teacher was trying to explain something to a dumb kid and not succeeding because she didn't understand his trouble, I was always waving my hand and saying, "Miss [X], I know what's he's thinking."

reader Smoking Frog said...

I agree that aptitude must play a big role. There are people whose grasp of language issues is horribly poor.

I'm not sure whether I've told this story here before: Maybe 25 years ago there was an interview in The Atlantic(?) with a big fat guy who was supposed to be the world's greatest linguist. He spoke many languages. The interviewer asked him if he could speak Finnish, and the linguist said something like this: "No. Or, well, I could probably pass as a Finn for 10 or 15 minutes in a conversation, but that's not what I call speaking a language."

reader Luboš Motl said...


reader Smoking Frog said...

Maybe spies can pass as native speakers because the natives' ability to detect that he's not one are poor. :-)

reader Dilaton said...

This is a very nice article indeed :-),

the cute explanation of holography meaning 3D images makes me feel quite happy and satisfied.

Concerning the quantum gravity ;-) case, my understanding of it is way to vague and shaky to satisfy my.
To be happy, I always need to see how something (roughly at least) works mathematically,

instead of just words and analogies ...

Anyway, I like this text a lot so thanks Lumo !

reader Shannon said...

Interesting. I guess we say "social interactions" rather than "social intercourse"... It avoids silly giggles.
Oh and no, French don't have sex between courses of a meal, the reason being that eating and sex are two highly incompatible activities :-D

reader Smoking Frog said...

We say "social interactions," too. "Social intercourse" is usually found in writing, and perhaps not even so much that, nowadays.

Incompatible? You can eat between rounds of sex. This is like the story of the Buddhist monk who asked the master if he could smoke while he was praying. The master said, "Of course not!" So the monk asked him if he could pray while he was smoking.

reader Rosy Mota said...

it appear to be correct.particles,energy,fields and forces mudt to be originated of 4-dimensional spacetime topological geometry

reader Carolina Lou said...

Very good topic. It
helps all to gain many more knowledge of holographic principle. it covered 2D
and 3D projection.

reader javier said...

what leonard Hofstadter said about holographic principle true ?

reader Luboš Motl said...

If interpreted carefully, yes. More precisely, it's about the same popular monologue that real experts working in the field would say in front of the public.

It's no coincidence, Prof David Saltzberg of UCLA, a physicist, is making sure that these physics-heavy things and especially monologues in the sitcom are right.

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