This is a story I read in the New Scientist a few weeks ago, and as Arthur C. Clark alludes most theories tend to last 'until next Wednesday', but I got the urge to share some quite mind-shagging abstract physics with all you lovely people.
CLICKINTON and CLICKTITUDE
I'll summarize it as simply as I can: the idea is that, at the edge of the universe, space/time dissolves into 'grains' (not dissimilar to the dots one sees when looking closely at a magic picture or newspaper photograph).
This conjecture seems to stem from a black hole's presence contradicting established physical laws.
For a black hole ... one cannot define a surface gravity as the acceleration experienced by a test body at the object's surface. This is because the acceleration ... at the event horizon of a black hole [is] infinite in relativity
... i.e. a gravitational pull strong enough to drag light in is effectively infinite. However, this leads to a few fun paradoxes.
The electrons of a black hole are so densely compacted that it doesn't actually exist according to established physical laws.
Hawking showed that black holes are in fact not entirely "black" but instead slowly emit radiation, which causes them to evaporate and eventually disappear. This poses a puzzle, because Hawking radiation does not convey any information about the interior of a black hole. When the black hole has gone, all the information about the star that collapsed to form the black hole has vanished, which contradicts the widely affirmed principle that information cannot be destroyed.
Information, in this sense, referring to matter and energy - which, if you believe Star Trek, are interchangeable; and if you believe physics, cannot be created or destroyed - only changed to another form.
Time for a couple of quick definitions:
ASTRON. the spherical boundary surrounding a black hole, within which there is such strong gravity that nothing, not even light, can escape
en·tropy (en′trə pē)
1. a thermodynamic measure of the amount of energy unavailable for useful work in a system undergoing change
2. a measure of the degree of disorder in a substance or a system: entropy always increases and available energy diminishes in a closed system, as the universe
3. in information theory, a measure of the information content of a message evaluated as to its uncertainty
4. a process of degeneration marked variously by increasing degrees of uncertainty, disorder, fragmentation, chaos, etc.; specif., such a process regarded as the inevitable, terminal stage in the life of a social system or structure
What has been dubbed the 'Black Hole Information Paradox' has since been accounted for by theorists, who have said that a black hole's entropy is proportional to the surface area of its event horizon. In other words, the event horizon shrinks as the black hole does, which sounds about right. However, they have also discovered that 'quantum ripples' on the event horizon can encode the information within on a miniscule, two-dimensional spectrum, thus accounting for the matter and energy we had previously assumed lost when it was turned into a tasty entree for a super-dense dead star, making a black hole something akin to a cosmic filing-clerk.
This is the really weird bit, however - this idea of 3D information (of a star) being able to be coded as 2D (on the horizon of the black hole it becomes) has been theoretically applied to the universe as a whole.
This theory purports that the universe is surrounded by a two-dimensional spherical field comprising tessellating squares of encoded information - a hundred billion billion times smaller than a proton, or ten to the power of minus thirty-five metres ( #3). In response to the truth that the universe is far more voluminous than its outer surface area, it has been proposed that it's constituent three-dimensional information is a blurred projection of the two-dimensional units of information which surround it, each one far larger - approximately ten to the power of minus sixteen metres (a size we can deal with far more comfortably.) In other words, the universe is a giant hologram.
I'm a histrionic, holistic, herculean halibut.