Thursday, August 20, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #98: Timeline or Hyperspace?

Here are some more unscientific ramblings about science, since writing is fun but research is not. In any case, this is one marginally (in-)sane* person's blog and not an academic journal. (*Admitting to a possibility of insanity means that I am probably sane, since the truly insane believe they are truly sane.)

If you haven't seen the video I embedded from two days ago, check it out, as Rob Bryanton explains his philosophical hypotheses (some with which I agree) more clearly than I can. In any case, Bryanton essentially reviews the book Flatland and high school geometry at the beginning of the video:

0. A point has no dimensions.
1. The first dimension is the line between two points.
2. The second dimension is the plane made by two perpendicular lines.
3a. The third dimension is the space made by two perpendicular planes.

(Or something like that.)

To explain his (and others') hypothesis of the fourth dimension, Bryanton changes the scope of the third dimension:

3b. The length, width, and breadth of space is now represented by a single point.
4. If that is the case, then the fourth dimension is like a line made by two (third-dimensional) points.

Bryanton (and others) identify this line as time. I tend to agree with this view, as all space changes into a different space as it travels forward and backward through the timeline. (I also tend to believe that there is only one timeline, but let's leave that rant for, appropriately enough, another time.)

A two-dimensional Flatlander, who's been given access to the third dimension, could feasibly not only pop in and out of his plane using the third dimension, but he could also appear at various points in the plane because of the third dimension. Let me phrase it this way: Our Flatlander goes up into the third dimension (drugs'll do that, perhaps). Since a two-dimensional plane has no up or down, his Flatland neighbors will see him vanish from the plane. Upon re-entry into his plane, our Flatlander has the option of appearing where he disappeared, or he has the option of appearing wherever he wants in his plane. To his neighbors, our Flatlander would seem to have been teleporting from point to point.

A three-dimensional Spaceman, who's been given access to move about in a higher dimension, could try one of two things:

1. He could go back and forth along the timeline of history and appear at different moments of time, which are in and of themselves, discrete snapshots of three-dimensional space. If this is the case, I would say that he could only appear in the space he occupied now and then (i.e., consciousness time travel like Desmond in "The Constant"), but that fully-fledged rant is for another time (ha-ha) and space (in this blog).

2. Alternatively, from his neighbors' points of view, our Spaceman could disappear from the third dimension and use the fourth dimension to reappear elsewhere in the third dimension, like teleportation. We'll call this hyperspace traveling. The closest widely-recognized analogue to this concept would be The Millennium Falcon (from Star Wars, of course) jumping into hyperdrive to go from one point of the Galaxy to another in a matter of seconds.

That bring me to my questions: What is the fourth dimension? Is it time, or is it hyperspace? Are both time and hyperspace equal dimensions, and if so, how is that even possible? Are hyperspace(s) subject to time, making time the fifth dimension, or are time(s) subject to hyperpace, making hyperspace the fifth dimension?

I'd like to think that time is the fourth dimension, and, if possible, another dimension is greater than time. I think Bryanton puts it this way (maybe I'm misrepresenting what he's saying by my paraphrase):

0. Point
1. Line
2. Plane
3. Space (as a point in time)
4. Time (as a line throughout spaces)
5. Timeline Probabilities (as a plane of time lines)
6. A Universe of Parallel Timelines (as a space of diverging and discrete probabilities) [as a point of Infinity]
7. Separate Universes [as a line between Infinities]
8. Branching Universe Lines [as a plane among Inifinities] ???
9. Jumping From Universe Line to Universe Line [as a space among Infinities] ??? [as a point of Everything] ???
10. Everything is but a point in the 10th dimension. Since Everything is encapsulated in the ninth dimensional point, you can't draw a line in the 10th dimension from one 9D Everything to another 9D Everything...but wouldn't that mean that the Everything is only in nine dimensions?

I think I've confused myself in this issue. Needless to say, I probably won't go past the sixth dimension for this series of speculative rants. The "whatever happens, happens" fatalist in me won't go beyond the fourth.

Months ago, I added a book by physicist Michio Kaku called Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension to my Amazon wish list. It would be little problem to order the book myself or purchase it at a bookstore or borrow it at my local library, but - again, in all appropriateness - I have to make the time to read it. I think if I can wrap my head around Kaku's text, then I might get a better handle on this issue.

I could always go to related Wikipedia articles for some insight, but my head might explode in the process. Class dismissed.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ryan, great blog entry! Here's a question you asked which I think I have answer to: what's the difference between the ninth and tenth dimension?

    First of all, a reminder that string theory says there are 9 spatial dimensions, and it's M-Theory that combines different versions of string theory together by adding a tenth spatial dimension. When physicists say M-Theory posits 11 dimensions, they are talking about ten spatial dimensions plus one of time.

    In my way of visualizing, time is not a dimension, it's a direction within the spatial dimensions, so there's no need to count it separately. Hence, a 4D hyperspace and time/anti-time as two opposing directions within the fourth spatial dimension are really two ways of thinking about the same thing.

    So the difference between the 9th and 10th dimension? The 10th dimension is the indeterminate background. Any attempt to break the perfect enfolded symmetry and observe a particular aspect of the 10th dimension spills you into the other dimensions.

    I believe that our feeling that there is only one past and only one future is because that's all there is room for in any particular version of the fourth dimension. With my approach to visualizing the dimensions, the branching outcomes and parallel universes that could result from chance and choice can only be simultaneously perceived from the fifth dimension and above.

    I've posted a link to your blog entry in the Interesting Links section of my blog.


    Rob Bryanton
    Imagining the Tenth Dimension


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