“You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.” ~ Rod Sterling
When I was in high school, I joined the Math Team because I had great interest in math. I was better at it than most people I knew and enjoyed it a lot. If I was being fair, I would have to say that I was probably the weakest link on the team, but I still took great pleasure in going all the same.
Our coach had ordered a great many copies of the book Flatland, A Romance of Many Dimensions, by Edwin A. Abbot. He didn’t know what else to do with them, so he gave each of us team members a copy of the book to keep. I read it with great interest, despite the first half being very difficult and abstract material for me at the time. But it was a book that would forever change my perspective on life.
I was maybe only fourteen or fifteen years old at the time, but after reading Flatland, I became intensely fascinated with the notion of there being other dimensions besides the three that we live in. In the years following, I would encounter Flatland again many times.
When studying Dante’s Inferno in my junior year, I tried to apply the concept of multiple dimensions to the different levels of hell. In my AP Physics class, we watched What the Bleep Do We Know? and I recall having in-depth conversations with my teacher about hyperforms. I even tried to draw out my conceptions of them on the white board. Eventually, I bought the sequel to What the Bleep? and there came across a retelling of Flatland in the adventures of Dr. Quantum. I also became fascinated with books like The Hitchhiker’s Guide series and movies like the Cube triology, which had similar themes of dimensionality in them. It was from watching the movie Hypercube that I first learned the word “tesseract” and their visual example struck deep to my core.
In college, I came across this little gem of a video by the late, great Carl Sagan and my fascination with Flatland was once again renewed. At about the same time, I also happened upon a most excellent video on Moebius Transformations and their connection with dimensionality. I also just recently learned that there was a movie made in 2007 about the tale of Flatland, narrated by Patrick Steward, which I’m interested in seeing.
Such obsessions with dimensionality also pushed me to learn about things like black holes and wormholes. As you might well imagine, I spent a great deal of my time thinking about those too. In particular, I hold a special place in my heart for Alcubierre Drives and Krasnikov Tubes.
“There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between … the pit of man’s fears and the sum of his knowledge.” ~ Rod Sterling
My fascination with dimensions was equalled only by my fascination with time and my obsession with time travel movies like Timeline, Back to the Future, Clock Stoppers, and Time Cops.
Most people know that we live in a world of three dimensions: height, width, and depth (or x, y, and z). Some will even say that we live in a four-dimensional world with time being the fourth dimension. But even as a teenager, I never really bought that time was the fourth dimension. To me, dimensions were more a thing of space than of time. After all, you could have a “2-D” movie that was changing over time. Should we relabel that a “3-D” movie? And should all the new “3-D” movies coming out be relabled as “4-D” movies? I bet they’d sell even better if we did. And what about a “1-D” object (a line) or even a “0-D” object (a point)? Can’t those move in time as well?
Most people know that velocity / rate / amount of change (v) is equal to distance (d) divided by time (t). Your car moves at a rate of fifty miles per hour, for instance. But the equation v = d/t can also be written t = d/v in which case time is defined as the distance between two points divided by their change in distance. In order for there to be time, there must be at least two things and a change in their relationship. That’s all that time is.
If we perceive lots of change, like when we’re having fun, then we say that time flies. Conversely, if not much is changing, it appears as though time is dragging on. How can time change? It’s not a physical object. Numbers and objects can change, but time can’t change. Time is merely an associative thing created in our minds with no real counterpart in the physical world. It’s like a metaphor, it doesn’t actually exist in reality. When you look at your clock, you’re checking the relationship between the hands and the face. Without a change in that, there is no time. If you look at the motions of the sun in respect to the earth, it’s the same. No motion, no change, no time.
Consequently, that explains the phenomenon known as time dilation as well. The observers are observing different events, different changes in the same objects, so in their minds, the time appears to be different. But it’s simply a difference in perception of change, not the actual change itself. We are defining all this stuff backwards.
It’s like that familiar episode of The Twilight Zone where the man presses the watch to “stop time” and everything else around him stops moving. He didn’t stop time, he stopped the people around him. Time continued as long as he was still moving and doing things in respect to everything else. The movie Clock Stoppers is similar in that the kids don’t stop time, but are actually moving very fast in comparison to everything else.
Why can’t we tell what happened before the Big Bang? Because there is no object besides the singularity to give us a sense of time. That’s why the Big Bang is said to have created space-time, because space is defined as the distance between two points and time is defined as the change in their relationship to one another.
Why do we say that God always existed? Because before God made the universe, there was just God – one object – and time did not exist before he made something else.
To me, the concept of a fourth dimension always brought to mind a fourth spatial dimension, like height, width, and depth. I don’t really know what to call it, since no one’s yet come up with a name for it. Maybe I’ll do that now and call it “inth,” as in “inside,” “inner,” or “inward,” since most fourth-dimension projections appear to show one thing inside the other.
It’s hard to imagine what such a realm would look like because we only live in three spatial dimensions, and anything that enters our space from the fourth dimension would necessarily appear to us as being three-dimensional.
How do we know if something is coming from a higher dimension? Well, one way would be to take the various trends of lower dimensions and apply them to higher ones. For instance, a line is a point traveling in a direction. A square is a line traveling perpendicular to itself. A cube is a square traveling perpendicular to itself. So a hypercube, or tesseract, would be a cube moving perpendicular to itself.
In another example, a circle is a point rotated around a point. A sphere is circle rotated around a point. And a torus is a sphere rotated around a point. So in one light, a torus is a four-dimensional object. And then a hypertorus would be a torus rotated around a point, thereby creating a fifth-dimensional object. Pretty neat, huh?
It’s important to realize that these are, as Carl Sagan puts it, just three-dimensional projections of four-dimensional objects. Just as the denizens of Flatland can only ever see a slice of the whole form, so we can only ever see a slice of the whole hyperform. It’s also important to realize that, although higher dimensional objects are made of an infinite number of intermittent component parts between their two ends, the objects themselves are considered one object, not several. A cube is just a bunch of squares lined up between two squares, thus making a hypersquare, which we call a cube. It’s a more holistic level of conception.
So imagine that the tesseract in the previous link is not two nested cubes, but really an infinite number of cubes lined up between the inner cube and the outer cube, thus making one single hypercube. In the case of the torus, imagine many spheres all packed tightly together to make one single hypersphere, i.e. a torus, with an inner and outer radius, instead of just a radius. And in the case of the hypertorus, imagine that there are infinite toroids all pressed together and overlapping as they go around the center, thereby creating one single hypertorus with an inner and outer hyperradius, as well as inner and outer radii.
That’s one way of understanding hyperdimensional objects. But this becomes more difficult when we consider more complex hyperforms, and so we must rely on more abstract ways of thinking.
“The deepest level of truth uncovered by science and by philosophy is the fundamental truth of unity. At the deepest, subnuclear level, you and I are literally one.” ~ John Hagelin
If you look at a tree, it has many roots and many branches. These are all individuals and each of them different. And yet, they are all connected to one another. They are all the same tree. They are just different parts of the tree. If we stick the tree in the ground, the roots are covered and we can’t see them because of the limitations of our three-dimensional vision.
We are like the Flatland square that can only see the outside of objects that pass through its dimension. However, the sphere is operating at a higher level of consciousness in its three-dimensional world and can see everything inside the square and even pass through its insides. Were we gifted with four-dimensional sight, we would be able to see through the ground and through the tree and be able to view it in its entirety all in one glimpse. We could see its insides and its outsides, and its front and back as well without even having to rotate it.
Even though the tree is divided in space by the plane of the ground, thus limiting our ability to see the whole thing, we understand that there is more to it than we can see and that it’s all another part of the same tree. In much the same way, philosophers and religious leaders have told us for thousands of years that we are all one with God.
In this case, our individual bodies would simply be the roots and branches of a very large God tree, the Tree of Life. In the Book of Genesis, the Tree of Life gave man eternal life, because he was still in the realization that he was connected with God and that everything is all part of the same holistic God, which is all that exists, therefore there is no time. Thus, everything was eternal. Man was like the Flatland sphere, able to move in and out and through the world of lower dimensions at will and could see everything at once and, theoretically, be everywhere at once, because he was not limited by the interactions of lower dimensions.
However, as soon as man took from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, his consciousness changed. He became dualistic, seeing himself as a separate entity from the other beings around him, forgetting that they were all just other branches of himself. He entered the lower dimension, the lower consciousness and became like the sphere turning into a planer circle and then forgetting it was actually a sphere.
In this realm, there was now time and so there was death – or at least apparent death. There was nothing to suggest the parts that left simply didn’t go somewhere else only to reappear back in the plane in another point in time in some other form (hint, hint).
So now man was bound to the motions and rules of interaction on the lower plane. If any part of him moved along the higher plane and did something spooky like levitate, pass through solid objects, have actual knowledge beyond his five senses, disappear, or appear in multiple places at once, it was a fluke or magic or an act of some higher dimensional being. But the reality of it is that he is the higher dimensional being and he’s simply forgotten.
We can speculate as to the reasons why God would suddenly become more dualistic and enter a lower level of consciousness. My personal belief is that he was just bored and tired of being alone in an eternity of nothingness and emptiness as far as his all-seeing eye could see, so he decided to split his consciousness up and put on a finger-puppet show for himself.
I mean, think about it. What would you do if you were stuck in a void for all time? It’d probably drive you mad as well.