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Welcome to the Tenth Dimension (text-based version)
Imagining the Ten Dimensions
In string theory, physicists tell us that the subatomic particles that make up our universe are created within ten spatial dimensions (plus an eleventh dimension of "time") by the vibrations of exquisitely small "superstrings". The average person has barely gotten used to the idea of there being four dimensions: how can we possibly imagine the tenth?
The flash version of this website (www.tenthdimension.com) provides an interactive set of animations with narration and sound effects which explain the basic concepts from chapter one of the book. The media-rich nature of these animations is not recommended for viewing with a dialup connection because of long load times. Below is a transcript of the narration from those animations. The ideas presented here come from chapter one of a new book called "Imagining the Tenth Dimension: a new way of thinking about time and space", written by Rob Bryanton.
0. A point (no dimension)
We start with a point. Like the “point” we know from geometry, it has no size, no dimension. It’s just an imaginary idea that indicates a position in a system.
1. The first dimension – a line
A second point, then, can be used to indicate a different position, but it, too, is of indeterminate size. To create the first dimension, all we need is a line joining any two points. A first dimensional object has length only, no width or depth.
2. The Second Dimension – A Split
If we now take our first dimensional line and draw a second line crossing the first, we’ve entered the second dimension. The object we’re representing now has a length and a width, but no depth. To help us with imagining the higher dimensions, we’re going to represent our second dimensional object as being created using a second line which branches off from the first.
Now, let’s imagine a race of two-dimensional creatures called “Flatlanders”. What would it be like to be a Flatlander living in their two-dimensional world? A two-dimensional creature would have only length and width, as if they were the royalty on an impossibly flat playing card. Picture this: a Flatlander couldn’t possibly have a digestive tract, because the pipe from their mouth to their bottom would divide them into two pieces! And a Flatlander trying to view our three-dimensional world would only be able to perceive shapes in two-dimensional cross-sections. A balloon passing through the Flatlander’s world, for instance, would start as a tiny dot, become a hollow circle which inexplicably grows to a certain size, then shrinks back to a dot before popping out of existence. And we three-dimensional human beings would seem very strange indeed to a Flatlander.
3. The Third Dimension – A Fold
Imagining the third dimension is the easiest for us because every moment of our lives that is what we’re in. A three dimensional object has length, width, and height. But here’s another way to describe the third dimension: if we imagine an ant walking across a newspaper which is lying on a table, we can pretend that the ant is a Flatlander, walking along on a flat two-dimensional newspaper world. If that paper is now folded in the middle, we create a way for our Flatlander Ant to “magically” disappear from one position in his two-dimensional world and be instantly transported to another. We can imagine that we did this by taking a two-dimensional object and folding it through the dimension above, which is our third dimension. Once again, it’ll be more convenient for us as we imagine the higher dimensions if we can think of the third dimension in this way: the third dimension is what you “fold through” to jump from one point to another in the dimension below.
4. The Fourth Dimension – A Line
Okay. The first three dimensions can be described with these words: “length, width, and depth”. What word can we assign to the fourth dimension? One answer would be, “duration”. If we think of ourselves as we were one minute ago, and then imagine ourselves as we are at this moment, the line we could draw from the “one-minute-ago version” to the “right now” version would be a line in the fourth dimension. If you were to see your body in the fourth dimension, you would be like a long undulating snake, with your embryonic self at one end and your deceased self at the other. But because we live from moment to moment in the third dimension, we are like our second dimensional Flatlanders. Just like that Flatlander who could only see two-dimensional cross-sections of objects from the dimension above, we as three-dimensional creatures can only see three-dimensional cross-sections of our fourth-dimensional self.
5. The Fifth Dimension – A Split
One of the most intriguing aspects of there being one dimension stacked on another is that down here in the dimensions below we can be unaware of our motion in the dimensions above. Here’s a simple example: if we make a Möbius strip (take a long strip of paper, add one twist to it and tape the ends together) and draw a line down the length of it, our line will eventually be on both sides of the paper before it meets back with itself. It appears, somewhat amazingly, that the strip has only one side, so it must be a representation of a two-dimensional object. And this means that a two-dimensional Flatlander traveling down the line we just drew would end up back where they started without ever feeling like they had left the second dimension. In reality, they would be looping and twisting in the third dimension, even though to them it felt like they were traveling in a straight line.
The fourth dimension, time, feels like a straight line to us, moving from the past to the future. But that straight line in the fourth dimension is, like the Möbius strip, actually twisting and turning in the dimension above. So, the long undulating snake that is us at any particular moment will feel like it is moving in a straight line in time, the fourth dimension, but there will actually be, in the fifth dimension, a multitude of paths that we could branch to at any given moment. Those branches will be influenced by our own choice, chance, and the actions of others.
Quantum physics tells us that the subatomic particles that make up our world are collapsed from waves of probability simply by the act of observation. In the picture we are drawing for ourselves here, we can now start to see how each of us are collapsing the indeterminate wave of probable futures contained in the fifth dimension into the fourth dimensional line that we are experiencing as “time”.
6. The Sixth Dimension – A Fold
What if you wanted to go back into your own childhood and visit yourself? We can imagine folding the fourth dimension through the fifth, jumping back through time and space to get there. But what if you wanted to get to the world where, for example, you had created a great invention as a child that by now had made you famous and rich? We can imagine our fourth-dimensional selves branching out from our current moment into the fifth dimension, but no matter where you go from here the “great child inventor” timeline is not one of the available options in your current version of time -- “you can’t get there from here” -- no matter how much choice, chance, and the actions of others become involved.
There are only two ways you could get to that world – one would be to travel back in time, somehow trigger the key events that caused you to come up with your invention, then travel forward in the fifth dimension to see one of the possible new worlds that might have resulted. But that would be taking the long way. The shortcut we could take would involve us folding the fifth dimension through the sixth dimension, which allows us to instantly jump from our current position to a different fifth dimensional line.
7. The Seventh Dimension – A Line
In our description of the fourth dimension, we imagined taking the dimension below and conceiving of it as a single point. The fourth dimension is a line which can join the universe as it was one minute ago to the universe as it is right now. Or in the biggest picture possible, we could say that the fourth dimension is a line which joins the big bang to one of the possible endings of our universe.
Now, as we enter the seventh dimension, we are about to imagine a line which treats the entire sixth dimension as if it were a single point. To do that, we have to imagine all of the possible timelines which could have started from our big bang joined to all of the possible endings for our universe (a concept which we often refer to as infinity), and treat them all as a single point. So, for us, a point in the seventh dimension would be infinity – all possible timelines which could have or will have occurred from our big bang.
8. The Eighth Dimension – A Split
When we describe infinity as being a “point” in the seventh dimension, we are only imagining part of the picture. If we’re drawing a seventh dimensional line, we need to be able to imagine what a different “point” in the seventh dimension is going to be, because that’s what our line is going to be joined to. But how can there be anything more than infinity? The answer is, there can be other completely different infinities created through initial conditions which are different from our own big bang. Different initial conditions will create different universes where the basic physical laws such as gravity or the speed of light are not the same as ours, and the resulting branching timelines from that universe’s beginning to all of its possible endings will create an infinity which is completely separate from the one which is associated with our own universe. So the line we draw in the seventh dimension will join one of these infinities to another. And, as boggling as the magnitude of what we are exploring here might be, if we were to branch off from that seventh dimensional line to draw a line to yet another infinity, we would then be entering the eighth dimension.
9. The Ninth Dimension – A Fold
As we’ve explored already, we can jump from one point in any dimension to another simply by folding it through the dimension above. If our ant on the newspaper were a two-dimensional Flatlander, then folding his two-dimensional world through the third dimension would allow him to magically disappear from one location and appear in a different one. As we’re now imagining the ninth dimension, the same rules would apply – if we were to be able to instantaneously jump from one eighth dimensional line to another, it would be because we were able to fold through the ninth dimension.
10. The Tenth Dimension – A Point?
Before we discussed the first dimension, we could say that we first started out with dimension zero, which is the geometrical concept of the “point”. A point indicates a location in a system, and each point is of indeterminate size. The first dimension then, takes two of these “points” and joins them with a line.
When we imagined the fourth dimension, it was as if we were treating the entirety of three-dimensional space in a particular state as a single point, and drawing a fourth-dimensional line to another point representing space as it is in a different state. We often refer to the line we have just drawn as “time”.
Then in the seventh dimension, we treated all of the possible timelines which could be generated from our big bang as if this were a single point, and imagined drawing a line to a point representing all of the possible timelines for a completely different universe.
Now, as we enter the tenth dimension, we have to imagine all of the possible branches for all the possible timelines of all the possible universes and treat that as a single point in the tenth dimension. Whew! So far, so good. But this is where we hit a roadblock: if we’re going to imagine the tenth dimension as continuing the cycle, and being a line, then we’re going to have to imagine a different point that we can draw that line to. But there’s no place left to go! By the time we have imagined all possible timelines for all possible universes as being a single point in the tenth dimension, it appears that our journey is done.
In String theory, physicists tell us that Superstrings vibrating in the tenth dimension are what create the subatomic particles which make up our universe, and all of the other possible universes as well. In other words, all possibilities are contained within the tenth dimension, which would appear to be the concept we have just built for ourselves as we imagined the ten dimensions, built one upon another.
"Imagining the Tenth Dimension:
a new way of thinking about time, space and string theory"
This unique book touches upon such diverse topics as Feynman's "sum over paths" approach, quantum indeterminacy, and the soul. More than just a scientific exploration, "Imagining the Tenth Dimension" is a mind-expanding exercise that could change the way you view this incredible universe in which we live.
01 A Quick Tour of Ten Dimensions
In this chapter, we explore much more fully the information presented on this site: a way that the ten dimensions can be imagined, with each stacked one upon another.
02 The Quantum Observer
This concept comes from quantum physics, which tells us that subatomic particles are actually waves of probability. It is the act of observation that collapses these waves into one particular state. According to the structure we’re exploring here, how does the “quantum observer” fit into the picture?
03 The Flow of Time
While Einstein’s theories treated space and time as an entity, the more common approach in string theory and physics has been to treat time as an aspect which is separate from the other spatial dimensions. In this chapter we argue that time is indeed the fourth spatial dimension, and it is only our unique viewpoint as quantum observers that gives us the illusion of time being a one-way “arrow”.
04 The Binary Viewpoint
What happens when you divide any point in the universe into “here are the things it is” and “here are the things that it isn’t”? That’s the binary viewpoint of reality. Popularized in the film “The Matrix”, and in Star Trek’s “holodeck”, the idea of a world that could be indistinguishable from reality if we only we had a fast enough computer with a large enough memory has interesting connections to the way we are imagining our ten dimensions. In this chapter we explore how this reductive analysis of the universe might be applied to the ten dimensions we’re imagining.
05 Memes, Music and Memory
One of the contradictions that seem to be inherent in the “quantum observer collapsing reality” argument is that there would be no subatomic particles without an observer. Everett’s “Many Worlds Theory” is now becoming more popularly accepted by string theorists as one explanation of this apparent contradiction. His theory explains that an observer is not necessary because all possible states do actually exist simultaneously, and the act of observation is not “collapsing” a particle, it is merely “observing” a part of a wave in one of its simultaneously existing states. Still, whether we are “observing” or “collapsing”, the end result is the same. But does the quantum observer have to be a person? In this chapter we explore the many other ways that a quantum observer could be present, including some of the more metaphysical aspects of this discussion.
06 The Anthropic Viewpoint
There are usually two versions of the Anthropic Viewpoint. The first says that the reason we live in such an unlikely universe, created from countless lucky coincidences that led to the complex world we see around us, is that if those lucky coincidences hadn’t occurred we would not be here to ask the question of why we are here. However, the version of the Anthropic Viewpoint that is more relevant to our discussion says that all the other less fortunate universes do really exist, we’re just not in them. Some criticize the anthropic viewpoint as being a dead end or a cop out. But, as we explore in this chapter, this second version of the Anthropic Viewpoint is currently popular under a different guise in modern physics, and fits in well with our version of the ten dimensions.
07 The Paradoxes of Time Travel
It keeps coming back to this: the difference between the worldview presented here and the view of science in general stems from the proposition that time is a full spatial dimension. If time really is a spatial dimension, then free motion within it should some day be possible, and in chapter 3 we explored some of the ways that scientists have proposed that time travel could occur. But there are also many famous stories and films that imagine what it would be like if we could travel in time. In this chapter we look at this subject as it has been presented by works of fiction, and explore how these viewpoints fit (or don’t fit) with the ten dimensions we are now imagining.
08 Dark Matter and Other Mysteries
Dark Matter and Dark Energy are two of the biggest quandaries currently facing modern science. In this chapter we look at our new concept of the ten dimensions and explore whether any of the current unsolved mysteries of physics could some day be found to have their answers hidden within this new way of viewing the world. We also explore some of the more paranormal mysteries which might have an explanation from this viewpoint. As a mind-expanding exercise, we also explore some of the other ways that reality could be connected together that we are not currently conscious of, plus the hidden processing that the brain could well be executing to participate in the reality we are imagining here.
09 How Much Control Do We Have?
We have now imagined a reality where everything is possible. Everything that could have happened, did. Everything that is about to possibly happen, does. Even the things that we know didn’t happen or couldn’t happen on our own timeline, did happen elsewhere in another part of the dimensional construct we’re imagining. But if that’s all there is, then what is the point? As creatures with free will, should we care what we’re about to do if there are other universes where we did the opposite? And if everyone around us is capable of every possible good and bad thing imaginable, how do we ever get anywhere? This chapter attempts to put these questions into perspective.
10 Triads: The Ten Dimensions Revisited
This chapter provides us with some different ways of thinking about the ten dimensions that may be useful to those who are still having difficulty with the concepts presented. Rather than just being a re-statement of chapter one, we look at some new ideas which might have been too big to assimilate without first having worked our way through the other chapters.
Buy the Book Now!
"Imagining the Tenth Dimension" is a professionally bound and printed soft cover book, 214 pages, with illustrations. It includes eleven chapters and an index, plus the lyrics to twenty-six songs which help to explore the concepts being presented.
This project began as a set of songs for a "concept album" about the nature of reality. The lyrics to these songs are presented in their entirety as endnotes within the book "Imagining the Tenth Dimension", which is available elsewhere on this site. These songs are now being recorded, and clips for some of the songs will be available for auditioning later in 2006: but for now, the list below is text only. A second set of instrumental compositions, which will be called "Hearing the Tenth Dimension", is also in the planning stages.
EVERYTHING FITS TOGETHER
BURN THE CANDLE BRIGHTLY
NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP
BIG BANG TO ENTROPY
THE UNSEEN EYE
THE ANTHROPIC VIEWPOINT
THE END OF THE WORLD
I REMEMBER FLYING
CHANGE AND RENEWAL
FROM THE CORNER OF MY EYE
HANG A LEFT AT THE LIGHTS
MAKING IT UP AS I GO
WHAT WAS DONE TODAY
SEE NO FUTURE
WHAT I FEEL FOR YOU
The "theory of reality" that I advance on this website and in the book "Imagining the Tenth Dimension" is not the one that is commonly accepted by today's physicists. Anyone wanting to know more about the currently established thinking behind string theory and the tenth or eleventh dimension should refer to such excellent books as "Parallel Worlds" by Michio Kaku, "The Fabric of the Cosmos" by Brian Greene, or "Warped Passages" by Lisa Randall.
I invite you to think of this as an entertaining diversion that for some people will have a strong and thought-provoking connection to their impression of how the world really works. If you click on "The Forum
", you will be taken to a page that gives readers an opportunity to debate the concepts presented in the book and this website more fully. Enjoy!
"Imagining the Tenth Dimension" is published by Talking Dog Studios.
Contact the author at:
Rob Bryanton, President
Talking Dog Studios Inc.
1212A Winnipeg St.
Regina, SK Canada