Higher Dimensions

The Milky Way rising over Crater Lake National Park. Photo by Ryan Suen Photography.

I’ve long wanted to commit myself to regular writing. Ideas seem to flash in my mind for moments and are forgotten quickly enough. This looks to be a waste of my precious neurons, not to say any of us are particular short of them. Thus, I present to you my first of, hopefully, many ramblings.

I’ve just finished Cosmos by the renowned and highly esteemed Carl Sagan. The scientific realities in that book are just as provoking and inspiring as the scientific possibilities. Remove yourself from our modern perspective and understanding, and the fact that light travels at 3x10⁸ m/s seems just as far flung as the possibility that there are millions of civilizations across the Cosmos that dwarf ours in intelligence and grandeur.

Here is an idea I find particularly spectacular.

Carl Sagan uses the example of Edwin Abbott’s Flatland to illustrate his thoughts, but I’ll utilize a more modern example, Super Mario. Imagine you are playing Super Mario, from the perspective of Mario. You are able to move backward and forward along an x-axis, and you may jump and fall along a y-axis. You are, however, unable to perceive nor move along the z-axis. Your world lacks this particular type of depth.

Now, imagine your Super Mario world loops endlessly within that z-axis, a dimension you have no perception of. If you continued pushing along your x-axis route, you would all of a sudden return to whence you came without any indication of having turned back around. Expand this exponentially (to a scale of billions of light years) and add a dimension. You now possibly have a three-dimensional universe, our universe specifically, that loops endlessly through a higher dimension.

In fact, in the 1920’s, scientists found a pair of distant spiral galaxies. They wondered, could one of these galaxies be the other end of the Milky Way, as if viewing the back of your head in two mirrors? We now know this to be false given the sheer scope of the Cosmos. 15 billion light-years in our observable universe and we know it still to be expanding (a tangent which will be discussed within some other rambling). But the idea still stands. If you left Earth traveling at the speed of light for 15+ billion years, could you all of a sudden find yourself back at Earth without any indication of having changed your vector? Is the universe simply a super-sphere capable of being super-circumnavigated?

I do believe that a wormhole would indeed make this voyage much more efficient. If we bring Super Mario back into this. Wormholes always seem to be described as a bending of space-time. Not to say that wormholes aren’t, I obviously have no empirical evidence to the contrary, but, if your three dimensional you dropped into a two dimensional Super Mario world that looped as mentioned above, you could simply walk all the way across this world in a drastically shorter time frame. Would you not describe that as a wormhole? Could a wormhole simply be a method of transportation in a fourth geometric dimension?

To add on to this even further, let’s throw in fourth dimensional beings into our primitive three dimensional world. The idea of extraterrestrials, life beyond Earth, has always been fascinating. But, we have very little idea of what this life would appear as. Our only experience of life is this blue speck that sits in this vast universe of a trillion-trillion possibilities. We can say with slight confidence that there is no intelligent life within 200 light-years of us. Or, and this is assuming intelligent civilizations would quickly come to utilize this technology, we would have heard evidence of their radio signals by now, surely?

Thus, we must surmise that in order to find other intelligent life in the Cosmos, you would have to travel for an abundantly long amount of time; far beyond the lifespan of a human. What form of life could survive an adventure of a thousand light-years? A million light-years? Possibly even a billion light-years? Surely not a form of life that we would be familiar with, or possibly even recognize, or possibly even be able to perceive. This life form would have to be beyond our wildest imaginations and our most thorough understandings.

Imagine, again, your three dimensional self in the two dimensional Mario world. As long as you stand outside his XY-Plane of vision, he cannot perceive you. If you do decide to step into this XY-Plane, you would appear suddenly, with no measurable evidence at all from Mario’s perspective. Perhaps you decide to stick your pinky toe in first. To Mario, its perceived as a dot. Suddenly, you poke your leg and arm in as well. Mario suddenly sees one dot become two separated lines. And, once you step in fully, all of a sudden these two lines meet and expand. Now, you step out, and this one large line, that appeared originally as one dot and then two lines, just disappears all together instantly.

There are literally an infinite amount of XY-Planes. Thus, there is an infinite amount of ways to which Mario can be avoided by three dimensional creatures such as ourselves. Again, take this, and add a dimension. We are now in Mario’s shoes. There are now infinite possibilities by which a fourth dimensional being can avoid us, trapped in our three dimensional world.

Isn’t it wildly fascinating?

I do not claim, by any means, that these ideas are realistic or based upon any high level of scientific understanding. I’ve studied relatively basic physics, chemistry, biology, and the like. We shy away from fields outside our profession as if they were a plague. And, to be fair, if you asked me to open up any medical book I’d sit there totally stupefied. But, a basic understanding of the sciences, at least, affords one the ability to identify and dream of the reality and the possibilities, and everything in between.

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