Posted in Science & Nature

Dimensions: Time Warp

The first three dimensions covered the three variables that determine space: length, width and depth. Then what could the fourth dimension possibly add? The answer is duration. The third dimension effectively becomes a point and the 4th dimension connects different 3D points to form a line that we refer to as time. For example, the “you” at this exact time is different to the “you” in five years time. These two “you”s are different (3D) points that lie on a 4D line (more specifically, your life). This is exactly the same principle as the 0th dimension being points in a 1D line, except three dimensions higher.

As a “moment” in 3D space is just a point on a 4D line, travelling from one point in time to another (i.e. time-travelling) would be as easy as walking along a straight line for a four-dimensional being. This concept is mind-blowing for us as we cannot fathom the concept of manipulating time. We are unable to see time as a dimension as we exist in a lower dimension. Every single moment in our lives is a brick that paves the road called time, meaning that we can only see each individual brick and not the overall picture. This is exactly the same as how a Flatlander could not understand the concept of depth and how we can be above them.

Although we see time as linear and straight, we are under the same illusion as the ant walking down the Mobius strip. Time is actually twisting and turning in the fifth dimension, creating multiple timelines that branch out like a tree of possibilities. These branches are influenced by our own choice, chance and the actions of others.
In other words, if a man proposes to girl A then he will go down the branch where he marries girl A. However, if he chose not to propose, he would end up marrying a different girl (or not at all). Therefore, he has entered a different branch than the girl A branch.
Now, if the man wanted to go from a timeline where he married girl A to another timeline where he married girl B, what could he do?

One method would be if he bent the 4th dimension (time) on itself through the 5th dimension to travel back in time to when he met the girl and not ask her number. This is exactly like folding a 1D line into a 2D circle to make the end point meet the starting point. However, to marry girl B he would have to make the right sequence of choices that lead to him marrying girl B (much like a role-playing game). This is the long-way round that would be too time-consuming and complex.

A simpler approach would be if he folded the 5th dimension through the sixth dimension and jump from the ending of timeline A to timeline B. This would be like the finger-lifting analogy we have been using time after time. If we pretend that the 5th dimension was a piece of paper, then we could fold it into a 6D cylinder so that the two edges meet. Now we are able to jump from one ending to another effortlessly, just as we did in the 2nd dimension.

It is easy to confuse the 5th and 6th dimension as they both deal with “alternate realitites”. Here is one way to differentiate the two: 5D space is like a 2D space for time – a flat plane where different timelines cross each other. Therefore, it can contain all of the possible outcomes from an initial condition – that depends on an action, choice or chance – such as your conception (visualise a dot on a piece of paper with many lines radiating out from it).
If we were to put a dot on a piece of paper above the first piece of paper (in the 3D space for time), we have entered a universe where there is a completely different starting point (before your conception), such as dinosaurs not existing. This means that the line called “you” may not even exist, and the two pieces of paper would never meet. The only way to jump from one piece of paper (5D) to the other would be through the 6th dimension.
Therefore, by jumping up a dimension, we gain a degree of freedom where we can move in yet another direction. This is seen between every dimension, such as 2D versus 3D. The 6th dimension merely lets us travel between different sheets of 5D paper.

So somehow we have reached the 6th dimension where one can not only time-travel, but jump from one alternate reality to another. Shall we venture further into the seventh dimension – infinity – and beyond?

(This post is part of a series exploring the concepts of dimensions. Read all of them here: https://jineralknowledge.com/tag/dimensions/?order=asc)

(Stick figures from xkcd)

Posted in Science & Nature

Dimensions: Flatland

As we live in a three-dimensional world, it is difficult to imagine that there are higher dimensions. To illustrate this, the thought experiment of the hypothetical “Flatland” can be considered. Let us assume that there is a two-dimensional world called Flatland. Here, the concept of depth does not exist. Only forwards, backwards, left and right exist; there is no up and down. Everything that happens here would look like it was drawn on paper.

Now let us interact with Flatworld. If we were to touch Flatworld with our finger, it would be like poking your finger through a newspaper. The inhabitants of Flatworld would see a circle suddenly appear out of nowhere that grows larger and larger. A person would appear as if they were being seen through a CT scanner – in sections. The concept that things can be above or below would sound crazy to a Flatlander, even though to us it appears as a simple concept.

Let us take an ant walking along a piece of paper as an example of a “2D object”. If the ant wishes to go from one edge of the paper to the opposite edge, it must walk along the 2D plane. However, with our 3D powers, we can fold the paper into a cylinder; now the ant can walk to the other point in an instant (across the fold). To another ant on the other side, the ant would look as if it teleported and suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

In another experiment, we make a Mobius strip (a ribbon is twisted once then its two sides are joined) and make an ant walk along it. Although the ant would think that it was walking in a straight line along a two-dimensional surface, it would have walked on both sides of the strip – a three-dimensional concept. If the Mobius strip concept is confusing, think of a garden hose instead: an ant walking along a straight garden hose is walking in: 1D (straight line), 2D (hose is actually a flat surface) and 3D (the ant can walk in a corkscrew pattern along the hose).

If we were to tell that ant that it had just travelled in a higher dimension, that ant would either scoff at us or be genuinely terrified of the experience. To it, we (or the giant pink circle that it sees our finger as) would look like some omnipotent being that can see everything going on in its world and teleport from one place to another. And although the concept of depth would initially intimidate the ant, it would bring the level of the ant’s understanding of the world up one dimension. For if we see what we only know, then how can anyone see anything new? The only way to truly learn and understand new things would be to jump out of the box and see everything from the outside – just like an ant seeing the piece of paper it was on from a higher ground.

Although we may laugh at the foolishness of the Flatlanders (and the ant), to a being of the 4th dimension, we would appear just as stupid and naive. By applying what we learned from the world of Flatland to our three-dimensional world, we can expand our horizon of knowledge and understand what the fourth-dimension is.

(This post is part of a series exploring the concepts of dimensions. Read all of them here: https://jineralknowledge.com/tag/dimensions/?order=asc)

Posted in Science & Nature

Mobius Strip

A piece of paper has two sides. However, a Möbius strip has only one side. Ergo, if you walk on a Möbius strip, you walk on both sides and end up on the opposite side on the same location you started at in one trip. Because it has one side, it also has one boundary. This means that if you cut a Möbius strip along its length, you end up with not two rings, but one thinner, longer loop with an extra twist.

A similar structure is the Klein bottle. This structure is a self-paradoxical, single curvature, as its opening meets with its base, making the inside and outside indistinguishable. The entry is the exit, the inside is the outside, and the top is the bottom.

Our universe might be such a space where there is no distinction between the beginning and the end.