Monday, December 8, 2014

The Zero Theorem

Last entry we talked about psychobiologist and author David Jay Brown, who gave my approach to visualizing the dimensions a very positive mention in his recent textbook The New Science of Psychedelics. This time we're going to talk about a film released this year by Terry Gilliam, who regular readers of the blog will know I'm a huge fan of, and who I had the chance to work with when one of his stranger films, Tideland, was shot here in Saskatchewan in 2006*. Terry's new film, The Zero Theorem, is rooted in a mystery I've talked about many times with this project. Here's one of my videos about this concept: Imagining the 'Zeroth' Dimension.



In The Zero Theorem, Christoph Waltz puts in an electric performance as Qohen Leth, a worker for the mega-corporation Mancom, charged by Management with the dreaded task of proving the Zero Theorem. Here's some dialogue from the film, in which "Bob" (the precocious teenage son of Management) explains to Qohen one version of the solution to the Theorem:

BOB
You're trying to prove that the universe is all for nothing.
All matter, all energy, all life, it's just
this one-time-only big bang glitch.
The expanding universe will eventually contract into a 
super-dense black hole. Gravitational forces will be so 
strong that everything will get squeezed into a point of 
zero dimension, and "poof" the center disappears. 
No space, no time, no life, no afterlife, nothing.
Nada, zilch, zip, zero.
QOHEN
Stop! How would anyone believe such a horrible thing?
BOB
What's so horrible? I believe it. Nothing's perfect. 
Nothing lasts forever. It's nothing to worry about
if you really think about it.

Near the show's climax, Management appears and explains, in a fashion, why Qohen was assigned the task of proving the Zero Theorem:

MANAGEMENT
Chaos encapsulated. That's all there is at the end,
just as it was at the beginning.
QOHEN
There it is then. You've proved the zero theorem.
MANAGEMENT
Not quite. Mancom is still, as you said, crunching the data.
QOHEN
Why would you want to prove that all is for nothing?
MANAGEMENT
I never said all is for nothing. I'm a businessman,
Mr. Leth. Nothing is for nothing.
QOHEN
What?
MANAGEMENT
There's money in ordering disorder. Chaos pays, Mr. Leth.
Chaos comprises a rich vein of ore that with Mancom's
muscle will be all mine to mine. The saddest aspect of
mankind's need to believe in a God, or to put it another
way, a purpose greater than this life, is that it makes
this life meaningless.

A harsh conclusion? You bet, and this takes us back to another point I mentioned last time: there is a certain mindset which teaches that anyone who believes in free will is being tricked by the chemistry of their body into believing they have control, when in reality every outcome is inevitable. Looking back at our lives, do we see any evidence of multiple outcomes, of cats that are both alive and dead? No, there is only one reality, one possible version set in motion at the beginning of the universe and continuing inexorably to the end.

The counterpoint to that idea, for me, has always been contained within the fifth dimension - the dimension at "right angles" to our 4D space-time, where the multiple outcomes of Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics have room to co-exist. As I mentioned a couple of entries ago, the fact that Christopher Nolan's new film Interstellar also embraces the idea of a fifth spatial dimension (with the approval and support of a mainstream physicist!) is very exciting. 

What's tricky, then, is trying to show that both points of view -- free will vs. the inevitable universe -- are really two ways of viewing the same outcome, the same "enfolded everything" or "ultimate ensemble" that must underlie our reality or any other. Early on in this project I mentioned the fable of the six blind men and the elephant: each touches a different part of the elephant and comes away with a very different impression. The blind men in that story, though, have no pre-conceived notion, they are only reporting their findings. The difference in what we're discussing here is that mindset is the key - if you expect to see free will, that's what you see. If you expect to see an inevitable chain of causality and nothing more, then that's the conclusion you will draw. Both are ways of describing exactly the same thing, even though the two camps are unlikely to acknowledge such a heresy.

I believe that Terry Gilliam's film does a masterful job of showing these two viewpoints, and how accepting that there is something unchanging and everlasting from which our universe or any other is derived does allow us a certain peace, regardless of which viewpoint you subscribe to. Please watch The Zero Theorem and see if you agree.

Next entry we'll do a quick review of The Science of Interstellar, the new book written by Kip Thorne, the famed physicist who acted as a technical advisor to Christopher Nolan's challenging film throughout its creation.

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton


*As I've mentioned before, my son Todd and I co-wrote a song that one of the on-screen characters sang in Tideland. My company, Talking Dog Studios, also was in charge of dubbing all of the daily location recordings from Dolby SR to a digital format.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The New Science of Psychedelics

What happens when a pattern becomes aware of its own existence?

Back in 1963, it was Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time that started me thinking about the dimensions that lie beyond the 3D world we see around us. Now, since 2006, Imagining the Tenth Dimension has been introducing budding thinkers to a way of imagining how our bendy/stretchy space-time could be derived from the timeless “everything” of Max Tegmark's Mathematical Universe concept, or the beautifully symmetrical zero of Gevin Giorbran's Everything Forever: Learning to See Timelessness. Last entry we looked at Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, and the participation in that project of mainstream physicist Kip Thorne, who endorses and explains the scientific underpinnings of the wormholes and time dilation depicted in that film: the "bendy/stretchy space-time" I just referred to. Nolan's film encourages us to think about a "block universe" as Minkowski described it, where different events are merely positions within a timeless 4D structure that becomes easier to imagine when we consider it from the outside vantage point of the fifth dimension.

Here's the question we are asking: what is the source, the background pattern, the underlying process, from which our observed universe emerges? Some theorists ascribe meaning to that pattern, while others call it chaos, or "just a bunch of stuff that happened" (a useful phrase from Homer Simpson). But however we think about them, those underlying patterns exist, and modern research in a wide variety of disciplines inches us ever closer to understanding their nature.

If all I am, if all you are, is a space-time pattern, a spime if you prefer, then that pattern exists within the realm Einstein liked to talk about, where the distinction between past, present, and future is an illusion. I began this entry asking this: what happens when a pattern recognizes itself?

Life Happens
Life recognizes life. Awareness is drawn to awareness. Patterns of similar nature congregate together because of their structural similarities, and order really does sometimes arise from chaos. With Imagining the Tenth Dimension, the 400+ YouTube videos, 26 songs, animations and of course the book have all provided people from around the world with a new way of thinking about how their reality is created. But it's more than that: it's because so many people see patterns within my approach which easily tie to their own observations. Case in point: psychobiologist and science writer David Jay Brown said this about my project in his recent book The New Science of Psychedelics:
Physicist Michio Kaku's book Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension and Rob Bryanton's Imagining the Tenth Dimension both seem to provide uncanny maps of the territory that one encounters after smoking salvia or DMT. Like the two-dimensional character in Edwin Abbott's book Flatland, we seem just as limited in our three-dimensional perspective.
Being mentioned in the same sentence as Kaku is remarkable indeed, particularly since I've stated from the outset of this project that I'm not a physicist and I'm not pretending to be one. Clearly, anyone who calls me a “pseudo-scientist” is ignoring that fact, and that should be the end of the discussion. David knows this, and I'm grateful to him for his vote of confidence. But let's keep this straight: I'm simply a creative thinker who has come up with an intuitive way to organize the information that becomes our observed reality, or any other. My project uses the logic of the point-line-postulate (the accepted methodology for visualizing any number of spatial dimensions) to imagine the ten spatial dimensions which, coincidentally, string theory has told us our reality is derived from. But it also turns out that my approach is very useful for analyzing lots of other kinds of information, and that's why the fan-base of Imagining the Tenth Dimension has been so widely varied: because it gives so many people a way of organizing their thinking that helps them see the patterns that lead to one outcome or another, to one universe or another.

Patterns happen
Do psychedelics provide a way of "lifting the veil", so to speak, to allow us to see the hidden connections that we all share across the extra dimensions? Since I have no personal experience with psychedelics, I'm not the best person to answer that question, but here's what I believe: researchers are finding commonalities across cultures, across widely separated geography, and across the ages, that indicate there is something more than just random misfiring of neurons embedded within aspects of the psychedelic experience, and other meditative or trance-based states of the mind. Here's how David finishes the above-quoted paragraph:
From a three-dimensional point of view it seems like there aren't any other directions to go besides backward and forward, right and left, up and down. But there is another direction that we can move into, another dimension that contains this one within it, and the way to get there is by going directly into the center of our own minds.
My approach to visualizing the dimensions helps us to see those patterns as existing within the timeless background that lies beyond the observed limits of our constantly evolving 4D space-time bubble. And David Jay Brown, who has written for Wired, Discover, and Scientific American on the subject of modern psychedelics research, and who has published a number of books exploring the interesting outer fringes of science, has given his enthusiastic support to my project. For that I am very grateful. Unfortunately, though, these zen-like concepts of "everything and nothingness" also happen to have been a popular line of questioning for mystics and the enlightened (of whatever definition you care to associate with that term) throughout the ages, a  fact that makes those intent upon an atheistic, free-will-is-an-illusion point of view likely to dismiss these discussions outright. Be that as it may, I stand firm in my belief that there are things about this approach that speak directly to the underlying truth of where our reality comes from, so I will continue to fight the good fight for these ideas.

Now that we're holding within our minds the idea of there being a version of 4D space-time where everything happens at once,  let's go back and look at one of my most popular videos: Imagining the Fourth Dimension.  
A direct link to the above video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN4KC_zlW4g 

Enjoy the journey,

Rob 

P.S. - Ultimately, finding a way to imagine what the big beautiful zero our reality comes from could be like brings with it a certain peace, as Terry Gilliam reminds us in his current film, TheZero Theorem. We'll talk about that film next.
 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Interstellar - the Fifth Dimension

Interstellar, the new hit film for Christopher Nolan, is re-awakening interest in a topic I've talked about many times with this project: the fifth dimension. Nolan has done a fascinating job of helping us to visualize how our 4D spacetime could really be directly interacting with an additional spatial dimension, where multiple outcomes exist as a landscape which we are navigating within. Persons familiar with my project will know that this seems directly connected to the ideas I've been portraying since I first published Imagining the Tenth Dimension in 2006.

Sometimes science fiction movies deliver crazy ideas that have no connection to real science, and we are asked as an audience to simply suspend our disbelief and enjoy the ride. Interstellar has a much more interesting pedigree though, since world-renowned physicist Kip Thorne was heavily involved with the film: Thorne is the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics Emeritus at Caltech, and he acted as an executive producer for Interstellar. As an author, his books include the bestselling Black Holes and Time Warps. Here's what Thorne has to say about the fifth dimension in a Mashable interview published a few days ago:
That tesseract is not inside the black hole — it’s a four-dimensional cube, with four space dimensions and time — it lives in the Fifth Dimension. One of the faces is in our universe. Cooper is scooped up in the face of that tesseract and carried into the bulk.

In the Fifth Dimension, the distance between Gargantua and Earth is quite short; about the same as the Earth and the sun … whereas in our universe it’s 10 billion light years. So [the tesseract] can take him into our universe and docks beside the bedroom.”

This is really all based on some beautiful ideas; what I talk about is a ‘complexified tesseract. It fits with our understanding of what a tesseract is … [it] fits with ‘brane worlds’ of science … [or] what I call the Fifth Dimension. There is so much science that is in there that people have puzzled about, and I don’t know any way for people to get un-puzzled other than to read the book.
Thorne is referring to his just-released book, The Science of Interstellar, where he talks about the mind-bending science of wormholes, black holes, and tesseracts and the underlying connections possible from beyond our observed 4D space-time that were used in Nolan's film. While no-one is pretending that everything portrayed in Interstellar should be interpreted as mainstream science, the internet nay-sayers who have tried to dismiss Interstellar as total bunk would be well-served to examine Professor Thorne's book.

This is not the first time the fifth dimension has been portrayed in films as our "probability space", as I like to call it. For instance, Men in Black 3, released in 2012, featured an alien who had the special ability of being able to see into the fifth dimension, seeing the different possible timelines (or "world lines" as some physicists prefer) that surrounded him. I've talked previously about Watchmen, the 2009 film featuring a character who develops the ability to see past, present, and future simultaneously,  and in my book and this blog I've paid tribute to Kurt Vonnegut, who invented an alien race with similar abilities, the "Trafalmadorians", in such novels as his 1969 classic Slaughterhouse-Five.  But with the Trafalmadorians we are definitely only thinking of the fourth dimension as an unchanging block, where the one possible outcome for our universe, set into inevitable motion by the big bang, means that free will is an illusion and there is therefore no need to bring a fifth dimension into the discussion.

A surprisingly good film that doesn't explicitly say "fifth dimension" but is obviously talking about the same "probability space" concept came out earlier this year: Edge of Tomorrow.  Here's the key: just as the first dimension can only contain a line, but that could be any line, the fourth dimension only has room for one version of space-time. In order to consider two 1D lines, you need to move to the second dimension. To see more than one version of space-time, a power attributed to the aliens in Edge of Tomorrow, those fictional creatures must logically be navigating within the fifth dimension.

In my 2011 video below, Imagining the Fifth Dimension,  I talk about the evidence I've collected for thinking of the fifth dimension as our probability space, and how that so easily connects to well-known theories such as Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. At the end of the video I mention some very kind conversations I've had with Oxford University's Professor of Physics David Deutsch. Why do I say "very kind"? I've always made it clear that I'm not a physicist and I'm not pretending to be one: I'm simply a creative person who came up with a methodology for visualizing ten spatial dimensions, and as a hobby I've published over 400 videos about the ramifications of that concept on my youtube channel which has just surpassed the 12 million views mark (!).  I'm sure Professor Deutsch is a very busy man, and even though ultimately his response was to say he didn't accept my interpretation of the fifth dimension, I'm still very grateful that he was generous enough to respond. Imagine how exciting it is for me now to see Professor Thorne gently moving mainstream consciousness towards considering an idea which I've pursued so passionately for almost a decade.


A direct link to the above video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eN24Sv0qS1w

Curious? You might enjoy some of the other videos/blogs in this series:

Imagining the Tenth Dimension, 2012 version
Imagining the "Zeroth" Dimension
Imagining the First Dimension
Imagining the Second Dimension
Imagining the Third Dimension
Imagining the Fourth Dimension
Imagining the Fifth Dimension
Imagining the Sixth Dimension
Imagining the Seventh Dimension
Imagining the Eighth Dimension
Imagining the Ninth Dimension
Wrapping It Up in the Tenth Dimension

Next entry, I'm going to look at a recent book published by Psychobiologist and author David Jay Brown (you may have seen his articles in magazines like Wired, Discover, and Scientific American), in which he mentions my approach to visualizing the dimensions as having a direct connection to his own research. Thanks for your support, David!

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What's Beyond "Everything"?

I've always argued that by the time we get to the tenth dimension there's no need to keep counting past that, because "there's no place left to go": but the fact is that many people embrace M-Theory's idea that there are eleven dimensions, one of which is "time". So here we are, visualizing ten spatial dimensions, plus an eleventh dimension as the point of indeterminate size that we start from, the point that moves within those other dimensions to create change from state to state, and that is what we can equate to the moving point that we know of as the "arrow of time".

No Place Left to Go
Here's the question though: if we've described, through logical application of simple principles, a way to get to "everything", then what created the everything?

I prefer to think that there is something within this everything, a universal creative force that is an emergent property within the information that becomes reality. Whether we call this force (which is the spark that drives all living things, from a primitive bacterium to you and I, to want to continue) "God" or some other word makes no difference: this organizing pattern exists, there is a specific pattern that causes our unique universe to exist, there are specific patterns elsewhere within the multiverse that cause other completely different universes to exist. Call those patterns whatever you like, changing names doesn't change their existence. The idea that the multiverse allows for the existence of what some have argued is a highly unlikely combination of factors to create the universe we find ourselves to be in has always been central to my way of thinking about the dimensions.

Likewise, consciousness can be looked upon as an emergent property, but I disagree with those who say only humans have consciousness: I think all living things have their own degree of consciousness. In the same way I think some human beings are more conscious: more immersed and engaged in their reality, more aware of the other possibilities that exist outside the moving "point" of their tiny space-time window... than others.

Are There Really Fourteen Dimensions?
Earlier this month there were news stories about a new "theory of everything" that encompasses fourteen dimensions: here's a brief article which includes links to other more in-depth reporting. How's this for an interesting thought: with this project I've always argued that "time" is a way of thinking about change from state to state within any dimension, and that's why it works to acknowledge there are ten spatial dimensions plus time. But it's also useful to think that for our unique situation, living in a universe with physical atoms and molecules that are embedded within a 3D membrane, there is definitely something about our own experience of time which makes it appear to only be a function of 4D space-time. Would my dimensional analysis make any more sense if we accept that we have our own unique viewpoint of that concept of "time"? Perhaps it's better if we acknowledge the fact that from our perspective time and space are most definitely intimately intertwined.

Where does that lead us? Suddenly we find ourselves with a way of thinking about ten spatial dimensions plus the moving 4D point we call the arrow of time. Is this a way to accomodate fourteen dimensions? Perhaps. By counting our 4D Minkowski "Block Universe" space separately (since that is what our unique experience within the multiverse reveals itself to be, as its own self-contained structure), the whole discussion of temporal vs spatial dimensions might be less confusing for some: in doing so, the ten spatial dimensions all become nothing more than patterns of information that are orthogonal to one another, and our movement is just that: movement through those patterns of information. Moving through a map doesn't change the map, but moving through a map does provide different experiences as we move from position to position.

Everything
Still, no matter how you slice and dice it, the concept of "everything" remains as our goal line. So to the question of "what's beyond everything?" I would say the answer is this: nothing. For more about how that connects to the underlying symmetry from which our universe or any other springs, here's one of my favorite videos from this project: Imagining the Zeroth Dimension.

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Just what IS a dimension?



A direct link to the above video can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmQqDJwnmAw

The above video is about a meme that has risen in popularity this year: "it's incorrect to talk about imagining the fourth dimension, one should instead talk about 'imagining four dimensions' because these dimensions are all intertwined". My response is that's at best a semantics discussion, and at worse leads to the faulty conclusion that there is no difference between the degrees of freedom available to a 1D line versus a 2D plane and so on. Would I be saying different things if my project were called Imagining Ten Dimensions instead of Imagining the Tenth Dimension? No. Both are different ways of talking about the same idea. So, while it's all well and good to say "let's imagine ten dimensions", perhaps there's an even more basic question to ask before we begin:

"Just what IS a dimension?"! 

Let's take a look.

Very generally, if you wanted to describe all the possible states for a certain quality of something, that would be a dimension. We could create a database of temperature for a given location, and all possible temperatures for that location would be a dimension. But we would need to add a dimension if we also wanted to plot windspeed. And so, if this is the approach we are using to define the word "dimension", then there is no reason to assume there are only ten: couldn't there potentially be an infinite number of ways to describe something, and therefore an infinite number of dimensions?

Theorists have said our reality comes from ten spatial (or "space-like") dimensions. How can we imagine them? Well, the point-line-plane postulate is the accepted way to visualize any number of spatial dimensions. Please note, though, those two important words: "any number". This means that we can easily say that this postulate results in an infinite number of spatial dimensions, because there's no reason to stop at any particular number.

But with this project, I do indeed say that we can stop at a number, and that there are really only ten dimensions... or eleven if you count the "zeroth" dimension, the point that we start from. Wow, isn't that quite a jump, from the mind-boggling realm of infinity down to a measly ten dimensions? And yet with this project, I insist that because we are assigning meaning to each of these dimensions rather than just abstractly adding one upon another, we really have reached an infinite "everything" by the time we get to ten.

As I've said elsewhere, the point-line-plane postulate and the line/branch/fold visualization that Imagining the Tenth Dimension uses are very related concepts, two different ways of describing the same idea. Both say there is a repeating logical structure we can use to extend from our intuitive knowledge of the first three spatial dimensions into the extra spatial dimensions that lie beyond.

One of the words used to describe spatial dimensions is that each is orthogonal to the next. "Orthogonal", as defined in the Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary, means "intersecting or lying at right angles". "Perpendicular" has much the same definition, and the two words are often used interchangeably.

Let's go back to our windspeed/temperature example for one way to think about dimensions. What if we were to add an additional dimension which plotted the elevation above sea level? Now we have three dimensions for our given location, two of which are constantly changing, one which stays the same. In this way we can see how with multiple dimensions, some can be "pinned in place" so to speak, while others change. With my approach to visualizing the dimensions, I suggest that our universe is "pinned in place" at a position within the seventh dimension and above, with the sixth dimension and below allowing for the phase space of all possible states for a unique universe such as ours to be expressed. (String theorists have said our universe is embedded within a seven-dimensional "brane", or membrane, which could be another way of expressing the same idea).

Are windspeed and temperature "orthogonal" to one another? Only in one sense of the word. If you read through the entire Mirriam-Webster definition for orthogonal, the last interpretation listed is "statistically independent". Does temperature have to go up when windspeed goes down, or do both have to go up and down in lockstep? No. In other words, they are statistically independent. One could even say that windspeed, temperature, and elevation above sea level are at right angles to each other, in that you could plot these values on a three dimensional graph, with each axis at right angles to the others.

But how can we visualize a four-dimensional, a five-dimensional graph (and so on), where each axis is at right angles to the others? This is very hard for our monkey brains to envision, and that's the beauty of the point-line-postulate: it gives us a way to keep building the idea of spatial dimensions one upon another in our minds. 

So, we've established what dimensions are, but have we established what spatial dimensions are yet? Here's how I would define the difference between elevation/wind speed/temperature as a set of three dimensions, as opposed to three spatial dimensions such as length, width, and height:

1. wind speed does not require temperature to exist, or vice versa: so those are not spatial dimensions. The third dimension that you and I are within, on the other hand, can't exist without the first and second, because they are all spatial dimensions.
2. The third dimension, like any of the spatial dimensions, is really a set of dimensions that are intertwined. Because of this interdependence, it doesn't matter what label you put on the third dimension: so while height or depth are different ways of thinking about what gets added by the third dimension, any term you use is dependent upon your reference frame. As I've often said, changing labels doesn't change what we're talking about, and "a rose is still a rose by any other name". On the other hand, you can't take your values for wind speed and say they are now temperature: the labels are not interchangeable, so those are not spatial dimensions.

That's it in a nutshell. There are many dimensional systems which can lay claim to an unlimited number, and that includes spatial dimensions if you're speaking in abstract terms. But with this project, we discuss the quality that gets added with each spatial dimension, and that's how we end up with the bold statement that there are really only ten spatial dimensions.

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton







Saturday, May 18, 2013

What is Information?



A direct link to the above video can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8OLH-Btv8M

As regular readers of this blog will know, one of my favorite phrases is "Information Equals Reality". Dolors of the new youtube channel doljt123 has just put out a fascinating video on this subject, check it out! She also has a facebook page, and a website for her project: "Cracking the Nutshell".

I'm very grateful for the positive mention she makes of my project, amusingly enough it's right at the ten minute mark. And hey, you know how much I love that particular number! :) If you enjoyed the above video, here are two more from her channel as well.

Enjoy the journey!

Rob




A direct link to the above video can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rz_ajJDv5U
 


A direct link to the above video can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_leHGTm55Y

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Frogs and Birds

Quantum mechanics is widely recognized as one of the most successful theories of all time, confirmed again and again by observation and experiment. The Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, as proposed by physicist Hugh Everett III, tells us that it's not correct, though, for us to say that the quantum wave function is "collapsed" through observation. Rather we are only "observing", and the Many Worlds - the other parts of the wave function that we are not observing continue to exist. I agree with Everett's proposal that these other parallel universe outcomes are equally "real", but I understand why people find this so boggling: "how can there be more than one version of me?" is a question I hear regularly. There was a paper published by physicist Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond analyzing the Many Worlds Interpretation which Hugh Everett particularly liked, and it said this:

"To me, the deep meaning of Everett's idea is not the existence of many worlds, but, on the contrary, the existence of a single quantum one."

So if that single quantum one includes every possible state for the universe, why aren't you and I witnessing all those possible states right now? Everett liked to refer to us as having a "frog's eye view" - we can only see one possible state at a time, and the next state that we can see has to be causally connected to the current one. If we could have the "bird's eye view" it would then be possible for us to simultaneously observe the other states. We can imagine this but we can't actually do it, because the atoms and molecules we're constructed from are rooted in the third dimension, embedded within a three-dimensional "brane".

This is why I propose that the fourth dimension is all you need if you believe there is only one possible past and one possible future for the universe: it's like our frog is looking down a single street that stretches towards infinity, both in front of him and behind him. But since the quantum world is probabilistic, we know that there is more than one "next possible outcome" from any given instant, which means our frog always has many possible roads branching off, any one of which he could find himself turning on to: and those branches occur within a space which is orthogonal to spacetime, the fifth dimension. But our frog still can't see the whole picture. In the same way, you and I can imagine how Everett's Many Worlds can easily include versions of the universe where the Boston Marathon bomb attacks didn't occur in 2013, but we know that there is no chance, zero probability, of us observing that version of the universe now.

In order to do so, we would still need to be able to somehow elevate our viewpoint "above" our map of probabilities, to go from a fifth dimensional to a six dimensional "birds eye view". By doing so, we would become able to see this unimaginably large map of every possible state for our universe from its beginning to end, all contained within what is really not many worlds, but, on the contrary, a single quantum one. Yes, we can only "observe" one universe at a time, but rather than focus on all those other "me"s I think it's more productive to think about how each of us is a "slice" of something much larger that exists outside of time and space. Seeing that big picture, and how we each fit into that big picture, is a beautiful thing.

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

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