Saturday, December 22, 2007

You Can't Get There From Here

A link to this video can be found at

A link to this video can be found at

One of the things people like about this way of imagining the dimensions is that it shows how the higher dimensions are the same as the lower ones, and how each dimension that is added follows the same logical hierarchy. While there’s no question that our particular vantage point within the dimensions (as 3D creatures traveling down a 4D line of time) gives those other dimensions their defining characteristics, that has more to do with our unique point of view than it does with the idea that the higher dimensions are not to be thought of in the same way as the lower.

For our reality, there are two things that seem locked in – 3D space is the most obvious one, and some people believe that that is the only thing that is real, even to the extent of dismissing the first and second dimension as being impossible to conceive of outside of their participation within 3D. The other “locked in” aspect to our reality is the basic physical laws, or fine structure constants as they’re sometimes referred to. String theorists are saying that our reality is created by the interactions of a 3D brane with a 7D brane, which is interesting to me because in the way of imagining reality we’re exploring here, the seventh dimension would be where the basic physical laws of our universe are locked in.

There are many ways I have described how each dimension relates to the others. This time, we’re going to use the idea of “You Can’t Get There From Here”. The full statement of this idea would be “You Can’t Get There From Here Without Moving Through the Next Dimension Up”, which isn’t quite as catchy, and doesn’t even have a pronounceable acronym: “YCGTFHWMTTNDU”, or “yacugget-fwimmit-tindoo”. Oh well!

The basic idea for dimensions is that they should be able to be represented on a graph: this is easy to visualize for the lower dimensions, but for our 3D minds becomes more abstract with each dimension we add. So, representing a 2D system with values for (X,Y) is easy to do on graph paper. Representing a 3D system with values for (X,Y,Z) with a 3D graph is still something we can easily get our minds around. Representing a seven dimensional graph, though, with values for (T,U,V,W,X,Y,Z) is not something our brains are wired for, but the concept remains the same: each additional dimension must add an additional degree of freedom for what is being represented, or it isn’t a new dimension. Another way of saying this, then, is You Can’t Get There From Here. Let’s work through each dimension and see how that idea applies.

We’ll start with a one-dimensional line. How do we get to a different one-dimensional line? You Can’t Get There From Here without moving through the second dimension.

Now we’re on a 2D plane. How do we get to a different 2D plane? You Can’t There From Here without moving through the third dimension.

Now we’re in a 3D space. Regardless of whether you believe that time is the next dimension up, or just a quality that’s overlaid on 3D space to create spacetime, it’s still clear that if we want to get to a different 3D space (the one where your arm is up rather than your arm is down, as a very simple example), you have to move through time to get there. By accepting that time really is the fourth dimension, we can see how the metaphor continues: you can’t get from one 3D space to another without moving through the next dimension up.

At this point, those who believe time is not a full spatial dimension will say things stop making sense. If everything that follows from here didn’t also have so many other strong connections to what we know about our reality, I believe their arguments would hold more weight: but still, to be fair to those critics, I’ll pause here and acknowledge that some people do not believe that time is a full spatial dimension which we, as 3D creatures built from chemical processes that obey the thermodynamic laws of entropy, are experiencing in a uniquely limited way. Still with me? Then let’s proceed.

Now we’re in a 4D timeline. Let’s say it’s exactly noon right now, and as per the example I just gave, I've just raised my right arm. How do I get to the version of that 4D timeline where it’s noon and I didn’t raise my arm? Well, that’s impossible. If it’s noon I’ve either raised my arm or I haven’t, end of story. So that other version of reality is now on the “You Can’t Get There From Here” list for my 4D reality: that is, unless I was to move through the fifth dimension.

The fifth dimension is something I have been referring to as “Probability Space”. I believe it’s also directly connected to what David Deutsch’s team at Oxford have proven: the “bush-like branching structure” of possible outcomes that exist at both the quantum and the macro level are, as I have always proposed with this project, directly equivalent. The fifth dimension would be where quantum fields can be simultaneously perceived as waves and particles, and where it could be noon and I would simultaneously have raised and not raised my arm. I think it’s interesting that Kaluza proved and Einstein eventually agreed that the field equations for gravity and light work out in the fifth dimension, and that string theorists have said the fifth dimension is invisible to us because it’s “curled up” down at the planck length, because that’s what I’m proposing here as well: our 4D line of time is being created one unit of planck time after the next, from the available choices of the fifth dimensional Probability Space we are twisting and turning within. Our 4D spacetime is being created from the fifth dimension.

What’s on the “You Can’t There From Here” list for our version of the fifth dimension then? As freewheeling as the fifth dimension might sound, it's still a Probability Space, and the reason the Next Available Choice for our 4D line of time doesn’t suddenly move us to some other completely different version of our universe (where the moon is no longer in the sky or I’m circling Mars) is because there are only certain states available to us within the Probability Space of the fifth dimension. So, no matter how much I exercise my free will of putting my arm up or putting my arm down at noon today, the bush-like branching structure of available fifth dimensional choices for noon today don’t include the version of reality where 9/11 didn’t happen, or dinosaurs aren’t extinct. You Can’t Get There From Here: unless you move through the sixth dimension.

So now we’re in the sixth dimension, where every choice made and not made can exist simultaneously, even the ones that were not available from our position within the probability space of the fifth dimension. Surely this is as far as we need to go? What’s next on the You Can’t Get There From Here list? This is where that fine structure constant comes in. No amount of quantum indeterminacy, choice, or probability within our sixth dimensional frame allows us to move to a universe where our basic physical laws are different. To move to one of those universes, then, requires us to move through the seventh dimension.

Welcome to the seventh dimension! Now we’re moving from one universe to another, each universe having its own unique value for gravity, its own value for the speed of light, its own values for its fine structure constant. Each “point” in the seventh dimension contains within it its own unique version of the dimensions below, from the sixth down to the first. Those six dimensions, when you’re within them, would seem just as real as our own, but no amount of quantum indeterminacy or choice would ever allow matter or energy from within that sixth dimensional construct to interact with the other universes (including our own), because of that basic You Can’t Get There From Here rule. Physicists call this “decoherence”, and that’s the same concept. And again, the idea that part of our universe is constrained within a 7D brane seems like a very interesting tie-in here.

What’s left to imagine now? How about universes that don’t rely upon one specific value for each of their fine structure constants? Those would be impossible to get to without entering the eighth dimension. And how would we move from one of those incredibly strange (and most likely unstable) universes to another? By moving through the ninth dimension.

It may seem that I’m moving too fast here, or trying to skip past some of the higher dimensions. Other ways of imagining the higher dimensions do indeed seem easier to follow when you start from the tenth and work your way down to the first, but that’s not the concept we’re playing with here right now. So let’s continue: what could be on the “You Can’t Get There From Here” list for the ninth dimension? By now we’ve included all possible universes, all possible expressions of matter and energy, all possible ways of organizing the “Information Equals Reality” concept from quantum physics that I’ve talked about in this blog many times now.

So, the only thing that’s left is the Singularity: the enfolded whole where we perceive absolutely every possible state simultaneously: that’s the only thing You Can’t Get To from the ninth dimension without entering the tenth dimension. This is the timelessness that Gevin Giorbran describes so well, and this is the unobserved quantum fields that physicists tell us our reality springs from. Attempting to observe absolutely any aspect of those fields immediately pops us out of that overall indeterminate state and into at least some part of the dimensions below.

For a version of imagining these dimensions that starts from the tenth and works its way down to the first dimension, that’s a whole different blog entry, which I call “How To Make a Universe”.

To finish this entry, I'd like to play one of the 26 songs from this project, which explores the "You Can't Get There From Here" concept a little more as it relates to our version of spacetime and the currently available probability space: "What Was Done Today".

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

A link to this video can be found at

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