Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Unseen Eye

In my song The Unseen Eye, I talk about a number of topics which I explore extensively in my book: the nature of time, the Big Bang, the quantum observer, playing dice with the universe, dark matter, and so on. Here are the lyrics to the song, which you can hear using the link in my list to the right, or there are several ways to hear it from the website as well.

THE UNSEEN EYE - music and lyrics (c) 2006 by Rob Bryanton (SOCAN)

(In the distance we hear children, repeating a strange little skipping song out on the playground:)
(“All we are is a point of view
It makes me me. It makes you you.
Quantum waves are many things
Until we view them, then they spring
Into our world as what we see
It makes you you, and it makes me me”)

In the universe of all universes
Anything is possible
Everything has happened, and will happen again
In the universe of all universes
Grey and formless
Till you choose a point, to become the first -- when
You can think of it as data
This dark and shapeless void
Unrealized potential
In the static and the noise
Till in the universe of all universes
The unseen eye
Opened and collapsed the wave, and we entered on in

Now we know it’s the act of observation
That gives the world its how and why
So the big bang is just an illusion
It’s just the opening of the unseen eye

Now any single point that we choose for entry
Leads to a long chain
From the very first yes, or the very first -- no
All the laws of physics, all the rules of nature
Defined in an instant
By the very first choice, or the dice we throw
Though Einstein objected
To imagining a God
Who gambles for Creation
The thought was just too odd
But deep within us in every living creature
There’s a connection
To this shared consensus, of the world we know

Cause we know it’s the act of participation
That gives the world its how and why
So the big bang is just an illusion
It’s just the opening of the unseen eye

And the missing dark matter that binds the universe
The mysterious mass that science cannot find
Is in the many worlds of possibility
That are just around the corner in time

Now the universe of all universes
If the truth be known
Is an awful bore, viewed as a whole
But just a tiny shard viewed from any angle
Reveals complexity
It reveals such beauty, reveals a soul
So does it make a difference
How we got to what we see
If it’s really just coincidence
It’s still a wondrous thing

And we know it’s the act of observation
That gives the world its how and why
So the big bang is just an illusion
It’s just the opening of the unseen eye
And the unseen eye, is you and I
And the unseen eye, is you and I
And the unseen eye, is you and I

Here's a paragraph from my book about the starting point for these ideas:

"If we can agree that our conception of time as a one-way “arrow” is an illusion created by our unique point of view, then ultimately we can come to the viewpoint that the big bang is also an illusion, as it is just a side effect of collapsing the tenth dimension with the very first yes/no. The point at which we enter the tenth dimensional system becomes the big bang (that is to say, the beginning) for the dimensions below. The currently accepted version of the big bang is known as “inflationary cosmology”, in which it is proposed that the size of the universe increased by a factor greater than a million trillion trillion in less than a millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second. Does this mind-boggling amount of sudden inflation not sound more like the flipping of a gigantic yes/no toggle switch?"

This song is a good example, I believe, of the usefulness of lyrics and melody for conveying ideas that might otherwise seem too intimidating or obscure. As I have discussed in the tenth dimension forum, the 26 songs that appear as lyrics at the end of my book were the original impetus for this project: as I showed the songs around, it became apparent that more explanation was going to be needed to help people understand my thought processes. Originally I had planned to write some notes that would be included as an insert booklet with the CD of these songs. Eventually, though, as I fleshed my ideas out more fully that booklet grew to become the 220 page book called "Imagining the Tenth Dimension" which, much to my surprise, has now found an audience in dozens of countries around the world.

Enjoy the journey!


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Time as a spatial dimension

How is my "way of imagining" ten dimensions different from what a student of physics or string theory would be taught? The simplest answer is this: I start from the assumption that time is part of a full spatial dimension. Most of us have gotten used to the idea that time can be called the fourth dimension, and Einstein's theories of spacetime have shown us that we can imagine time as a dimension which can be bent by large masses or concentrations of energy to create gravity, or stretched by near-speed-of-light travel to create twins who are no longer the same age. However, even though a dimension which can be bent and stretched may sound like a spatial dimension, the traditional scientific position has always been to keep time as a separate quality which is overlaid on the other spatial dimensions: when string theorists have talked about a reality created in ten dimensions, they were really referring to nine spatial dimensions, plus one temporal dimension. Likewise, M-Theory's eleven dimensions are actually based on ten spatial dimensions, or eleven dimensions when time is added in.

When I propose that time is part of a full spatial dimension which we third-dimensional creatures are experiencing in a limited way because we are built from chemical reactions and processes that obey the thermodynamic laws of entropy, I go out on a limb where some are not willing to follow. By blending concepts from Edwin Abbott's famous book "Flatland: a Romance of Many Dimensions" with concepts from string theory, quantum physics, the anthropic principle, and Everett's "multiverse", and then throwing in concepts from Minsky's Society of Mind, Dawkins's theory of memes, and metaphysics/New Age concepts of souls/ghosts/reincarnation, I fully realize I am trying to blend schools of thought which to some might appear to be completely incompatible. Nonetheless, the feedback I have gotten on my book has been generally very favorable: I believe that this is in part because I have always been quick to acknowledge my position as a generalist, and that my framework for discussion extrapolates beyond what you would be taught in a physics class today. That is one of the reasons I was so pleased to have famous author Greg Bear give me his endorsement for my book: "a fascinating excursion into the multiverse--clear, elegant, personal and provocative". Having a Hugo and Nebula winning science fiction author acknowledge what I've created as being an interesting take on the nature of reality puts, to my way of thinking, just the right spin on the project: this is a work of imagination which many have found thought-provoking, but no one should feel they are being tricked into believing that this proposed framework is the currently approved teaching of mainstream science.

To be clear, the supposition that time and space are part of a larger system which we are experiencing in a unique way is not just science fiction. To quote from my book: "string theorists have been expressing concepts which we once expected to hear only from yogis and gurus. Nathan Seiberg, of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Studies was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying 'I am almost certain that space and time are illusions'. Edward Witten (one of the most respected researchers in modern physics, and the man who first advanced M-Theory) has said that 'time and space may be doomed'. Viewpoints such as these hint that the way of looking at the dimensions we are exploring in this book may not be a outlandish as some might think."

What about the fashionable groundswell that has arisen lately saying that string theory is unprovable conjecture, and "not even wrong"? Where does that leave my way of imagining reality? Since the concept I am proposing was only distantly related to mainstream string theory in the first place (as a few string theorists have pointed out online), the question is not really relevant. I have proposed a way of imagining higher dimensions, based upon the unusual assumption that "time" is really just the way you move within a particular dimension from one state to another: for us, we experience time as the fourth dimension, but for a two-dimensional Flatlander, "time" would be the third dimension, and so on. Time exists in no dimension in particular, then, it is just a way of moving within whatever dimension you are currently examining, from one state to another.

One of the conclusions I reach in the book is that our reality is based upon a series of points that are no less than the planck length apart from each other, drawing the line that we experience as time. The simultaneous wave/particle nature of subatomic particles, then, would be a result of this process: waves of probability are observed in the assembly of slices that we are moving through, each "slice" representing a three-dimensional state of our universe, and each slice being a point on the fourth-dimensional line we are drawing from the available fifth-dimensional choices (and in quantum terms, each slice being an observed/collapsed state of those probability waves).

Last June, Scientific American released a wonderful special edition issue called "A Matter of Time". Lee Smolin's article in that issue, "Atoms of Space and Time" introduced me to "loop quantum gravity". I found this article very interesting because I could overlay it on my "way of imagining" quite easily. Loop quantum gravity is based upon the same supposition as mine: that our reality is defined by discrete packets of time and space, creating the illusion of continuous reality that we see around us (which in no way, of course, is intended to say that Lee Smolin would endorse my way of imagining the ten dimensions!).

Last week I started reading Mr. Smolin's book "The Trouble with Physics", which discusses some of the other theories of reality apart from string theory, and I would recommend this book highly as an excellent alternative to the books by Kaku, Greene, and Randall that I have recommended on my website.

Enjoy the journey,


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Seven Levels

(Edit: click here to go to a blog entry that shows a number of videos created for this song)

In my song Seven Levels, I talk about the significance of the number seven. Here are the lyrics to the song, which you can hear using the link in my list to the right, or there are several ways to hear it from the website as well.

SEVEN LEVELS - music and lyrics (c) 2006 by Rob Bryanton (SOCAN)

Paul announced it with a gleam in his eye
Timothy found it a-written on high
Sanskrit mystics, chakras too
Everybody says it so it must be true

There are seven levels, levels to the universe
Seven levels, from seven down to the first

First comes the point, a singularity
Impossibly small, as in geometry
No width or depth, a place to start
Imaginary construct, the very first part

Then comes the line of first dimensionality
The simple way from point A to B
The second is a branch, from one line to another
A splitting apart, it’s easy to discover

There are seven levels, levels to the universe
(move through 2 to travel to a 1)
Seven levels, from seven down to the first
(fold through 3 to jump to another 2)

Three is the curve, three’s our space
The world we live in, everything and every place
Now you find when you fold the lines
A to B is shorter, they can even collide!

And four is time, a line so narrow
Past to future, straight as an arrow
The simple way from one day to the next
A journey taking us from birth to death

There are seven levels, levels to the universe
(move through 4 to travel to a 3)
Seven levels, from seven down to the first
(fold through 5 to jump to another 4)

Five is a branch or a split in the line
Back to the future, a wrinkle in time
And this is how it’s always gone
We choose from five for the four we’re on

Cause there are seven levels, levels to the universe
(move through 5 to travel to a 4)
Seven levels, from seven down to the first
(fold through 6 to jump to another 5)

Six is the space we’d have to move through
To change reality: if we wanted to
Live in the world where JFK
Was never murdered, six’d be the way

And seven is all, a singularity
Simultaneous, every possibility
Every yes and every no
Eternity, infinity, impossible to know

There are seven levels, levels to the universe
(seven is infinity a formless bore)
Seven levels, from seven down to the first
(things get interesting here in four)
There are seven levels, levels to the universe
(seven is infinity a formless bore)
Seven levels, from seven down to the first
(things get interesting here in four)

This song starts by mentioning the many mystical connections to the number seven: as the first verse alludes to, Paul McCartney tells us in his biography that the very first time he smoked marijuana, he announced his insight that "there are seven levels". The song "And Your Bird Can Sing" from the Beatles album Revolver includes a reference by John Lennon to "seven wonders", which is also thought to be a reference back to Paul's drug-inspired insight. What caused Paul to pick the number seven?

Likewise, sixties LSD Guru Timothy Leary had a strong affinity for the number seven, declaring that there are seven levels of consciousness (in his book "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out" and his essay "The Seven Tongues of God"), and it is probably not coincidence that seven grams of his ashes were launched into space in 1997. Still, it should be clear that this fascination we human beings have with the number seven is not all just about drug-inspired psychedelic visions.

Any number, of course, has its own unique set of intellectual/emotional resonances, particularly the lower primes. However, a google search for words such as "seven mysticism" shows the cornucopia of connections that man has found for this interesting number through the ages. Perhaps it's just coincidence that there are seven chakras of energy in Hinduism and New Age thinking. But I find the connections very interesting when you look at the sanskrit yoga system: the desired yogi state is that the practitioner become absolute master of his six 'principles,' as he merges to one-ness in the seventh.

In the "way of imagining" that we explore in this song and my book, we are saying that there are ten dimensions, but that our particular universe is really contained within six full dimensions, and a seventh where the universe is a single point: it "merges into one-ness in the seventh", so to speak.

Some questions get asked a lot in the tenth dimension forum, and this is one of them: based upon what we've explored here, why does this "way of imagining" need any more than seven (or perhaps even just six) dimensions? Why ten? We'll discuss these questions in upcoming blogs.

Enjoy the journey,


A direct link to this video is at:

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

YouTube and Conceptual Framing

You can listen to this file right now using this embedded player. This mp3 is available for download from under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike license - click here to download the file

We have now posted the 11 minute video for Imagining the Tenth Dimension up on YouTube: it's in two parts. Part 2's very first comment was a phrase similar to ones that I've read a lot about Imagining the Tenth Dimension in the last six months: "my mind is officially blown" (thanks for the comment, WeeklyTubeShow). By the way, the video also continues to be available in its continuously running 11 minute version, for viewing, embedding or download at

One of the things that has made this animation so popular, I believe, is that it deals with a wide-ranging amount of conceptual information in the way that the mind is best able to deal with it: one layer (or frame) at a time. Up until a year or two ago there was a wonderful show in the Rose Center’s Hayden Planetarium at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, called “Passport to the Universe”. Narrated by Tom Hanks, it was a highly effective visual journey which took the viewer through one order of magnitude leap after another, from the earth to the solar system, to our galaxy, to our local group and then our local supercluster of galaxies, and on out to the hundred billion galaxies and seventy sextillion stars (that’s 7 followed by 22 zeroes!) currently believed to make up our observable universe.

The resulting journey was mind blowing, and intellectually stimulating. By connecting from one layer to another, we were able to track through an idea that is potentially completely overwhelming, simply by presenting the information in a way that allowed us a chance to digest it. This is absolutely necessary, because our monkey minds would find it impossible to simultaneously imagine the size of an atom, along with the size of the earth, along with the size of the local supercluster, and so on: we simply aren't wired that way.

With the amount of information the internet places before us, the result is similarly overwhelming. Tagclouds and other conceptual framing tools show promise, but the need for a graphic interface that allows us to mine complex data in a way that lets us appreciate the big picture but still drill into the fine detail is something for which I can hardly wait.

Have you seen this video?

This is Jeff Han at the TED conference, demonstrating a dramatic visualization tool that shows how we will deal with graphics and data mining in the future. As you watch this, forget for a moment that this screen of the future runs the risk of becoming a greasy haze as we paw away at the screen: that is a minor detail, and if you can achieve this by touching the screen, then a tool that allows you to grab the air in the front of the screen is just one step beyond. The important thing, I believe, is that this gives us back what our motor-sensory systems have been yearning for - the ability to reach out and grab something. Watching Jeff "pinch" a place on the screen to draw that part closer, or placing two fingers on the screen to define the pivot point as he examines a 3D map, makes me want to throw my mouse in the garbage right now.

A "Google Universe" tool, then, that allowed you to quickly zoom in and out through the journey from atom to solar system to the known universe and back again would be a profound educational tool. Likewise, a flickr interface that allowed you to quickly zoom in on a tag, narrowing your choices from cateogory to subcategory, and down to the picture you are looking for cries out for an interface where you are using natural physical gestures to pinch and pull at the data you are traversing.

And finally, back to the tenth dimension. A physical interface that allowed you to take the tenth dimension journey using an interface like the one Jeff Han is demonstrating would be equally illuminating: defining your most basic laws as you descend from the ninth through the seventh dimension, picking the point in the seventh dimension that represents our universe and all of its timelines, then zooming in to explore the sixth dimension and all the timelines that could have occurred up to now that didn't, stepping down to all of the fifth dimensional choices currently available but not taken, and down to the time and space that we see as our universe would be a thrilling journey. Then, zooming back out to the seventh dimension and above, and re-entering at some other point to explore the expressions of time and space that that unique "other-different-initial-conditions" universe could hold, with expressions from the sixth dimension and down to the first that are just as real but completely inaccessible to our own, I believe we would have a tool that allows people to imagine how something as daunting as a "multiverse of universes" could actually exist.

Enjoy the journey,


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Everything Fits Together

What is it that causes ideas to travel across time and space? Is "simultaneous inspiration" just coincidence, or are there mechanisms like the Richard Dawkins system of "memes" that are connecting us all together? If physics allows us to imagine a multiverse of different possible expressions of matter, could there also be a multiverse of memes that we are navigating through as well?

When I first started formulating my ideas for Imagining the Tenth Dimension, I was a lad of seven. It was the end of June, and I was running across a field to tell a nearby neighbor about my report card. At some point, my foot slipped, probably into a gopher hole. I don’t remember now if I actually stumbled and fell, but I have a strong memory of what I felt as I was wrenched down without warning–that at the moment the universe somehow shifted. Over the next few years, as I tried to puzzle out what had happened to me at that moment and why it felt so significant, I gradually began to imagine a “splitting off” that might have happened at that point–that there could be other worlds that now exist where I took a much nastier fall, perhaps ended up in a wheelchair, possibly even died. The idea that I had ended up on one of the more fortuitous paths at that moment out of the many that could have occurred (and, as I later came to believe, actually did occur) became the seed from which my current viewpoint grew.

When my tenthdimension website was launched on June 28 2006, it only took a few days for the internet to find it. On July 4th, the site saw almost 23,000 unique visitors, who were responsible for 452,000 hits, so it was clear that not only were a lot of people visiting, but they were spending a lot of time on the site once they got there. In effect, a new meme, a new mind virus, had been activated, and the strong traffic the site continues to see indicates that people are continuing to enjoy my unique approach to imagining the dimensions.

"Web 2.0" is allowing more and more people to find information and entertainment that appeals to them. Mapping memes across time and space, once the domain of imagination alone, is becoming a reality, as our modern world is allowing more and more people to quickly share new ideas. I am a huge fan of , which I believe is an important starting point for finding even more ways for us to effectively sift and mine the glut of data each of us has the potential to be overwhelmed by, unless tools like this one become prevalent. That "branching off" I was speaking of, then, is something that Web 2.0 is becoming increasingly good at tracking, as it becomes easy for us all to map the group minds of the internet, and to see the important moments when new memes took hold, and where public opinion suddenly shifted.

My song "Everything Fits Together" makes a good introduction to the ideas I am wanting to explore here: there are patterns in our physical universe, and in our mental and spiritual lives as well, that are there if only we can find a way to see them. Even though a multiverse expressing all possible expressions of matter and memes may seem like an extraordinarily extravagant frame for us to hang our reality upon, I believe that is where we are headed.

Enjoy the journey,


A direct link to this video can be found at

Friday, January 12, 2007

Welcome to Rob's Tenth Dimension Blog

This week, saw its one millionth unique visitor. What has drawn people to this site? Clearly, the 11 minute animation showing people how to imagine ten dimensions has been the biggest draw... here is a site that with virtually no promotion, has found a worldwide audience. The book that is associated with the website is selling well, first from this site only, and now from and

Book sales are gratifying, but this is not the reason I created this website:

I am interested in the discussion of ideas about the nature of reality. The Forum on this website has been a popular place for people to discuss the huge cloud of ideas that surround that central thought, and I see that a lot of new visitors to the site are just spending their time reading old posts, not bothering to even log in... which is fine, there is a huge amount of discussion that has already taken place and it is good that the ideas that have been posted by this site's forum community can continue to be enjoyed.

Now that I have posted the first six of my twenty-six songs about the nature of reality on the site, I am hoping that visitors will be able to use these songs as another way in to understanding my unique way of imagining the ten dimensions. Please stay tuned, as we are now working on ways for more people to participate in this creative process.

Thank you to the many students, profs, and deep thinkers who have written to me about my "way of imagining", and for those who are new to this site, let me end my first blog entry with a version of my standard disclaimer. Other versions of this disclaimer can be found in the front of the book, the Preamble link from this website, and beside my picture at the top of the tenth dimension forum:

Although I am 100 per cent committed to the ideas I have created for this project, and the way that it uses current mainstream thinking about the nature of our reality as its jumping off point, I feel it is important to note that the "framework for discussion" that I advance on this website and in the book "Imagining the Tenth Dimension" is not what you would currently be taught in a university physics class. Anyone wanting to know more about the currently established thinking behind physics and cosmology should refer to such excellent books as "Programming the Universe" by Seth Lloyd, "Parallel Worlds" by Michio Kaku, "The Fabric of the Cosmos" by Brian Greene, or "Warped Passages" by Lisa Randall. Other books that strongly connect to the ideas around this project are "I Am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter, "This is Your Brain on Music" by Daniel J. Levitin, "Linked" by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, "Quantum Enigma" by Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner, and "Everything Forever" by Gevin Giorbran.

I invite you to think of this as a creative exploration that for some people will have a strong and thought-provoking connection to their impression of how the world, the universe, and our conscious perception of reality really works. If you go to, you will have an opportunity to discuss and debate the cloud of concepts that surround this project. A list of frequently asked questions about this project can be found at . The FAQ is part of my blog ( ) where you will find new ideas being posted regularly. Plus, we have an interactive chat room featuring video blog entries streaming 24 hours a day which can be viewed at , or if you want to participate in the live discussions go to . There is much to see and do here, please explore and enjoy. And thank you to the millions of fans of this project from around the world!

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Tenth Dimension Vlog playlist