Click here for the archive of polls 1 to 10.
Click here for the archive of polls 11 to 15.
Click here for the archive of polls 16 to 20.
Click here for the archive of polls 21 to 25.
Click here for the archive of polls 26 to 30.
As I've remarked before, the number 26 has had a special significance in string theory and cosmology in the past, and for that reason I've been using it in various lists. Since we're now at that number with the polls we've talked about, we're going to pause and look back at all of the first 26 poll questions that have appeared here at the Imagining the Tenth Dimension blog. Thanks everyone for your participation!
Poll #1: What is "Imagining the Tenth Dimension" about?
(poll ended Oct 25 2007)
A useful starting point. About half of our visitors voted for the answer I'm aiming for ("All of the Above"), while a third said this project is about Physics and Cosmology, and a fifth said it's about Philosophy and Spirituality. There weren't a huge number of participants in this first poll so a single additional vote would still have caused these relative percentages to jump around somewhat, but nonetheless this helped to make the point I was hoping for: people come to this project with their own sets of interests, some have more specific areas they respond to, some are generalists. All are welcome, but of course this means not everyone will come away from this with the same impression of what it is I'm trying to do here.
Poll #2: Was Kaluza right? Is our physical reality really being defined at the fifth rather than the fourth dimension?
(poll ended Nov. 9 2007)
I was somewhat surprised to see that three quarters said "Yes, we're in the fifth", while one quarter said "No, we're in the fourth". Kaluza's groundbreaking proposal, submitted to Einstein in 1919, suggested that the field equations for gravity and light could be united if they were calculated in the fifth dimension. Einstein eventually gave the idea his full endorsement, and after some additional input a few years later by Oscar Klein, the resulting Kaluza-Klein Theory is well known. While that may be the case, the general public hears very little about the fifth dimension, which is why I was surprised to see such a strong showing for the fifth dimension in this poll. It would appear that since I've been banging the "our reality comes from the fifth dimension" drum for almost two years now, that meme may be more familiar to regular visitors to this blog than it is to the general public!
Poll #3: Will Dark Energy and/or Dark Matter eventually prove the existence of higher dimensions?
(poll ended Nov 29 2007)
The contentious issue of whether we really need extra dimensions above the four of spacetime to describe everything about our reality is an ongoing debate. Experts believe that 96% of the universe is invisible and undetectable dark energy and dark matter! This is the great scientific mystery of our time. While there are hopes that the Large Hadron Collider will reveal more about the underlying structures that might be responsible for some (or all) of the "missing" parts of our reality, I remain convinced that higher dimensions are going to factor into the solution to this very large conundrum for modern physics and cosmology. Eventually we are going to have definitive proof that the extra dimensions are real, and not just a mathematical construct in the minds of theorists.
Poll #4 - In a multiverse filled with every possible timeline, there must be branches we're not on where some of the "End of the World" doomsayers throughout history were right. For our timeline, will 2012 be the real deal or just another Y2K-like fizzle?
(poll ended Dec. 13 2007)
A dead heat, split right down the middle on this one! 50% said "real deal" and 50% said "fizzle". I did get some flack on this poll for the way I worded the question: proponents of the Mayan calendar's accelerated consciousness approaching 2012, or fans of Kurzweil's predicted Singularity, object to being lumped in with doom and gloom end of the world predictions like Y2K, and I accept that. Persons familiar with my writing will know that I have used this example before, and that my song "The End of the World" also mentions positive predictions like "attaining our star bodies". The point here is not whether the prediction of an upcoming break or a Shift for our planet is good or bad, but rather that the multiverse scenario doesn't allow us to look at predictions that have failed in our own past and use that as the argument for why the latest prediction will never come true. I return to this idea several times in my book, here's what I say in chapter 6:
But eventually the deadline for all good predictions of the end has to arrive, and like the celebrated Y2K scenario, its promoters are then left looking a little foolish. In the anthropic viewpoint, we can imagine how those people also exist on different timelines where their predictions did come true. The reason we’re here on our current timeline to question what went wrong with their predictions is because on the timeline where they were right, we would no longer be here. Perhaps there were also people in Atlantis, or Mu/Lemuria, or in the ancient sunken ruins off of Cuba or south of Okinawa, who issued dire warnings of impending disaster, and who got to say one last “I told you so” before the end of their civilizations really did come to pass?
Poll #5: In the Many Worlds Interpretation, as proven by Deutsch's team at Oxford, probabilistic branches exist at both the quantum and macro levels. Do you believe that each choice you make creates parallel universes - the one you're in and the others you're not?
(poll ended Jan 2 2008)
Yikes, quite the wordy poll question! 91% said "yes", the rest said "no". Did I intimidate people into answering with the response I was hoping for, by putting so much of the argument for why I personally would say "yes" into the question? Okay, perhaps I had some influence there... but the idea that there is a parallel universe where I walked out my front door this morning and turned left rather than right seems like such an outlandish claim when you put it in those really simple terms that I confess to wanting to make sure visitors realized we were talking about something which some major physicists do actually support! And while my additional layer I have added to this discussion - that the "bush-like branching structure" of those branches of chance and choice exist in the fifth rather than the fourth dimension - really isn't a requirement for believing Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation, I believe that it's just a matter of time before mainstream science begins to see the light on this one. Our reality comes from the fifth dimension, Kaluza proved it, and those parallel universes resulting from choice, chance, and circumstance become much easier to visualize when we fit them into the picture I've created.
Poll #6 - 2008 is the tenth anniversary of google, our world's premium meme-tracker. How would you say google has changed the way you interact with the information that is our reality?
(poll ended Jan 17 08)
Admittedly this will seem like an odd way to phrase the question if you are not familiar with my favorite quantum mechanics phrase "information equals reality", which I believe is very useful in helping us to understand the underlying fabric of reality, where everything that could happen has already happened - this is the set-of-all-possible-states that Gevin Giorbran described so well in "Everything Forever". From the first three dimensions we build space, from the second set of three we build a spacetime tree of all possible timelines, and in the third set of three we reach the increasingly abstract set-of-all-possible-states where the "information" side of the information equals reality equation becomes dominant.
What does that have to do with google? Because google has, more than any other tool, found ways to quickly organize and catalog information for us, and if information equals reality then the implications of where google could end up really are staggering.
Not too surprisingly, 95% said Google has made their interaction with information "better, more immersive", while the rest said it is "worse, more superficial". Also not surprisingly, no persons voting clicked on "no change from 10 years ago". Google has definitely changed a lot about the world we live in!
Poll #7: From this current "now", there are probabilistic outcomes. In a previous poll 91% said choice creates parallel universes. Do you believe it's possible to predict the future?
(poll ended Feb 1 08)
The answers provided were:
- Yes, because its potential already exists (50% voted for this)
- Only sometimes, and never very far (26% votes for this)
- Never, and if it seems we can it's coincidence (23% votes for this).
For me, this was an interesting question, because everyone has to have some ability to predict the future or they couldn't survive - if I step in front of that speeding bus, it will run me over and I will die. That's the kind of prediction that all of us make every day without even thinking about it, and in some ways that's the process we all have to go through as young children: we learn that hot things burn, that some animals are dangerous, that jumping off of high things can cause bones to break and so on. Most kids, through parental guidance and their own trial and error, develop their predictive capabilities well enough that they make it to adulthood, but darkly amusing projects like the Darwin Awards show us that not all adults appear to have developed their ability to predict the future well enough to avoid doing fatally dangerous things.
This poll questions asks us to consider the possibility that this process of prediction can be integrated into the parallel universes mindset of Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation. And saying that there are probabilistic branches from this moment forward (and backward!) also acknowledges that all of us are probably very lucky to be here, because all of us have near-miss moments in our past where, through bad luck, bad choices, or the actions of others, the more probable outcome was that we didn't survive! That's what my songs "Thankful" and the "The Anthropic Viewpoint" touch on as well: we are all very lucky to live in the universe that we live in.
Poll #8 - Have you ever had an experience where you thought you might have glimpsed a different dimension (through meditation, hallucinogens, dance, intuition, etc)?
(poll ended Feb 18 08)
80% said yes, the rest said no. My song "From the Corner of My Eye" is about this very idea. This is one of the central ideas to this project - if we really are experiencing one timeline out of many, observing a quantum wavefunction which exists at both the quantum and macro level (and Everett preferred to say that we are "observing" rather than "collapsing" the wavefunction because the other possible states continue to exist as potential), then might there be subtle visual or sensory hints that tell us our brain/consciousness is participating in that process? Admittedly, this is one of the more metaphysical concepts, but I was pleased to see how many visitors to this blog were willing to consider this as a possibility. This would also tie to the previous poll question - is it possible to sense the future, and could that be because the possible future outcomes available from our current "now" already exist as potential probabilistic branches?
Poll #9 - Philosophers have said it for millennia, now there are physicists saying it too. But what about you? Do you believe "time is an illusion"?
(poll ended Mar 4 08)
87.8% answered yes, while the remainder said no.
So. We've been imagining a set-of-all-possible-states, a multi-dimensional configuration space which simultaneously encompasses every possible expression of matter, energy, and information. Inside that omniverse of all possible universes, our own particular spacetime is only the smallest of slivers, and this very instant that you read the word "now" is an infinitesimally tinier sliver carved out from that.
One "now" after another, one planck unit after another, we experience time as a probabilistic set of outcomes, but viewing this all from the big picture of timelessness and the underlying fabric of quantum indeterminacy, we can see that what we think of as "time" is really only a very limited viewpoint of where our reality comes from. Does that sound more like philosophy than science? To some it does, but there are a great many scientists in the world today who truly believe this phrase: "time is an illusion". The way of visualizing reality that we're exploring here presents another version of the same idea: time is the way you change from one state to another, and that's true no matter what dimension you're examining. No matter what dimension you're in, how do you get from one state to another? By moving through the next dimension up. That's why we three-dimensional creatures tend to believe time is in the fourth dimension. If we lived in the seventh dimension, we would move from one constrained set to another by moving through the eighth dimension, and therefore tell ourselves that time is the eighth dimension.
So: saying "time is an illusion" is not intended to say that change doesn't happen, or that there aren't useful assumptions that can be drawn from our observations of timelike processes. Rather, "time is an illusion" is our way of acknowledging that there is much more about the underlying nature of reality than just a simple, inexorable and inevitable (!) movement from moment to moment.
Poll #10 - Do you believe that our three-dimensional reality can be thought of as "shadows" of higher dimensional patterns, whatever those patterns end up being proven to be?
(poll ended Mar 19 08)
86% said yes, while the rest said no.
In poll #3, we asked if dark energy and dark matter will eventually be shown to prove the existence of higher dimensions. What we're really talking about here, though, is not just dark energy and dark matter, but absolutely all aspects of our reality being defined as logical subsets from higher dimensional potentials. Poll question 10 was created as a companion to several blogs I created earlier this month: Hypercubes and Plato's Cave, Hypercubes and Plato's Cave (expanded version) and Shadows of Higher Dimensions. This idea also relates to some previous blog entries, like "How to Make a Universe" and "You Can't Get There from Here": it's all about trying to visualize how our particular unique universe is chosen from the set of all possible universes: the reality we see right now is a "shadow" of the higher dimensional shapes and patterns that contribute to its selection from the set-of-all-possible-states, which I refer to as the tenth dimension in its unobserved state, and which can also be thought of as the underlying fabric of quantum indeterminacy.
Does that mean that not just the perceived universe, but every element within it, every expression of mass and energy can be described this way? Absolutely! As I like to say, I am a three-dimensional shadow of shapes and patterns within the higher dimensions... and so are you.
You can also work through these poll archives one poll at a time, start by clicking here, and each entry ends with a link to the next. Again, thanks to all who participated in these polls and I look forward to more of your opinions in the months to come.
Poll #11 - "Traditionally, each of us has one indivisible soul. While each person's individual experience is indeed unique, it's much more accurate to think of a 'soul' as being created by an interlocking system of patterns, shared across time and space. "(poll ended April 3 08)
76% said "I agree", while the remainder disagreed.
I've talked in this blog a number of times about Douglas Hofstadter's "I Am A Strange Loop", which was published well after my own book came out. In my book I refer to Hofstadter's previous masterwork "Godel, Escher, Bach", as well as Marvin Minsky's "Society of Mind". These ideas relate in similar ways to my current references to Hofstadter's "Strange Loop" concept: there are very good arguments for us to stop thinking of each of us as being a self-contained "soul". The above poll question is my attempt to sum up the viewpoint of experts like Hofstadter and Minsky... a viewpoint that aligns very nicely, in my opinion, with the way of visualizing reality that we're playing with in this project.
"I think there is so much more in existence besides matter, energy, and time" - Nobel Prize-winning chemist Kary Mullis
"...information is never destroyed. More and more information is constantly being created, and it's not lost, and energy and matter are incontrovertible. So somehow there must be some survival, because one being represents a huge amount of information. So I can imagine that there is survival, but I'm not sure exactly what form it takes." - neuroscientist Candace B. Pert (famed discover of the brain's opiate receptors)
Are you the same person you were twenty years ago, or are there things about your beliefs and viewpoint that have changed? Do you ever marvel at how one person can change the mood of an entire room just by entering? Have you ever had an experience that made you suspect a loved one who had passed on might be trying to get a message to you? Each of these, to varying degrees, are examples of personal experiences many people in the general public have had. Finding that there are ways that we can visualize how our reality is constructed that allow for these hidden connections to occur is what we're trying to do with this project. And despite the dismissive attitudes of some in the scientific mainstream, experts like biologist Rupert Sheldrake (who I refer to briefly in my book), Nobel Prize-winning chemist Kary Mullis (quoted above), and well-known neuroscientist Candace Pert (also quoted above) tell us there are numerous scientific studies that prove we are connected together across time and space in ways that might be surprising to acknowledge.
For more about this idea:
Song 25 of 26 - What I Feel For You
Song 6 of 26 - Connections
Your Sixth-Dimensional Self
Song 14 of 26 - I Remember Flying
Song 4 of 26 - The Unseen Eye
FAQ 11 - Is this about memes, creativity, connections?
FAQ 12 - Is this about consciousness and quantum observer?
Poll question 12 - ended April 18 08. "Our universe is not random, our universe is probabilistic, which means that only certain outcomes are available at a certain moment, and those possible outcomes are based upon patterns that exist within the underlying structures of timelessness."
75% agreed, while the rest disagreed, with this statement.
In "The Fifth Dimension Isn't Magic", we talked about the standard example put forth by theoretical physicists such as Greene and Kaku that there is a small probability that any one of us could now pop out of existence here on earth and reappear on the moon. While the likelihood, these experts tell us, of such an event is so small that it would probably take longer than the life of the universe for this event to come to pass, that must also mean that it could happen right now - like any other lottery, it's just a question of playing the odds.
In the blog entry I'm referring to, I talked about the fifth dimension as "probability space", and the sixth dimension as "state space", and how those ideas relate to the possibility of one of us now appearing on the moon. This poll question was about the same idea: is the universe completely random, allowing one of us to now re-appear on the moon, or is that possibility more properly catalogued to be within the sixth dimension's state space?
There have been articles published in magazines like New Scientist lately indicating that quantum outcomes may not be random at all, and that our reality could actually be the result of "hidden variables" or underlying patterns in the quantum fabric: these are ideas that are central to my way of visualizing reality as well. For some related discussions, go to Rupert Sheldrake's www.sheldrake.org, and read about the fascinating controlled experiments by this best-selling author and biologist on telepathy, prescience, and the collective unconscious (it is at this point that some people will now stop reading this blog entry because a lifetime of training has conditioned them to reject such claims on the foregone conclusion that no scientific evidence for such things exists, but that's a whole other story).
If there are probabilistic outcomes that already exist within the fifth dimension, and we are each merely navigating towards a particular tiny subset of those possible outcomes, then all of the above becomes quite easy to imagine. There is a particular future for each of us one second from now which is more likely than all others to occur, but there are other futures contained within our fifth-dimensional probability space which any one of us could actually end up witnessing. Understanding that this probabilistic process is an effect at both the quantum and macro levels, and that what outcome each of us ends up witnessing must also be intimately tied to the trajectory each of us is on, was one of the ideas explored in my book, and in the recent blog entry "Crossing Your Arms to Change Your Trajectory".
Other blog entries that relate to these ideas:
Time in Either Direction
The Flipbook Universe
Time is a Direction
Hypercubes and Plato's Cave
Local Realism Bites the Dust
Poll #13: "0,1,2,3... keep counting, you're heading towards infinity. Take a number, divide it in half, divide the result in half, keep dividing... you're heading towards infinity Are each of those infinities the same, or is there more than one version of infinity?"
(Poll ended May 3 2008)
In the end, 53% said there is more than one version of infinity, and the remainder said all infinities are the same. This poll was nip and tuck right to the end, with each answer taking the lead over the other throughout the time the poll was running.
There has been a spirited discussion about questions related to single/multiple infinities at the tenth dimension forum: "Infinity, Eternity, Endlessness and Number System" has generated over 130 comments there so far. I believe part of the controversy here is merely language-related: when someone says "infinity", what exactly do they mean? Are they talking about a number, or a path to a number, or something else entirely?
Interestingly, doing a google search for the phrase "there can be only one infinity" (in quotes) returns mostly theological and philosophical sites. On the other hand, doing a google search for the phrase "multiple infinities" (in quotes) returns mostly math and physics sites.
Plus.maths.org and WorseleySchool.net say there's more than one infinity. PhysicsForums.com says there's different degrees of infinity. Maria Henderson's TCMTechnology blog (a teacher's blog about teaching college math) says there are countable and uncountable infinities, and this blog entry includes a great set of parody lyrics for the song "Hotel California" which explains some of the seemingly paradoxical ideas behind there being multiple infinities.
Robert Kaplan's "The Art of the Infinite: the Pleasures of Mathematics" says there can be infinite infinities. Rudy Rucker's Infinity and the Mind: the Science and Philosophy of the Infinite" is described by Martin Gardner as "a dizzying glimpse into that boundless region of blinding light where the mysteries of transcendence shatter the clarity of logic, set theory, proof theory, and contemporary physics". Click here for a site that talks about Cantor and his proposals that some infinities can be subsets of other infinities, while clicking on the following words takes you to a review of of the book "A Brief History of Infinity", which also mentions Cantor again and his idea that there are multiple infinities, and some infinities are larger than others. This blog says there can be small infinities and big infinities. And finally here is a mathematical dissertation that says there are many roads to infinity.
Infinity is not a number, it's a concept, and even though one infinite set can be a subset of another infinite set, ultimately all infinite sets are the same because they are all of indeterminate size... (just like the point we start from in the tenth dimension animation!). That's why I think "there are many roads to infinity" is a great phrase, as it shows us how different infinities can appear to be of different sizes as we travel towards them, and this is why saying that there are multiple infinities in the tenth dimension animation has strong roots in mainstream theory. In the animation, I say:
"but how can there be anything more than infinity? The answer is, there can be other completely different infinities created through initial conditions which are different from our own big bang."So, those different infinities we're talking about all come from the same background of unobserved quantum indeterminacy, which is the place where all infinities are the same.
There are many roads to infinity.
Poll Question 14: "Every direction has its opposite: up/down, east/west. For us, 'time' is a direction in the 4th spatial dimension: but even though the opposite direction exists our bodies never travel that way because they're made from thermodynamic chemical processes. (poll ended May 18 2008)
78% agreed, while the rest disagreed.
Like Kaluza's 1919 proof that our physical reality is defined at the fifth dimension, the concept of time-reversal symmetry is well-known in the scientific community but not something generally known to the public. The laws of physics make just as much sense if time travels in the opposite direction, so why don't we ever see "time's arrow" traveling from the target back to the archer's bow?
I suggest that our experience of time traveling only in one direction is tied to our role as conscious observers living in bodies made out of thermodynamic processes, and 78% of the visitors to this site were willing to agree with that statement (this also means, presumably, that they were willing to accept that "time" is a direction in the fourth spatial dimension, which is already a somewhat contentious viewpoint according to those who believe time should always be discussed separately from the other spatial dimensions). In my book, as a mental exercise I work through some scenarios of what might have happened if other forms of life were defined by the time-reversal symmetry versions of reality that science tells us are just as real as our own. What would it be like to meet a "reverse-time alien" who was riding time's arrow in the reverse direction, because that alien was constructed from time-reversal symmetry chemical processes?
Like many of the ideas I explore in this project, "time as a part of the observer effect" relates to concepts from quantum physicist John Wheeler, and from Digital Physics. This also relates to one of our most basic questions: what is life? According to this recent blog entry by Hazel Muir over at the New Scientist Blogs, there are 280 accepted definitions of life in the scientific literature. The question of "what is life" takes on greater significance as we discover more about our own solar system, and about the other planetary systems of our universe: any attempts to search for "life" should not assume that all life uses the same chemical processes or matter/energy distributions as life on Earth.
My simple definition of life is "any process that is interested in what happens next". By the time we are are thinking of an omniverse of possible expressions of matter, energy, and other patterns of information, we can think of a great many other ways that life might be able to express itself that have nothing to do with genes, and that might even be able to transcend the narrow boundaries of a three-dimensional space being observed one planck length after another to create the arrow of time.
Other entries that relate to these discussions:
Infinity and the Boltzmann Brains
Time is a Direction
How to Make a Universe
Hypercubes and Plato's Cave
You Can't Get There from Here
Poll Question 15: "We start with a point. We make another point. We join those points with a line. The line that passes through those points extends to infinity in either direction. Can we call those two directions positive infinity and negative infinity then?" (poll ended June 1 '08)
54% disagreed, while the rest agreed.
Poll Question 13 was another question that dealt with infinity, and that one came out pretty close to a tie. Even though the responses to this current question leaned very slightly more towards "no" throughout the polling period, it still didn't have a clear winner - which, I think (as with Poll 13) reflects the fact that there are a lot of different opinions out there as to what the word "infinity" really means.
With this current poll question, we find another way to wrestle with the mainstream science concept of there being "many roads to infinity", which I discussed in more depth in my discussion of Poll 13. These ideas also tie nicely into Gevin Giorbran's ideas of enfolded symmetry, which I've talked about so many times in this blog and at the tenth dimension forum, and in blog entries like John Wheeler and Digital Physics, Hidden Variables and the Seventh Dimension and Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Dark Information.
If we start with a geometric point of indeterminate size, and infinity is of indeterminate size, then can a point on a line encompass infinity? Usually, when people hear that a geometric point is of indeterminate size, they imagine this to mean that the point is infinitely small: which would make it yet another "road to infinity". With imagining the tenth dimension, we are wrapping all of those concepts together: this means that the point that we start from (at zero) and the point that we end up on (at ten) can, potentially, both be the same thing. Or, in the same way that the infinite set of all even numbers can be a subset of the infinite set of all whole numbers, the zero we start from can be a subset of the omniverse of all possible states of matter, energy, and information that we end up within. Images of Mobius strips, Klein bottles, and doughnut-shaped torus universes all have this same "wrapping back around on themselves" quality that we get to by the time we've imagined the zero and the ten being part of a Douglas-Hofstadter-style self-referential loop that creates consciousness and the world that each of us witnesses each day.
Poll #16 - Zero plus zero equals zero. What does infinity plus infinity equal?
(poll ended June 16 08)
5% said "zero", 70% said "infinity", 15% said "two infinities", and 8% said "none of the above".
This poll is a continuation of similar questions asked in the preceding couple of polls, where you will find some useful discussion about the "many roads to infinity" concept that can make questions like the one in this current poll seem contradictory. The first answer, "zero", for instance, would make sense in the following context: if I start with a line, and place a point on the line, all of the values heading in one direction on that line would be heading towards infinity. Meanwhile, all of those values in the opposite direction would also be heading towards infinity. Is there such a thing as "positive infinity" and "negative infinity" when we look at things in this way? If there were, then adding those two values (or concepts) together should cancel each other out and leave us with zero as the answer. My preference with this project is to say that because infinity is not a number, the infinity that you head towards in either direction on any particular line in any particular direction is ultimately heading towards the same thing: infinity. But keeping in mind the idea of a perfectly balanced equilibrium state which in this project is the tenth dimension in its unobserved state, an idea which also ties to the work of Dr. Sean Carroll which we've been talking about in this blog, does give us a way to think of how a point of indeterminate size, a perfectly balanced equilibrium, and "zero" all are interconnected ideas.
Other blog entries discussing infinity, timelessness, and Dr. Sean Carroll:
Unlikely Events and Timelessness
The Spacetime Tree
The Annotated Tenth Dimension Video
What Would a Flatlander Really See?
Time in Either Direction
Poll #17 - Max Planck said: "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
(Poll ended June 30 08)
70 % agreed while the rest disagreed.
Another more succinct version of this quote is "science progresses by funerals".
As a person with an unusual approach to thinking about how our reality is derived, which some people embrace and some people reject as bunk, I of course take some comfort from Max Planck's idea presented in this quote. Will my dimensional hierarchy's connections to mainstream science ever be embraced by the mainstream or will this remain nothing more than an intellectual curiosity? Only time will tell. History is full of naysayers and established experts who ridiculed new ideas: there are many famous quotes that have been gathered in various places around the net. Michio Kaku, in his new book Physics of the Impossible, starts each chapter with quotes from famous historical figures and their comments on new ideas. This one, from a respected physicist just over a century ago, is typical of the kind of thinking that Max Planck is referring to:
"Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax." - Physicist Lord Kelvin, 1899
Poll #18 - Max Planck said: “Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”
Poll ended July 14 2008
70% agreed while the remainder disagreed.
This relates to so many ideas we have looked at with this project, but most notably Godel's incompleteness theorum, which says it is impossible for us to get "outside the system" we are part of and describe the system in its entirety. The equilibrium state of the underlying quantum fields in their unobserved state is equivalent to how I am describing the tenth dimension - and, as I have always said, attempting to observe any part of the tenth dimension immediately collapses you into some part of the other dimensions. Tying this concept to string theory ("if no strings are vibrating in the tenth dimension, no reality is created in the dimensions below") is one of the interesting connections I see between my way of visualizing how our reality is constructed and mainstream scientific theory.
POLL 19 and 20
Poll # 19 - The LHC is going to be successful in proving the existence of extra dimensions.
Poll ended July 28 2008. 71% agreed while the rest disagreed.
Poll # 20 - The LHC will reveal the source of dark matter and/or dark energy.
Poll ended August 8 2008. 63% disagreed while the rest agreed.
Very interesting! While neither of the questions had a resounding victory, this blog's readership are leaning towards the LHC finding proof of extra dimensions, but more readers also believe the LHC will not find the source of dark matter and dark energy. What can we make of this?
These two poll questions relate to discussions in my blog from a couple of weeks ago: Dark Energy, Linelanders, and the LHC, as well as Randomness and the Missing 96 per cent. There are many articles out there about the Large Hadron Collider, which is scheduled to go online this month, and what it may or may not find. Will it reveal the Higgs Boson, called by some the "God Particle"? Will it reveal evidence of extra dimensions, or the source of dark energy? Naturally, I am rooting for the extra dimensions discovery, as the whole discussion of extra dimensions in an environment where some mainstream physicists are claiming their existnce is unprovable conjecture would be finally laid to rest. My biggest fear for the LHC is that it will only reveal another forest of tinier and tinier particles, leaving science with the task of coming up with an even larger and more powerful particle collider for further experiments in the decades to come.
The July 21st edition of New Scientist magazine had an interesting article related to all this, here are some quotes:
Awaiting a messenger from the multiverseby Stephen BattersbyAT THE most powerful particle accelerator in the world, the twin colliding beams of protons have been switched off for a few hours. All seems quiet, but both the giant machine and the foundations of physics are about to be shaken by a tiny time bomb. Hiding within a copper plate deep inside one of the accelerator's massive detectors is a peculiar interloper: a particle that is waiting to explode, and with its incandescent fragments write a message from beyond our universe.If this particle does appear at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland, it could change the nature of physics. Physicists might have to abandon their goal of explaining the fundamental basis of our reality and just accept that the properties of matter and energy in our universe arose at random. It could mean not only that we live on a small planet in an insignificant solar system in one of a trillion galaxies in the universe, but our own universe is just one insignificant slice of an unimaginably vast and diverse multiverse.
To many physicists, that is anathema; but not to Savas Dimopoulos of Stanford University in California or his colleague Nima Arkani-Hamed at Harvard University. In 2002, they first began to wonder what a multiverse might mean for particle physics.
This was at a time when the multiverse was being discussed, albeit reluctantly, as a solution to a cosmic problem. Astronomers had discovered a repulsive force pushing the galaxies apart, caused by an inherent energy present in space. Often called the cosmological constant, no one knows what is generating this force.
On the face of it, physics has a ready-made explanation. According to quantum theory, the vacuum, or the space between particles, is not totally empty. It is home to short-lived "virtual" particles that flicker in and out, created by the fundamental quantum fuzziness of the world. Although that might be a hard concept to swallow, it is an enormously successful idea. The calculations of quantum field theory show that these virtual particles cluster around the ordinary, solid, long-lived particles of matter, changing their properties in ways that accurately match many experimental observations.
It is relatively easy to devise a model of particle physics in which virtual particles with positive and negative energies cancel out exactly to zero, but why they should almost cancel each other out, leaving us with a tiny residual energy, is much harder to see.
One physicist had already predicted this, however. In the 1980s, Steven Weinberg at the University of Texas in Austin adopted a controversial line of argument called the anthropic principle, which roughly states that the universe has to possess properties that make it hospitable to life, otherwise we wouldn't be here to see it.
He started by pointing out that if our cosmological constant were only 100 times as big as observed, we would be in trouble. Its repulsive force would have stretched out the thin gas of the early universe, preventing it from ever collapsing into stars and planets. But if you have a lot of universes, each with a random value of the cosmological constant, there's going to be at least one with an energy density of roughly a few joules per cubic kilometre. That would enable the existence of planet-dwelling life forms who would then be in a position to observe this value of cosmological constant.
Such a range of universes might sound like wild speculation, but some respected cosmological models imply that there could indeed be many universes, perhaps even an infinite number. In the theory of eternal inflation, for example, our own universe is just one offshoot of an endlessly growing "tree" of universes.
Those of you familiar with my project will recognize many common themes in this article that relate to this ideas I have been promoting with Imagining the Tenth Dimension. Here are some related blog entries:
The Spacetime Tree
Unlikely Events and Timelessness
Infinity and the Boltzmann Brains
So: will the LHC find proof of extra dimensions, but not the source of dark matter and dark energy, as this blog's participants have predicted? The idea I have promoted with this project (in my book and in blog entries like Dark Energy, Linelanders, and the LHC) is that dark matter and dark energy come from the combined gravitational effects of the neighboring parallel universes in the fifth dimension (for dark matter), and the combined "pull" from other expressions of matter and energy in the sixth dimension and beyond (for dark energy). Will the LHC push us further towards such an understanding? Only time will tell.
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YymBvChrcTc
Poll 21 - "This project uses lines, branches, and folds as a way to visualize the relationship between dimensions. A "wormhole" can be thought of as a dimensional folding." Poll ended August 22, 2008.
The image below is from the wikipedia article on "wormholes", and it appears to visually confirm what most visitors to this blog are willing to agree with - 97% agreed that a wormhole can be thought of as a dimensional folding.
It's interesting how some of the greatest minds of the twentieth century - Einstein, Wheeler, Feynman, Hawking, etc. - tried to get everyone to perceive that in the big picture the distinctions between past, present and future are meaningless, because ultimately there is an underlying fabric in which all of those states exist simultaneously. The concept of wormholes, then, which is not just from science fiction but which has been seriously explored by modern physicists such as Kip Thorne and Stephen Hawking, shows us what might happen when that fabric is "folded".
My own project also asks people to use "folding" as one of the ways to visualize the dimensions, and in fact when any dimension is folded it must be folded through the dimension above. This is easy to picture with a flat piece of paper - if that paper were two-dimensional we could fold it through the third dimension to allow instantaneous transportation from one position to another.
So, as Gevin Giorbran so ably demonstated, "timelessness" is another way of describing that simultaneous underlying fabric that Einstein and those that came after him were trying to get us to imagine. I've been waving a large flag to point out that Einstein eventually agreed with Kaluza that the field equations for gravity and light are resolved in the fifth dimension, and if we are imagining that our 4D spacetime is being bent or folded, what is it being folded through? The fifth dimension. For some reason, that's an idea whose time has not come yet, but when it does I believe many of the mysteries of quantum entanglement, "spooky action at a distance" and other more metaphysical questions will have an answer - it's because our 4D reality comes from a fifth dimensional probability space.
In my blog entry "Wormholes", I played with this idea further - since my way of visualizing the dimensions assigns unique characteristics to each dimension, then that would mean that wormholes through one dimension or another would have different effects. To close, here's the video for that blog entry.
A direct link to this video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mi2Nh_C8Pzk
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gbz-CefzT-g
Poll 22 - "Why stop at ten? There are really an infinite number of dimensions." Poll ended September 6, 2008. Votes were split right down the middle, half agreed while half disagreed.
This is one of those polls that could probably have used an "I Don't Know" option - until confirmed evidence comes forward to prove that anything more than the third or fourth dimension is real, how can any of us say for sure?
"After that, it's turtles all the way down"
No matter how many dimensions we care to imagine, I believe there needs to be an ultimate state that, in the same sense that Godel's Incompleteness Theorem uses the phrase, is "outside the system". Otherwise you're stuck in endless repetitions, because no matter where you stop, someone can then ask "but where did that come from". The phrase "turtles all the way down", then, comes from a story demonstrating this concept of "infinite regression", which is one of the ways of thinking about infinity.
Ah, infinity. This is one of the questions that comes up sometimes after people watch my animation about visualizing the dimensions: "infinity" is one of those words, like "universe", that seems to have a contradiction built into its definition. How can there be more than one universe when the word was intended to define all that there is? Likewise, how can there be more than one infinity? How can there be infinite divisions between zero and one, an infinite set of numbers from the sequence starting one, two three, and yet another infinite set of numbers from the sequence starting two, four, six? I've come to love the phrase "there are many roads to infinity".
Directions within the Omniverse
In my blog entry "Infinity and the Boltzmann Brains" I talked about the idea my friend Michel from Norway reminded me about: parallel lines meet at infinity. This is more than just a useful device for drawing pictures in proper perspective! This is what really happens. Two parallel lines meet at infinity... and not just once but in either direction.
And this is where I have pointed to the work of physicist Sean Carroll, who a few months ago in Scientific American advanced a very similar idea - time makes sense in either direction, and once you get "outside" time you are in the same enfolded symmetry state that some call the "omniverse", which would be the same both "before" the big bang and "after" the end of the universe.
Infinite in All Directions
So, what it comes down to is that with the way of visualizing the dimensions we're talking about here, every single dimension extends to infinity within its own set of possibilities. The first dimensional line... travels to infinity in both directions. The second dimensional plane... infinite in four directions. And so on, all the way up.
As with "turtles all the way down", some people argue that you could keep adding dimensions forever, until you reach an infinite number of dimensions, at which point you've reached the same idea that I'm talking about - those infinite dimensions, viewed as a whole, would be the thing that just "is", the thing that is "outside the system".
Each piece is connected to the whole
We've talked in my book and in this blog before about physicist Juan Maldacena's theory that our universe is really a hologram. I believe this concept is easily imagined within the construct - because every single dimension already extends to infinity, the idea that each "point" you observe contains/is connected to the whole is already in there. Here's what it comes down to for me: whether you believe there are three dimensions, four, seven, ten, twenty-six, or even an infinite number of dimensions, at the place you stop you need to be able to say "now I have defined the background state from which everything else is derived". For me, my way of visualizing the dimensions achieves this at the tenth dimension. But regardless of what you prefer to call it, what we are talking about here is the underlying, unobserved fabric from which we can generate all other possible expressions of matter, energy, and information: Gevin Giorbran called it timelessness.
Here's the Point
The "point" of indeterminate size, then, becomes an amazingly powerful idea because no matter where you place that point, and no matter what dimension you place that point within, it is at the center of infinity! Here's a way to think about that idea: no matter where you place a point on an infinite line, there are values extending to infinity and "negative infinity" in either direction which cancel each other out... in other words all of those possible values on either side of the point always add up to zero.
Everything Fits Together
Which gets back to the dangerous idea of "zero". When you add every possibility for reality together, what does it add up to? Zero. All states enfold together, and our universe doesn't spring from "nothing", it springs from "everything". As Gevin Giorbran liked to say, the zero (the enfolded symmetry state that is outside the system) is the pie, and our universe is a tiny slice of that pie.
And that's a powerful idea.
Related blog entries:
What Does Infinity Plus Infinity Equal?
Positive Infinity and Negative Infinity
Forward to Giorbran's Acclaimed Book
Everything Fits Together in the Zero at the End
Why Do We Need More Than 3 Dimensions?
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVxaYk3CBJk
Poll 23 - "Why is it impossible to exceed the speed of light? Because our universe is being created one planck length at a time, at the speed of light." Poll ended September 20th, 2008. 66% agreed while the rest disagreed.
I wonder if some people disagreed with the above statement because of my choice of the word "created": terms like this can be confusing when the universe we're imagining is really just being observed one planck length after another from out of a wave function of probably outcomes. As Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation has it, and as this project also has it, the other possible universes continue to exist out there within timelessness, they're just not the version that we're observing at this "now" within spacetime. In quantum mechanics, then, references to "collapsing" the wavefunction through observation are really just talking about "observing" the wavefunction: according to this way of thinking, whether you use one term or another, you are really talking about the same process.
The Speed of Light Cannot Be Exceeded within Spacetime
In my book I talk about the speed of light being an independent constant: no matter how fast you travel, no matter how close to the speed of light you get, light continues to travel at the speed of light away from you. In my book I suggested that this is because of our reality is really being created (or observed) by quanta, "slices" of the universe that each exist one planck unit of spacetime away from the next. I also described how this effect would be the same not only with your speed but your direction in time: and in a fanciful mental exercise, we imagined some "reverse time aliens" constructed from the chemical processes that make just as much sense in time's opposite direction. Those reverse-time creatures, then, would also experience the speed of light as an independent constant, and even if they were to travel at close to the speed of light in time's opposite direction, they too would find that the speed of light didn't change and it would continue to move away from them at the same speed.
The October issue of Scientific American has an article on Loop Quantum Gravity, which talks about a concept called "atoms of spacetime". While atoms is an unfortunately confusing term to use in this discussion, it is the same idea that my way of visualizing the dimensions uses: our reality, and our experience of time and space, appears to be continuous, but in fact it is created by a mesh of quanta, or "atoms" of spacetime that are each one planck length away from the next: my entry "The Flipbook Universe" is one of a number of blog entries that talk about this idea.
Plus or Minus
According to Michio Kaku in his thought-provoking "Physics of the Impossible", Einstein's most famous equation is not accurately represented: rather than E = mc squared, the more correct representation is E = ±mc squared. In "You Are Me and We Are All Together" I also talked about the idea that physicists generally agree that antimatter is just matter traveling in time's reverse direction. All of these ideas tie together into a deeper understanding that our experience of time's arrow is really not the full picture of reality, and this is something I've discussed in blog entries like "Time is a Direction" and "Time in Either Direction".
One of my most popularly viewed blog entries in the last couple of months here has been "Moving Dimensions and Synchromysticism", in which I talk about the mind-bending work of Jake Kotze, and the mind-bending Moving Dimensions Theory (MDT) of Dr. Elliott McGucken, the brief summation of which I will quote again here:
This idea is easily related to my way of visualizing the dimension, I believe, and gives us an intuitive way to understand the quandary of why the speed of light doesn't change, no matter what direction in space you travel, and no matter whether you're traveling forward or back in time. Bravo, Elliot McGucken!The only way to stay stationary in the fourth dimension is to move at the speed of light. Ergo the fourth dimension is expanding at the rate of "c" relative to the three spatial dimensions.
To close, here's the video blog for another entry which talks about Moving Dimensions Theory. A direct link to this video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzlRuygMGHY
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfDBW1Smu58
Poll 24 - "The Deutsch team at Oxford have proved that parallel universes resulting from chance and choice really exist. In a number of those, each of us have already died." Poll ended October 4, 2008. 79% agreed, while the remainder disagreed.
The critique of many worlds is shifting from 'it makes no sense and I hate it' to simply 'I hate it'.If you're familiar with Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, then I'm hoping that you recognized that concept when I used it in my original Imagining the Tenth Dimension animation. The idea that there are many possible outcomes from any particular "now" is easy to understand, everyone deals with that idea every minute of their life. What if I had stepped out in front of that car? What if I had won that lottery? What if I had talked to that person I recognized rather than pretending I didn't see them? Our lives are continually about a mix of choice, chance, and the actions of others.
- Cosmologist Max Tegmark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
What Everett's theory proposed is that each of those other possible branches really do exist out there within the quantum wave function, and that we are merely observing one reality out of the many that continue to exist: the important part of this idea is that those other universes continue to exist, they're just not within the part of the wave function that we're currently observing. Everett presented this concept way back in 1957, and although great minds like Everett's thesis advisor John Wheeler liked the idea, many others within the scientific mainstream ridiculed it and the theory ending up languishing for many decades. Within the last few years though, Everett's Many Worlds theory has received much more attention, and (as I've said many times now in this blog) the Deutsch team's 2007 proof confirms that my use of the Many Worlds idea in my animation and my book is now more solidly based in science than it was when my project was first introduced to the world.
The quote above comes from the September 21 2007 article in New Scientist Magazine about this proof: written by Zeeya Merali, the article is entitled "Parallel Universes Make Quantum Sense". Click here for that article. You will see that that article talks a lot about Everett's Many Worlds, and the article takes the new Oxford team's proof very seriously. So seriously, in fact that a few months later when New Scientist was doing a roundup of the most important science stories of 2007, this proof ended up in the list, and you can click here for that article.
As you'll see in this second article, thinking about branching parallel universes that make sense for our universe can be fun. I've often given examples like "the version of our universe where it's 2008 and Elvis is still alive" or "and dinosaurs still walk the earth". But this idea also has a serious side: if the Everett interpretation and the Deutsch team's proof are to be believed, then the conclusion proposed in this poll question must be true - there must be versions of the universe where it's 2008 and I, or you, dear reader, are already dead. In my blog entry "We're Already Dead (But That's Okay)", we talked more about what that could mean to each of us as the "non-dead" versions of ourselves within the many possible parallel universes that exist for our universe.
In Randomness and the Missing 96%, and Unlikely Events and Timelessness, we also talked about the amazing set of unlikely circumstances that have resulted in the world you or I are witness to right now. This is the conclusion I reached at the end of chapter one of my book as well:
In any dimension lower than ten, all that can be viewed of reality is cross sections. But that is what makes our existence so interesting: not the infinite “white noise” of possibilities; but that out of all those possibilities that could be, we are in this very specific one, right here, and right now.As the quote from Max Tegmark indicated at the start of this entry, the Many Worlds Interpretation elicits a strong and sometimes visceral response: even when there is evidence that Everett's Interpretation actually reflects how our reality comes into being, there are some people who react strongly against this idea. One of my most popular blog entries over the last couple of months has been "Daily Parrying" which talks about why negative reactions like this can happen.
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ddj360e4sZk
Poll 25 - "The placebo effect is real - people who think they are getting medicine are more likely to get better. This demonstrates that we have more control over our health than we realize." Poll ended October 18, 2008
This has been one of the central ideas behind the Imagining the Tenth Dimension project. If I were more interested in marketing this project and less interested in being true to these ideas, I would be telling everyone that my book shows people a secret way of understanding reality, and all they have to do is visualize the Ten Dimensions and all of their deepest wishes will be realized.
This project is not about easy answers, though,because what we're talking about is a complicated interaction between choice, chance and circumstance. Nonetheless, with blog entries like Crossing You Arms to Change Your Trajectory, Changing Your Genes, Changing Your Genes 2, Magnets and Souls, Everyone Has a Story, and The Placebo Effect we've talked about the surprising scientific evidence that we each have much more control over our own well-being than we have traditionally been led to believe.
Is there a certain power in understanding why things are the way they are, and understanding that change from our current trajectory is easier than we might realize within a many-worlds universe of branching options? Unquestionably. And since so many visitors to this blog were willing to agree with the idea that we have more control over our individual health than we've traditionally been led to believe, it sounds like this idea is not that big a stretch for people to wrap their minds around.
Poll 26: "I agree with Gevin Giorbran - our universe is not winding down from a highly ordered beginning to a meaningless heat death, it is moving from grouping order to symmetry order". Poll ended November 2, 2008.
I can always tell which polls could have used an "I Don't Know" button because fewer people are willing to commit. But hey, since we're just theorizing and philosophizing about the nature of reality, it's more important to me to hear from the people who actually have an opinion one way or the other. I have to admit, though, that I'm surprised that as many visitors to this site were willing to agree to the proposal - perhaps a year and a half of me singing Gevin's praises has had an effect on the regular readers of this blog? 70% were willing to agree, while the remainder disagreed.
Gevin Giorbran's way of visualizing our reality as a move from one kind of order to another resonates so strongly with my own project that it's like the two theories should really be thought of as being part of the same overall construct. I'm very proud to say that Gevin was my friend, and I await the day when mainstream science will catch up to notions that he introduced us to with "Everything Forever - Learning to See Timelessness". Last month I published a blog entry which includes the Foreword, Introduction, and opening three chapters of his book: please click here to read that entry. And if you haven't heard my unusual story of Gevin's death, click here to read that entry.
Enjoy the journey!
Next: Recursive Mouth Boy