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 26 to 30.
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.
Enjoy the journey,
Next - Poll 26 - Are we moving not from order to entropy, but from grouping to symmetry?