Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Randomness and the missing 96 per cent

A direct link to this video is at

junk DNA
DNA that does not code for proteins or their regulation but constitutes approximately 95 percent of the human genome.
- from American Heritage Dictionary
dark energy
A form of energy hypothesized to reside in the structure of space itself, responsible for the accelerating expansion of the universe.
- from American Heritage Science Dictionary

In blog entries like Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Dark Information and Dark Energy, Linelanders, and the LHC we've talked about the astonishingly large amount of the universe that appears to be "missing". In entries like Google, Memes, and Randomness and How to Make a Universe, we've talked about the idea that grouping and symmetry order could be what operates upon the information that becomes our reality to create the universe in which we live. And in blog entries like John Wheeler and Digital Physics, Making New Connections, and Changing Your Genes, we've talked about the quantum physics idea that parts of the past can be changed by our current observation, a fact that seems to defy our common-sense ideas of how the world works.

With all that in mind, here are two facts that might be revealing more about the nature of our reality than we realize:

  • 95% of a human being's genome appears to be random repetitions and noise.
  • 96% of the universe is completely undetectable dark matter and dark energy.

Don't both of those numbers seem much higher than we should expect them to be, yet remarkably similar? With only 90% hidden, even an iceberg has more to show than would appear to be indicated by these two basic facts about our universe and us as life within it!

A direct link to the above video "God 2.0" is at

In entries like Time in Either Direction and God 2.0, we've talked about the patterns that create the world around us from out of a background equilibrium state. Are these high percentages an indication of grouping and symmetry order at work (as Gevin Giorbran suggested) on an underlying fabric which is ultimately random? Could we be seeing evidence of this underlying pattern, which exists not just in the present, the past, and the future, but outside of time completely? If you look up "normal distribution" in wikipedia, you are shown the bell curve, which is the natural result of random generation of data.

The graph shown here is from that wikipedia article. If you add up the dark blue and the medium blue data from this bell curve, you are looking at what is known as "two standard deviations" from the mean (the mean being the exact center of the graph). And what do two standard deviations add up to? Why, 95.4%, virtually right in the middle of the 96% of the universe that is missing, and the 95% of the human genome that appears to be noise.

Does it seem backwards to be looking at bell curves when we're talking about unlikely probabilities? It does if you believe our universe was the inevitable and only outcome possible - in other words, if you don't believe there is a multiverse of universes out there, most with different basic physical laws than our own. I believe that dark energy and junk DNA could be showing us that our universe is not in the center of this bell curve, but on the outside edge: in other words, the least likely parts of the bell curve represent both the reality we are observing, and the genetic outcome that creates us as living creatures. The central part of this bell curve, then, is in the patterns and higher-dimensional shapes that occur in the extra dimensions. For our genome and our universe, the missing/unexplainable 95% makes more sense when viewed from those extra dimensions: but ultimately most of the potential shapes that exist within the omniverse are not connected to our universe, they are connected to the other possible expressions of matter and energy that exist out there within timelessness.

Which takes us back to our old friend, the oft-maligned Anthropic Principle: if we are really thinking about all possible universes and all possible expressions of life, then the one unique universe and the one unique expression of life that we are witnessing here in our little corner of the omniverse is only a tiny subset of a much larger expression of other versions of the possibilities that are out there within the information that becomes our reality, or any other reality.

A direct link to this video for "Infinity and the Boltzmann Brains is at

In entries like Infinity and the Boltzmann Brains, we looked at the random, burbling, fields of indeterminacy that might occasionally generate a partial universe or a partial bit of organized information, from a random collection of quantum outcomes that would (with even less likelihood of success) occasionally coalesce into a universe as complex and detailed as the one in which we live. In God 2.0, we looked at the patterns that create our reality, and how what you name those patterns has more to do with your point of view than what is really happening. Now let's think about this: is the fact that our universe is missing 96% of itself really a very strong indication of the fact that it comes from higher dimensional patterns the sum of which have only a third-standard-deviation likelihood of falling outside of the bell curve of random noise? Randomness and patterns, patterns and randomness - it's all in the way you choose to look at the data.

Let's finish this entry with a song about how unlikely our universe really is when you look at the biggest picture of them all: "The Anthropic Viewpoint".

A direct link to this video for "The Anthropic Viewpoint" is at

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Next: Unlikely Events and Timelessness

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Changing Your Genes - part 2

A direct link to this video for Changing Your Genes Part 2 is at

A couple of weeks ago an interesting article appeared in New Scientist magazine that extends a discussion we started in Changing Your Genes. Here's the video blog for that previous entry:

A direct link to this video for Changing Your Genes is at

That entry was about a new study in which 30 men completely changed their lifestyle, adding plenty of fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, and meditation or other stress management routines. DNA tests were performed on each man before the experiment began, and again 90 days later after the men had adopted their new program. Here's what was found:

...the men had changes in activity in about 500 genes—including 48 that were turned on and 453 genes that were turned off. The activity of disease-preventing genes increased while a number of disease-promoting genes, including those involved in prostate cancer and breast cancer, shut down, according to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In that blog entry, we talked about a breaking down of the old way of thinking: it really is possible to change your genes simply by changing your life, and the idea that we are dealt a specific and unchangeable set of cards in the random shuffle of genetic material that happens at conception is not really the case. Now let's take a look at some amazing findings reported by author Emma Young in the July 12th issue of New Scientist magazine. The article is entitled "Strange Inheritance: It's not just your parents' genes but also their experiences that determine your genetic make-up":
...over the past decade it has become increasingly clear that environmental factors, such as diet or stress, can have biological consequences that are transmitted to offspring... the implications for public health could be immense. Some researchers are talking about a paradigm shift in understanding the causes of diseases.
"Epigenetics" deals with how gene activity is regulated within a cell--which genes are switched on or off, which are dimmed and how, and when all this happens.
The article explains that the new science of epigenetics looks at the factors which cause certain genes to be expressed while others remain dormant: a commonly known example of this is the honeybee. All female honeybees in a hive develop from genetically identical larvae, but those that are fed on royal jelly develop into fertile queens, while the rest grow to become sterile worker bees. In other words, what a honeybee eats causes some genes to switch on and others to switch off: and the study with the men quoted in my previous blog would be one example of many of how this can happen in human beings too.

What does all this have to with Imagining the Tenth Dimension? We've spent a lot of time with this project talking about genes, memes, and spimes as being useful devices for thinking about the connections that happen across time and space. In blog entries like "The Fifth Dimension is a Dangerous Idea", we've talked about the fact that there are many branches to our reality, and the "old" way of thinking about time as being a single and unchanging line from the big bang to the end of the universe is a sadly limited distortion of what's really happening. Now, with the idea of epigenetics showing us important additional factors in how we can change how our genes are expressed, and how are genes are passed on to our offspring, we have a similar concept: in the same way that our line of time looks very limited when viewed from the fourth-dimensional perspective, our genes also look much more limited than they really are when we don't think about the branching possibilities that are actually defining our reality - not just from this moment forward, but at least in part in the reverse direction as well.

For persons trapped in a negative pattern, it can be very easy to declare that there's no way out. For persons who believe that there is only one line of time or one way of living the life defined by their genes or their upbringing, addiction and depression can be the end of them. My song "Addictive Personality" is about those ideas, and how a worldview that acknowledges that with the many possible "now"s that are coming towards us from the available probability space of Everett's Many Worlds, there can be reason for hope even when things seem their darkest.

A direct link to this video for Addictive Personality is at

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Next: Randomness and the Missing 96 percent

Friday, July 25, 2008

Video Feedback

EDIT: Due to popular demand, a DVD with ten of our favorite video feedback vlogs can be ordered from

A direct link to the above video is at

In his great book "I Am a Strange Loop", Douglas Hofstadter used video feedback as one of the visualization tools for picturing how something as deceptively simple as a self-referential "loop" can create something as subtle and complex as consciousness. The fact that this is very similar to the "self-excited loop" that esteemed physicist John Wheeler used to describe the quantum observer creating and refining a universe through the act of observation - not just in the future but in previously indeterminate elements of the past as well! - is most certainly more than a coincidence: both are easily related concepts.

Over the last few months I have been using various video feedback tricks as visualization tools for a number of concepts related to this project: the flipbook universe, time as a direction, flatlanders and linelanders, quantum tunneling, higher dimensional patterns and waves that create our 4D reality... we've played with all those concepts in the video blogs created for this project.

So here this time, just for fun, is a compendium of some of the video feedback and video kaleidoscope blogs that have been created for this project. I hope you enjoy them!

The Big Bang and the Big Pie

A direct link to the above video is at

Predicting the Future (Here Come the Aliens)

A direct link to the above video is at

You are Me and We are All Together

A direct link for the above video is at

I Know You, You Know Me

A direct link to this video is at

The Past is an Illusion

A direct link to the above video is at

Time in 3 Dimensions

A direct link to the above video can be found at:

We're Already Dead (But That's Okay)

A direct link to the above video can be found at:

Randomness and the Missing 96 Percent

A direct link to this video is at

Time is a Direction

A direct link to this video is at

Unlikely Events and Timelessness

A direct link to this video is at

Time in Either Direction

A direct link to this video is at

Magnets and Souls

A direct link to this video is at


A direct link to this video is at

What Would a Linelander Really See?

A direct link to this video is at

The Spacetime Tree

A direct link to this video is at

Changing Your Genes part 2

A direct link to this video is at

Google, Memes, and Randomness

A direct link to this video is at

Information Equals Reality

A direct link to this video is at

John Wheeler and Digital Physics

A direct link to this video is at

I hope you got something out of these explorations of the world of video feedback, and the ideas we looked at in these blogs. Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next: Changing Your Genes - Part 2

Monday, July 21, 2008

Top Ten Tenth Dimension Blogs - July Report

The April 08 version of this list is here.
The May 08 version of this list is here.
The June 08 version of this list is here.

As of July 21st, 2008, here are the blogs that have seen the most visits in the last 30 days. Please note, for both of the following lists, the number in brackets is the position that blog held in the report for the previous month, but as you'll see every single one of the 30 day report blogs are new to the list this month.

1. Wormholes (new)
2. God 2.0 (new)
3. Daily Parrying (new)
4. Changing Your Genes (new)
5. What Would a Flatlander Really See? (new)
6. Magnets and Souls (new)
7. Google Suggestions Time Capsule - 2nd Quarter Report (new)
8. What Would a Linelander Really See? (new)
9. The Annotated Tenth Dimension Video (new)
10. Tenth Dimension Polls Archive 11 to 15 (new)

And as of July 21st, 2008, here are the twenty-six Imagining the Tenth Dimension blog entries that have attracted the most visits of all time.

1. Time is a Direction (1)
2. Tenth Dimension Polls Archive 1 to 10 (2)
3. The Google Suggestions Time Capsule Project (3)
4. The Flipbook Universe (6)
5. Tenth Dimension TagCrowd (4)
6. Infinity and the Boltzmann Brains (5)
7. The Fifth Dimension is a Dangerous Idea (8)
8. The Omniverse (9)
9. Google, Memes and Randomness (7)
10. Googling in the Tenth Dimension (11)
11. Hypercubes and Plato's Cave (10)
12. 26 songs (13)
13. Visualizations (12)
14. Flatlanders on a Line (14)
15. Song 22 of 26 - Insidious Trends (15)
16. Song 23 of 26 - Secret Societies (16)
17. Your Fifth-Dimensional Self (17)
18. Everyone Has a Story (18)
19. Anime, Gaming and Cusps (20)
20. Gevin Giorbran - Gone But Not Forgotten (19)
21. The Tenth Dimension FAQ (21)
22. Crossing Your Arms to Change Your Trajectory (24)
23. Song 8 of 26 - Big Bang to Entropy (22)
24. Song 1 of 26 - Everything Fits Together (23)
25. John Wheeler and Digital Physics (21)
26. Song 2 of 26 - Seven Levels (25)

By the way, if you are new to this project, you might want to check out the Tenth Dimension FAQ, as it provides a road map to a lot of the discussions and different materials that have been created for this project. The new Annotated Tenth Dimension Video listed above provides another cornucopia of discussion topics to be connected to over at YouTube. And as always, here's a reminder that the Tenth Dimension Forum is a good place to converse with other people about these ideas.

Are you enjoying the journey?

Rob Bryanton

Next: Video Feedback

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dark Energy, Linelanders, and the LHC

A direct link for this video blog entry is at

Over three million unique visitors have now visited the tenth dimension website. Thank you tenth dimension fans around the world!

In science, a physical picture is often more important than the mathematics used to describe it.
- Michio Kaku, in his book Physics of the Impossible

With this quote, Michio Kaku was summing up the work of Michael Faraday (1791 - 1867), who, with very little mathematical or scientific training but a strong visual imagination, came up with a way of describing the waves of electromagnetic energy that underlie our universe, and created the cornerstone for much of the twentieth century's discoveries about the nature of our reality. Since my project is also about a powerful way of visualizing how our reality is constructed, and incorporates the idea of patterns and waves across the dimensions as being key to that process, Dr. Kaku's quote struck quite a chord for me. With that in mind, this time around I'd like to talk a little more about dark energy and dark matter.

In Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Dark Information, we looked at the astonishing fact that 96% of our universe is invisible and undetectable dark energy and dark matter. What a strange situation science is caught in right now! Some have expressed hopes that the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which is scheduled to go online this summer, may reveal evidence of extra dimensions or the source of dark matter and energy: but the astonishingly huge amounts of data (15 trillion gigabytes per year!) the LHC will be collecting means it will still be a while until that evidence is analyzed and the findings revealed.

We have two poll questions currently running that ask visitors' opinions on what the LHC is going to find, please be sure to cast your vote. In the meantime, let's talk a little more about how the way of visualizing reality that we're playing with here might be used to portray the missing parts of our universe. Coincidentally, the current edition of What is Enlightenment? magazine interviews five prominent physicists about dark matter and dark energy. Here's a couple of quotes from that article:
If you add up all the matter and energy in the universe, it comes to just four percent of all that drives cosmic expansion. So we're clueless... with no idea about what occupies the remaining ninety-six percent of the universe.
- Neil de Grasse Tyson, astrophysicist, author, and director of New York's Hayden Planetarium
I've been interested...whether or not the dark energy could come from extra spatial dimensions...where a kind of vibration in those multidimensional spaces creates this energy that's felt everywhere in the universe.
Now with dark matter, it would be nice if it connected to dark energy in some way, and it wasn't just a completely separate, random piece of information about the universe. It would be nice if it were somehow a different side of the same coin...
- Janna Levin, theoretical cosmologist, author, and professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University
With my way of visualizing how our reality is constructed, we are looking at a way to explain dark energy and dark matter, and how they are both related to the mainstream physics idea that gravity is the only force which exerts itself across the extra dimensions. So let's go back and look at the original Imagining the Tenth Dimension animation in a little more detail.

A direct link to the above video for "Flatlanders On a Line" is at

How is One Dimension Related to Another?
In Flatlanders On a Line we talked through the logic of this project's visualization tool more deeply, and how the "ray" of the fifth dimensional probability set from any current "now" is (of course) much more complex than the simple line/branch/fold that I'm using to build our image of the extra dimensions. This relates back to the ideas Edwin Abbott was introducing us to with his original "Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions": using what we know of the limitations and inter-relationships of the lower dimensions can help us to build a concept of the additional dimensions. Abbott talked about the imaginary worlds of the Linelanders (living on a one-dimensional line), the Flatlanders (living on a two-dimensional plane), and the Spacelanders (which would be three-dimensional creatures like us).

Most people have drawn the conclusion that Abbott's concept of the befuddled 2D Flatlander trying to imagine a fantastically improbable world of three dimensions is useful for us as three dimensional creatures trying to imagine the fourth spatial dimension. The idea that we've arrived at with this project, though, is that it's even more valuable for us to think of the one-way-arrow of time (as one of the two possible directions in the fourth dimension) as being like the limited one-dimensional world of the Linelander.

A direct link to the above video is at

Living On a Line
In What Would a Linelander Really See, we tried to visualize the highly limited viewpoint of a creature living on a one-dimensional line. Now, let's imagine our 3D universe as a sphere, and a one dimensional line passing someplace within that sphere. If you were a point on that line, in what direction would you perceive the 3rd dimension to be? Clearly, it would be all around you, pulling equally on you from every "side". Of course, as a point on a line someplace within that sphere, the source of whatever was pulling on you from that 3D world would be very mysterious indeed, as you wouldn't even have a name for the direction that this mysterious force was coming from.

Now what if your one-dimensional line was really a part of a 2D plane, and there were a large object nearby on that plane? Two things would happen - from the point of view of the first dimension the gravity of that object would tend to be more localized, and would tend to bunch things together rather than pull things apart. In fact, because the object was only one dimension away, it would be almost like there was an invisible gravitational material or an invisible force pulling together on a part of your one-dimensional line.

Do you see where I'm going with this? Now let's go back to us as "4D Linelanders". Cosmologists are now mapping dark matter throughout the universe, and finding evidence of higher and lower concentrations of this invisible matter based upon its gravitational signature. Imagining the fifth dimension as being like the 2D plane our 1D Linelander was being influenced by shows us how dark matter really could be in the fifth dimension, with higher and lower concentrations that are part of the neighboring bits of the multiverse that are "just around the corner", at that additional right angle that the fifth dimension would be to the fourth: creating areas of higher gravity that, by virtue of their existence in the fifth dimension, have become part of the dark matter that has kept our universe from flying apart as quickly as cosmologists would have expected it to.

And what about the mysterious force of dark energy, which now drives our universe apart, uniformly in every direction? If you're following along here, I hope you can see the logic of my conclusion: dark energy has to be from above the sixth dimension, and is much like the "pulling in every direction" that a 1D Linelander would experience as the 3D sphere of our universe pulled him from directions that he's incapable of perceiving, or even conceiving of.

My song "The Unseen Eye" talked about Dark Matter as well:
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
So let's look at one of the videos for that song.

A direct link to this video is at

Will the LHC find evidence of extra dimensions? Will, as I have predicted with this project, Kaluza's fifth dimension be proven to be the source of dark matter, a gravitational force from Everett's parallel universes that are nearby to our fourth-dimensional line? And will, as I've also predicted, dark energy be shown to be gravitational attraction from the sixth dimension and above, where we can find the "pulling apart" to other completely different expressions of matter and energy that are found within the surrounding regions of the omniverse? These are exciting times for thinking about the nature of reality, and I can't wait to see what we discover in the upcoming few years.

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Related blog entries:

How the extra dimensions are "compactified" from our perspective:
How our 4D line of time is really being defined at the fifth dimension:
How one dimension is related to another:
How our reality is created by shadows of higher dimensional patterns:
How the waves that Faraday discovered might be connected to life and consciousness:

Next: The Top Ten Tenth Dimension Blogs, July Report

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Spacetime Tree

A direct link to the above video is at

Last blog we looked at the annotated version of the Imagining the Tenth Dimension video, which provides a running commentary introducing ideas from the website and the book to people who are already familiar with the original animation. This time, let's continue with a discussion of some of the basic ideas that stem from this way of visualizing reality.

The "spacetime tree" is a phrase that was first introduced to me by visitors to the Imagining the Tenth Dimension forum. I like this phrase because it immediately evokes a useful image of what the Many Worlds Interpretation tells us about our reality - that from this particular "now" there is not just one line of time. Rather, there is a bush-like branching structure of possible outcomes, and this has been confirmed by Anton Zeilinger and his team in Vienna as being more than just thought experiment: amazingly, this means that Schrödinger's cat really is simultaneously alive and dead until one state or the other is observed. The fact that the David Deutsch team at Oxford published a proof equating this at both the quantum and macro levels does indeed seem to put Everett's idea of a wave function that exists outside of time and space, and which we are merely "observing" rather than "collapsing" on a very solid footing.

In a blog entry called Time in Either Direction, I talked about Sean Carroll's ideas of an equilibrium state that exists outside of time and space, and how the entropy-derived line of branching choices that create what we experience as "time" is only one of the possible directions for a universe to be viewed. Thinking of the trunk, limbs, branches, and twigs of a spacetime tree gives us another way to visualize this - and also shows us how the move from the highly ordered "base" of the tree trunk to the many branches is equivalent to the universe we live in, where eggs do not unscramble themselves and broken mirrors do not reassemble: once you have moved out to a branch, you are no longer on the trunk, and so on. Here is a freaky-looking video blog of "Time in Either Direction":

A direct link to this video is at

The spacetime tree is also a useful phrase because it immediately puts one in the mindset of thinking in a more timeless mode, where all possibilities exist simultaneously. In a blog entry called Anime, Gaming, and Cusps I used the metaphor of the branching scenarios of video games as a starting point for imagining the many branches of our spacetime tree, which we would be able to see if we could somehow move our observation out to this timeless perspective. Here is a video blog entry of that discussion:

A direct link to this video is at

Finally, one of the assumptions that I make in this project is that the fourth dimension has (as Sean Carroll also says) two directions, one of which is time as we know it, and the other which would be the time-reversal version of that fourth dimension. If our spacetime tree was one single trunk from beginning to end that would be the end of the story, but since we now have scientific evidence that the branches do exist, the fifth dimension is where I place the spacetime tree for our particular universe as it exists in our current "now", and the sixth dimension is where I place the other spacetime trees which are logically/probabilistically incompatible with our current "now". In both cases I am using the moral/probabilistic branches created by chance and choice as ways to describe the extra dimensions, and some will insist that because of this I'm not talking about spatial dimensions, I'm talking about temporal dimensions. In Hypercubes and Plato's Cave, I made what I believe to be a convincing argument for why our experience of the extra spatial dimensions can be incorporated into a temporal model, because ultimately we are 3D creatures moving on a 4D line, and because of that our ability to perceive any of the extra dimensions requires us to acknowledge the spatial nature of time: without time, we 3D creatures are stuck in one single frame of our universe with no way to witness or experience the fourth dimension and above. Here is a video blog of that discussion:

A direct link to this video is at

The spacetime tree for our particular universe, then, at this particular moment, is in the fifth dimension. The spacetime tree for some other version of our universe, then, like the one where it's 2008 and gas is free, is inaccessible to our spacetime tree unless we move through the sixth dimension to get there. The logic of such reasoning is consistent with the general idea of dimensions - each dimension that we add gives us a way to get to states that were unavailable from the dimension we were in, and that is consistent with the most basic definition of the word "dimensions" that is commonly used.

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Related Links:
The Annotated Tenth Dimension Video
What Would a Linelander Really See?
How to Make a Universe
The Omniverse

Next: Dark Energy, Linelanders, and the LHC

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Annotated Tenth Dimension Video

Over at YouTube, I've now posted a new version of the original video for Imagining the Tenth Dimension: this one takes advantage of YouTube's recently added annotation feature. YouTube also allows links to other YouTube videos within these notes - if you see a little button within a particular text box, there is another video you can link to with that button. The text below is a transcription of the annotations that have been added, as you will see these notes have been added as a response to the many questions that surround this "new way of thinking about time and space". Unfortunately, it appears that the annotations only work when the video is viewed at the YouTube site, so I can't embed it elsewhere: to watch the annotated version at YouTube, click on this link:

0:01 Many people around the world have watched this video and have assumed that this is all there is to the concept... but the video only presents the ideas from chapter one of the book "Imagining the Tenth Dimension".
0:05 Many of the questions that are asked about this video have been collected in the tenth dimension faq, type those three words into google to find that list.
0:16 One of the most often asked questions about this project is "aren't there really eleven dimensions?".
0:18 M-Theory says there are ten spatial dimensions plus one of time.
0:21 This project says that time is just a direction, not a full dimension, and that our observed reality is being created one planck unit after another by what Planck called "quanta".
0:26 If you count this "zero" (a point) that we started from and think of a series of points as our reality being observed in planck frames that obey the laws of entropy, you do indeed end up with ten spatial dimensions plus an eleventh which can be thought of as time.
0:32 For more about that idea, click here to watch a video blog called "Time is a Direction".
0:40 No matter what dimension we are thinking about, the "next dimension up" adds an additional degree of freedom which was not able to be reached from the current dimension. This is an important concept, and this logic continues throughout:
0:47 ...with this project, there is no arbitrary distinction between the dimensions we know as spacetime and the extra dimensions that are logically derived by this way of imagining how our reality is constructed.
0:54 This intuitive way of imagining how each dimension is derived is unique to this project.. but there are many mainstream science connections which can be drawn, and these notes explore some of those connections.
1:01 Edwin A. Abbott's 1884 novel "Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions" first introduced us to the idea of Flatlanders, and is a useful starting point for imagining how different dimensions might appear.
1:07 Another of the comments about this animation is that it shows the Flatlander's world from "above", in other words from the perspective of a 3D creature looking down onto the plane that the Flatlander is within.
1:14 If we were to actually show what our theoretical Flatlander sees, it would have to be a confusing jumble of lines all in the same plane. Think of it this way: draw your flatland creature on a piece of paper, now pick that piece of paper up and hold it horizontally at eye level, so that all you can see is the thin edge of that flat piece of paper.
1:26 Now you're starting to get an idea of a Flatlander's perspective - that "additional degree of freedom" that the third dimension adds allows us to see much much more than what a Flatlander would really see.
1:35 So, while what is being shown in this animation is what most books introducing people to the concept of other dimensions show in the discussion of Flatlanders, "what a Flatlander would really see" is even more strange than what we're portraying here in this introduction to these ideas.
1:43 Click here to watch a video blog that discusses more about the concept of Flatlanders.
1:45 Or click here to watch "What Would a Flatlander Really See?"
1:46 Or click here to watch "What Would a Linelander Really See?"
1:51 The voice we are hearing is Rob Bryanton, who also created the sound effects, wrote the script, and storyboarded the concepts for this presentation. The actual flash animation was created by the talented folks at OH!Media.
2:01 With the third dimension, and the idea of a Flatlander Ant disappearing and reappearing as a result of a "folding", we're starting to think about wormholes, a useful concept to look up in wikipedia.
2:07 According to the logic of this animation, different wormholes would have different effects depending upon the dimension being folded:
2:10 - so a third-dimensional wormhole would allow instantaneous teleportation (travelling to a different position in space with no passage of time),
2:15 - a fourth dimensional wormhole would allow time travel within our own specific spacetime,
2:19 - a fifth-dimensional wormhole would allow travel to other parallel universes that are logically consistent with our current position in spacetime,
2:23 - a sixth-dimensional wormhole would allow travel to other parallel universes that are still part of the basic physical laws for our particular universe but logically inconsistent with our current position in spacetime: for instance the version of our universe where it's 2008 but the attack on the twin towers did not take place,
2:33 - and a seventh-dimensional wormhole, according to the logic of this presentation, would be how you get to other universes springing from different initial conditions, where the laws of physics would be different from ours.
2:41 Click here to watch the video blog entry "Wormholes"
2:51 A central idea to this way of imagining is that "time" is a direction, not a dimension. New theories by physicists such as Sean Carroll can be related to this idea as well:
2:53 click here to watch a video blog discussing Dr. Carroll's ideas, called "Time in Either Direction".
2:54 or for another video about time reversal symmetry, click here to watch "Scrambled Eggs"
3:00 Or for a discussion of how our universe is being observed one planck length at a time, because time is not continuous but rather broken down into "quanta", click here to watch a video blog entry called "The Flipbook Universe".
3:10 YouTube has a number of animations showing fourth-dimensional hypercubes or tesseracts, click here to watch one of them.
3:14 For a discussion of how "time as a direction" and the fourth spatial dimension relate to what we're talking about, click here to watch the video blog entry "Hypercubes and Plato's Cave".
3:21 Author Bruce Sterling introduced us to his term "spime" - a very useful word to describe objects that exist as a set of data across space and time.
3:27 The "long undulating snake" that we're imagining ourselves as from conception until death can also be thought of as a "spime"- a four-dimensional object.
3:33 But this "spime" or "long undulating snake" is only how we would appear from the line of time, and "time" is one of the two possible directions in the fourth spatial dimension: look up time reversal symmetry in wikipedia for more about this idea.
3:51 The conclusion being drawn in this project is that our currently observed "now" is actually being observed within a fifth dimensional probability space.
3:55 The fifth dimension is where, way back in 1919, Kaluza proved and Einstein agreed that the field equations for gravity and electromagnetism can be resolved. Why is the idea that our reality comes from the fifth dimension not common knowledge?
4:01 You might want to watch some of these related video blog entries
4:02 The Fifth Dimension is a Dangerous Idea
4:03 The Fifth Dimension Isn't Magic
4:04 Your Fifth-Dimensional Self
4:05 Being More Fifth-Dimensional
4:06 Are Animals and Kids More Fifth-Dimensional?
4:14 What we look back upon as the "line of time" gives us the impression that time's arrow had only one way to get to our current "now", and this makes some assume that there is only one possible future extending forward from our current "now", a school of thought known as "hard determinism".
4:16 For more about this, click here to watch "Dr. Mel's 4D Glasses"
4:17 or click here to watch "The Past is an Illusion"
4:24 Believe it or not, scientific experiments conducted by Dr. Anton Zeilinger and his team in Vienna are now proving that everything other than our currently perceived "now" is indeterminate and probabilistic.
4:31 Click here to watch a video blog about these startling results, called "Local Realism Bites the Dust".
4:42 In September 2007, a group of scientists at Oxford under the direction of physicist David Deutsch released an important proof that equates the branching probabilities of the quantum world with the parallel universes that result from chance and choice in our observed "macro" world.
4:54 What we are talking about here relates to the "Many Worlds Interpretation" of quantum mechanics, which was proposed by physicist Hugh Everett III in 1957 as his Master's Thesis.
5:01 Everett's innovative solution to the strange world of quantum probability was to propose that all possible worlds do actually exist within the underlying background of the quantum wavefunction, and that we are not actually "collapsing" the wavefunction, we are merely "observing".
5:13 According to Everett, and according to this way of imagining reality, then, all the other possibilities continue to exist, even though they are decoherent/inaccessible to the version of reality we are currently observing.
5:23 This project also proposes that that the "spooky action at a distance" properties of the quantum world which Einstein disliked are easy to explain if we accept that our current "now" (which we can think of as a point moving in the fourth dimension) is actually coming from a fifth-dimensional probability space, and this is where entanglement or instantaneous collapse of probabilities are actually taking place: like the Flatlander on the mobius strip, we can't directly perceive these 5D connections from our limited 4D perspective.
5:37 Popular books by theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Brian Greene talk in detail about the collapsing/observing of wavefunctions - both are quoted in the blog entry "The Fifth Dimension Isn't Magic".
5:44 Thinking about the sixth dimension is also thinking about the versions of our reality that we are not able to get to from our current position in spacetime because of what has come before: click on any of these to watch video blogs about these discussions.
5:47 Time in 3 Dimensions
5:48 Anime, Gaming and Cusps
5:49 Magnets and Souls
5:50 Crossing Your Arms to Change Your Trajectory
5:51 Everyone Has a Story
5:52 Changing Your Genes
5:53 Changing Your Genes Part 2

6:02 Thinking about memes (patterns of information that connect across time and space) is also a very important part of this way of imagining reality.
6:07 Click on any of the boxes to the right to watch video blogs about how "memes" and consciousness tie into these ideas.
6:09 Disorders of the Mind
6:10 Making New Connections
6:11 The Geometry of Music
6:12 David Jay Brown and Psychedelics
6:13 Crossed Wires in the Brain
6:14 The Placebo Effect

6:19 Dr. Richard Dawkins first proposed the concept of "memes" (rhymes with "teams"). He also invited us to think of "genes" as a "River Out of Eden" - in both cases, these are enlightened, "big-picture" approaches to thinking outside of our linear spacetime, and are very useful as ways to help us envision the much broader underlying reality of timelessness.
6:30 genes
6:31 memes
6:32 spimes
6:33 - three powerful words for thinking about how information equals reality (click here for more about that idea), and how ultimately everything can be viewed as patterns within the underlying fabric of reality.
6:41 As part of this project, Rob also created 26 songs which tie to these concepts. The idea that there is an enfolded whole, an underlying equilibrium state of symmetry and indeterminacy, is key to this way of imagining reality.
6:47 Click here to watch a video for the first of the 26 songs, which is about that enfolded equilibrium state: "Everything Fits Together".
6:55 The book "Imagining the Tenth Dimension" is not about what you would currently learn in a physics course - it's about a "new way of thinking about time and space".
6:59 Author and psychobiologist David Jay Brown called it "brilliantly conceived and mind-stretching" - click here for more
7:00 Award-winning science fiction novelist Greg Bear had this to say about the book: "A fascinating excursion into the multiverse -- clear, elegant, personal and provocative."
7:05 Click here to watch a video blog entry discussing some of the new book reviews which have been posted for "Imagining the Tenth Dimension" at Amazon.
7:11 Now, let's look at some quotes from recognized experts Michio Kaku and Brian Greene:
7:14 "... if we could "see" the wave function of a person, it would look remarkably like the person himself. However the wave function also gently seeps out into space, meaning that there is a small probability that the person can be found on the moon. (In fact, the person's wave function actually spreads out throughout the universe.) "
- Theoretical Physicist Michio Kaku, from his book "Parallel Worlds"
7:25 "After more than seven decades, no one understands how or even whether the collapse of a probability wave really happens.... it's an assumption fraught with conundrums. For one thing, the collapse does not emerge from the mathematics of quantum theory; it has to be put in by hand, and there is no agreed-upon or experimentally justified way to do this.
7:25 "For another, how is it possible that by finding an electron in your detector in New York City, you cause the electron's probability wave in the Andromeda galaxy to drop to zero instantaneously?"
7:25 - Theoretical Physicist Brian Greene, from his book "The Fabric of the Cosmos"
7:41 String theorists talk about our universe being embedded in a 3D brane and a 7D brane. Thinking of our 3D universe as being "locked in" at the seventh dimension is a related idea.
7:46 The number seven also appears in a number of spiritual/metaphysical systems as the highest level of attainment. In a sense, this way of imagining reality agrees with that: everything up to this "point" we're imagining in the seventh dimension contains all the enfolded possibilities for the specific universe with its specific fine structure constant in which we live.
7:50 For more about these more "out there" connections, click here to watch "Jake Kotze and Mystical Numbers"
7:56 Moving to some other position in the seventh/eight/ninth dimension is moving to other possible expressions of matter, energy and information.
8:02 Click here to watch the song "Seven Levels" which plays with this idea of our reality being defined at the seventh dimension.
8:11 Or click here to watch a video for "The Anthropic Viewpoint", another of the songs from this project, which says the other universes springing from other different initial conditions are just as real as the one in which we find ourselves.
8:20 And click here to watch a video for the song "The Unseen Eye", which advances the idea that not just time, but even the big bang, is an illusion - it's all just ways of observing the information that becomes reality.
8:31 Physicists often say that by the time we are thinking about the underlying structures of reality, the distinction between past, present, and future is meaningless - click here to watch a video for the song "Big Bang to Entropy" which is about thinking in those really-big-picture terms.
8:45 Here's a question then: if our 3D universe is locked in as a point (or brane) in the seventh dimension, then how did it come to be selected from all of these other possible universes that remain as other potential outcomes?
8:53 This project makes the point that this selection process can be thought of from the anthropic viewpoint, or can be thought of as the work of a higher organizing selection pattern (which, if you like, can be called God), or it can even be thought of as a conspiracy theory - if information equals reality, then what parts of the information conspired to make our universe the way it is and not some other way?
9:07 While the suggestion that our universe was created by a deliberate conspiracy is an amusing diversion, it is also useful as a way to think about how a lot of these interpretations have more to do with people's individual points of view: they're all different ways of describing the same set of data. Click here to watch the video for "Secret Societies", which takes the extreme point of view that absolutely everything is a conspiracy.
9:23 By the time we imagine the ninth dimension in its entirety, we are looking at a vast, roiling landscape of possible expressions of matter and energy: randomness punctuated by occasional sections of order that become organized into physical expressions in the dimensions below.
9:30 For more about this idea, you might enjoy the video blog entry Infinity and the Boltzmann Brains (click here for that entry).
9:32 Or Google, Memes and Randomness.
9:33 Or Randomness and the Missing 96 Percent
9:34 Or The Spacetime Tree
9:35 Or Unlikely Events and Timelessness
9:36 Or Dark Energy. Linelanders, and the LHC
9:37 Or Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Dark Information
9:42 What we are thinking about with this project is the "set of all possible states" for our universe and all other possible universes (expressions of mass, energy, or information). Some people know this concept as the "omniverse", look that word up in wikipedia to learn more.
9:49 Or click here to watch a video blog entry about "The Omniverse".
9:54 What we are also thinking about here is a multiverse scenario, and some reject such concepts as being "too extravagant": by the time we've tried to imagine our own observable universe of seventy sextillion stars (that’s 7 followed by 22 zeroes!) we've already surpassed what our minds are capable of visualizing: it's already incredibly extravagant!
10:02 To then take that unimaginably large volume of space and say that there are "copies" of it that represent every possible outcome can seem even more extravagant, and even more beyond our ability to imagine. Saying that there are then other completely different universes with their own unique spacetime trees confounds our ability to visualize such a thing even further.
10:13 The same could be said of trying to imagine an atom and simultaneously trying to imagine a galaxy: this is not something our minds are designed to do. But by working from one layer of meaning to another, we can find a way to describe those two concepts that puts them in context with each other.
10:15 (For more about this click here to watch "Why Do We Need More Than 3 Dimensions?")
10:22 And this is how any complex ideas can be communicated - by starting with the basic building blocks of knowledge, and constructing hierarchies of meaning, one layer upon another - that's how we learn, that's how we communicate.
10:34 Using a simple layering of meaning, starting from the basic geometry that we are all familiar with, this video builds one idea upon another, layer upon layer, and gives us a way to hold ten dimensions in our mind - something most people would have said was impossible.
10:41 While that's a mind-expanding experience, what does all this have to do with real life?
10:47 There are basic questions people ask themselves - why am I here? How do I fit into my world? Why is my world the way it is and not some other way? How much am I able to change what I don't like about the world I'm in?
11:02 By the time we've imagined the tenth dimension, we've imagined the underlying timelessness that our universe (or any other universe) springs from - this is the equilibrium state that Sean Carroll describes, and mathematicians are proving that symmetry is the underlying organizing pattern for subatomic particles, and many other aspects of our intricate and beautiful universe.
11:10 The theme of this project is "everything fits together" within an underlying symmetry, and that there are patterns that created our universe from out of the information that becomes our reality: Stuart Kauffman of Canada's Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics has written a book about those patterns. Click here to watch a video blog about these ideas.
11:15 or click here to watch "We're Already Dead (But That's Okay)"
11:16 or click here to watch "I Know You, You Know Me"
11:17 or click here to watch "You are Me and We are All Together"

11:39 For the latest ideas about this project, go to
11:42 You can also discuss these ideas with others at -- or in the comments area below right here at YouTube. Thanks for watching!

Next: The Spacetime Tree

Monday, July 7, 2008

What Would a Linelander Really See?

A direct link to this video is at

In mathematics, no definition of dimension adequately captures the concept in all situations where we would like to make use of it. Consequently, mathematicians have devised numerous definitions of dimension for different types of spaces. All, however, are ultimately based on the concept of the dimension of Euclidean n-space E n. The point E 0 is 0-dimensional. The line E 1 is 1-dimensional. The plane E 2 is 2-dimensional. In general, E n is n-dimensional.
- from the wikipedia article on dimensions

Because there are so many different ways to define the word "dimensions", some people with their own narrow definition of the word have claimed that my use of the word is not correct. The definition above, from wikipedia, works very well for the way of imagining the dimensions that we've been playing with here: each additional dimension adds an additional "degree of freedom" that was unavailable from the previous one. If the ten dimensions that physicists are talking about are truly spatial dimensions (or as some prefer to say "space-like dimensions"), then a seven dimensional space must have seven co-ordinates that would define the position of a unique point within that seven-dimensional system, and so on: the space E 7 is 7-dimensional, and that is the kind of dimensions we are talking about in Imagining the Tenth Dimension.

When the website for this project first went live two years ago, a number of people had questions about the animation, since parts of it didn't just parrot what the mainstream had been saying about how our reality is constructed. Two years later, I'm pleased that a number of new theories have come forward from respected physicists which can be easily connected to the supposedly "out there" ideas that were in this original video and its accompanying book, but there are still many more ideas attached to this project that will eventually be proved or disproved in the months and years to come.

One of the most important basic assumptions about this project is that if physicists are really saying that these ten dimensions are spatial, then we should be able to use what we know about the first three or four dimensions to deduce some things about the additional degrees of freedom that these extra spatial dimensions would add. Saying "you can't imagine the fifth dimension and above because they're totally unlike the dimensions of spacetime" is, I think, taking the easy way out*: are we saying these additional dimensions are spatial or not? Of course it becomes harder to harder to imagine each additional dimension beyond the spacetime we're familiar with, but that doesn't mean it's impossible!

"Don't say Higher, say Extra"
Here's a brief side note: you may have noticed that the term "extra dimensions" is often used rather than "higher dimensions" when talking about the dimensions beyond spacetime: I think this is a useful distinction, because saying "higher" somehow sets the idea up in our minds that we should be gazing skyward as we think about these additional dimensions. A more valid way of thinking about each new dimensions is that it is somehow "outside" the current dimension, and that there is no way for us to get to the states that are within that additional dimension if we stay within the current one. For instance, with three-dimensional space we need to add the fourth dimension or there is no way for us to get from 3D space in one state to 3D space in another state: the directions of time and "anti-time" are the two new directions that we are able to reach by adding the fourth dimension into the equation. Saying that each new dimension is at "right angles" to the one below is another way of thinking about that same idea.

The "Linelander"
Last blog, we talked about the viewpoint of a Flatlander, an imaginary two-dimensional creature. Now, let's try this as a thought experiment: imagine yourself on a one-dimensional line. If that were your world, anything other than "forward on the line" and backward on the line" would be unfathomable. Imagining some kind of a wormhole that "folded" your line to allow instantaneous jumping from one position to another might possibly be something you could wrap your head around, and that would give you a way to imagine the second dimension, but dimensions beyond that would be so completely outside your experience that you would probably be inclined to say that the extra dimensions beyond the second dimension were theoretical constructs only, with no way for one-dimensional people to be able to imagine such an outlandish geometry.

For a one-dimensional Linelander, a second dimension at right angles to the dimension he lived in would possibly be imaginable, but something that was at an additional right angle that was somehow different from the first right angle already considered (to create a three-dimensional space) might well seem beyond the ability for our poor Linelander to imagine: the difficultly is particularly compounded for the Linelander, since he can easily imagine only one way of extending out to an additional dimension, so visualizing each additional dimension would require him to imagine a repetitive "right angles" operation over and over again. The advantage we have over a Linelander is that we are intimately familiar with a space of three dimensions, so for us, to imagine three unique right angles that together could help to form a cube is much easier - and this is why using "line/branch/fold" works so well for us as a visualization tool, because it gives us an ordered way of imagining how three different dimensions are at right angles to each other.

"Bend Me, Fold Me, Any Way You Want..."
So here we are, imagining ourselves as a Linelander on a one-dimensional line, trying to imagine how our 1D world might be able to be bend or fold to allow instantaneous teleportation to other points on our line. Einstein suggested that we should think of gravity as a "bending" of spacetime. Whether we're talking about folding, branching, twisting, bending or any other spatial manipulation word you care to think of, all of these are ways to start thinking about the next dimension up, the dimension that is moving at right angles to the one currently being examined. To be clear, then, the point/line/branch/fold concepts that this project starts from are really just interchangeable spatial manipulation terms that repeatedly find different ways to describe the same idea of moving to the next dimension, which is why this concept can work no matter where you start. A second dimensional plane can be thought of as a thick line joining two other lines, or it can be thought of as a branch off of a line, or it can be thought of as being created by the folding of a line: these are all ways of thinking how the one dimension we are looking at is at right angles to the other.

Like our Linelander, right angles are relatively easy for us to imagine for the dimensions we live in -- which in our case as 3D "Spacelanders" would be the first three or four dimensions. But for us, saying that "the sixth dimension is at right angles to the fifth dimension" doesn't create a particularly useful mental image. This is why the line, branch, fold metaphor is so powerful - it lets us visualize something that is easier to hold in our minds than if we were to just imagine line/line/line etc, branch/branch/branch etc., or fold/fold/fold.

Time is at Right Angles
So. Each of these terms is a different way of thinking about that same "this is how a dimension is at right angles to the one below" concept. This is also why I say "time" is in the next dimension up no matter dimension you're examining, because "time" is another way of moving at right angles to the dimension below, and this is why "time" for a 2D flatlander would be a direction in the third dimension.

A direct link to this video blog is at

Recently I posted a blog entry about wormholes, extending a discussion that's in the tenth dimension faq: the question in the faq is "can you really fold a dimension?". And my answer is yes, you can fold a dimension and science calls that a wormhole. But with the logic of what we're examining here, different wormholes would have different effects depending upon the dimension being folded, and ultimately this gives us ways of thinking how the solid reality we are seeing at this very instant could be nothing more than shadows of higher dimensional shapes and patterns, connecting our reality together in ways that are beyond our ability to directly witness from down here in spacetime.

Enjoy the journey,


Related entries:
Time is a Direction
The Flipbook Universe
You Can't Get There From Here
How to Make a Universe
What Would a Flatlander Really See?
Hypercubes and Plato's Cave

* P. S. - for anyone who is unfamiliar with my project, please read blog entries like The Fifth Dimension Isn't Magic to see how the idea that the extra dimensions are "compactified" is easily dealt with in the visualization we're using in Imagining the Tenth Dimension.

Next: The Annotated Tenth Dimension Video

Tenth Dimension Vlog playlist