Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Hug from Another Dimension

A direct link to the above movie is at

I came across this lovely little cartoon created by Sarah Williams, who is working on her film degree in the U.K. and as part of her degree is creating an animation that explores ideas that seem very related to my own project. She is blogging about her explorations at
and mentioned my 11 minute animation there, which is how I came across her work. I'm really looking forward to seeing what she comes up with. Let me quote her from her blog as she talks about the above clip:

My idea, which is shown primitively and simply here, is to suggest that there is more than there is.
"There is more than there is". I love that! Wouldn't that make a great t-shirt slogan? Particularly if it were three words on the front, three words on the back so people had to really stop and ponder this seemingly enigmatic phrase for a moment.

In Sarah's movie we are looking at two flatlanders, and then from out of nowhere we see four discs on each side of the characters appear - these, of course, would be the fingers of a three-dimensional creature passing their hands through the two-dimensional plane our flatlanders are living within. These shapes change to a hand and a thumb on either side, and then arms - and finally we realize that this is a "hug from another dimension" being pictured here.

A direct link to the above video is at

In The Big Bang is an Illusion, I returned to this important idea: forms and shapes of objects from higher dimensions are going to behave in ways that seem inexplicable to any observers from the dimensions below. As we've explored in blog entries like What Would a Flatlander Really See?, this becomes even more complicated when we realize that what's being shown in videos like the above one from Sarah Williams is still the flatlander world from a "top down" perspective, and that these 2D creatures observing from within the plane of the second dimension are only going to be able to see these 3D fingers, hands, and arms as lines that appear out of nowhere, grow, shrink, and pop out of existence again.

As I've remarked before, my original 11 minute animation shows the ideas from chapter one of my book, and the remainder of the book then explores what all this means from a variety of perspectives. Here's how I conclude chapter one:
Speaking poetically, the tenth dimension is like white noise, an endless field of all colors and vibrations blurred together, balanced and enfolded into a perfect symmetry. Because it encompasses all possible realities without delineation between those realities, it is like a void: a big beautiful zero that is full rather than empty. Where things do get interesting is when we cut cross-sections out of that formlessness to view some specific aspect: like our two-dimensional Flatlander viewing the feet of a human creature visiting from the dimension above as ten lines that become two, there is no way for anyone in a dimension less than ten to perceive all of the possibilities that the tenth dimension contains.

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.
While we're talking in this blog entry more about the "mechanics" of what a flatlander would and wouldn't see, we also should be thinking about the metaphysical implications. Could there be higher-dimensional shapes and patterns that are affecting us all in ways that may seem just as mysterious as the "hug from another dimension" that Sarah Williams shows us here? The fact that Sarah is also interested in those ramifications is one of the reasons that I'm excited to see where her explorations lead.

Just a reminder, by the way, that my book is now available as a 6 hour long collection of mp3s. If you're interested in hearing rather than reading the book, this is what you've been waiting for! Go to for more info.

A direct link to the above video is at

Here's some other blog entries that explore what those shapes and patterns from the other dimensions might be:
Are Pictures More Important in Science?
When's a Knot Not a Knot?
The Map and the Territory
What's South of the South Pole?
The Long Undulating Snake
Do Shamans See Other Dimensions?

Next: We'll continue this discussion of ways to imagine extra dimensional shapes and patterns with What's Around the Corner?

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

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