Monday, November 9, 2009

O is for Omniverse - E and F

A direct link to the above video is at

Let's start this time by looking at page 13 from O is for Omniverse:
I have to admit that I haven't discussed all of Marilyn's illustrations with her in detail, her work is evocative in ways that any good art should be, with multiple resonances, and the resonances were strong enough for me that I saw no point in stating what to me was obvious. For me, the above illustration ties nicely to concepts we've talked about in blogs like The Flipbook Universe, Slices of Reality, and The Quantum Solution to Time's Arrow: there are a number of scientific schools of thought which tell us that our reality is not continuous, but rather divided into planck-length-sized frames, or "atoms of spacetime" as loop quantum gravity theory calls them. Marilyn's illustration shows us a series of 3D states, one after another, all somewhat different from each other, and that is what our 4D spacetime experience is - a series of 3D "frames", one after another, connected together to create the apparently seamless reality we find ourselves to be in as we travel along our "line of time". Persons familiar with Gevin Giorbran's wonderful book Everything Forever may remember this illustration, which uses another visual approach to describe the same idea that I see in Marilyn's illustration:
By the way, if you go to the videos I've been creating for this book all play one after another, it's another way to enjoy these concepts. The image below is from page 14, where Marilyn adds these fanciful extrapolations:

If you have trouble picturing more dimensions, or dimensions enfolding around one another, think about the petals of a flower that grow and curl around. They are separate, yet they are part of the whole. They surround and enclose space that is not part of the flower yet interacts with it.

Looking at the rose petals, each petal has a life going on within the outer layers that we see, but there is space between each one filled with air. Could dark energy be something like this -- filling the spaces between universes and keeping them apart? Does our universe trade the "stuff of life" through black holes or other hidden connections, like the pores on the petals and leaves 'breathe' air and moisture?
Then on page 15, another poem:

"e is for entropy, the opposite of order
thermodynamics, the arrow of time
starts with the big bang, ends beyond tomorrow
moves us along our line
the opposite direction is certainly as real
time and anti-time, both together
head towards the very same place
where everything is forever"
We've talked a lot about physicist Sean Carroll whose ideas about how the underlying symmetry state that our universe springs from is the same thing both "before" and "after" the existence of the universe. "Before" and "after" are in quotes because you're not really imagining this properly until you've visualized the place where all of these possible states exist simultaneously: the place where, as Einstein liked to say, the separation between past, present and future is an illusion, albeit a persistent one. Blogs talking about Sean Carroll and the timeless perspective that this way of visualizing the dimensions is based upon include Time in Either Direction, The Spacetime Tree, Scrambled Eggs, Unlikely Events and Timelessness, and What's Before and After?.

The idea that "time" and "anti-time" are each just directions, in the same way that east and west or up and down are directions, and that you need to consider both opposing directions as a package in order to be talking about a spatial dimension is discussed in entries like Time is a Direction, Elvis and the Electrons, and Are Pictures More Important in Science?.

Likewise, this project insists that the "arrow of time" is an illusion created by the fact that we are constructed from chemical processes that obey the thermodynamic laws of entropy, and that time's reverse direction is just as valid within the laws of physics. The closing line of the above poem is, of course, a reference to Gevin Giorbran's book of the same name, and Gevin understood very well what it means to think about these structures as all ultimately existing simultaneously. We've discussed a number of approaches to timelessness in blog entries like You are Me and We are All Together, "t" Equals Zero, The Big Bang and the Big Pie, and The Invariant Set.

Page 16 is above, another of Marilyn's fascinating line drawings, useful for thinking about the endlessly recursive structures which must underlie our reality. On page 17, tenth dimension fans will recognize a tiny image from the original animation, this drawing was created by Jason Orban for OH!Media. Here's the text from the page below:
f is for flatlander, f is for free will
f is for a future not decided
and the line that we travel from the past until the end
like the branching of a tree becomes divided
the flatlander thinks that his line is straight
and so do we, with time's arrow
when, in fact, there are branches and twists:
our line of time is not so straight and narrow!
Understanding how time is really just a direction in the "next dimension up" is also key to all this: for our fictional flatlander, "time" would be a direction in the third spatial dimension, just as we 3D creatures experience "time" as a direction in the fourth spatial dimension. There has been much opportunity for confusion here, because physicists often count "time" as being a separate concept from the ten spatial dimensions: in Aren't There Really 11 Dimensions?, I argue that if physics says the first three dimensions are spatial, and also says that the fifth dimension and above are spatial (or "space-like" as some physicists prefer to say), then we need to understand our relationship to the fourth spatial dimension for this all to make sense. For more about all that, check out Hypercubes and Plato's Cave, What Would a Flatlander Really See?, What Would a Linelander Really See?, and What's Around the Corner?.

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Next: Alien Life and Sea Dragons

A direct link to the above video is at

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