Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wrapping It Up in the Tenth Dimension

"Why isn't there nothingness? Nothingness would have been decidedly elegant. In the Ultimate Multiverse, a universe consisting of nothing does exist. As far as we can tell, nothingness is a perfectly logical possibility and so must be included in a multiverse that embraces all universes."

- Brian Greene, discussing a concept which with this project we have called the Omniverse, in his book The Hidden Reality

At the end of the Introductory chapter of my book, I said this:
"...the point of this exercise will be that by imagining all ten dimensions, we will have imagined a fabric that can account for all aspects of reality. A tall order! Let’s begin."
How do we get to the tenth dimension from the ninth? As with every other dimension, we envision a point that encompasses the entire ninth dimension, and call that a "point" in the next dimension up. Persons familiar with my animation know what I say next:
"...if we’re going to imagine the tenth dimension as continuing the cycle, and being a line, then we’re going to have to imagine a different point that we can draw that line to. But there’s no place left to go! By the time we have imagined all possible timelines for all possible universes as being a single point in the tenth dimension, it appears that our journey is done."
But is our journey really done? Far from it. The ramifications of this way of visualizing the dimensions are many indeed, and that's why I continue to find things to discuss about this project in my blog, and that's why I've published about four hundred videos at my youtube channel over the past five years since this project was launched. Some of the ideas that we haven't even touched on yet since we started this latest series two months ago include the following:

1. Some people suggest it's arbitrary to stop at ten dimensions. Did we run out of fingers so we decided there couldn't be any more? Indeed, if you're not assigning any meaning to the individual dimensions, then the point-line-plane postulate allows you to keep adding as many dimensions as you want. People also ask Aren't There Really 11 Dimensions? In my book and my blog I've insisted that ten is really all you need to consider all aspects of reality, and that supporters of M-Theory acknowledge that there are ways in which the 11 dimensions they are talking about are functionally equivalent to the ten dimensions string theory is talking about. The graphic at right comes from New Scientist magazine, in a recent special feature called "Instant Expert: Theory of Everything", please do follow the link to read the whole article.

Another way of showing this equivalence is to say that M-Theory proposes ten spatial dimensions plus time. With my project, I say that time isn't a dimension, it's a way of describing change from state to state within any  dimension: so the tenth dimension with no time is the Ultimate Ensemble that Max Tegmark spoke of, or the timelessness that Gevin Giorbran spoke of in Everything Forever, or the Ultimate Multiverse that Brian Greene refers to in the quote with which we started this entry. As I said in my original animation, if there were no superstrings vibrating in the tenth dimension, there would be no reality precipitated in the dimensions below: no time means no vibrations, no change. And because every one of the spatial dimensions we're looking at here are mutually perpendicular to the others, change in the tenth dimension automatically affects the entire system in various ways.

2. A number of people who have watched my animation notice that by the time you get to ten in its unobserved state, in a way you're back to where you started - with a point of indeterminate size. As I've said before, this was the intent of the helix logo created for this project - the 0 (or nothingness) and the 10 (or the Omniverse) really are connected concepts, and that's why I represent them as being on a line inside the other dimensions as you can see in the animation below. Would this connection allow for a repeating cycle effectively creating infinite dimensions? Though some people have suggested that idea, it doesn't feel quite right to me. The idea that there are really no dimensions, that there are just infinite vectors within one underlying fabric which is dimensionless, actually resonates more strongly for me, because that's a way of describing the tenth dimension using a different mindset. But personally, I still believe there are good reasons to believe in the existence of extra dimensions beyond space-time, and that there are good opportunities within these paths to the infinitely large and the infinitesimally small for us to consider the continuously repeating recursion that relates conceptually to Douglas Hofstadter's I Am a Strange Loop, or John Wheeler's  description of the universe as a self-excited circuit. In Imagining the Ninth Dimension, we looked at Stuart Kauffman's idea that there is a force for ceaseless creativity in the natural universe, and we'll return to ideas related to all this further on in this entry.

Photobucket3. This takes us to a very big question. If we're trying to build an image which reflects "all aspects of reality", how do life and consciousness fit into this picture? Erwin Schrödinger's definition of life is that it's "a unique process which creates pockets of negative entropy". Physicists talk about the beginning of the universe being the most highly ordered/lowest entropy version of our universe, and how the "arrow of time" represents an overall climb in the amount of entropy, despite the efforts of life within these little pockets where (as Dylan Thomas put it so beautifully) it 'rages against the dying of the light'. This theme of life and consciousness being like a fire, a spark, that somehow engages with space-time and our fifth-dimensional probability space to keep itself moving forward is the theme of a number of the 26 songs I created for this project. I talked about those songs and this way of thinking about life and creativity in a blog entry called Novelty.

4. The phrase "self-excited circuit" comes from a paper published in 1979 by physicist John Wheeler, you can read about it in the wikipedia article on Digital Physics. As part of his "Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU)", Christopher Langan (who some readers will know as "the smartest man in America") has published an animated version of the simple drawing Wheeler created for his paper on the self-excited circuit, showing a "U" (standing for universe), incorporating an eyeball representing the quantum observer, looking at its "tail" that represents the "information" side of the "information equals reality" concept that we talk about regularly with this project. Wheeler also coined the phrase "'it' from 'bit'"which ties nicely to these discussions. That animation is pictured below.

So is the universe itself a self-excited circuit, that was most excited at the big bang and is slowly winding down from there? Or was the universe in a superposition of possible states until life first emerged somewhere, and began observing more organized versions of the universal wave function from that point on in the world line? The Biocentric Universe theory supports the latter idea. Perhaps Stuart Kauffman's God 2.0 supports the former? I think there's interesting evidence for both ideas, but ultimately I lean more towards the idea that there are organizing patterns in the extra dimensions which exist outside of time and space which have selected this (or any other) universe, and which keep the universe from dissolving into chaos. Gravity and Love is a blog entry from this past December which takes this idea out to a more metaphysical level if you're interested. I have used similar logic to argue for dark matter and dark energy as evidence of extra dimensions.

In my follow-up book to Imagining the Tenth Dimension, which is a collaboration with visual artist Marilyn E. Robertson called O is for Omniverse, we devoted the letter "J" to John Wheeler:
j is for John Wheeler, a famous physicist
who drew a strange eyeball looking at its tail
as a way to imagine that some branches of our line
might be changed in the past as we look back from today
so the branching tree that extends from "now"
is even more surprising: it branches either way
Here's a video showing the letters "I" and "J" from that book, you can see a lot more if you go to

A direct link to the above video is at

5. If the universe had the least amount of entropy at its beginning, does that mean that in a sense Schrödinger thought it was the most "alive" back then? Gevin Giorbran's remarkable insight, in his book Everything Forever, was that we're not moving from low entropy to high entropy with our arrow of time: instead we're moving from a high grouping order to a high symmetry order. I like this because it allows for a way to imagine a universal creative force which expresses itself throughout the world line of the universe, and which makes sense when we view our universe as a single data set from a timeless perspective. From our own vantage point, then, both time and anti-time represent the same thing: a naturally occurring return to balance. Ultimately our universe or any other arises from a breaking of symmetry, and "outside" of this system is a return to the underlying fabric of reality: the unobserved tenth dimension, the Ultimate Ensemble, the Teilhardian Omega Point, the Godelian "outside the system", the computational underpinnings behind digital physics or Tegmark's Mathematical Universe Hypothesis, ultimate enlightenment, or the Omniverse. And that's what we're visualizing with every single dimension in this project - how can we perceive any dimension from "outside" of itself, from the truest perspective, which is timelessness?

6. One of the surprises for me with this project was how many people from the psychedelics community have embraced this way of visualizing the dimensions: for instance, author and research scientist David Jay Brown, a world-renowned expert on psychedelics, said this about my book: "Imagining the Tenth Dimension is one of the most brilliantly-conceived and mind-stretching books that I've ever encountered." With no psychedelics experience myself, I find this particularly fascinating: in this blog, I've talked about Graham Hancock's amazing book Supernatural, which advances the idea that persons around the world and throughout human history have had experiences and visions when they are in altered states of consciousness (whether those are self-induced trance states, or through the use of psychoactive substances) that show remarkable similarities. Do such experiences "lift the veil" so to speak, and allow people to see actual aspects of the extra dimensions? It's a possibility I find very attractive. In my book and this blog I've explored many other more "out there" concepts that can tie to this: are prescience, deja vu, out of body experiences, lucid dreaming, perhaps even ghosts and spirit voices all examples of how there are patterns of awareness which exist outside of our limited space-time window into reality?

7. Another of the surprises for me with this project was the people who looked at my helix logo and presumed this was all about Kabbalah, because of the similarities to The Tree of Life (pictured at left). Yes, I see the connections, but I don't recall ever seeing the Tree of Life until after my book was published and comments started to come my way about this coincidence. What I find particularly interesting is that there are schools of thought within the Kabbalah which  teach that we can divide our reality into three triads, which can be summed up as the material, the moral, and the intellectual. In the last chapter of my book, I reached a similar conclusion that there are three systems interacting through constructive interference, all of which in their unobserved state can be assembled into the tenth dimension as a "point" of indeterminate size. Those three systems are 1) the physical world, 2) the quantum observer who through constructive interference is actively engaged in observing specific aspects of the other two systems, and 3) the "information equals reality" world of memes, patterns of grouping, or waveforms. Likewise, it's interesting to relate this to Popperian cosmology: philosopher Karl Popper proposed that there are three worlds: the physical, the mind which observes, and mental patterns of information (I talked about all this in greater detail in my blog entry Three Becomes One). Is this recurring idea that there is a physical world, a world created by observation/participation, and an underlying realm of information another example of how Imagining the Tenth Dimension plugs into some deeper truths about our reality? I believe it is. And constructive interference is an important phrase to keep in mind through all this, as it applies to quantum mechanics, the universe as a hologram, Wheeler's self-excited circuit, and the role of life and consciousness in creating this universe or any other.

8. Let's look at this idea more carefully: "a world created by observation/participation". In Imagining the Eighth Dimension, we mentioned a concept from a paper published by Lee Smolin and others at, which proposes that we can have a deeper understanding of general relativity if we accept that "different observers construct different spacetimes, which are observer-dependent slices of phase space". And with this project, we keep returning to Everett's idea that there is an unchanging "set of all possible states" or "phase space" which exists outside of spacetime, and that quantum mechanics makes the most sense when we understand that this is not a process of collapse we are talking about here, it is only a process of observation. Does that mean then that we, as quantum observers, are each creating our own reality? And if so, how much control do we have?

There's no question that each of us is at the center of the observed universe, and even though that might sound like a return to ancient thinking that the sun revolves around the earth, the cosmological horizon is real, and this fact would be just as true for an observer on the other side of our currently observed universe - they too would find themselves to be at the center of a space-time sphere, with their very own unique version of the cosmological horizon.

So here I am in a unique universe created through my participation as a quantum observer, which is part of a 5D probability space (as we discussed in Imagining the Fifth Dimension). Does that mean I'm a part of Wheeler's self-excited circuit, the universe observing itself? Does that make me part of a universal creative force, or as Einstein referred to it, "the Old One"? In fact, am I an aspect of God, observing some unique aspect of My creation? Or am I part of an underlying life force which creates pockets of negative entropy, pushing against the natural decline of the universe? These are all different ways of thinking about the same idea, use whichever one you're the most comfortable with if you feel so inclined. For me, the most important part of this discussion is not what label you place upon this process, but the fact that this way of visualizing our reality presents a strong argument for free will. Yes, there is ultimately only one underlying form, one underlying geometry, but you and I (and all living things) are within something much more interesting. We are each moving points within a fifth dimensional probability space, observing a shared consensus reality which connects us all together, but also each observing our own unique version of that space.

For persons trapped in negative loops of abuse or addiction, this is particularly important to understand. If free will is an illusion, then how can we hope to break out of these patterns? The fifth dimension shows the way. As I say in my song Addictive Personality:
Every day is a new day
Every day you’re back to one
And today can be the new day
When you say you’re finally done
Not all habits are bad, of course, and it's in our nature to be attracted to things that make us feel good. The addictions we're talking about here are the ones that are the opposite of the universal creative force, the ones that conspire to extinguish that "spark" of life which Schrödinger described. Each of us, with our free will, have to be the one to decide whether we're on the path we want to be on, and to recognize that we have the power to change that path if we choose to do so. Does that mean we're magical creatures, capable of changing anything about our reality? Does it mean a starving child in Africa can become rich and famous simply by thinking better thoughts? No. But it also means that we are not the powerless automatons that the hard determinists would have us believe ourselves to be, and that there is a constantly evolving "best possible version" of ourselves that already exists within our fifth dimensional probability space which we each have the potential to get to with the choices we're able to make.
9. One of the 26 songs I attached to this project is called "Automatic". In it, I talk about the powerful idea put forth by Julian Jaynes in his groundbreaking book "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind". Jaynes proposed that until about 3,000 years ago, humans lived their lives with their conscious and subconscious minds fully integrated. When the subconscious developed a plan or had an intuition, humans heard this as a "voice" inside their heads, which they often interpreted to be the voices of gods or ancestors. Then something happened: the "narrator" voice of the conscious mind assumed dominance, and the subconscious mind's processes became more submerged. Still, there are a great many activities which we perform better when we can quiet our "narrator voice": driving a car, hitting a golf ball, playing a musical instrument or typing on a keyboard all go better when we can get our narrator voice to stop conducting traffic, saying "do this, now do that", and just let things flow. And yet, despite the advantages of this mode of operation, most of us have been taught to be suspicious of those moments when we stop narrating: we're told to stop daydreaming, get our minds back in the game, and so on.

Most of us are comfortable with the idea that there is some kind of duality to our consciousness. The difference between left brain/right brain approaches to processing the data coming in from our senses is well documented. And with this project, we have often talked about the "me" that is attached to the physical body, and the other parts of our awareness that are more connected outside of space and time. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's book My Stroke of Insight is amazing to me because it blends these two ideas so beautifully - is the right brain more connected to those larger patterns that are outside of our physical reality? Dr. Taylor provides a compelling personal narrative that tells us this is so.

Here again is where we get into those more metaphysical ideas - that what I call "me" is much more than the collection of memories attached to my physical body, and instinct, intuition, inspiration, creativity, and the underlying processes of life itself are part of the gigantic patterns that exist outside of our physical reality. This is a dynamic system we're talking about, with each of us assuming new patterns of awareness, discarding old ones, becoming entrained and entraining others with the wave-like interactions of constructive and destructive interference that are occurring within the extra dimensions to create our observed reality. Is it possible for these patterns to exist completely separate from a physical body? Proponents of out-of-body experiences and lucid dreaming would say yes, and anyone with a sufficiently convincing supernatural story to tell will also be much more likely to accept this possibility.

Anthony Peake's work puts a tighter focus on these ideas - in his 2008 book The Daemon, he offers evidence that each of us have a left brain/physical consciousness called the Eidolon; and we each have a right brain/metaphysical awareness called the Daemon, which has the foreknowledge of what is to come and sometimes "steers" the physical body into better outcomes. In terms of Everett's Many Worlds and my approach to visualizing the dimensions, could this Daemon be an awareness operating from the sixth dimensional phase space of all possible outcomes for our universe, traveling from conception to death with each version of a unique individual as they physically navigate the possible world lines of their fifth dimensional probability space?

10. This project keeps coming back to quantum mechanics: the fact that our reality is divided into quantum "frames" and not continuous, the branching probabilistic outcomes of Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, and the idea that everything is potentially connected within the underlying quantum world is central to this "new way of thinking about time and space". Ultimately, does everything fit together through instantaneous quantum superposition across space, across time, and across all of the different versions of our universe or any other? Is it startling to think that the point of indeterminate size that we start from is also where we end up with this project, and to consider that the nested hyperspheres of each additional dimension can also be encompassed by this point of indeterminate size? No matter where we end up, we need to acknowledge that quantum mechanics is the most successful theory of reality devised so far, so whatever Theory of Everything we're trying to get to, we should keep in mind the truth about the underlying quantum nature of the universe we're in.

So as we think about there being a duality to our awareness (a left brain/physical, and a right brain/metaphysical), it's interesting to think of our physical existence as it's defined by branching paths within the fifth dimensional probability space and the quantum wave function. In a blog entry called Entangled Neurons, we looked at a new scientific study indicating that quantum entanglement is intrinsic to the process of memory creation, and in Entangled Awareness and OBEs, I said this:
...right at this instant, I am part of a cloud of probabilistic "me"s that are all continuing on the same general path, the same branch. That's true at the quantum level, and it's true at the macro level: all of the tiny random occurrences and inconsequential decisions (shall I put my hand here or here when I push that door open?) tend to cancel each other out, to keep us moving in the same trajectory. It's only when our choice, or chance, or the actions of others create an event that really does split us onto a new fifth-dimensional path that a long-term memory is created. 
For years, scientists have been fond of saying that quantum physics has nothing to do with the warm and wet world of living things, but that opinion is now changing. A paper published last year at suggests that DNA is held together using quantum entanglement. In other blog entries like The Quantum Observer and Creativity and the Quantum Universe, we've looked at new evidence that photosynthesis and bird navigation are also utilizing quantum processes. Ideas such as these are the first inklings of a new science called quantum biology, and this all ties very nicely to the idea that life itself is a unique process which is engaged with our space-time in ways that transcend the limits of the "here" and the "now", in the same way that quantum entanglement and superposition seem supremely mysterious until we accept that there is more to the universe than the limited space-time reality we see around us.

Likewise, the new buzz around the evidence that neutrinos have been detected that arrived 60 billionths of a second earlier than the speed of light is very interesting, but I would caution people who says this disproves Einstein's Theory of Relativity: in my opinion, this would only be the case if you don't believe in the existence of extra dimensions. But if these neutrinos somehow took a tiny shortcut outside of spacetime, and essentially "burrowed" through the fifth dimension to arrive a little earlier, that would not violate relativity, and if this effect were proved and confirmed by other experimenters this could well be the first direct evidence of the existence of extra dimensions. How cool would that be??

As I say in song number 1 of the 26 songs I created for this project: Everything Fits Together. I hope that this project has helped to awaken your senses to the possibilities of just how true that phrase really is.

A direct link to the above video is at

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next: New Video - Is Energy Not Conserved?

Imagining the Ninth Dimension
Imagining the Eighth Dimension
Imagining the Seventh Dimension
Imagining the Sixth Dimension
Imagining the Fifth Dimension
Imagining the Fourth Dimension
Imagining the Third Dimension
Imagining the Second Dimension

Monday, September 26, 2011

Top Ten Tenth DImension Blogs - September Report

Previous lists:
. April 08 . May 08 . June 08 . July 08 . August 08
. September 08 . October 08 . November 08 . December 08 .
. Top 100 Blog Entries of 2008 . May 09 . June 09 . July 09
. August 09 . September 09 . October 09 . November 09 .
. December 09 . Top 100 Blog Entries of 2009 .
. January 10 . February 10 . March 10 . April 10 . May 10 .
. June 10 . July 10 . August 10 . September 10 . October 10 .
. November 10 . December 10 . Top 100 Entries of 2010 .
. January 11 . February 11 . March 11 . April 11 . May 11 .
. June 11 . July 11 . August 11

Based upon number of views, here are the top blogs for the last thirty days.

1. The Pencil Visualization
2. Five Years Ago Today
3. Poll 80 - What is Now?
4. New video - Poll 75 - Waves Curves and Frames
5. Poll 79 - Does Gravity Come from the 5th Dimension?
6. New video - Poll 77 - Living in a Simulation
7. New video - Poll 78 - LHC and Extra Dimensions
8. Imagining the Second Dimension
9. New video - Poll 76 - No Space No Time No Mass
10. Poll 83 - Is Energy Not Conserved?

And as of September 26th, 2011, here are the twenty-six Imagining the Tenth Dimension blog entries that have attracted the most visits of all time. Items marked in bold are new or have risen since last month.

1. Jumping Jesus (1)
2. What's Around the Corner? (2)
3. Mandelbulbs (3)
4. An Expanding 4D Sphere (4)
5. The 5th-Dimensional Camera Project (6) 
6. Just Six Things: The I Ching (5)
7. Is Reality an Illusion? (10)
8. Roger Ebert on Quantum Reincarnation (7)
9. Light Has No Speed (9)
10. Vibrations and Fractals (8)
11. Gravity and Love (15)
12. How to Time Travel (11)
13. Creativity and the Quantum Universe (12)
14. Bees and the LHC (17)  
15. Our Universe Within the Omniverse (13)
16. Dancing on the Timeline (14)
17. 10-10-10 Look Before You Leap (16)
18. Time Travel Paradoxes (21)
19. Magnets and Morality (18) 
20. Changing Your Brain (20)
21. Monkeys Love Metallica (19)
22. Simultaneous Inspiration (22)
23. Consciousness in Frames per Second (23) 
24. Complexity from Simplicity (26)
25. Polls Archive 54 - Is Time Moving Faster? (25)
26. Poll 44 - The Biocentric Universe Theory (24)

Which means that there are no new entries to our top 26 of all time list this month.

By the way, if you're 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. If you are interested in the 26 songs attached to this project, this blog shows a video for each of the songs and provides more links with lyrics and discussion. The Annotated Tenth Dimension Video provides another cornucopia of discussion topics to be connected to over at YouTube. Also, a lot of people are enjoying discussing these ideas with me on my facebook page: .

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next: Wrapping It Up in the Tenth Dimension

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Imagining the Ninth Dimension

"The string landscape can be visualized schematically as a mountainous terrain in which different valleys represent different forms for the extra dimensions, and altitude represents the cosmological constant's value."

I've been saying that the eighth dimension is as far as you need to go for any expressions of matter, while the ninth can only contain information/meme patterns, preferences for one kind of reality over another. How could I arrive at such an ambitious statement?

With my Imagining the Tenth Dimension project, I begin by saying that a point indicates a position in a system. In Imagining the Sixth Dimension, I mentioned that thinking about the set of all possible states for our unique universe would be thinking about our universe's phase space. In fact, that's the definition of phase space: a space in which all possible states of a system are represented. I believe there's a way to apply this thinking to every single dimension - in a sense, a dimension when considered as a "set of all possible states for that dimension" becomes a finite but unbounded hypersphere, and that hypersphere becomes a point in the next dimension up. Let's go back and see how that logic holds up.

If I'm on a boat in the middle of the ocean, I can see a horizon that appears to be the same in every direction. From this I can deduce that there is a slight curvature to the surface of the ocean, which is topologically speaking a 2D plane, and understand that I'm really on a 3D sphere. From the 2D topological perspective, I could head in a specific direction forever, giving me the impression that I was on an infinitely flat surface, but with the added curvature of the third dimension we can see how "apparently infinite" can be equated with "finite but unbounded".

With the knowledge that it takes a certain amount of "time" for light to reach our eyes, we realize that what we're seeing around us is not space, but space-time, and that as counter-intuitive as this may seem at first it's actually impossible for us to see 3D space: we can imagine and use the logic of 3D shapes, but we can only see them from our moving position within 4D space-time.

From our position within 4D space-time, we look out to the furthest reaches and see a cosmological horizon which is the same in all directions. From this we can deduce that there is a slight curvature to space-time, and that we're really a point moving on the surface of a 5D hypersphere. There are many other indications that our reality comes from the fifth dimension: back in 1921 Einstein accepted this idea as proposed by Kaluza. Holographic universe theories propose that we are an interference pattern projected from the fifth dimension, or from the "edge of the universe" but I disagree with those who say that this edge is far, far away.  Think of it like this: the third dimension is at the "edge" of the second dimension no matter where our imaginary 2D flatlanders are located. In the same way, this "edge" they speak about in holographic universe theories as being at an additional right angle to our space-time reality is not far away, it's right "here" in the next dimension up, no matter where we are within our space-time reality. And Hugh Everett, even through he didn't propose extra dimensions with his Many Worlds Interpretation, did propose that the branching universes derived from quantum mechanics occur within a space which is orthogonal (at right angles) to space-time.

Some quantum physicists are fond of saying that extremely unlikely events such as one of us suddenly disappearing from here and reappearing on the moon are allowable within the quantum wave function, but they are so unlikely that they would take longer than the life of the universe to occur. Likewise, Everett talked about how there are branching tree-like structures which are causally connected, and he even allowed for the possibility that some of those branches might fuse back together further down the causal chain, but he was very clear that causality could never be violated - so the universe where dinosaurs never became extinct or JFK was never murdered or where I died in a car crash last year would exist within the universal wave function as described by the Schrödinger equation, but they are now inaccessible from the universe we are currently observing. Those other universes, in a manner of speaking, are beyond the horizon of our 5D probability space, which leads me to conclude that we are a 5D point moving on the surface of a 6D hypersphere.

This sixth dimensional "phase space", as some have called it, includes all possible versions of our universe, from its beginning to its end. But within that phase space, we never wander off into one of the other universes with different physical laws, because those are in effect "beyond the horizon" of our universe's phase space, and from this we can deduce that the system representing our universe as a timeless whole is a point on a 7D hypersphere.

From here we are beginning to move into discussions of information flow rather than physical realities, but we're not all the way there yet.

In his book Just Six Numbers, Sir Martin Rees tells us that we only need to define six "deep forces" to describe our unique universe. Adjusting any one of those parameters by surprisingly small amounts would cause our universe to fall apart as the laws of physics break down. So if our unique universe is located at a position within the multiverse landscape, or constrained by a D7 brane as some string theorists have suggested, then are we moving, or are we stationary on the surface of this 7D hypersphere? There has been some evidence that the basic physical laws of our universe may have been slightly different at the earliest history of our universe, which would indicate that perhaps we have changed our 7D position slightly according to the logic we're pursuing here. But the idea that there is a certain natural selection occurring at the seventh dimension and beyond also makes sense - if we move too far away from our position, the incredibly delicate balance of forces that allow our universe to exist would collapse, so at nearby positions within this multiverse landscape there might not be universes that cohere into any meaningful structures, but further away another universe completely different from ours could be assembled with its own unique set of intricately connected physical laws and its own unique expression within the sixth dimension and below.

We also talked last entry about how we can imagine a data set of universes within the seventh dimension which would then require the "beyond the horizon" additional degree of freedom of the eighth dimension for us to be able to simultaneously consider other data sets not included within the seventh dimensional one: but to be clear, those data sets could be interchangeable, so this is more of a question of reference frames than it is of some data not being part of the seventh dimension. In that sense, the seventh dimension harkens back to the "garden hose" analogy used by string theorists: it's useful to imagine that the seventh dimension looks like a straight line, but when we move closer we can see the dimension has the potential for additional twists and turns that are inside the "rolled up tube" that is, topologically speaking, the "plane" of the eighth dimension.

(We looked at the following animation of vibrating Calabi-Yau Manifolds before in June 2011, in an entry called "Will the LHC Reveal Extra Dimensions?")
With this project, I'm proposing that the eighth dimension would encompass every possible physical expression of every possible universe. This would even include the extremely unlikely universes that result from oscillating rather than static constants - the degree of freedom to allow such changes would be within the eighth dimension. So no matter what universe we are imagining, we can visualize it as a point on an 8D hypersphere, but in the case of our own universe I suspect that we are not partaking of that additional potential degree of freedom, so we are definitely not moving away from our 7D position within the eighth dimension.

What's beyond the horizon of the 8D construct we've just envisioned? String theorists who talk about there being ten to the power of five hundred possible universes are really describing the different possible shapes the extra dimensions could take. In The Hidden Reality, Brian Greene uses the following image to picture the terrain of possible extra-dimensional shapes: he calls this terrain the Landscape Multiverse (as opposed to the Brane Multiverse, the Quilted Multiverse and so on), and describes how quantum tunnelings through this mountainous string landscape realize every possible form for the extra dimensions in one or another bubble universe. To tie this idea to my approach to visualizing the extra dimensions, the topological "plane" of this landscape is the eighth dimension, and the additional degree of freedom allowing this tunneling to occur would be in the ninth dimension.

(this graphic © 2011 by Brian Greene)
So here we are in the ninth dimension. Now we really are into the realm of organizing patterns, or "big picture memes" as I've called them in my book, where we are finally fully into the "information" side of the "information equals reality" equation. What caused our particular universe to be selected from out of the sea of potential patterns that roil and froth like quantum foam at the ninth dimension?

Back in July 2008 we talked in this blog about Michael Shermer, who's the well-known publisher of Skeptic Magazine. Michael's goal has been to poke holes in the questionable claims of fringe science, the paranormal, and a wide range of other areas that he has targeted with his razor-sharp debunking skills. This is why I found it quite marvelous when I picked up an issue of Scientific American back then, and found that Mr. Shermer's regular column that month was entitled "Sacred Science: can emergence break the spell of reductionism and put spirituality back into nature?".

Mr. Shermer's article is about a fellow who comes from my neighboring province of Alberta, Canada: Stuart Kauffman, founding director of the Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics at the University of Calgary, who has written a book called "Reinventing the Sacred". To quote from Michael Shermer's article about the book:
Kauffman reverses the reductionist's causal arrow with a comprehensive theory of emergence and self-organization that he says 'breaks no laws of physics' and yet cannot be explained by them. God 'is our chosen name for the ceaseless creativity in the natural universe, biosphere and human cultures,' Kauffman declares.
By the time we are thinking about the ninth dimension as selection patterns that represent a generalized preference for one kind of universe over another, I believe we're in the same intellectual neighborhood as the "God 2.0" concept. And I think Michael Shermer, famed atheist and skeptic, got it right when he concluded his article saying that Stuart Kauffman's "God 2.0 is a deity worthy of worship".

Why do I say this? Because by now we're talking about labels: "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet".  Whether you want to call these selection patterns that caused our universe to be selected from out of this sea of potential information patterns "God", or some other less emotionally-charged name, doesn't change the ninth dimensional reality that we're describing here. As I say in the last verse of my song The Unseen Eye:
Now the universe of all universes
If the truth be known
Is an awful bore, viewed as a whole
But just a tiny shard viewed from any angle
Reveals complexity
It reveals such beauty, reveals a soul
So does it make a difference
How we got to what we see
If it’s really just coincidence
It’s still a wondrous thing
If you are one of those persons who recoil at the use of words like "God" and "soul", I apologize. This project is not an attempt to enforce a spiritual viewpoint onto the nature of reality, but it also tries to show that there are a great many possible connections between these different schools of thought. If you prefer physics over philosophy, so be it, that is one point of view. But likewise, if you prefer spirituality over science, I'm hoping that this project has given you some new food for thought for where the meeting ground between the two might reside.

There are 26 songs I attached to this project (I chose that number as a bit of an inside joke for fans of the history of string theory), and the very last one is called "Thankful". Having a sense of wonder and gratitude for the immense processes which selected the universe we are in right here and right now is, to my way of thinking, a completely appropriate response.

Are you enjoying the journey?

Rob Bryanton

Next: Wrapping It Up in the Tenth Dimension

Imagining the Eighth Dimension
Imagining the Seventh Dimension
Imagining the Sixth Dimension
Imagining the Fifth Dimension
Imagining the Fourth Dimension
Imagining the Third Dimension
Imagining the Second Dimension

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Imagining the Eighth Dimension

A direct link to the above video is at

As we continue to add dimensions, the orthogonal hypercube projections that we're looking at here with each new dimension become increasingly ornate, and (dare I say it) more mandala-like.

Another eight-dimensional shape that we've looked at with this project is Garrett Lisi's E8 Rotation. Lisi created a huge stir in the physics world with a new proposal for what he calls An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything that uses "E8" - a complex, eight-dimensional pattern with 248 points.

As visually appealing as this shape (pictured below) might be, its implications are startling: Lisi has demonstrated that there is a way to place the various forces and elementary particles (including their possible quantum spin values) on E8's 248 points. Rotating Lisi's model in various ways reveals the explanation for a variety of interactions, some of which (like the clustering of quarks into families of three) are natural outcomes from this structure. Some points in his model are currently occupied by particles which have been theorized but which have yet to be seen, and there is hope that the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland may some day reveal some of those particles.

Whether Garrett Lisi's theory proves the existence of higher dimensions or not is open to interpretation - Lisi himself says this geometric pattern, although it is based upon an 8 dimensional construct, could be fully realized within our 4D space-time without requiring additional dimensions. On the other hand, in a New Scientist magazine article, string theorist Sabine Hossenfelder (of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics) points out that this could be complimentary to string theory, which she says also uses E8 to describe the Calabi-Yau manifold, the extra-dimensional shape that string theorists says our universe is derived from.

Lisi also acknowledges that this is not a finished theory but a work in progress, and that there are still some deficiencies in his model that need further refinement. For me, this dimensional connection is fascinating because with this project I've insisted that you can't have any physical expressions of matter in anything beyond the 8th dimension.

Why Do We Need the 8th Dimension?
A commonly asked question about this project is, "if our universe and every other universe can be thought of as "points", or perhaps "positions" within a multiverse landscape, and in this way of visualizing the dimensions we get to that landscape by the time we're at the seventh dimension, then why do we need to think about any more dimensions beyond that?

To my way of thinking, you can express the same concern about every definition of every single dimension, and the arguments have to keep coming back to "what are we missing within this current dimension?".

For instance, people say that the third spatial dimension is really all you need, because no matter what other universe you imagine it should have a third dimensional expression.

Or there are people who say all we need is space-time, because by the time you have the third dimension plus time, which gives the third dimension a way to change from state to state, then you can imagine every single possible universe strung end to end within infinite space-time, and because that string of possible states is infinite you will eventually get to every possible universe.

Or you can have people who say space-time plus its probabilistic outcomes (which Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation says are "orthogonal" or "at right angles" to space-time, leading to my conclusion that these branches are in the fifth dimension) gives you everything you need to imagine every possible universe.

From there, I've proposed that the branches for our universe which no amount of chance or choice will allow us to select (like the branches where dinosaurs never became extinct or the ones where I died in a car accident last year) are in the sixth dimension, and this uses the same logical reasoning that defines any spatial dimension - there always needs to be a "new degree of freedom" added for us to be able to call what we're talking about a new dimension, and the new dimension allows us to get to something that was unavailable from the previous dimensions.

Likewise, I've proposed that those other universes with different basic physical laws are located in other positions within the seventh dimension and above, and this is why our universe, constrained at its position within that multiverse landscape never "wanders off" into one of those other universes.

(The rotating shapes below are known as the Platonic Solids. Pictured here are the tetrahedron, the cube or hexahedron, the octahedron, the dodecahedron, and the icosahedron. We'll talk about these shapes later on in this entry.)

So, why isn't the seventh dimension as far as we need to go? We have to continue with the logic we've used from the outset. Imagine a point of infinite size in the sixth dimension, and it's much the same as imagining the indeterminate point we started from with our thought experiment - the point encompasses the whole dimension. If we can think of a different point that is not subsumed by the first point, then the point-line-plane postulate tells us we've found a way to get to the "next dimension up": those two points define a line in the seventh dimension.

What if the second point we just imagined represents a universe where the strength of gravity is different from ours? Then the line that passes through those two points is like a one-dimensional line, and that line extends through all possible values for gravity. Different positions on that line would include "impossible" universes which could not have come into existence because the strength of gravity was above or below a certain threshold needed to allow a physical universe to express itself, and such imaginary universes might be at many places along the line, interspersed with universes that were able to cohere into more organized states.

What about a universe with a different value for the speed of light (or whatever physical constant you care to imagine)? That's not on the line we just drew. We could erase the other point we drew, then place a new point for a universe with a different speed of light, and the new line that passes through those two points would be all possible realities resulting from different values for the speed of light.

But what if I want to consider both lines simultaneously? It can't be done without entering the next dimension up, the eighth dimension. So with the logic of the point-line-plane postulate we have a way of thinking of the eighth dimension as being like a plane, and our universe can be viewed as a point in the eighth dimension with those two lines or any other lines representing other different-initial-conditions universe passing through our point within that plane.

Remember this: with the point-line-plane postulate, the point you start from is in dimension x, the line to a different point is in dimension x+1, and the plane defined by a third point not on that line is in dimension x+2. Having worked through three dimensions, nothing moves or changes about the first point, we are just adding dimensions that allow us to view that starting point from different perspectives. Thinking of our universe as a "largest possible point" encompassing the phase space of the sixth dimension, then, doesn't mean that we can't view that unchanging point from the widening perspective of the seventh or eighth dimension.  Quite the contrary: this logic is the accepted approach to visualizing spatial dimensions. Likewise, the idealized shapes we've started each of these entries with (like the octeract at the start of this entry) have an underlying symmetry, where each of the points are equidistant to their adjacent ones in the same way that the adjacent points of a 3D cube are equidistant when viewed within the third dimension. This means that the 8D octeract, like any of the other hypercube shapes, can be placed within a hypersphere with the same number of dimensions, and the outer points of the hypercube are pushed apart from the center of the hypersphere symmetrically: the point of indeterminate size can become a sphere occupying as little or as much of the dimension it's placed within. At its largest possible expression, this point becomes a finite but unbounded hypersphere occupying the entire phase space of the dimension it's within. We can also look at the other Platonic Solids we've been looking at here with this same idea of symmetric points pushed out from a central position in mind, and this includes shapes like the nested tetrahedra we see below left, which can be used to create the dodecahedron at the right.

Speaking of phase space, here's a link to a recent New Scientist article about a new paper published by Lee Smolin and others at, proposing that all possible universes could be contained within an eight-dimensional phase space. To follow the logic we've been pursuing here, the six-dimensional phase space for our own universe (or any specific universe with locked-in physical laws) would be a subset of an eight-dimensional phase space that encompasses all possible universes. Likewise, it's worth noting that Everett didn't limit his Theory of the Universal Wavefunction to just our unique universe: so while the phase space of a unique different-initial-conditions universe such as ours could be encompassed by the sixth dimension, the logic we've followed here shows us that Everett's theory ultimately should be considered from the phase space of the eighth dimension to include the wave function of all those other possible universes.

So what's beyond the eighth dimension? The simplest way to take our thought experiment to the next dimension up now is to ask this: how would you jump from the universe with a different value for gravity to the universe with the different speed of light without passing through the intermediate possibilities? To get to that addition degree of freedom, you need the next dimension up. For our 2D flatlander ant, that was the third dimension. For our fly in the fifth-dimensional garden hose analogy, that freedom to flit from location to location was in the sixth dimension. And for all these different universes considered from the eighth dimension, where do you think we'd achieve this additional degree of freedom?

Next: Imagining the Ninth Dimension

Imagining the Seventh Dimension
Imagining the Sixth Dimension
Imagining the Fifth Dimension
Imagining the Fourth Dimension
Imagining the Third Dimension
Imagining the Second Dimension

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Imagining the Seventh Dimension

A direct link to the above video is at

"...much as the many different forms for DNA provide for the abundant variety of life on earth, so the many different forms for the extra dimensions may provide for the abundant variety of universes populating a string-based multiverse".

- Brian Greene, in his book The Hidden Reality

A point represents a position within a system, and as we add dimensions, the system becomes more complex. In the Imagining the Tenth Dimension animation, we're asked to think of our universe with its locked in fine structure constant as a "point" at a position within the system of the seventh dimension, which means some other seven-dimensional "point" would be a way to get to some other universe with different basic physical laws than our own. Just how crazy is this idea?

Some string theorists have said there are ten to the power of five hundred other universes out there, in something we can call the "string theory landscape". Other cosmologists have suggested that the number of other possible universes out there approaches infinity, and because of that we are just in a tiny sliver of something called the multiverse. Either way, what we're trying to visualize here is a position within that landscape, and within that position we would find a way to get to Everett's universal wave function representing all possible outcomes for our particular universe.

Here's a graphic which was part of a great article published in November 2007's Scientific American: written by Cliff Burgess and Fernando Quevedo, the article is called "The Great Cosmic Roller-Coaster Ride".

(this graphic © 2007 by Scientific American)

You can click on this graphic from the article to see a higher-resolution version, but while you're here I'll quote the text:
According to string theory, our observable universe is a small part of a larger space having more dimensions than the three we directly see. The other dimensions may be microscopic in size (or otherwise difficult to penetrate) and crumpled up in a funky shape known as a Calabi-Yau space. The observable universe may be on a membrane, or simply a "brane," sitting at the tip of a spike (what physicists call a "throat") or composing part of a membrane wrapped around teacuplike handles.
When I published my book in 2006 did I know that string theory proposes that our universe is constrained at the third dimension and the seventh dimension by "branes" in those dimensions? I did not. Still, there seems to be another very interesting parallel here between my proposal that our universe is "locked in" at the seventh dimension, and the string theory idea that our universe is constrained by a seven-dimensional brane. My goal, since the day I launched this project back in 2006, has been to continue to document interesting connections between leading edge science and my approach to visualizing the dimensions, and I believe we're looking at a particularly useful one here.

The word "multiverse" has a number of different meanings for different people, so there are some possibilities for confusion. As you'll see in the wikipedia article on this topic, physicist Max Tegmark has proposed that there are four different levels of Multiverse (some of the following is paraphrased and some is quoted from the wikipedia article):

Level I: Beyond our cosmological horizon

Remember the cosmological horizon? It gives us a way of seeing that each of us is at the center of our own version of the observable universe, and that if we were on a planet billions of light years from here, we would still see ourselves to be at the very center of a different but essentially similar cosmological horizon. Those two would overlap much like a space-time Venn Diagram. But what if an observer were so far away that their cosmological horizon didn't overlap with ours at all? In a Level I multiverse, space-time is perfectly flat. On that flat "sheet" of space-time there are an infinite number of self-contained universes, all with the same physical laws and constants. Almost all will differ from our own universe. However, because there are infinitely many, there will eventually be similar, and even identical, configurations.

Even though this version of this multiverse has many supporters, particularly since it doesn't require the existence of any extra dimensions, this one feels extremely unlikely to me. 
Max Tegmark estimates that within a Level I multiverse, an identical volume to ours should be about 1010115 meters away from us (a number larger than a googolplex). 
If that's the case, then how far away is the one where I got up five minutes earlier this morning? And how far away from that one is the one where I got up four minutes and fifty-nine seconds earlier? It's easy to see why some people who are taught this version of the multiverse dismiss it as being ridiculously extravagant.

With my project, I've proposed that the cosmological horizon is the space-time equivalent of the 3D horizon we see around us when we're in the middle of the ocean - it's the same in every direction because of an underlying curvature. Topologically speaking, if we think of our 4D space-time as a flat plane, or the surface of the ocean as a flat plane, where is the curvature? In either case, I would say it's in the next dimension up. So our observable 4D universe is really on the surface of a 5D hypersphere! Which means that if Tegmark's calculation is correct we have a measurement of the circumference of that hypersphere. Just as we could travel east on the surface of the earth and eventually end up back where we started, this would indicate that if we traveled 1010115 meters, we would traverse the 5D hypersphere and end up at the same place we are right now. It also means that if I had adjusted my angle ever so slightly, I could have ended up in the universe that is really very nearby ours in the fifth dimension, where I got up five minutes earlier this morning.

Level II: Universes with different physical constants

In this version, the multiverse as a whole is stretching and will continue doing so forever, but some regions of space stop stretching and form distinct bubbles, like gas pockets in a loaf of rising bread. Such bubbles are embryonic level I multiverses.
With my project, I have referred to this as the multiverse landscape, and placed it in the seventh dimension and above (depending on the context of the discussion), but within Tegmark's classification system his Level II universe does not require the existence of extra dimensions, and is on an infinitely flat expanse of spacetime.

Level III: Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics

Hugh Everett III's Theory of the Universal Wave Function, commonly known as the Many Worlds Interpretation, tell us that observation causes one universe out of many to be selected, but the others continue on, just as real as the one we're in. Tegmark argues that a level III multiverse does not contain more possibilities than a level I or II multiverse.

In effect, all the different "worlds" created by "splits" in a level III multiverse with the same physical constants can be found in some Hubble volume in a level I multiverse. Tegmark writes that "The only difference between Level I and Level III is where your doppelgängers reside. In Level I they live elsewhere in good old three-dimensional space. In Level III they live on another quantum branch in infinite-dimensional Hilbert space." Similarly, all level II bubble universes with different physical constants can in effect be found as "worlds" created by "splits" at the moment of spontaneous symmetry breaking in a level III multiverse. Related to the many-worlds idea are Richard Feynman's multiple histories interpretation and H. Dieter Zeh's many-minds interpretation.
At last we get to extra dimensions, even if they're infinite within Tegmark's classification system. With my project, I have suggested that these "other" universes resulting from different physical constants are at different positions within the multiverse landscape of the seventh and eighth dimension, and that having arrived at any particular location within that landscape there is a potential for there to be a wave function of possible states (in other words, a set of parallel universes for the resulting universe) within the first through sixth dimension.

Level IV: Ultimate Ensemble

The Ultimate Ensemble hypothesis of Tegmark himself. This level considers equally real all universes that can be described by different mathematical structures. This does not include different low-energy physical laws not of our observable universe. Tegmark writes that "abstract mathematics is so general that any Theory Of Everything (TOE) that is definable in purely formal terms (independent of vague human terminology) is also a mathematical structure. For instance, a TOE involving a set of different types of entities (denoted by words, say) and relations between them (denoted by additional words) is nothing but what mathematicians call a set-theoretical model, and one can generally find a formal system that it is a model of." He argues this "implies that any conceivable parallel universe theory can be described at Level IV" and "subsumes all other ensembles, therefore brings closure to the hierarchy of multiverses, and there cannot be say a Level V."
"Ultimate Ensemble" certainly works as a description of the tenth dimension within my approach to visualizing the dimensions, and I've been saying that to avoid confusion it's better not to call this over-arching concept a multiverse, but rather The Omniverse. This helps to keep it separate in our minds from the parallel universe versions of our own universe (Tegmark's Level I, which I have also referred to as our universe's "phase space"), and the multiverse landscape of possible universes (Tegmark's Level II and/or III). On top of that I have added the ninth dimension, which encompasses the dimensions below but moves beyond any physical expressions and into patterns of information only, and by then we are arriving at what Tegmark calls Level IV. The omniverse, then, becomes either the ninth dimension in its entirety, or the tenth dimension in its unobserved state: a single "point" representing the ultimate ensemble of all possible patterns and shapes, ready to be created through symmetry breaking to spill us back into the realities of the dimensions below.

So. What is unique about the seventh dimension? Our universe never wanders off into the other different initial conditions universes as we observe the quantum wave function of possible outcomes for our universe because it is constrained by its position (or a D7 brane as we saw in the string theory graphic above) within the seventh dimension. Moving to another "position" within the seventh dimension and above precipitates a completely different universe with different basic physical laws, and for that universe its expressions in the lower dimensions will be just as real as our own, and just as locked in by their position within the seventh dimension and above as our own universe is. In that sense, what we are talking about here is easily connected to what physicist Lisa Randall talks about in her book "Warped Passages": there are are other regions of the multiverse (and ultimately the "omniverse") where other universes with different basic physical laws from our own exist, and it's because they stem from a different "position" within the underlying structures of reality that we can't get to them, and they can't get to us.

As I have cautioned people from the outset of this project, my "new way of thinking about time and space" is not the explanation for string theory, it's just an innovative way to visualize ten spatial dimensions, something that most people would have said was impossible to do. I have always remarked, though, that I find it interesting to see how many different spiritual and metaphysical systems have also placed a heavy significance on the number seven: so much so that one of the 26 songs I've attached to this project is called "Seven Levels". Just for fun, we'll look at a video for that song at the end of this entry.

But before we do that, let me close with this thought: if Information Equals Reality, then absolutely everything about our reality can be thought of as patterns and shapes within the information that is the fabric of quantum indeterminacy, or Tegmark's Ultimate Ensemble. Subatomic particles, fractals, life, consciousness, and our observed universe are all structures that result from these underlying patterns that reside in that place where the distinction between past present, and future is meaningless. Our own observed reality is being created at the fifth dimension, so anything beyond that becomes part of a "you can't get there from here" list, unless we can some day navigate within those extra dimensions beyond the fifth. And as we get closer to ten, we are now starting to move away from the reality side of the equation and more towards the information side. We'll continue this exploration next time with Imagining the Eighth Dimension.

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

A direct link to the above video is at

Next: Imagining the Eighth Dimension

Imagining the Sixth Dimension
Imagining the Fifth Dimension
Imagining the Fourth Dimension
Imagining the Third Dimension
Imagining the Second Dimension

Tenth Dimension Vlog playlist