Sunday, December 30, 2007

FAQ 6 - Can you really "fold" a dimension?

(Click here for the complete Imagining the Tenth Dimension FAQ list)

6. Is it really possible to "fold" a dimension, and what would happen if you did?

Click here to see a video and read a blog on "Wormholes".

Because some of us were introduced to the term through science fiction, we might jump to the conclusion that wormholes are completely fictional, but there has been some interesting work done by theoretical physicists like Kip Thorne and Stephen Hawking on the subject.

Here is a wikipedia article that leads off with a nice graphic showing how a wormhole is very much like a folding of spacetime. In the tenth dimension animation, when our ant pops out of existence from one branch and reappears on the other, we could imagine that the ant traveled through a wormhole to achieve this.

In my book, in the chapter on time travel paradoxes and popular science fiction writing I go through the following explanation of wormholes as applied to this unique way of imagining the dimensions:

Granted, it would be easy to dismiss this entire discussion by simply saying “time travel is impossible, these are all works of fiction, so to worry about whether the logic of a particular movie or story’s depiction of time travel is accurate is completely pointless”. Nonetheless, it is not just science fiction authors but famous physicists who have postulated the concept of “wormholes” as a way to jump through space and time. A wormhole would be the equivalent of a “fold” in a higher dimension according to the framework we are exploring here, which means we’d be able to categorize what dimension the wormhole was “folding through” by the nature of the outcome. So, a wormhole that allowed you to jump to a different part of our current universe without the passage of time would be folding space, the third dimension, through the fourth dimension. A wormhole that allowed you to jump to a different part of our current timeline (our past or our future) would be folding time through the fifth dimension. A wormhole that allowed you to jump to a different past than the one we currently share would be folding “alternate space-times” (the fifth dimension) through the sixth dimension. And a wormhole that allowed you to jump to a completely different universe with different physical laws than our own would be folding our space-time through the seventh dimension (or above).

Other related blog entries:
The Fifth Dimension is Spooky
How to Time Travel
Aren't There Really 11 Dimensions?

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