Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tenth Dimension Polls Archive 1 to 10

Click here for the archive of polls 11 to 15.
Click here for the archive of polls 16 to 20.
Click here for the archive of polls 21 to 25.
Click here for the archive of polls 26 to 30.

I've been enjoying Blogger's "Poll" function, and had been leaving all of my old polls up on the page, but it has been pointed out to me this can cause problems for visitors with slower internet connections. So, in the interest of providing an enjoyable experience for all, I'm pulling down the older polls and placing screen grabs of the final results here. Thank you to everyone who cast their votes in these old polls, and for continuing to do so in the new ones, I appreciate your participation!

Poll #1: What is "Imagining the Tenth Dimension" about?
(poll ended Oct 25 2007)
A useful starting point. About half of our visitors voted for the answer I'm aiming for ("All of the Above"), while a third said this project is about Physics and Cosmology, and a fifth said it's about Philosophy and Spirituality. There weren't a huge number of participants in this first poll so a single additional vote would still have caused these relative percentages to jump around somewhat, but nonetheless this helped to make the point I was hoping for: people come to this project with their own sets of interests, some have more specific areas they respond to, some are generalists. All are welcome, but of course this means not everyone will come away from this with the same impression of what it is I'm trying to do here.

Poll #2: Was Kaluza right? Is our physical reality really being defined at the fifth rather than the fourth dimension?
(poll ended Nov. 9 2007)
I was somewhat surprised to see that three quarters said "Yes, we're in the fifth", while one quarter said "No, we're in the fourth". Kaluza's groundbreaking proposal, submitted to Einstein in 1919, suggested that the field equations for gravity and light could be united if they were calculated in the fifth dimension. Einstein eventually gave the idea his full endorsement, and after some additional input a few years later by Oscar Klein, the resulting Kaluza-Klein Theory is well known. While that may be the case, the general public hears very little about the fifth dimension, which is why I was surprised to see such a strong showing for the fifth dimension in this poll. It would appear that since I've been banging the "our reality comes from the fifth dimension" drum for almost two years now, that meme may be more familiar to regular visitors to this blog than it is to the general public!

Poll #3: Will Dark Energy and/or Dark Matter eventually prove the existence of higher dimensions?
(poll ended Nov 29 2007)
The contentious issue of whether we really need extra dimensions above the four of spacetime to describe everything about our reality is an ongoing debate. Experts believe that 96% of the universe is invisible and undetectable dark energy and dark matter! This is the great scientific mystery of our time. While there are hopes that the Large Hadron Collider will reveal more about the underlying structures that might be responsible for some (or all) of the "missing" parts of our reality, I remain convinced that higher dimensions are going to factor into the solution to this very large conundrum for modern physics and cosmology. Eventually we are going to have definitive proof that the extra dimensions are real, and not just a mathematical construct in the minds of theorists.

Poll #4 - In a multiverse filled with every possible timeline, there must be branches we're not on where some of the "End of the World" doomsayers throughout history were right. For our timeline, will 2012 be the real deal or just another Y2K-like fizzle?
(poll ended Dec. 13 2007)
A dead heat, split right down the middle on this one! 50% said "real deal" and 50% said "fizzle". I did get some flack on this poll for the way I worded the question: proponents of the Mayan calendar's accelerated consciousness approaching 2012, or fans of Kurzweil's predicted Singularity, object to being lumped in with doom and gloom end of the world predictions like Y2K, and I accept that. Persons familiar with my writing will know that I have used this example before, and that my song "The End of the World" also mentions positive predictions like "attaining our star bodies". The point here is not whether the prediction of an upcoming break or a Shift for our planet is good or bad, but rather that the multiverse scenario doesn't allow us to look at predictions that have failed in our own past and use that as the argument for why the latest prediction will never come true. I return to this idea several times in my book, here's what I say in chapter 6:

But eventually the deadline for all good predictions of the end has to arrive, and like the celebrated Y2K scenario, its promoters are then left looking a little foolish. In the anthropic viewpoint, we can imagine how those people also exist on different timelines where their predictions did come true. The reason we’re here on our current timeline to question what went wrong with their predictions is because on the timeline where they were right, we would no longer be here. Perhaps there were also people in Atlantis, or Mu/Lemuria, or in the ancient sunken ruins off of Cuba or south of Okinawa, who issued dire warnings of impending disaster, and who got to say one last “I told you so” before the end of their civilizations really did come to pass?

Poll #5: In the Many Worlds Interpretation, as proven by Deutsch's team at Oxford, probabilistic branches exist at both the quantum and macro levels. Do you believe that each choice you make creates parallel universes - the one you're in and the others you're not?
(poll ended Jan 2 2008)
Yikes, quite the wordy poll question! 91% said "yes", the rest said "no". Did I intimidate people into answering with the response I was hoping for, by putting so much of the argument for why I personally would say "yes" into the question? Okay, perhaps I had some influence there... but the idea that there is a parallel universe where I walked out my front door this morning and turned left rather than right seems like such an outlandish claim when you put it in those really simple terms that I confess to wanting to make sure visitors realized we were talking about something which some major physicists do actually support! And while my additional layer I have added to this discussion - that the "bush-like branching structure" of those branches of chance and choice exist in the fifth rather than the fourth dimension - really isn't a requirement for believing Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation, I believe that it's just a matter of time before mainstream science begins to see the light on this one. Our reality comes from the fifth dimension, Kaluza proved it, and those parallel universes resulting from choice, chance, and circumstance become much easier to visualize when we fit them into the picture I've created.

Poll #6 - 2008 is the tenth anniversary of google, our world's premium meme-tracker. How would you say google has changed the way you interact with the information that is our reality?
(poll ended Jan 17 08)
Admittedly this will seem like an odd way to phrase the question if you are not familiar with my favorite quantum mechanics phrase "information equals reality", which I believe is very useful in helping us to understand the underlying fabric of reality, where everything that could happen has already happened - this is the set-of-all-possible-states that Gevin Giorbran described so well in "Everything Forever". From the first three dimensions we build space, from the second set of three we build a spacetime tree of all possible timelines, and in the third set of three we reach the increasingly abstract set-of-all-possible-states where the "information" side of the information equals reality equation becomes dominant.
What does that have to do with google? Because google has, more than any other tool, found ways to quickly organize and catalog information for us, and if information equals reality then the implications of where google could end up really are staggering.
Not too surprisingly, 95% said Google has made their interaction with information "better, more immersive", while the rest said it is "worse, more superficial". Also not surprisingly, no persons voting clicked on "no change from 10 years ago". Google has definitely changed a lot about the world we live in!

Poll #7: From this current "now", there are probabilistic outcomes. In a previous poll 91% said choice creates parallel universes. Do you believe it's possible to predict the future?
(poll ended Feb 1 08)
The answers provided were:
- Yes, because its potential already exists (50% voted for this)
- Only sometimes, and never very far (26% votes for this)
- Never, and if it seems we can it's coincidence (23% votes for this).

For me, this was an interesting question, because everyone has to have some ability to predict the future or they couldn't survive - if I step in front of that speeding bus, it will run me over and I will die. That's the kind of prediction that all of us make every day without even thinking about it, and in some ways that's the process we all have to go through as young children: we learn that hot things burn, that some animals are dangerous, that jumping off of high things can cause bones to break and so on. Most kids, through parental guidance and their own trial and error, develop their predictive capabilities well enough that they make it to adulthood, but darkly amusing projects like the Darwin Awards show us that not all adults appear to have developed their ability to predict the future well enough to avoid doing fatally dangerous things.
This poll questions asks us to consider the possibility that this process of prediction can be integrated into the parallel universes mindset of Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation. And saying that there are probabilistic branches from this moment forward (and backward!) also acknowledges that all of us are probably very lucky to be here, because all of us have near-miss moments in our past where, through bad luck, bad choices, or the actions of others, the more probable outcome was that we didn't survive! That's what my songs "Thankful" and the "The Anthropic Viewpoint" touch on as well: we are all very lucky to live in the universe that we live in.

Poll #8 - Have you ever had an experience where you thought you might have glimpsed a different dimension (through meditation, hallucinogens, dance, intuition, etc)?
(poll ended Feb 18 08)
80% said yes, the rest said no. My song "From the Corner of My Eye" is about this very idea. This is one of the central ideas to this project - if we really are experiencing one timeline out of many, observing a quantum wavefunction which exists at both the quantum and macro level (and Everett preferred to say that we are "observing" rather than "collapsing" the wavefunction because the other possible states continue to exist as potential), then might there be subtle visual or sensory hints that tell us our brain/consciousness is participating in that process? Admittedly, this is one of the more metaphysical concepts, but I was pleased to see how many visitors to this blog were willing to consider this as a possibility. This would also tie to the previous poll question - is it possible to sense the future, and could that be because the possible future outcomes available from our current "now" already exist as potential probabilistic branches?

Poll #9 - Philosophers have said it for millennia, now there are physicists saying it too. But what about you? Do you believe "time is an illusion"?
(poll ended Mar 4 08)
87.8% answered yes, while the remainder said no.
So. We've been imagining a set-of-all-possible-states, a multi-dimensional configuration space which simultaneously encompasses every possible expression of matter, energy, and information. Inside that omniverse of all possible universes, our own particular spacetime is only the smallest of slivers, and this very instant that you read the word "now" is an infinitesimally tinier sliver carved out from that.
One "now" after another, one planck unit after another, we experience time as a probabilistic set of outcomes, but viewing this all from the big picture of timelessness and the underlying fabric of quantum indeterminacy, we can see that what we think of as "time" is really only a very limited viewpoint of where our reality comes from. Does that sound more like philosophy than science? To some it does, but there are a great many scientists in the world today who truly believe this phrase: "time is an illusion". The way of visualizing reality that we're exploring here presents another version of the same idea: time is the way you change from one state to another, and that's true no matter what dimension you're examining. No matter what dimension you're in, how do you get from one state to another? By moving through the next dimension up. That's why we three-dimensional creatures tend to believe time is in the fourth dimension. If we lived in the seventh dimension, we would move from one constrained set to another by moving through the eighth dimension, and therefore tell ourselves that time is the eighth dimension.
So: saying "time is an illusion" is not intended to say that change doesn't happen, or that there aren't useful assumptions that can be drawn from our observations of timelike processes. Rather, "time is an illusion" is our way of acknowledging that there is much more about the underlying nature of reality than just a simple, inexorable and inevitable (!) movement from moment to moment.

Poll #10 - Do you believe that our three-dimensional reality can be thought of as "shadows" of higher dimensional patterns, whatever those patterns end up being proven to be?
(poll ended Mar 19 08)
86% said yes, while the rest said no.
In poll #3, we asked if dark energy and dark matter will eventually be shown to prove the existence of higher dimensions. What we're really talking about here, though, is not just dark energy and dark matter, but absolutely all aspects of our reality being defined as logical subsets from higher dimensional potentials. Poll question 10 was created as a companion to several blogs I created earlier this month: Hypercubes and Plato's Cave, Hypercubes and Plato's Cave (expanded version) and Shadows of Higher Dimensions. This idea also relates to some previous blog entries, like "How to Make a Universe" and "You Can't Get There from Here": it's all about trying to visualize how our particular unique universe is chosen from the set of all possible universes: the reality we see right now is a "shadow" of the higher dimensional shapes and patterns that contribute to its selection from the set-of-all-possible-states, which I refer to as the tenth dimension in its unobserved state, and which can also be thought of as the underlying fabric of quantum indeterminacy.

Does that mean that not just the perceived universe, but every element within it, every expression of mass and energy can be described this way? Absolutely! As I like to say, I am a three-dimensional shadow of shapes and patterns within the higher dimensions... and so are you.

You can also work through these poll archives one poll at a time, start by clicking here, and each entry ends with a link to the next. Again, thanks to all who participated in these polls and I look forward to more of your opinions in the months to come.

Enjoy the journey,


Update: Click here for the blog discussing polls 11 through 15.

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