Friday, January 25, 2013

Common Criticisms Part 5

A direct link to the above video can be found at

This is a discussion of ten proposed reasons for why critics of Imagining the Tenth Dimension are saying people shouldn't watch my videos. See part 1 here. See part 2 here. See part 3 here. See part 4 here.

Reason #5: Because "there is no 'fourth' dimension".

That, of course, is the title of a minutephysics video, which I'm providing a link to here. My response to that video (in which he states that it's wrong to talk about THE fourth dimension as if it's a separate entity from any of the other dimensions) is that it's amusing for a few reasons. One, of course, is that most schools of thought do indeed treat "time" as the fourth dimension, and they certainly do say that its "temporal" quality makes it unique and different from the other dimensions. Two, minutephysics' point becomes clearer in the video when he says "as a matter of fact there is no third dimension either". But the funny part is in either case he'd be agreeing with me, in that I also ask people not to get hung up on what label you put on each additional spatial dimension, as long as you are visualizing a way in which the new dimension encompasses the previous ones and is orthogonal to the previous ones, as that is a basic concept behind spatial dimensions. "Spatial" is the important word here, because theorists do indeed say that the extra dimensions are spatial, or at very least "space-like".
And finally, even if you're going to argue that it's incorrect to add labels of any kind to each specific dimension, it's very odd to say "we just can't tell these dimensions apart" (again quoting Henry). If you are comparing the 2D world of the creatures from the book both Henry and I recommend, Edwin Abbott's Flatland, with a 3D world, there is definitely some new quality that gets added with each new spatial dimension, something that was inaccessible from the realm of the previous one. So whether you call the additional degree of freedom added by the fourth dimension ana/kata, duration, time/anti-time, or some other words you want to make up you are still acknowledging that there was something you couldn't get to until you added this new spatial dimension.

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