Friday, April 26, 2013

Ten Reasons to Watch 10thdim

A direct link to the above video can be found at

This year we are celebrating the seventh anniversary of the launch of this project. It's been a great experience, and with positive comments in online articles published by Scientific American and Discovery Channel News over the last year or two about my videos it's been gratifying to be able to connect with people who understand the creative mix of physics and philosophy, science and spirituality that makes this project unique. But there have also been some very vocal critics, and that's what this video is about. Here are ten of the most common reasons that have been posted online by persons critical of this project.

Let's start with Reason #1: Because it's wrong.
Since I've always said this is "a new way of thinking about time and space", and that "this is not the explanation for string theory", this is the easiest claim for critics to make. But what does it mean to say something put forth not as a scientific theory, but as a creative way to visualize the ten spatial or space-like dimensions theorists have told us our reality is derived from, is "wrong"? If I show you an image of a bowling ball on a rubber sheet and say "this is a way of thinking about gravity", would your response be there are no bowling balls and rubber sheets in space, so that visualization is worthless? Sometimes a picture conveys an idea quite well without requiring people to understand the calculations that make the idea correct. And if I draw you some pictures that give you a way of visualizing ten spatial dimensions, each one orthogonal to the next, then I've introduced you to an idea you might want to learn more about. Isn't that a good thing?

This project has always had critics who dismiss it outright, often without even understanding how much of what I talk about in these videos is based upon concepts advanced by mainstream theorists. Are the extra dimensions of string theory, Everett's Many Worlds, and a multiverse created from universes with different physical laws "not science" because they have not yet been directly observed? Should we call them "wistful speculation?" That is the position taken by Henry of the popular YouTube channel minutephysics. Henry has been very vocal about his dislike of my project, commenting multiple times in multiple places that my videos are "rubbish". It was those attacks that prompted me to finally make this video responding to ten of the most common criticisms of this project. Here's a link to my video which minutephysics says is "increasingly wrong": Imagining the Tenth Dimension - 2012 Version. Blanket statements like his are dangerously misleading. For instance, in October 2012 a wikipedia moderator completely deleted the article on the point-line- plane postulate, commenting that they did so because Rob Bryanton talks about it in his videos, and Rob's videos are wrong. It took a concerted effort to get that decision reversed. Thankfully, the entry about this commonly accepted postulate is now back where it belongs.

Reason #2: Because it's dangerous.
Henry of the popular youtube channel Minutephysics has been a very vocal critic of my project. Here's a link to his video Common Physics Misconceptions, in which he asks this question about simplified ideas that are often taught as a way of introducing more complex concepts to students: "is that an excuse to mislead our children about the true nature of things? No." And yet teachers the world over have always used this technique. Why? Because this is how knowledge is conveyed. You start with something simple and basic, then once those concepts are understood you build idea upon idea until you arrive at university-level classes and beyond. In many cases, teaching university-level concepts to young children is simply not a viable option.
Since my original video was published online in June 2006, there are people who first watched my original video a number of years ago who are now entering university. Almost every day I get messages from people saying things like this: "Thank you Rob Bryanton for opening my eyes to the universe. You are the reason I am now pursuing a degree in one of the sciences."
Did I somehow destroy these people's minds, make them unable to learn? Or did I wake them up and get them interested in the concepts that minutephysics talks about regularly in his videos (most of which I find to be excellent).
"But Rob", one might ask. "Surely these students would have eventually stumbled across some other video, or book, or teacher who awakened their sense of wonder?"
Of course! That's life. But that's not an argument for removing something that has already inspired millions of fans from around the world to want to learn more.

Here are the some of the ideas that are NOT wrong which my visualization can help you remember:
- a "wormhole" is a hypothetical construct which can be visualized as a "folding" of spacetime
- some theorists say the fifth dimension and above are compactified, or "curled up at the planck length"
- Kaluza showed how general relativity and Maxwell's equations could be resolved at the 5th dimension
- A phase space is defined as "a space in which all possible states of a system are represented, with each possible state of the system corresponding to one unique point in the phase space."
- M-theory says that our reality comes from ten spatial dimensions plus time. This visualization arrives at a "timeless" tenth dimension, and does this by saying that time is not a dimension, it's a direction, or a way of describing change from state to state within the phase space of any of these spatial dimensions
- Michio Kaku says that antimatter can be described as "matter which is moving backwards in time", and while there are other ways of describing antimatter this approach is accepted as being equivalent
- this visualization shows how our observed reality is created from timeless "frames" of 3D space, and we're "locked in" at the seventh dimension. Some string theorists have said our universe is embedded in a D3 and a D7 "brane", or membrane.

Reason #3: Because Rob Bryanton is only making videos to get rich and sell his book.
Imagining the Tenth Dimension has always been about the discussion of a set of ideas that I first became fascinated with over 30 years ago. But these videos are at best my hobby. Is it a bad thing that I make any money at all from something I'm passionate about? Some critics say yes, that's a bad thing.
To make it perfectly clear that I'm not doing this to get rich, in July 2009 I posted a non-copy-protected pdf of my book to bit torrent, and that book continues to be shared on numerous torrent sites in distribution numbers that I find hard to fathom. But since my goal has always been just to get people talking about these ideas, I'm thrilled to see people all over the world downloading and reading my book.
Meanwhile... since minutephysics, as he now rapidly approaches 100 million views on his year-and-a-half-old channel is obviously making substantial money from his click-through ads, his sponsors, his t-shirt sales, and whatever other merchandising plans he has in the works, I'm sure he's a very happy camper. So do I think it's a bad thing that Henry is making stacks of cash from his videos? Of course not, I'm a fan and I've told him so. And what's wrong with people making some money from a project that they care about?

Reason #4: Because this is all pseudoscience.
"Pseudoscience" is an easy label to paste on anything with which one disagrees. There are physicists who have become celebrities and published popular books based upon their rejection of string theory and its extra dimensions. Lee Smolin says that theorists not interested in this field can find themselves unable to receive funding for their research into alternative theories. And Peter Woit says that this is not even science because it makes no falsifiable predictions. So even though I've made it clear that what I'm showing is only a creative visualization of ten spatial dimensions and not a scientific theory, what I'm trying to help you visualize is a concept that some physicists will tell you is nonsense even before they work through my ideas. Likewise, my willingness to explore the existence of free will automatically make me wrong in the eyes of those who have been taught to believe we're all helpless automatons acting out predetermined chains of events set in motion from the beginning of the universe. And have I ever tried to hide the fact that I believe there is evidence for consciousness as a process that can have connections "outside" of our narrow space-time window? Of course not, and anyone who has read my book or watched any number of the over 400 videos I've posted so far to YouTube will know that. And while these all may not be mainstream ideas, there are certainly scientists out there doing research into these same questions. Do all scientists agree on all ideas? Of course not. But exploring new ideas is what science is all about.

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.

Reason #6: The fourth dimension is not a spatial dimension, it's a temporal one.
If there are ten spatial (or "space-like") dimensions, and theorists tell us "the fifth dimension and above are curled up at the planck length", then what are they really talking about? How is it possible to have three spatial dimensions, then add one temporal, then six (or seven) more spatial dimensions extending from that? It would make more logical sense if they said "the fourth dimension and above are curled up at the planck length", because then you would be continuing with an ordered hierarchy of spatial dimensions, one after another, and leaving time out of the discussion until you were done counting spatial dimensions. But that's not what they say. Why? With my project, I insist it's because we have a unique perspective on the fourth dimension. As creatures made out of 3D atoms and molecules deriving their energy from entropy-increasing chemical reactions, we experience the fourth dimension as having only one direction: the direction which moves us away from the lowest entropy beginning of our universe towards the highest entropy ending of our universe. But that doesn't mean the opposite direction isn't just as valid! With my project, I explain that if the ten dimensions are spatial, or space-like, then the first three are spatial, the fourth is a spatial dimension constructed from two opposing directions but which you and I experience in a unique "uni-directional" way, and the fifth dimension and beyond are spatial. Counting 3 apples, 1 orange, and 6 apples, and then saying I have ten apples would make no sense. Likewise, the fourth dimension is not just time, it's an enfolded structure often referred to as space-time. General relativity shows us how space-time can be bent and stretched, folded or warped with a wormhole or a black hole. It includes the dimensions below, and adds two new opposing directions just as you would see when you added any other additional spatial dimension, and that's how the point-line-plane postulate is used in these discussions. This is why I say it makes sense to include the fourth dimension in our counting of the spatial dimensions. But saying there is only one label you can put on the fourth dimension (or any dimension) is what both Henry and I discourage. These ideas can be quite easily related to the concept of 4D Minkowski Space, or what's known as the "Block Universe" theory. Here's a famous quote:

The views of space and time which I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality. – Hermann Minkowski, 1908
Do scientists say a 4D Minkowski Space is the same thing as a 4D Euclidean Space? No, but they're not that different. In fact one label they use is that it's "pseudo-Euclidean". But here's the thing: Minkowski's Block Universe - with every point (x,y,z,t) within it corresponding to a unique "state" for our universe - is what we're thinking about with this visualization, rather than 4D as a one-way "arrow of time".

Reason #7: The "fifth dimension as probability space" has nothing to do with mainstream science.
Our goal with this project is to end up visualizing not just a multiverse landscape of the different possible universes (some string theorists say there are ten to the power of five hundred of them!), but the probabilistic outcomes that quantum mechanics tells us must exist for each of those universes. Yes, I've said in my videos and book that my approach is not something you will currently be taught in a physics class (watch the end of my video Imagining the Fifth Dimension for more about this), but it's still a powerful idea and I believe its time will come. Einstein accepted Kaluza's proposal that our reality is derived from the fifth dimension, and yet that's also something you don't hear often from the mainstream. In fact, Kaluza's idea that general relativity and its depiction of gravity, along with Maxwell's field equations for electromagnetism could be resolved at the fifth dimension has always been an important part of my reasoning that the ongoing "now" of our observed reality comes not from the fourth, but from the fifth dimension. Likewise, Hugh Everett said that his branching "many worlds" occur within a space which is orthogonal to space-time, but it's only my project at this point that says that means the other parallel universe outcomes described by Everett's theory are within the fifth spatial dimension, because that's what's "orthogonal to the fourth". And as an aside, I want to mention something you will find throughout the videos I've created: when I describe an idea which is my extrapolation, you will hear me say "with my project..." so that my audience is clear on which are mainstream ideas and which are my creative thoughts on how to fit different schools of thought together into the bigger picture I'm trying to portray. And even if "fifth dimension as probability space" is unique to this project, it's still one of the central ideas I've been exploring for the last thirty years. Do I feel passion for this idea? You bet I do, and YouTube has helped me to share that passion with others around the world.

Reason #8: These ten dimensions have nothing to do with the ten dimensions of string theory.
Really? Certainly I've said from the outset "this is not the explanation for string theory" but that doesn't mean there aren't lots of interesting connections. If my visualization gives you a way to hold important scientific ideas in your mind, in what way is it correct to say that it's all "wrong"? It's a visualization, and that's the point of any visualization: to help you remember something complex by using a simplified image.
String theory's goal is to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. String theory does that in 9 spatial dimensions plus something we call "time", which is not a spatial dimension; while M-Theory achieves the same goal using ten spatial dimensions plus time. By the time we get to this tenth dimension, we're not thinking of it in isolation: we're still also trying to think of the way that it includes all ten dimensions within a logical structure that enfolds the other concepts that relate to these theories.
So what else are we trying to include as we visualize these ten dimensions? If string theory's goal is to include quantum mechanics, then it makes sense to include Hugh Everett III's Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. This means that critics who say the branching timelines representing the different possible outcomes for our unique universe shouldn't be included in my visualization because they're not part of string theory's ten spatial dimensions are wrong. Likewise, if string theory predicts that there are a great many "other" universes that are created from constants that are different from the universe we find ourselves to be in, we need to have visualized that landscape of other completely separate universes by the time we've imagined these ten dimensions.
Finally as I've often mentioned, the logic I use in my visualization is closely related to what's known as the point-line-plane postulate, which is the accepted methodology for imagining any number of spatial dimensions. This can also easily be tied to something called the "garden hose analogy" which you might hear some theoretical physicists use as they try to help people visualize extra dimensions (i.e., "hose as straight line can represent dimension 'x', so ant walking on its inside walls moves through dimension 'x + 1', and fly flitting around inside hose moves through dimension 'x + 2'). So for those who say there's no point in me trying to help people picture these ten spatial (or space-like) dimensions that string theory says our reality is derived from, because that's not something the human mind is capable of grasping, I have to say this: this large idea is like any other. Take it one step at a time, building one idea upon another and you too can have some inkling of this most amazing concept: the "ultimate ensemble" from which our universe (or any other) is derived.

Reason #9: Because it's confusing.
At the core of this project is a simple set of repeating logical steps. This time let's try to imagine these ten spatial dimensions again, using a slightly different approach:

Start with a point, zero dimensions.
Many points make a line, one dimension.
Do any one of these 1D lines pass through every possible point? No. Other lines can be used to create a plane, in two dimensions.
From the second dimension, the third dimension is what you would "jump through" to instantaneously move from one position to another, or to move to a completely different two dimensional plane.
Many planes make a space, three dimensions.
Many "frames" of space make a worldline, or some call this a "pseudo-Euclidean Minkowski space", four dimensions.
Do any one of these 4D worldlines pass through every possible 3D "frame"? No. Other worldlines can be used to create a probability plane in five dimensions.
But for you and I, as creatures made out of 3D atoms and molecules, our 4D worldline is constructed from 3D frames that are each one planck unit apart. It's because of our unique vantage point that we can only experience these five dimensions one frame at a time (making the fifth dimension appear "curled up at the planck length" from our perspective), despite the fact that it's really from this much larger 5D construct that our observed reality is being derived.
But let's keep going.
From the fifth dimension, the sixth dimension is what you would "jump through" to instantaneously move from one position to another, or to move to a completely different five dimensional plane. Many probability planes make a phase space representing all possible outcomes for a unique universe such as ours, 6 dimensions.
Many different phase spaces representing different unique universes make a "line", seven dimensions.
Do any one of these 7D lines pass through every possible 6D "universe"? No. Other lines can be used to create a phase plane of physical universes, in 8 dimensions.
From the eighth dimension, the ninth dimension is what you would "jump through" to instantaneously move from one position to another, or to jump to a completely different eight dimensional phase plane.
Many phase planes make an information space, nine dimensions. By now we are beyond the physical, dealing only with information patterns that describe general tendencies towards one kind of existence over another, or patterns that can't even be expressed as physical universes at all.
And finally, perceiving of this 9D construct as a single ultimate ensemble takes our visualization to the tenth dimension, a single, timeless "everything", in ten dimensions.

Reason #10: Because it's misleading.
In his video "The True Science of Parallel Universes", Henry of MinutePhysics says this: "Everyone loves the idea of parallel universes... But is there really a place in science for such wistful speculation?" In his video he shows us three different kinds of multiverse that have been proposed, reinforcing in each case that these are "speculative and experimentally unconfirmed models". He even dismisses each theory with a graphic of a cute diploma which states that each demonstrates a "lack of rigorous comparison with reality". He concludes his video with these words: " always we must remember that physics is science, not philosophy. And in our attempts to explain the universe that we observe we have to make claims that can in principle be tested... and then test them."
I believe it's important to remember that there is much about our universe which is not yet understood, and these theories which Henry dismisses as "wistful speculation" have been developed as part of the attempt to find explanations for these mysteries. Why is 95.5% of our universe undetectable dark matter and dark energy? Why does the currently accepted big bang theory predict that our universe should contain so much more lithium-7 than it actually does? And why, as physicist Raphael Bousso has been quoted to say, do "our finest theories predict that empty space should contain about 10 to the power of 123 times more energy than it actually does"?
One might watch Henry's video and be led to conclude that there is very little support within mainstream science for these explorations of the multiverse, parallel universes, and extra dimensions, and because of that I find his video somewhat misleading. But since "misleading" is one of the criticisms he has leveled at my project multiple times in multiple venues, this leads me to to ask: in what way have I been misleading people? I have always been honest about the nature of this project, and my goal remains the same: I have a way to help you hold in your mind something that many will tell you is impossible to imagine: the "ultimate ensemble", as Max Tegmark calls it. The Landscape Multiverse, as Brian Greene refers to it in his latest book. The underlying information that becomes reality, as quantum physics experts like Lloyd and Zeilinger describe it. The "Omniverse", as I've often called it with my project, and as Gevin Giorbran called it with his. Once you hold that idea in your mind, will you understand the math? Of course not. But it will be a start, and if you want to learn more about the hard science that lies behind these biggest picture of all ideas, I encourage you to do so. Even if you have no intention of becoming a scientist, I hope that my project has awakened your curiosity, opened you up to new possibilities, given you some mental food to chew on that expanded the horizons of your imagination. There is so much more out there beyond the here and now we see around us, endlessly fascinating implications that we are exploring with this project. So no matter what you do, please be sure to "enjoy the journey", as I always like to say. My name is Rob Bryanton, thanks for watching!

1 comment:

James Bath said...

Thanks for the extra explanation. I am finding your work fascinating and rewarding. Being a 63 year old widower for almost a year now, after 30 years with my dear wife who is my best friend still, no matter where her consciousness lingers for now, your work is a great complement to my more customary yogic meditative style of thinking. Anyway, thanks for the great new views on our universe. I'll need to peruse your work regularly though to get a better grasp of the insights. James Bath.

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