Three Totally Mind-bending Implications of a Multidimensional Universe

By David Warmflash | December 4, 2014 1:38 pm

Image by Juergen Faelchle / Shutterstock

Nearly a century ago, Edwin Hubble’s discovery of red-shifting of light from galaxies in all directions from our own suggested that space itself was getting bigger. Combined with insights from a handful of proposed non-Euclidean geometries, Hubble’s discovery implied that the cosmos exists in more than the three dimensions we’re familiar with in everyday life.

That’s because parts of the cosmos were moving further apart, yet with no physical center, no origin point in three-dimensional space. Just think of an inflating balloon seen only from the perspective of its growing two-dimensional surface, and extrapolate to four-dimensional inflation perceived in the three-dimensional space that we can see. That perspective suggests that three-dimensional space could be curved, folded, or warped into a 4th dimension the way that the two dimensional surface of a balloon is warped into a 3rd dimension.

We don’t see or feel more dimensions; nevertheless, theoretical physics predicts that they should exist. Interesting, but are there any practical implications? Can they become part of applied physics?

1. Warp Drive

Teaching about the 4th dimension, physicists have used analogies, like drawings of something called a hypercube, and even the 19th century novella Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott. The book imagines two-dimensional beings living on a planar world that has only length and width. Unable to perceive a third dimension, the Flatlanders see only one plane of three-dimensional visitors, kind of like how computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging shows the body in slices. Two slices through a leg, one a few millimeters up from the other, look almost the same, but a slice through the waist or chest gives a very different picture. We can relate to this analogy, imagining our three-dimensional environment as just one of an infinite number of slices of a four-dimensional environment.

But moving beyond four dimensions, it gets even weirder, and very hard to visualize. The main theory here is called M theory, which is a theory in physics that unites various types of what’s called superstring theory. In M theory there are a bunch of dimensions, either 10 or 11, depending on who explains it to you. In addition to the three we’re familiar with there are compact dimensions. It’s all related to phenomena called branes that vibrate like strings, but what’s most relevant to this discussion is that the extra or compact dimensions don’t necessarily have to remain compact. Like a jack-in-the box, it might be possible to unpack the extra dimensions, says Richard Obousy, director of Icarus Interstellar, a non-profit organization promoting starship research.

“If an advanced civilization learns how to manipulate higher dimensions, they might use them for technology, including warp drive,” Obousy noted to me, the idea being that some kind of controlled decompacting of extra dimensions could have the effect of squeezing or expanding one of the three big dimensions that we know. Engage the compacting effect in front of a starship and the expansion effect to the rear, and you’d have warp drive, like I discussed in a previous post.

But don’t start packing for your Alpha Centauri vacation just yet, because there’s one tiny little complication, which Obousy is the first to admit. So far, we don’t have a shred of evidence that the hypothesized extra dimensions even exist. Someday, soon, we might get some evidence from the Large Hadron Collider, but even then it’s anyone’s guess whether that would lead to a warp drive technology.

2. Time Travel

Time is usually considered a dimension, even if not a spatial dimension, and we’re certainly moving along the time axis just fine. We don’t possess technology to go backward and change history. If we could find a way to go through other dimensions, the balloon analogy tells us it should allow a kind of tunneling to locations that look distant from the perspective of the three dimensions that we perceive.

It is far less clear, however, whether we could tunnel into other time periods, future or past. Any fans of Star Trek know that the philosophy of time travel into the past is mind-boggling, because you could change history, prevent the series of events that caused your existence in the first place, yada, yada, yada. But time travel to the future – accelerating from the usual move into the future of one minute per minute, one year per year – requires no philosophy. Moreover, we know how to do it.

It’s called time dilation, it’s predicted by Einstein’s theory of special relativity, and it will happen, if we accelerate a spacecraft to a significant fraction of the speed of light. Travel very close to the speed of light (c), and time slows down from your perspective and the slowing is quantified by a variable known as the gamma factor. On a ship moving just under 0.87c, the gamma factor = 2; thus, from the perspective of Earth-bound observers, the traveler moves 2 minutes into the future for each minute that seems to go by aboard the ship. At 0.94c, gamma = 3, and it increases more dramatically as the ship approaches light speed asymptotically. At 0.9992c, for instance, gamma reaches 25, which can advance you noticeably into the future if you stay at that speed long enough. Make a round-trip to the star Vega, located 25 light-years away, and two years will pass by for you and your friends aboard the ship (you’ll age two years and accumulate two years of memories), but arriving on Earth you’ll find that you’ve jumped ahead by a half-century.

It really would happen; we’re certain, because time dilation has been proven with subatomic particles in accelerators. We can’t do it right now with people, but the capability for relativistic velocities is only a matter of time (excuse the pun), since it could happen with technology that may be just over the horizon, namely nuclear fusion.

3. Traversable Wormholes

Another means of transport made possible by a multidimensional cosmos is wormholes. When Carl Sagan needed a realistic way for humans to travel interstellar distances for his story Contact, he consulted theoretical physicist Kip Thorne. Working with a couple of his best graduate students at the California Institute of Technology, Thorne worked out the equations showing that, indeed, there was a way: a stable, traversable wormhole, or even a system of such tunnels linking different areas of space-time.

This was more than a decade before Miguel Alcubierre would demonstrate that Einstein’s general relativity theory allowed for Star Trek-style warp drive, so Sagan saw the wormhole concept as the only scientifically-valid means by which his protagonist, Ellie Arroway, could be shuttled through the galaxy quickly enough to meet storyline demands.

An advanced civilization could build a system of wormhole-dependent tunnels connecting different points of the space-time fabric, essentially drawing the departure and arrival points in the fabric into close proximity to one another through a 4th dimension. If we could do it, we could have an entry portal nearby, somewhere in the inner Solar System, that leads to an exit point at our destination, for instance a nearby star system with an Earth-like planet. In science fiction, it’s the concept of a star gate.


Image by andrey_l / Shutterstock

Because of mathematically complex findings derived from equations in general relativity known as the Einstein field equations, technology that can warp space, whether for warp drive or traversable wormholes, would require a phenomenon called negative energy. Intuitively it is difficult to visualize what negative energy is, but its existence is consistent with a well-established area of physics known as quantum field theory. In fact, using the technology of quantum optics and a phenomenon called the Casimir effect, physicists have actually produced a kind of negative energy already in tiny quantities (negative vacuum energy). Nature produces it in big quantities, but only by using huge concentrations of gravity, which we can’t produce artificially.

According to Eric Davis, Senior Research Physicist at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin, Texas, who is an expert on faster-than-light propulsion concepts, the most promising way to do this is with a quantum optic device called a Ford-Svaiter mirror. It’s not something that anyone has built yet, but it can be built. It would concentrate the negative vacuum energy. If you do it with a small Ford-Svaiter mirror, it would produce a mini-wormhole, but Davis says that the device could then be scaled up to make wormholes bigger and bigger, eventually big enough for a spaceship to enter. Navigation to find an exit point would be tricky at first, but it’s theoretically possible to place the Ford-Svaiter mirrors in different points to create a kind of tuner, for instance from somewhere near Earth to a point near an Earth-like planet in a nearby star system.

Once the first wormhole is built with stable entry and exit points we’d have a way to go back and forth between Earth and our first interstellar destination. We could explore that star system, and no doubt we would do so particularly if it contains a habitable planet that we could colonize, but we could also use it as a staging point to go further. Thus, little by little, we could create wormhole network of sorts, in our little corner of the galaxy.

Or, perhaps, at some point, our tunneling might tap into an already existing network similar to what Sagan imagined. In that case, we’d better make sure to learn the rules, for there might be traffic.


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
  • dscot

    So if you’re making a round trip, make sure you take your family with you, or you may not recognize them when you get back!

  • rodney1956

    Here’s a mechanism that puts together elements in
    Discover’s story (and, I think, therefore deserves consideration) –

    To the 3+1 dimensions of space-time, add 5th-dimensional

    The space-time we live in
    is described by ordinary [or “real”] numbers which, when multiplied by
    themselves, result in positive numbers e.g. 2×2=4, and -2x-2 also equals 4.
    Inverted positive* space-time becomes negative hyperspace which is described by so-called imaginary numbers that give negative results when multiplied by themselves e.g. i multiplied by itself gives -1.

    * Many scientists say gravity is negative but if
    space-time is labelled positive, space-time’s warps (which General Relativity
    says is gravity) would also be positive.

    Warp drive, Time travel (only to the future), and

    A 2009
    electrical-engineering experiment at America’s
    Yale University, together with the ideas of
    Albert Einstein, tells us how we could travel to other stars and galaxies in
    literally no time. Electrical engineer Hong Tang and his team at Yale
    demonstrated that, on silicon-chip and transistor scales, light can attract and
    repel itself like electric charges or magnets [“Tunable bipolar optical
    interactions between guided lightwaves” by Mo Li, W. H. P. Pernice & H. X.
    Tang – Nature Photonics 3, 464 – 468 (2009)]. This is the “optical force”.
    For 30 years until his death in 1955, Einstein worked on his Unified Field
    Theory with the aim of uniting electromagnetism (light is one form of this) and
    gravitation. Achievement of this* means the microscopic components (gravitons)
    of warps of space (gravity, according to General Relativity) between spaceships
    and stars could mimic the Optical Effect and be attracted together, thereby
    totally eliminating distance (this is similar to traversing a wormhole, or
    shortcut, between two folds in space-time). Distance is not only deleted in
    space. There would no longer be any “distance” in time. Just as we can journey
    to particular stars, we could take trips to particular years in the past or

    * The gravitons of gravitational waves and
    photons of electromagnetic waves are ultimately composed of the binary digits
    of 1 and 0 encoding pi, e, √2 etc. Matter particles (and even bosons like the
    Higgs, W and Z particles) receive their mass by gravitons/photons interacting
    in “wave packets”. If binary digits form space-time and gravitation, and all
    particles are composed of those digits, the sequence of 1’s and 0’s composing
    gravitons can, via quantum-size gravitational lensing within atoms, become the
    sequence making up the W+, W- and Z0 particles of the
    weak force; the gluons of the nuclear strong force; or of
    electromagnetism’s photons. After forming the atomic forces and particles, the
    gravity waves that entered the atom are depleted of energy and re-radiated as a
    low energy microwave background and gravity waves reduced to the strength of
    the entering waves,

    We only appear to
    re-locate matter and information superluminally because distance is eliminated
    (or, if you prefer, time is stopped) by attracting together the folds in
    space-time that are called gravity.

    Time travel to the Past via Hyperspace

    already known that calculating time using imaginary numbers makes distinctions
    between time and space disappear^. A negative 5th-dimension is described by
    imaginary numbers so imaginary numbers eliminate distinctions between
    space-time and the 5th dimension, permitting hyperspace to exist in the same place
    as space-time (like the other side of a space-time coin) and also permitting dark
    matter (which seems to be the particles existing in hyperspace) to co-exist
    with “ordinary” matter. “ … ‘dark matter’ might be just ordinary
    matter”, Arkani-Hamed suggests (“The hierarchy problem and new dimensions at a millimetre” by N. Arkani-Hamed, S. Dimopoulos, G. Dvali – Physics Letters B – Volume 429, Issues 3–4, 18 June 1998, Pages 263–272)

    “This (measuring time using imaginary numbers) has an interesting effect on
    space-time: the distinction between time and space disappears completely.” – “A
    Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking (Bantam Press, 1988, p.134)

    The Optical Force mentioned in the first paragraph of “Warp drive, Time
    travel…” is restricted to space-time, and contains an explanation of
    time travel. Space-time and hyperspace are unified by imaginary numbers so
    hyperspace can also be used for time travel. Time travel there would occur via
    the time associated with hyperspace (motion of the particles in the 5th
    dimension) i.e. with 6th dimensional hypertime. Entering hyperspace with its
    negatives (energy, matter, distance, time) permits travel to the past since it would be impossible to travel 700 lightyears there, and only possible to travel minus 700 lightyears. Doing so instantly would enable a spaceship to arrive at a
    spot in the past which a light beam could only reach by traversing negative
    distance for 7 centuries.
    Mathematics appears to be built in to the universe, so positive and negative distance
    would be real though the latter is exceedingly strange to us.

    • Steve

      So, perhaps we need to write off the “observer” and his formulations and just refer to the multi-verse as “mathematics manifested”.

  • Scott Anderson


    • Alexandra Bujak

      I’m not going to lie, for the first couple second after I read this, I was so cross thinking it was really spam… I’ve laughed for about ten minutes now.

    • Mick Lethal

      Funniest thing i’ve read all week!!

    • Joe Cogan

      Scott, you win the Internet!

    • Elwoodathome

      Good one. The one simple trick thing is everywhere now and so sickening.

      • Odin Matanguihan

        along with the local mom thing.

    • Tyrus Washington

      lmao! But you forgot to add:


  • hwmillerster

    Mankind probably needs a new form of mathematics to handle the complexity of extra dimensions.

    • Diby Stephane Kouamé

      or their DNA needs to undergo a “quantic jump” …

  • Conor Corderoy

    Fascinating blog. It may be that we have evidence of extra dimensions so close we don’t see it. Just as time is a dimension which is a ‘product’ of three dimensional space, consciousness may also be a ‘product’ of space. We think in pictures, sounds and feelings, which are all products of space, and our consciousness emulates our spacial experience. We can, with our minds, cover vast distances without the constraints of three dimensional space, just as though we were travelling through a wormhole. Trouble is we are not very good at it and we leave our bodies behind.

    Consciousness is something that so far neither relativity nor quantum mechanics has predicted, but there it is, asking all the questions. Perhaps it is the very answer it is looking for.

    • merrilyne afrazeh

      There are interesting papers on Quantum Theory and Consciousness. I’m familiar with the studies of Sir Roger Penrose whom at least realizes that some people are able to tap into these extra dimensions within their own consciousness.

    • Matt Kneale

      Err.. what? Consciousness is far more likely to be a result of our innate biology than some special extra dimensional layer. There is no evidence for that whatsoever.

      Keep in mind that the simplest potential explanations are favoured and preferred. Wild explanations are fine–if the evidence exists to support it.

      • Conor Corderoy

        Entia non sunt multiplicanda, praeter
        necesitatem, indeed. But, Occam’s razor not withstanding, I don’t think I said that
        consciousness was an ‘extra-dimensional layer’.In fact, an ‘extra-dimensional layer’ would be entirely contrary to what I did say.

        Our starting point has to be the fact that we simply don’t know – neither you nor I – what consciousness is. Therefore it is impossible for me to say that it is of
        ‘extra-dimensional’ origin, and for you to say that it is, ‘…far more likely to be a result of our innate biology…’ I
        should be fascinated to know what empirical, experimental evidence there is for that assertion. If we don’t know what it is, how can we possibly know what
        causes it?

        The fact that the subjective activity of the mind appears to respond to the electro-chemical activity of the
        brain falls very far short of even suggesting that the former is the product of the latter. Particularly as the subjective activity of the mind is also perfectly capable of affecting the bio-chemical activity of the brain – and indeed the entire organism.

        Indeed, Koch and Tonini, in their theory of integrated information, like Bohm and Pribram with their
        holographic brain theory, approach the issue from a non-biological stance.

        What I said is that consciousness itself – whatever that is, and wherever it may originate – is not three dimensional. I think that is self evident. The noise of a falling brick is three dimensional in that it is made of percussive waves affecting the air in three dimensions of space. An image, similarly, is crated by the action of wave-particles within the three dimensions of space. However, the internal narrative you have in your mind, and the pictures you make in your mind, are not within the three dimensions of space. Consciousness is not three-dimensional. You cannot measure its up, down and across. That is what I said.

        With regard to your second paragraph, I am curious. The simplest explanation is favoured by whom? And what is, exactly, a ‘wild’ explanation? ‘Wild’ according to whom? Would it be wild, for example, to suggest that consciousness somehow arises out of the action of negatively charged electrons upon neurotransmitters? If so, I would love to see the empirical evidence that supports that ‘explanation’.

        Sadly, three years of university and a PhD tend to instill in researchers the kind of arrogance that is incapable of saying, ‘I don’t know’ without tagging on the end the addendum, ‘so it must be this.’ The simple fact is that we have absolutely no idea what consciousness is, and it is fatuous to say that it is more likely to come from one source or another. It is equally possible that it is a ‘magical’ bi-product of biology, or an innate potential in wave-particles. Or something completely different.

        That is why it is important for researchers to have open minds. In my long experience, internal narratives that begin with expressions like, ‘Err…what?’ tend to close the doors and the windows of the mind rather than open them.

        • Christopher Roditis

          Don’t sweat it, he’s probably a proponent of cryonics :)

          • Conor Corderoy

            Frozen in time? Cool.

        • Nadeem Khan

          This is what Quran says:

          Chapter Name:Al-Mumenoon Verse No:17

          وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا فَوْقَكُمْ سَبْعَ طَرَائِقَ وَمَا كُنَّا عَنِ الْخَلْقِ غَافِلِينَ {17
          023:017 Khan:And indeed We have created above you seven heavens (one over the other), and We are never unaware of the creation.

          023:017 Maulana:And indeed We have made above you seven ways — and never are We heedless of creation.

          023:017 Pickthal:And We have created above you seven paths, and We are never unmindful of creation.

          023:017 Rashad:We created above you seven universes in layers, and we are never unaware of a single creature in them.

          023:017 Sarwar:We have created seven heavens above you and have never been neglectful to Our Creation.

          023:017 Shakir:And certainly We made above you seven heavens; and never are We heedless of creation.

          023:017 Sherali:And WE have created above you seven ways, and WE are never neglectful of the creation.

          023:017 Yusufali:And We have made, above you, seven tracts; and We are never unmindful of (our) Creation.

          • Conor Corderoy

            Thanks for sharing the Koran, Nadeem, but I’m afraid I am an atheist and have little time for religion, particularly the Judeo-Christian family of religions which have, in my view, retarded the development of science and civilization, and caused immeasurable suffering throughout the centuries, by fostering ignorance rather than understanding.

            Indeed, even science, when it becomes dogma, can cripple the human mind. We are never so ignorant as when we think we know; and we are never so dangerous as when we feel we can delegate the responsibility for our actions to a higher power.

            What we experience is reality (that IS empiricism), and that experience is ours. WE are god.

          • Richard

            Should we talk about the atrocities that Atheists have perpetrated on the human population in the name of Atheism???? You atheists seem to be a little hypocritical when it comes to the immeasurable suffering that “Religion” has demonstrated.

          • Conor Corderoy

            May I say first that you come very close in this comment to a personal insult. I honestly don’t think that you are in a position, not knowing me personally, to imply that I am a hypocrite.
            In the second place, atheism is not an organized movement, and as far as I am aware there was never anything equivalent to the Spanish Inquisition organized by atheists, nor has any war ever been started in the name of atheism. I would be fascinated – truly fascinated – to know what these atrocities are that you refer to.
            It is a matter of historical record that the Judeo-Christian religions – in particular Christianity and Islam, have indulged in warmongering and torture to spread and consolidate their power.

          • I’m Talking

            Please tell me the atrocities non-believers have perpetrated on the human population in the name of non-belief. This should be interesting.

          • Lucia

            Sorry Richard but i have to agree with Conor on this one, the world would have been a better place without organized religion, that being said it is not a plea for atheism, i think everybody should have freedom of choice in this field.We by now should have become weary of slamming into each others head with the your god my god wars and personal vendetta’s surely if a god/creator/creatress would look down on this scene.. wouldn’t it be a reason to turn your back on your creation?

          • Lucia

            I have to make a slight addition to your statement in the sense that what we perceive to be reality is only defined by our five senses since they are setting the bounderies in every scientific study we undertake even the gadgets of science; microscopes,spectrometers, tele scopes etc.are extensions of our flawed senses. Most animals have better senses than we have and show remarkable ways of knowledge gathering we do not understand and are incapable of reproducing.. so i actually think we should not overstretch the ego muscle too much. As humans with too much Hubris we have only proven to have been very infantile and stupid gods, who are not even capable of leaving behind an Earth which has the possibility to sustain our offspring.I do not like the word god since to me it rings too much religious bells another one of our flaws, I prefer to think of a higher being who created us and all lifeforms but i do hope this governor/governers of our universe have more wisdom than we have proven to possess.

          • Rip Vanden Broecke

            Keep your Hocus-Pocus mumbo-jumbo to yourself! If you want to believe in fairy tales of the religious type, far be it for anyone to question your tiny mind. Unfortunately for you and all the other religious zealots (and I am not just talking about Islam I mean any and ALL religious beliefs), there isn’t a shred of evidence that any of your Koran stories or biblical essays or Torah fantasies (have I covered enough for you all to get the picture?) are anything other than the musings of many hallucinating individuals (at best) or contriving influences by those attempting to control the thoughts and actions of the masses (as it more than likely really is and always has been). This is a scientific discussion and your unenlightening quotes have no place here!

          • Richard

            Really?? and you don’t think the unscientific fairy tale of the Multiverse is not hallucinating??? LOL

          • Ender Wiggin

            Your point is a valid one, but you are simply perpetrating the point of people like Richard by voicing it in such a vulgar way, for lack of a better term.

          • Lucia

            Dear RIP Did you just prove the existence of Fanatism in Science by outlawing everybody in this discussion who does not have science in his/her backpack as a religion but fortunately sees it more as a tool . May i also remind you of this little social thing called tolerance ,you can disagree with someone but he has as much right as you to give his view.

          • sleepvark

            Nadeem, an interesting observation. I too have read that part of the Quran with some interest. Other sections talk about the end of time in which the collapse of the universe as we know it, or at least that portion that we exist in, will happen suddenly without warning, kind of like a rubber band stretching to the breaking point and collapsing in on itself (my own interpretation).
            You don’t have to be a believer to find such things of interest, or to see the possibilities for intellectual exercise therein.
            There may be those who want to go off track in an anti-religious direction, and I understand their position regarding religiously induced megalomania. But I don’t believe that is the point of your posting.
            I for one am willing to consider all ideas on their merits, as long as no one is trying to force a belief system on me.

          • Nadeem Khan

            :) Though I am a firm believer I never intended to and would never try to impose my beliefs on anyone. Just something I had read which seemed relevant to the topic so I shared. Cheers

          • Glen

            I would LOVE backward time travel so I could go back in time to beat the skull in of that child rapist, father of Islam, Mohammed.

          • Nadeem Khan

            We have been told by our Prophet Mohammad (SAW) not to get into discussion with utterly ignorant person(s). I will follow his command and would not comment on your statements. May God show you the right path. Amen.

          • Glen

            Your god is a fantasy, and your “prophet” Mohammed was a dirty sexual predator pedophile. Face it Mohammed was scum.

            Please tell all your filthy leaders that I said that and there isn’t sh*t they can do about it, as they painfully come to the realization that their fantasy imaginings won’t do anything about it either.

          • Nadeem Khan

            We worship the same God Who sent Jesus as a Prophet with a holy book bible. You seriously need consultation sessions with a psychiatrist and trust me it would help. I will also pray for your health. May God grant you peace of mind and help you recover at the earliest. Amen.

          • Glen

            Please do pray. Knock yourself out.

            You pray for me. I’ll think for you.

          • Maia

            Is there an administrator here?! Glen’s raves are completely inappropriate!

          • Maia

            Totally out of line, Glen.

          • Glen

            What’s wrong? Can’t handle truth and realty?

            If you hadn’t noticed, that’s what Discover Magazine is all about. It’s not your average Maia loving “Let’s blow smoke up the a***s of religious people and help them stay ensconced in their fantasies so their precious feelings won’t be hurt” magazine.

            The account of Mohammed’ marrying a 6 year old girl and consummating that marriage at 9 is made unequivocally clear in Muslim ‘holy’ texts. And only some who are now embarrassed faced with the scrutiny of Western sensibilities are trying to deny this fact.

            He was a child rapist in any decent person’s book.

            I have a niece who’s going on 9, and if this filth that was Mohammed touched her, let’s just say he would no longer be recognizable as human being when I finished with him. And I’d like every barbarian, head chopping, woman stoning, gay teenager hanging Muslim (and their ‘moderate’ enablers), who will kill someone for so much as saying Mohammed had a hang-nail, to know that.

            Sorry if that upsets you Maia, but in case you hadn’t noticed as well, the internet, is exposing the truth and realities of various religious beliefs, and causing extraordinary damage to these superstitions and fantasies, which were only kept alive by keeping people ensconced in ignorance and shielding them from uncomfortable truths about their beliefs, history, and doctrines. Here in the easily accessible and freely available information era, that ends. You will no longer be coddled. Grow up.

          • Seb Miller

            Glen if the prophet were what you say many, not just one, of his wives would have been ‘underage’. Also he would have been criticized for it by Jewish, Atheist and Christian polemics but they do not mention it until post industrial revolution when girls were drafted to work in factories and society diverted them away from marriage. Aisha grew up as a towering intellect, the founder of a quarter of Sunni Islam, a military commander and her ideas are arguably the sole cause of the Sunni Shiite divide.
            Lastly, please do not insult our intelligence with your ridiculous haemorrhoid against a religion you cannot understand.

          • Glen

            All religion is bad.

            It is essentially the ardent belief in wholly unsubstantiated imaginings. What’s worse is with deistic religion, the one doing the imagining believes their imaginary friend is the ultimate creator and ruler of the entire universe and you are to obey whatever it (your imaginings, your indoctrination) says, regardless of logic, reason, rationality, evidence, reality, or even one’s own humanity.

          • Glen

            I drew a picture of child rapist Mohammed being f**ked by a goat. Wanna see it?

        • Steve

          It may be “self evident” that consciousness is not 3 dimensional, but “self-consciousness” cannot exist without the “self” aware of its’ existence as a separate entity in space and time.

          • Conor Corderoy

            Well, that is a very interesting point, but I think you’re taking a step that isn’t supported here. I don’t see how Self is tied to three dimensions. Self is simply an idea consciousness has about itself (we are sliding towards the blind alleys of philosophy here). Self is not the same as our physical body, which does exist in the three dimensions of space, but Self is just a concept which does not occupy space. So in principle there is no reason why the self cannot exist without being aware of an existence in space.
            There is some fascinating research by Dr Sam Parnia, late of the Southampton Hospital, now New York I believe, relating to the near death experience, which presents some very challenging (albeit anecdotal to date) evidence on this point.

          • Steve

            Thanks…Conor, but I believe the test for “self-consciousness” is whether a species expresses recognition of self in a mirror….regardless, you are right about philosophy, but somehow we will always end up here.

          • Conor Corderoy

            That’s true enough! However, I would have to say that most human beings would be able to tell you they had self awareness even without a mirror. It is inherent in concepts such as ‘me’ and ‘I’. I think the crucial point is that the concept of self is a thought, it has being in consciousness, and though we might anchor it to our bodies (actually, usually to our face!), it is not of itself the same thing.
            Our bodies have a physical integrity and so an identity, but it is not the same as the identity which we generate in our minds and call ‘I’. That has an existence all of its own, and it is purely subjective.

          • sleepvark

            In that case my cat is quite self-conscious. I like this theory.

          • Steve

            I wish I could say the same for this blue jay that wakes me up every morning at 8:15 by pecking on my window. I can only assume he thinks it’s a competitor encroaching on his territory… I had always wondered about the selective advantage of self consciousness and then I realized it was pecking on my window every morning!

          • Diby Stephane Kouamé

            … about the self: should we say “apparently separate”? rather than separate? Because, as particle entanglement suggests, distinct things might not be separate in reality…

        • Diby Stephane Kouamé

          I couldnt have put it better! :)

        • Lucia

          Also of interest is the fact that DNA might be able to create tiny wormholes which is all conscious- ness would need to travel through,point is what will we meet on the other side, will we be the ones trading or will we be the ones receiving beads and mirrors or something more dangerous.And how can we be sure they wont wipe us out like we did with the indigenous people all over the world after we gave them the beads and mirrors.You don’t have to be a believer in karma to assume that one day your ancestral bad history might come back to haunt you.

          • Conor Corderoy

            You are in good company, Lucia, Stephen Hawking has made the same point (as has Tim Burton!). We ourselves have proved by now that technological advancement is no guarantee of civilization or spiritual evolution (if such a thing exists).

            But I woud take issue with your point on karma. Not every individual human being is responsible for the attrocities committed by the empire builders – past or present. There have also been many, many human beings who have changed the world for good – Wilberforce and Ghandi to name but two. And in only 10,000 years (nothing in cosmic terms) Humanity has made vast strides towards a more humane, compassionate way of life.Thanks to these people, and our own innate drive to move away from suffering, attrocities that were considered normal just 200 years ago, today we find horrific and unacceptable. We are working out our karma.

            What is imperative is that we keep moving in that direction, and don’t allow pseudo-democracy and political expediency to drive us back into the dark ages.

      • Diby Stephane Kouamé

        Science wouldn’t have existed at all if there had never been wild speculations to explore new possibilities…

      • Bill Wesley

        no one has explained consciousness, not philosophers, not scientists, its merely assumed its a higher a brain function by most, behaviorists go so far as to say it does not exist or is an “illusion”, but if that is the case how do single celled animals make decisions? Evolution is driven by emotion according to Charles Darwin (The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals) Emotion implies conciousness, but no one can prove wether this is a top down global function or a bottom up intrinsic function.(we remain partially conscious even asleep, under anesthetics and despite massive brain damage and as reported by people coming out of comas) A large organism is a society of individual cells just as a large social group is a society of individual organisms, there is no evidence that individual cells do not posses some individual consciousness just as there is no evidence that a society of organisms (even if through language alone) does not posses some form of group consciousness, in ether case global consciousness is dependent on communication. There are no scientific theories of consciousness, no means by which to disprove or approve a wide variety of assertions. what is needed is more discussion not less, more ideas not fewer, encouragement not discouragment, creative science advances through encouraging rather than discouraging thought., its easy to slap down another persons idea, its hard coming up with ones own idea, time is better spent on the second and less well spent on the first.

    • ceteco

      I fail to see where is the evidence.

      • Chad Cleveland

        You can only see what you are looking for, and you will only find evidence for beliefs you currently hold.

        If you believe there is no way consciousness can be anything other than a result of our innate biology you will never see the evidence.

        For a topic as abstract as consciousness as the building blocks of energy you need to open your mind to ideas not supported by our current understand of our universe.

        It was more simple to consider the earth as the center of the universe, but now we know with absolute certainty that belief is wrong. However, when that idea was new many people said “I fail to see where the evidence is”

        • Elwoodathome

          I feel that our Earth is the center of our universe in a philosophical manner. Our tiny planet is all we know. We have explored our immediate solar system somewhat but beyond that we are mostly relying on instruments and a bit of conjecture. For now our home is something we can now cross in a few hours. If we ever gain the ability to venture to the stars then our universe will expand. Until then we are at the center of our Universe.

      • Conor Corderoy

        Well, I did start by saying, we may have it so close we can’t see it. I would refer you to Niels Bohr and Chad Cleveland (you’re in good company, Chad!), both of whom talk eminent sense.
        I’d also leave you with a quote from Heisenberg, speaking about the sub-atomic particle: ‘…the concepts of geometry and kinematics, like shape or motion in space, cannot be applied to it consistently.’ And a little later, ‘But then one sees that not even the quality of being (if that can be called a “quality”) belongs to what is described. It is a possibility for being.’
        Now there’s a thought… :-)

  • Uncle Al

    Economics, psychology, quantum gravitation, and SUSY:

    1) Manipulate the data
    2) Wave hands a lot, speak with a strong accent
    3) Invoke the Anthropic Principle
    4) Recall successes of the Standard Model.
    5) Blame it on the Planck scale
    6) Throw it on the lattice
    7) Invent another symmetry
    8) Set all fermion masses to zero
    9) Add heavy fermions
    10) Subtract Infinity
    11) Hide it in the bulk.

    12) The multiverse! It’s true somewhere.

    (Not my work, and perceptive.)

  • Mike Marchand

    I’m confuzzled by something:

    “At 0.9992c, for instance, gamma reaches 25, which can advance you
    noticeably into the future if you stay at that speed long enough. Make a
    round-trip to the star Vega, located 25 light-years away, and two years
    will pass by for you and your friends aboard the ship (you’ll age two
    years and accumulate two years of memories), but arriving on Earth
    you’ll find that you’ve jumped ahead by a half-century.”

    Shouldn’t this be telescoping in the other direction? I.e. if I traveled 50 LY at .9992c it would take me 50 years but when I got back to Earth it would be 50 x 25 = 1250 years in the future?

    • Myles Lyster

      For the observer on board it would only take two years for the trip. It is the earthly observer that sees the trip taking around 50 years. Think of it like this. If you’re traveling at the speed of light and shine a light in front of you the light travels away from you at the speed of light. Therefore by the time you are halfway there the light from your headlight is already there. For the outside observer the light you have shined traveled at the speed of light and therefore your speed is only half the speed of light. This is a rough description of the time dilation occurring but gives you an idea of how time passes differently for the participant and the observer. The math is a little more complicated than this. It has been shown with particles which only exist for milliseconds having their lives extended by traveling at relativistic speeds.

    • David Warmflash

      Mike…no, it doesn’t work in the other direction. Myles L is correct..According to Einstein’s special relativity theory, time dilation affects the travelers, not the people they leave behind in the stationary reference frame. So, when gamma=25, it means that the trip take LESS time for those moving very fast. It does not mean that it takes more time for the rest of the universe. This has been tested using very short living subatomic particles in accelerators. At relativistic velocities, the particles “live” (actually remain stable) longer than they would normally and their increased lifespan depends directly on the gamma factor, as calculated based on how close they get to the speed of light..

  • patrick kelly

    If testing includes a subway to venus, we really need to give the Chili Peppers some credit. Also, the first non human test, should be a flea (as might should be the first human test).

  • T.L. Winslow

    Sorry, but time is not a dimension, except in mathematical equations. If it were a real dimension, then if you could travel 1 day into the future, all on your own power, it would mean that you could rearrange every atom in the Universe to the position it would be at that time, implying infinite energy and intelligence. In other words, you’d be God :) Imagining you travelled through time is cool, but it’s got nothing to do with physics.

    • Chad Cleveland

      According to that logic I should be able to travel straight up all on my own power.

    • daqu

      I travel one day into the future constantly. (Hint: It takes one day to do this.)



  • daqu

    M-theory seems very interesting, but its connection with the real world (of any number of dimensions) has yet to be established. This article should have made it clear that M-theory is as yet unconfirmed.

    Just calling it “a theory in physics” is not sufficient, since the word “theory” is famously ambiguous. The theory of evolution, or the theory of numbers, are not hypothetical: they are established pieces of knowledge (with plenty left to discover, of course).

    • rasputin

      Bravo daqu…So many theories in advanced physics and cosmology appear to be “real” by means of the mathematics behind them, but continue to remain unproven utilizing currently available techniques. Hopefully the future will bring about some genuine proofs,,, then again!?

    • rodmarcia

      The theory of evolution is not an established piece of knowledge, nor can it ever be since there is no way to repeat an experiment of how the universe came to be. It is simply what it says it is–a theory created to explain a set of facts. Unfortunately, it is not a theory which can ever be proven.

      • Jerry Cordaro

        Umm .. yes, it can, and is. Ever had an antibiotic? Ever hear about antibiotic resistance? That’s evolution. Black squirrels in London is also evolution; so are experiments carried out in bio labs worldwide every day on flies, yeasts, and bacteria, as are the millennia-old practices of animal and plant breeding. If you’re saying that evolution doesn’t apply to humans, you’re wrong there too.

        • rodmarcia

          The phrase “the theory of evolution” is commonly used to refer to the origins of life, and I indicated in my post that it was that meaning I was referring to. Of course, in that sense it can never be proven.

          • r0b50

            I guess you’ve never thought small enough to consider cellular-evolution? Go backwards through the concept after you learn cell growth in 3rd grade and it all makes sense.
            Your choice to deny application of logic to a simple process proves that you are willingly blind.
            Ironic in how that sounds somewhat religious huh?

          • rodmarcia

            As I’ve indicated, we are talking about two different things. It is illogical to keep changing the subject to illustrate that I’m wrong.

        • Enormus

          You two are talking past each other a bit. The miscommunication stems from a failure to recognize that these days the Theory of Evolution is resolved into two sub-theories: microevolution and macroevolution.

          Jerry Cordaro gave examples of microevolution; though just barely since those examples only involve /natural selection/ which is only one link (and a link nobody denies by the way) in microevolution and a fortiori the Theory of Evolution (ie including macroevolution).

          As to rodmarcia’s post, yes Evolution is a theory, one that these days is resolved into two theories: microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution has essentially risen to the level of /knowledge/. Macroevolution is still /very/ much in doubt especially if one retains only /random/ mutation; if the random mutation is augmented by some biologically directed (note not intelligence) mutation (by as yet unknown mechanisms) it becomes more reasonable but no less hypothetical.

          Second, yes it is correct it cannot be /proven/ but then science does not prove, rather it /infers/ the most likely explanation. And yes you are correct that the “experiment” which created biodiversity on Earth cannot be repeated; however, experimental repetition is not the only source of scientific evidence and justification. We can learn a great deal from the remnants of singular experiments.

      • Enormus

        You two are talking past each other a bit. The miscommunication stems from a failure to recognize that these days the Theory of Evolution is resolved into two sub-theories: microevolution and macroevolution.

        Jerry Cordaro gave examples of microevolution; though just barely since those examples only involve /natural selection/ which is only one link (and a link nobody denies by the way) in microevolution and a fortiori the Theory of Evolution (ie including macroevolution).

        As to rodmarcia’s post, yes Evolution is a theory, one that these days is resolved into two theories: microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution has essentially risen to the level of /knowledge/. Macroevolution is still /very/ much in doubt especially if one retains only /random/ mutation; if the random mutation is augmented by some biologically directed (note not intelligence) mutation (by as yet unknown mechanisms) it becomes more reasonable but no less hypothetical.

        Second, yes it is correct it cannot be /proven/ but then science does not prove, rather it /infers/ the most likely explanation. And yes you are correct that the “experiment” which created biodiversity on Earth cannot be repeated; however, experimental repetition is not the only source of scientific evidence and justification. We can learn a great deal from the remnants of singular experiments.

  • Rick Rosner

    “Mind-bending Implications of a Multidimensional Universe?” Don’t we already live in one?

  • Amir Aczel

    Fun stuff. But I don’t think you mean: “Travel very close to the speed of light (c), and time slows down from your perspective”. What you really mean is “…time slows down from others’ perspectives”. Your clock ticks as usual–even on the event horizon of a black hole, or at any fraction of C–you don’t see anything different. It’s your time as seen from the perspective of others (who are not where you are) that makes apparent the difference in the flow of time. In Murph’s time frame (“Interstellar”), Cooper aged very little as she went through a lifetime…

  • David Salant

    RE forward time travel at close to light speeds. “It really would happen; we’re certain, because time dilation has been proven with subatomic particles in accelerators.” GPS systems needs to take into account Einsteins equations of Special Relativity in order to function accurately, or so i hear NDT say all the time. We all, most of us anyway, benefit from this knowledge of time dilation daily. Clocks in space run faster than clocks on earth because they move faster through space. They also run slower than clocks on earth due to less gravitational accelleration but i digress. Its real and its wonderful.

    • David Salant

      Invert the faster/slower in my previous statement.

  • Munyoroku Ndumbi

    There is a missing dimension in exploring other planets to colonize.The other dimension is that we might open ourselves to be colonized by other more robust societies than we.

  • Bill S

    Ford-Svaiter mirror. Isn’t that what Prot was using to travel to and from K-Pax years ago? :)

  • Valjean1

    Everything is moving relative to other things. The question is…which things is at rest…relative to which other things? The clock in the airplane is at rest relative to some things and the one on Earth is moving?

  • Friz Martin

    Interesting question from a friend regarding the multiverse concept. “Novices” are often given the example of each decision we are faced with branching into separate universes to accommodate the possible choices we may ultimately be able to make.

    Works fine for human consciousness but taking into consideration all particles in existence you simply end up with infinity to the power of infinity number of choices/universes. More like a raging river than the appearance of numerous expanding bubbles. Maybe it’s not at all accurate to tell the lay science buff that a multiverse is created with each yes/no decision we make.

  • Bill Wesley

    however the Doppler shift explanation of the red shift is not the only possible explanation..The Doppler shift explanation assumes light lives forever never losing energy, thus an expanding universe is required to explain why the night sky sky is not as bright as day with starlight.another explanation is that light loses energy as it passes through gravitational fields by becomeing down shifted in frequency, a “tired light” model, this explaination deos not require an expanding universe to explain why the night sky is dark, Galaxies through out the universe are observed to rotate at the same average speed, if the Doppler shift is real galaxies must be rotating faster than observed so the real speed must increase the further away they are, this requires “dark matter” to save the model, hidden extra mass to provide the extra gravity needed to hold the galaxies together when such fast rotation should see them flying apart, and “dark energy” to explain how energy comes from nothing to produce an accelerating expansion. the tired light model requires galaxies to be rotating at the observed speed which is not too fast for them to hold together under their own gravity and without expansion no dark energy is required.. the tiresd light model also explains why we have not observed dark matter or dark energy, it would be because they don’t exist. the tired light hypothisis also explains the cosmic background radiation as the most tired light from the most distant stars in an infinite and eternal universe. A number of books by professor James Paul Wesley.explain these concepts in detail showing how they cover the balance of elements in the universe and the recycling of mass and energy to create equilibrium in the large.

  • Merlin

    Isn’t it interesting that these types of discussions always end up on the topic of consciousness and the meaning of existence. And we always lack the answer although there are plenty of people in the discussion that act like they have the answer and they start attacking one another. Very funny!!

    • Conor Corderoy

      It is indee. It also fascinates me that no theory of physics, as far as I am aware, has ever predicted consciousness – the very thing creating those theories. As Shakespeare said, the Eye sees not itself, but by reflection.

  • Mirror

    Since the down of humanity, some inquisitive mind have try to explain the surrounding in which they lived (The thinkers) .But the majority were (The superstitious and storytellers) .Because he take more energy for the brain discover and create that he take to just storytelling. Lessening to storytelling are certainly more entertaining, narrating past history and superstitions but in early time of humanity that was also the way from generations of the past telling their stories through the mouth of the narrator and all depended our good he was or accurate he was that generations sitting in round by a fire in those everning in front of their caves where in someway transported each imagining in their one way. Ours early ancestors have also imagined their world. First was many reconasable Dieties. Like the sun, the moon, the stars, the rain, the wind and others each filling the gap in trying to explain their complex surroundings. The gaps, the unexplained was filled by superstitions. The premises of religion where already there Religions are in one way a confortable, no question to be ask just listen and belaeve. But to my mind. The spark of humanity came from the thinker, his curious nature was more in tune with his surrounding, the one whom may have been held as ridicule, misunderstood or heaven dangerous, to holder of religious believe his also the one whom figured out are to make tolls to help to to feed their tribe or to defend they self, the one whom figured out how to make fire to keep them warm and to make their food more digest. Along the long history of our evolution they have been here often in the right times. But like in every discovery is a potential for good as well that for the bad, the use of their discovery is then the domaine of those in charge of our destiny. Religions thrive where is inequality and poor education. Their anchors are in the past.The science thrive in discovery.Their anchors are in the future. Religions said your should not kill and preach tolerance. And morality. But it show on the contrary that most of conflict past or new has largely du to religious believe, how many of progress is du to religion without contre party. But instead to develop and to modernise willingly religions stay far beyond in their cocoons of holly mess but now every religious leader use a smartphone use a computer and travel in planes were a you Bruno, Galileo,Kopernik and others it seam that science is more for giving and not just” Do what I said but don’t do what I do.

  • Gary something long

    This kind of stuff really interests me and I would like to look into it more, so I was wondering if anyone knew the field of science this kind of study falls under

  • Michael Killion Jaganyi

    Good thing about me is that I’m a science and tech enthusiast. Anything is possible.

  • Wizard of Langley

    frequency over time


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