Sunday, 1 June 2008

Entry 16: in which We explore other dimensions

Finally found the words it would take to explain "it" to the boy. Tracked him down staring into space, actually rather than figuratively.

It's all a matter of spatial dimensions I explained. Stick to the spatial; don't bet bogged down with time, curvature or flaxotomy. In essence, the universe we're tracking has three spatial dimensions, while we deities exist in four. That means that they exist in our space, but we don't exist in theirs.

Blank.

We can see them, but they can't see us.

More blank.

It means that that which is commonplace in our space would be baffling in their space. Actually I could see it was baffling in his space too, so I led with the following simplified illustration, contrasting two and three dimensions along these lines:

"Imagine a two dimensional creature dropped at the north pole of a three-dimensional planet. At first glance, this would feel like his old familiar two-dimensional world - looking around him he would see a flat plane extending (apparently) to infinity in all directions. So far, so good.

"Now we put a peg in the ground and give him a ball of pink string (magically, this will not run out). We ask him to walk around the peg and to play out the string as he goes. He is to stay on the outside of the string, and just to keep going. Well as he does this, the string forms an ever-bigger pink disc, and he is on the outside, walking along the perimeter. As time passes, the pink disc becomes very big, and he loses sight of the peg, but he keeps going.

"From our three-dimensional perspective we see him covering the northern hemisphere with pink string. He is still walking round and round it, playing out the pink string, and in this fashion works his way slowly down the planet. He reaches the equator, and then he is past it. Mr 2-D thinks, reasonably enough, that he is still on the outside of very large flat disc of pink string.

"Imagine his astonishment when, as he nears the south pole, he discovers that, far from being on the outside of the disc of string, as he was when he started, he is now inside it.

"To him, thinking in 2-D, this seems crazy or miraculous. To us, thinking in 3-D, it is obvious and inevitable. Now extend that thinking by another dimension and Bob's your uncle".

There was a long silence. "Pink, eh?" he said as he wandered off to find more milk and cookies.

2 comments:

Janelle said...

wow!
loving this blog and very excited to discover it in this responsive pink universe. ongera sana.(swahili for flowers being thrown in thine path Mr G) janelle.

Ernest de Cugnac said...

You are most kind janelle. More discussion of dimensions to follow ...

(And thanks for the flowers).