Friday, September 10, 2010

The Fifth Dimension

Science fiction folks like to talk about these other dimensions. Sadly, many of them get the idea wrong. They talk about another dimension like it is another Universe. As you know, we keep track of four dimensions, X, Y, Z and Time. If you were to add a fifth dimension, whatever that would be, it would be possible for something to be at one location and at the same time be at another location. Quite literally, as far as our four dimensional Universe is concerned, that object could be everywhere at once. The comparison is usually made between a two-dimensional space and a three-dimensional space. If a living being could only perceive two dimensions, then a three-dimensional object would appear as the intersection. A cone would appear as a circle or some other conic shape. If it moved along the third dimension through time, it would appear to expand or contract. It could come into existence within an instance and disappear for no apparent reason.

The problem with that is that there is no existence that there is a two-dimensional Universe. While we can’t say there are not more dimensions that we’re unaware of, we also can’t say how those dimensions would actually behave. Take time for instance. While it is our fourth dimension, it does not appear to function in quite the same way the others do. We can reposition an object in relation to space, but not in relation to time. While it is theorized that we might be able to move through time, time appears to flow in only one direction. If there’s another dimension, who’s to say that the fifth dimension doesn’t work much like time does. Maybe it moves in only one direction. Maybe we’re already moving through it, but we’re unaware that we’re moving through it.