Extra Dimensions of Space

I have heard that there are extra spatial dimensions (beyond lwh & t) that can be demonstrated mathematically, but are impossible for the human mind to comprehend in nice explainable terms (i.e. if Dick and Jane were paper dolls, their world could not conceive of “depth”). I seem to remember a professor stating that in the fifth dimension, one could turn a basketball completely inside-out without puncturing the surface in any way–again, supposedly proven mathematically. Is this mumbojumbo or are there dimensions we simply can’t grasp with our puny brains?

I don’t know the math, but I do know that humans are very stupid. I’m sure there are other “dimensions” or whatever you want to call them. Some we will probably get a grasp on eventually. Others will elude us for eternity.

I don’t know who first said “everyone’s a critic,” but I think it’s a really stupid saying.


As far as I understand it (from just reading the lay-literature on the subject), some current theories in physics postulate a number of other dimensions at a sub-sub-microscopic scale - I couldn’t tell you the physical distances involved off the top of my head, but they’re really, really small, smaller even than subatomic particles. But the theories hold that these dimensions only exist at that scale, and not at our macroscopic scale.

AFAIK, most of the serious (as in, accepted for submission by peer reviewed scientific journals) physical theories only postulate the 3 linear dimensions + time at a large scale.

One place to reading up all this is here: http://superstringtheory.com/index.html. It has a bunch of info on superstring theory.


i wonder why scale would have anything to do with a dimensional constant?

k0myers writes:

These theories are mentioned in Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time”.
Zooey71 asks:

Hawking suggests that these dimensions are necessarily that small (at least within our universe) so that they don’t wreak havoc on our universe… or said another way, if they were not that small, then our universe as we know it would not exist with it’s current set of ‘laws’ and observable phenomenon. Hawking postulates that there may be universes elsewhere (or elsewhen) where these dimensions are not nearly as small, but there is little chance that any form of life could exist in these universes, capable of observing these dimensions.

In theoretical physics, all things are possible…

If I remember aright, orbits are not stable in >3 dimensions.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

I was reading a site on string theory one day and they described the existence of multiple dimensions and scale something like this:

From a long way away, a garden hose looks one-dimensional. It only has length. Move closer, and you notice it has width as well. Even closer you can see that it has depth. Theoretically, other dimensions are there too, but you need to be really close (something around the Plank length ~10^-34 m, I think) to see the other proposed dimensions “tucked into” or “wrapped around” the three we know and love.

Since the resolution of the instruments we use today isn’t even close to the Plank length, we can’t directly detect these dimensions.

Back to the original question: it’s not mumbo-jumbo, it’s mathematics. One can easily describe n-dimensional spaces mathmatically (technically, n-dimensional vector spaces.) One can describe geometric shapes (such as, the “baseball” as a sphere) and one can describe formulas for distorting those shapes – this is called topology, it’s a branch of mathematics. The mind of man can conceive of these multiple dimensions just fine, through use of mathematical equations. We can’t draw a picture, but then, it’s difficult to draw a 2-dimensional picture of a 3-dimensional object that has much meaning to your paper doll people.

Hey, look, it’s late, and I’m feeling tired, so what the heck. Here’s an example.

Imagine a one-dimensional universe, a straight line. There are two “orientations” – a bug could move from left to right, or from right to left. Think of two arrows on the line, one facing right, one facing left. No matter how you move those arrows, you can’t make the one facing right turn about to face left WHILE THEY REMAIN ON THE LINE. But it’s easy if you get off the line – you pick up the right-facing arrow, give it a halftwist, and drop it back on the line. Bingo! It now is a left-facing arrow. But to do that half-twist, you needed to use a 2nd dimension.

Now imagine a two dimensional universe, a plane. There are two orientations, clockwise and anti-clockwise. Think of clockwise as being a clock with little hand on 3, big hand on 12, at right angles, fixed (not moving). Think of anti-clockwise as little hand on 9, big hand on 12 (fixed, not moving.) If you have a clockwise clock, you can’t move it into an anti-clockwise position WHILE STAYING ON THE PLANE. (If you move the little hand over to the 9, the big hand points to the 6, not the 12.) But, if you lift it off the plane and give it a half-twist, you can convert the clockwise clock into the anti-clockwise clock, if you follow me.

Hence, in three dimensions, we also have two orientations: call them right-handed and left handed. By simply moving it around, you can’t make a right-hand glove into a left-hand glove. Not by moving it in three dimensions. But if you could lift it into a 4th dimension and give it a half-twist and then return it, you could indeed move a right-hand glove around and convert it to a left-hand glove.

That mind-boggling enough for you?

Sounds to me like the existence of further dimensions could even be used to explain spiritual matters (npi). Perhaps “spirits” and “gods” are not mysterious less-substantial beings but rather “super”-substantial beings. The classical view of ghosts has always shown them as being incapable of functioning in the physical realm–perhaps they are simply operating in a capacity that is not confined to our four dimensions.

Instead of paper dolls, think of an ant (I know, the ant still functions in length, width & hight, but as far as he’s concerned, his world from moment to moment is confined to a plane). For another ant to approach this first ant, the second ant must walk toward the first. However, a man can touch the ant FROM ABOVE (cue the music) and thus make contact in a manner that is basically impossible to another ant. Sounds almost religious, eh?

In fact, Einstein once theorized that the existance of extra dimensions would scientificly explain actual beings that could exist among us, though neither they nor we would have knowledge of each other. Can you say, Nexus!

It was suggested long, long ago in Abbot’s Flatland.

For what it’s worth, serious theologians do not go along with it.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

Thanks Kennedy, Flatlands it is…but isn’t “serious theologian” a bit redundant? Scripture says nothing on the subject as far as i know, so what do they know?

You forgot the famous line from Leviticus:
“And thou shalt take the vector product of the xy-plane with that of the zt-plane, and thou shalt call the resultant subspace an abomination.” I forget exactly where in Leviticus this comes…

And then there’s the line from Relevations:
“Know thee that n-fold cup products vanish in a suspension.”

Sitting in a bookstore cafe this evening, I spent some time flipping through Spaceland, the sequel to Flatland. It’s much like the previous book in tone, but its speculations and visualizations go a bit further afield, and into higher dimensions than three.

For instance, take a chain of completely closed links. From our perspective, that chain cannot be unhooked without cutting at least one link. But a four-dimensional being could simply pull a whole link out of the middle, by moving it through that other dimension.

Similarly, if I tied a knot in a rope, and then held both ends of the rope, you couldn’t come along and untie it unless I let go. But since the knot is only three-dimensional, it could be undone using motion through the fourth dimension.

So, then I guess it really can’t be DISproven that unseen, coexistant beings cohabitate the universe, not in a spooky spiritual sense, but simply in a scientifically explainable dimension that is naturally outside of our “mere” three-dem realm of experience. They could literally be “closer to us than we are to ourselves.”


It all depends… Do you prefer to BELIEVE in things that you can’t DISPROVE or DISBELIEVE in things that you can’t PROVE?

As a self-proclaimed “perspectivist”, I prefer to indulge, though not necessarily support, the belief in that which can’t be disproven, rather than disbelieve outright anything outside the realm of the discovered. I personally do not believe that anything is forever outside the realm of proof, but rather knowledge is simply either proven, disproven, or yet to be discovered. To insist on or against the existance of the unproven seems to me a leap of faith either way.

On the subject of physical dimensions, i would SUSPECT it to be shortsighted to assume that the dimension we are accustomed to experiencing is the highest dimension in existance–like disbelieving in anti-matter just because it doesn’t exist on our planet.

if our minds have adapted to working in three dimensional space, then perhaps it will always be senseless to try to imagine what a higher dimension would be composed of. Like a two-dimensional being trying to conceive of depth–or elisabeth hurley trying to solve a math problem.


You wrote:

You are misinformed. Antimatter does exist on our planet. It is believed that antimatter is all around us, though in very, very, very small quantities. This (apparently, though I don’t pretend to understand the math) is a necessary consequence of the big bang. Since seeking out and harvesting this naturally occuring antimatter is not pratical, there are laboratories on earth that are producing the stuff for use in fusion research and for medical research. It may very well be the most valuable stuff on earth costing millions of dollars to produce just a few nanograms…