Is there really proof or total nonsense?
What immediately springs to your mind whenever you hear the phrase “other dimensions”? Perhaps you will recall that sci-fi novel you read featuring invaders from another dimension. Perhaps you think of alternate dimensions and universes where a different version of yourself is doing very different things than you are now. While they may sound appealing, the reality is very different. In truth, our world consists of the three dimensions of space; namely length, width and depth, or the x, y and z axes. In short, a dimension is nothing more complicated than a measurable extent. However, scientists believe there is a possibility that many more could exist. The theory known as Superstring Theory hypothesises that our universe exists within ten separate dimensions.
Let us break down these ten dimensions one by one, the first three we have already encountered. The first dimension is that of length, or the x axis. The classic example of this dimension is a straight line. It has no other form except length and thus it has no other characteristics. The second dimension is height, or the y axis, and when this is added to the first dimension, you end up with a two-dimensional shape such as a square or a rectangle. The third dimension, also known as the z axis, concerns depth. With this, objects acquire both area and a cross-section. A common example of the z axis is a cube. It has length, width and depth. Consequently, it exists in all three dimensions and has what is known as volume. These three are the most apparent dimensions and the remaining ones are considered as being less obviously apparent to us. Nevertheless, they are still widely considered as having a direct effect on both the universe and reality.
The fourth dimension, according to scientists, is that of time. Time is responsible for the properties of matter, such as an object’s colour, mass, temperature and so on, at any given time and point. In addition to the other three dimensions, knowledge of an object’s position in time is key to plotting where exactly it is located in the universe. The remaining dimensions concern the involvement of deeper possibilities and explaining how and why they interact with others can be a taxing matter for physicists. Let us now consider these in simple terms.
If we look at Superstring Theory, we see that the fifth and sixth dimensions give rise to the notion of possible other worlds. In theory, if we were able to view the fifth dimension, we would be able to see another world, one which would be not too different from our own. With this, we would have a way to measure the similarities and differences between the two worlds and indeed other possible worlds as well.
The sixth dimension consists of a whole host of different worlds. The theory goes that we could use this to compare and position all the different worlds that share similar origins to our own, such as the Big Bang. Should the fifth and sixth dimensions be mastered, time travel – both backwards and forwards – could become a possibility.
In contrast to the fifth dimension, the seventh offers access to all the possible worlds whose origins differ from those of our own. If we think of the fifth and sixth dimensions as consisting of similar origins but different actions occurred subsequently, in the seventh everything is different from the point of origin onwards. Similar to the sixth dimension, the eighth offers a whole plane of these different worlds and histories, each one featuring different initial conditions and infinitely branching out from there, hence why they are known as infinites.
Turning now to the ninth dimension, all the possible histories of the various universes can be compared with each other, with a good starting point being the various differing laws of physics and initial conditions for the universes. Once we reach the tenth and final dimension, we arrive at the very limits of human imagination. Nothing beyond this point can be perceived by the human mind. All possible ground and conditions have been covered. It is therefore the natural limitation of how dimensions and their terms can be conceived.
The existence of the final six imperceivable dimensions is vital for string theory in order for consistency in nature to exist. There exist two separate hypotheses for why we cannot perceive these six dimensions. The first is that the extra dimensions are so small that they cannot be seen under normal circumstances. The second is that the world exists on a three-dimensional submanifold on which all known particles with the exception of gravity are restricted, thus concealing the extra dimensions.
A proposal has been put forward suggesting the existence of an eleventh dimension to address some of the questions that superstring theory naturally provokes. It is similar to the tenth dimension in that it sets the limitation for how many dimensions could possibly exist. Were the eleventh dimension to be exceeded, the higher dimensions would collapse, leaving the highest dimension as the limitation of imagination and perception.
The notion of other dimensions is a complex and fascinating one, one which some of the greatest minds in physics continue to ponder and debate on. While it’s fun for us laypeople to envisage parallel universes and extra-terrestrial lifeforms hailing from other dimensions, the fact remains that the truth could be much, much more interesting than that. What is evidenced by the theories concerning the extra dimensions is that the human race can still learn so much about the universe it inhabits and what could possibly lie beyond.
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