Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Existing in the Fifth Dimension

Last week’s blog talked about human beings living in a four dimensional world. We said that while human bodies have height, width and depth, that we also live in a dimension of time (adding a fourth dimension).

But what if there are more than four dimensions? What if there is a fifth dimension, or a sixth? And what does that mean for us here on earth, stuck in the third/fourth dimension? Do higher dimensions have an impact on our lives?

Physicists have been looking into higher dimensions for quite a while. Einstein was working on his dimension theories before he died. In fact, physicists had introduced the idea that there are more than four dimensions early in the 20th century, but it wasn’t until the 1960’s that a concept called String Theory really started to take off. Today, scientists are trying to get a handle on what exactly those dimensions mean for us.

String theory involves quantum mechanics and mathematics to describe a reality that includes up to ten dimensions (maybe more). The basic premise is to try and resolve the differences between gravity and atomic forces. “In fact, the theories that govern gravity and quantum mechanics are totally separate and totally incompatible in the four-dimensional world we know.” It then goes to show that in order to resolve these incompatible forces, we need higher dimensions.

Recently a “surfer” Ph.D., A. Garrett Lisi, claimed to have found a solution for resolving the differences between these forces using eight dimensional math. (Whoa! That level of math is way beyond me.) But his short video clip on You Tube is very interesting nonetheless. Visit the following link to view it if you like. ( (The way the forces of nature congregate in this video will be familiar to Christians – the triangle, a symbol of the Trinity.)

So if we can resolve the fundamental issues of incompatibility with the forces of nature with string theory, what makes up the fifth dimension? Some say mini-black holes, dark matter, cosmic inflation and other fancy concepts make up this higher dimension. Some say that the fifth dimension is just the fourth dimension of time wrapped around itself creating parallel universes.

What if those parallel universes were really the alternate actions that we could have taken in particular situations? Using our coffee example from last week’s blog, what if the parallel universes describe all the different courses of action we could have taken when we saw someone being robbed. The way we handle the situation changes or impacts those around us which in turn impacts the way the world works. Each action produces an alternate universe, changing everything around us.

Many of us at one time or another wish we could change the way we acted or what we did. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how that action would have affected our lives and those around us? If scientists do discover the fifth dimension, would we be able to see the impact of our actions? Would you choose to live in another parallel universe because the outcome was better?

Things to think about until next week…

If you are interested, a 2006 article from MSNBC (, science editor Alan Boyle says, “The problem with detecting the fifth dimension (or sixth, seventh, and so on) is that our bodies are built to measure only the three old-fashioned spatial dimensions, plus time as a fourth dimension.” (That same online article also has a short animation that depicts a three dimensional situation that leads to a particle “escaping” into the fifth dimension. It's pretty cool!)


Kay said...

I can understand what you are saying because of my star trek viewing! I knew that would come in handy some how.

Robbie Iobst said...

Loretta, We are friends. After reading your blog, I am so grateful that you hang with me, someone who thinks string theory is a deep comparsion between cheese stick brands. WOW! It is difficult for me to understand everything, but I love the way you apply it. How would I like to live in a world where, because of the fifth dimension, I could SEE how my actions impact others? This is a juicy, scary, interesting concept. What would be the implications to the way I live my life for Christ? Hmmm...I think I will ponder it over some string cheese. :0)

Loretta said...

Wouldn't it be scary to see the implications of our actions? So much to learn about this cosmos we live in!

Jan Parrish said...

"Would you choose to live in another parallel universe because the outcome was better?" That's an interesting thought.

Jan Parrish said...

You have an award on my blog. Stop on over and snag it!