Thought Experiments


How Many Dimensions Does the Universe Really Have?

An engineer, a mathematician and a physicist walk into a universe. How many dimensions do they find?

The engineer whips out a protractor and straightedge. That’s easy, she says. With her instruments she demonstrates the trio of directions at right angles to each other: length, width and height. “Three,” she reports.

The mathematician gets out his notepad and creates a list of regular, symmetric geometric shapes with perpendicular sides. Squares have four linear edges, he notes. Cubes have six square sides. By extrapolation, hypercubes have eight cubic sides. Continuing the pattern, he realizes that he could keep going forever. “Infinity,” he says.

Credit: Sven Geier/Flickr, under a Creative Commons license.

Finally it is the physicist’s turn. She gazes at the stars and carefully records their behavior. She determines that they attract each other through gravity, which drops off as the square of their mutual distances—an indication, she thinks, of three dimensions. However, once she derives the equation for how their light moves through space, she finds that it is best expressed in four dimensions. Then, after much thought, she tries to think of ways to describe gravity and light in a common theory, which seems to require at least ten dimensions. “Three, four, or maybe even more,” she chimes in.

Let’s see how she reached her conclusions.

In 1917, Austrian physicist Paul Ehrenfest wrote a thought-provoking piece, “In what way does it become manifest in the fundamental laws of physics that space has three dimensions?” (pdf). In the article he enumerated evidence that three dimensions are perfect for describing our world.

He noted, for example, that the stable orbits of planets in the solar system and the stationary states of electrons in atoms require inverse-squared force laws. If gravity, for instance, dropped off with the cube instead of the square of distance from the Sun, the planets would not follow steady, elliptical paths.

Let’s think of what an inverse-squared law means. Imagine a bubble that roughly encompasses a planet’s orbit. The strength of the Sun’s gravitational field at that distance is diluted over the bubble’s surface area. Surface area is proportional to radial distance squared, explaining why gravity drops off by that factor. Because a bubble, including its interior, is three-dimensional, space itself must be as well. In short, the fact that gravity tapers off with distance squared—the amount of a bubble’s surface area—implies three-dimensionality.

The universe is not just space, though. As Russian-German mathematician Hermann Minkowski demonstrated, Einstein’s special theory of relativity, postulated to explain how light moves at a constant speed relative to all observers, can best be expressed in four dimensions. Instead of considering space and time independently, he proposed a unified vision of spacetime. In his general theory of relativity, Einstein made use of the concept and described gravity using a dynamic four-dimensional model.

Light stems from electromagnetic interactions, one of the four natural forces. For many decades, physicists have been searching for methods to unite that force with the others—the strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force, and, thorniest of all, gravity—to create a single, elegant theory of fundamental forces. Two of the earliest schemes (before the strong and weak nuclear forces were identified) were independently developed by German mathematician Theodor Kaluza and Swedish physicist Oskar Klein. Though we now know that their approaches were inaccurate, each proposed to unify electromagnetism and gravity by extending general relativity by an extra dimension. Klein’s contribution best addressed the question of why such a fifth dimension would not be observable—consistent with Ehrenfest’s conclusion that space appears three-dimensional. In an idea known as compactification, Klein envisioned that the higher dimension would be rolled up into a tiny, compact loop on the order of 10-33 centimeters. Thus, while it would supply (in theory, if not in practice) a means of unification, it would be undetectable—like a curled up pill bug camouflaged as a dot on a leaf.

Klein’s contemporaries in the late 1920s, shaping the fundamentals of quantum mechanics, chose to explore the possibility of internal (pertaining to an abstract, mathematical space) dimensions, rather than physical ones that supplement spacetime. They developed their theories in Hilbert space, a mathematical construction that makes use of the infinite number of mathematical dimensions to allow for an indefinitely large assortment of quantum states. Aside from Einstein and his assistants Peter Bergmann and Valentine Bargmann, few physicists investigated the notion of unseen extra dimensions in the physical universe. (In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Einstein, Bergmann and Bargmann tried unsuccessfully to extend general relativity’s four-dimensional spacetime by an extra physical dimension to incorporate electromagnetism.)

In the 1970s and 1980s, Kaluza-Klein theory experienced a revival thanks to the emergence of superstring theory and its cousin supergravity: the idea that the fundamental components of nature are vibrating strands of energy. Mathematically, superstring theory turned out to be viable only in ten dimensions or more. Consequently, researchers began contemplating ways in which the extra six or more dimensions could be compactified.

Superstring theory evolved in the 1990s into a more general approach, called M-theory, that incorporated energetic membranes, nicknamed “branes,” along with strings. M-theory included the possibility of a large extra dimension, supplementing the ten essential dimensions in which superstrings could live. “Large” in that context meant “potentially observable,” rather than minuscule and compact.

Soon researchers realized that the large extra dimension could potentially solve a conundrum called the hierarchy problem. That dilemma involves the striking weakness of gravity compared to the other forces of nature, such as electromagnetism. A simple experiment illustrates that imbalance. Pick up a steel thumbtack with a tiny kitchen magnet, and see how its attraction overwhelms the gravitational pull of the entire earth.

In the “brane world” scenario, first proposed by physicists Nima Arkani-Hamed, Savas Dimopoulos, and Gia Dvali (a collaboration abbreviated as “ADD”), and later developed by Lisa Randall, Raman Sundrum, and others, reality consists of two branes, separated by a higher-dimensional gap called the bulk, in a configuration something like the Grand Canyon. Like timid tourists perched on a canyon rim, most particles cling to one of the branes. Consequently, the familiar physical world is situated there. Stalwart hikers that they are, gravitons, the carriers of gravity, are offered an exception and are able to explore the bulk in between. Because gravity’s agents spend much less time interacting with our familiar brane, gravity seems much weaker than the other forces.

The original ADD conjecture predicted that, when measured at fine scales , gravity should deviate subtly from a perfect inverse-squared distance relationship. However precise torsion balance experiments performed by a team led by Eric Adelberger of the University of Washington placed strict constraints on such a discrepancy down to minute levels. Nevertheless, the idea of extra dimensions has continued to flourish in various proposals for unification of the natural forces.

One of the missions of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the behemoth accelerator straddling the French-Swiss border, has been to test the possibility of unseen extra dimensions. Since the discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012, completing the Standard Model of particle physics, the idea of looking at such extensions has become more central.

To establish the existence of extra dimensions with the LHC, there are three major avenues of attack. The first involves finding echo versions of existing particles, called Kaluza-Klein states. These would be like the known particles in all respects, except more massive, like overtones in music. At a proton-proton collision energy of 7 trillion electron volts, searches have been made for Kaluza-Klein gravitons, Kaluza-Klein gluons and others, so far to no avail.

Physicists are also using the LHC to search for evidence of gravitons seeping into higher dimensions. Such signals of otherwise unexplained missing energy would have to be sifted from enormous numbers of collision events, carefully ruling out a plethora of more mundane possibilities, such as escaped neutrinos.

Evidence for extra dimensions could also show up at the LHC in the form of microscopic black holes, predicted by certain higher dimensional theories. Famously, before the LHC opened, alarmists raised a fear of such objects destroying the Earth, despite calculations showing they would harmlessly decay within a tiny fraction of a second. Despite the hopes and warnings, miniature black holes have yet to be detected among the collision data of LHC experiments.

Currently, the LHC is switched off and being revamped in preparation for cranking up its collision energy almost twice as high as the previous run. In 2015 it is expected to reopen and collide protons at 13 trillion electron volts, offering the possibility of producing more massive particles and more unusual events. The upgrade will offer a greater chance to detect evidence of extra dimensions.

Engineers will marvel, no doubt, at its gleaming mechanisms, while mathematicians will be awestruck by the sheer quantity of its collected data and the powerful algorithms sifting through it. And physicists will wait eagerly for possibly the first evidence of a higher-dimensional realm beyond space and time.

Go Deeper
Editor’s picks for further reading

Cosmos: Carl Sagan: The 4th Dimension
In this scene from the classic “Cosmos” series, Carl Sagan imagines what happens when a three-dimensional character enters a two-dimensional world.

Written in 1884, E.A. Abbott’s classic novella simultaneously satires Victorian culture and imagines life in a two-dimensional world.

NOVA: Imagining Other Dimensions
Journey from a two-dimensional “flatland” to the ten- (or more) dimensional world of superstring theory in this illustrated essay.

Tell us what you think on Twitter, Facebook, or email.

Paul Halpern

    Paul Halpern is Professor of Physics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. A prolific author, he has written thirteen science books, including "Einstein's Dice and Schrödinger’s Cat: How Two Great Minds Battled Quantum Randomness to Create a Unified Theory of Physics" (Basic Books). His interests range from space, time and higher dimensions to cultural aspects of science. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Fulbright Scholarship, and an Athenaeum Literary Award, he has appeared on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, the PBS series "Future Quest," and "The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special." Halpern's books include "Time Journeys," "Cosmic Wormholes," "The Cyclical Serpent," "Faraway Worlds," "The Great Beyond," "Brave New Universe," "What's Science Ever Done for Us?," "Collider," and most recently "Edge of the Universe: A Voyage to the Cosmic Horizon and Beyond" (Wiley 2012). More information about his writings can be found at

    • casiobeats

      Is there really some difference to the extra dimensions of the Standard Model’s internal symmetries that warrants classifying them as an “abstract mathematical space” instead of a physical space? It seems like it’s just a matter of interpretation. Could the extra dimensions of String Theory just as easily be imagined as an abstract mathematical space? And can the answer to this be explained to a layman?

      • Paul Halpern

        Good question! Yes, if you add physical dimensions you need to extend the metric (a kind of spreadsheet that determines how distances are measured) from four spacetime dimensions to a higher number. Then, Einstein’s general theory of relativity similarly needs to be extended. That could potentially affect physical measurements such as the way particles move, unless you place further restrictions on the accessibility of the higher dimensions. But if you add internal symmetries you need not alter the spacetime metric. Thus you can leave general relativity alone.

      • carbonrider

        Well, the good news is that the extra dimensions in String Theory can be realized in simple terms. It’s called the Garden Hose Universe: One extension is very long and spacious. The other extension is very small, and curls back on itself. For a large enough animal, say a human, tightrope walking across a garden hose leaves you with only one dimension of freedom. You can only go forwards or backwards. Now, for an ant, this creature is much smaller, and can take advantage of this tiny compact 2nd dimension. By analogy, our universe is thought to be around 4 extended dimensions, and 24 compactified, curled up dimensions. Those numbers are probably different now. In fact, there’s some theories that state that for every particle in the universe, add 6 dimensions. Making way for an obvious explosion of near-infinite dimensions. The universe could be infinitely complex, and there is no limit to technology and mathematical knowledge.

        • Anonymous

          An earlier article in this blog once provided a description of the many small compacted dimensions that was similar to this and it helped me achieve some peace with my struggle to visualize the concept. She gave the simple example of a tube from far away appearing one dimensional but three dimensional up close. The closer you peer, the more dimensions you discover.

          • carbonrider

            Yeah, that sounds about right. Same concept, anyway. I attribute my understanding to reading Michio Kaku and Brian Greene’s books. It was my first introduction to the concepts about 13 years ago. ” Hyperspace” is a great preliminary education, then ” The Elegant Universe ” is a very in-depth exploration of the technical ways of compactified space. Both are great reads if you have the time, and patience!

    • Thraceguy

      I think the future and past co-exist. There is much to be understood.

      • RyanF1

        “Time is the universe’s way of keeping everything happening at once.”

        • Thraceguy

          I like that statement, thank you!

          • RyanF1

            I forgot an edit to my edit. Please check the latest.

        • herewiss13

          Everything does happen at the same moment. It just happens to be a really _long_ moment. 😛

          (hat-tip to Terry Pratchett)

          • RyanF1

            “On Earth, when we live, Humanity thinks in Chronos, or sequential time. In the afterlife, whether Heaven or Hell, we shall exist in Kairos, or all of time. This is what scripture speaks of when it says, ‘In the fullness of time.'”

            – Peter Kreeft, vaguely remembered and paraphrased (Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven)
            Makes sense to me. When people say, “Mind what you do and what happens to your soul. Eternity is a very long time,” I pause to remind, “Actually, Eternity is all of time.”

      • samay

        so true!

    • Richard Beaver

      While much of the concepts and most of the math goes past me completely, I find the concepts I do understand compelling and have an avid interest. I have a question which may seem completely stupid and a rather duh? question. With the Hubble and newer space borne devices we are able to peer billions of light years away. My question is this if a Hubble type device was in the galaxie 13 billion lights away looking this direction what would it see? Would it see us? Perhaps some simple clarification for the interested but not quite getting it crowd.

      • Nosha Oneal

        No, in this scenario the other telescope would see us as we were 13 billion years ago, which is to as little more than gas and dust, not to mention there are theories that state that the space between may be increasing faster, so no one can be exacly positive as to what they would litteraly see, but it would surely not be us.

        • Richard Beaver

          Now doesn’t this imply a directional expansion? Much as a bubble or balloon getting larger, its outside surface continually expanding in all directions. Placing us not at the outside surface nor at the center but suspended somewhere between?

          • carbonrider

            Well, technically, we would be on the surface of the expanding ” balloon universe”. Except, in place of a thin rubber sheet, we have the entire 3D universe, where all three directions have this stretching elasticity. So, this directional expansion is in a higher dimensional direction. Perhaps expanding into more than four dimensions. Lately, I’ve had the belief that time is the Calabi-Yau manifold. It would be a compactified temporal extension, with infinite parallel universes. This would leave three extended dimensions, what we normally perceive. All of the rest of the universe is in the form of crumpled up time, the realm of subatomic particles that do very strange things. In fact, they disobey the flow of time, sometimes. It just might be a reasonable assumption to connect where the temporal extension meets the subatomic realm. If they are the same, then they may interact in an interrelated way.

            • Radium

              I also think that the we can only perceive a 3d section of a multi-dimensional entropy thus we think that time is irreversible. But maybe in the compactified extra dimensions, entropy is encoded in a different way, maybe past present and future are equal. Every particle that changes in the 3D space can have a different state in another dimension, or it could stay unchanged..
              I saw that graphical representation of a the 4D space, where for at each 3D point there is a perpendicular circle. We can imagine 4 points that make a square. each point has x y z coordinates in the 3D space but it could also have another extra polar coordinate in the curled circle dimension. In the 3D world it still looks like a square but in the 4D space its a little tilted. Then we can imagine that we move the square in 3D space (entropy) but we keep the same hidden polar coordinates.To us it looks like a change but in the forth dimension is the same…
              Sorry if i am just delirious but i just got this image since reading about extra dimensions and time.

          • RyanF1

            To an observer, they are the center of their observable universe, wherever they may be. Do this experiment: Inflate a small balloon slightly in order to write on it. Draw equidistant dots all over its membrane. Now inflate the balloon and observe how the dots all race away from each other. If a dot could see, it would see all the other dots moving away from it, not it moving away from any particular dot.
            If space is infinite, which it evidently is, and is expanding at an ever accelerating rate, which it evidently is, finding that hypothetical center from which it began quickly becomes a pointless exercise. To find a center of anything you need a reference point external to that center from which to plot your measurement.

      • Gold

        If it were that far away, it would view this direction with an image of what was here 13 billion years ago, as the light from that time would have barely reached their. An image of us would take 13 billion years to get there, starting from the moment the earth was created.

        • Gold


          • carbonrider

            Well, actually, what it would see is the condition of this area 13 billion years ago. Unfortunately, Earth wasn’t around at that time, nor was our sun for that matter. There was another star here, the first star, that went supernova and produced all of the elements heavier that iron. Heavier as in larger atomic mass, more protons and neutrons, than iron. There were most likely no planets at that time, either, only colossal hydrogen clouds that condensed into the first stars. So, this star had to burn it’s fuel out, and supernova, seeding the area rich with exotic atoms that never existed before. Then, all this new stuff had to aggregate together again, like the first time. Another cloud collapse would produce another new star, with much less mass, but a thick proto-planetary disk. This solar ring eventually settled into several wells of equilibrium, which we call planets and orbits.

    • Cory McNair

      Every way I try to word this question I feel like I will sound sarcastic or like I am trolling, but I’m not (really). What is a dimension? While I was taught that dimensions are expressed in terms of XYZ axes, I’ve never known what they are. If I get that down, maybe I can begin to wrap my head around the concept of more than three.

      • End3r

        I’m not sure I can offer you the best answer here but I would definitely recommend reading the book Flatland. It really captures the essence of your question and I think would help visualize dimensions, our relationship to them, and how objects may interact with greater or fewer dimensions.

        • Cory McNair

          Thanks for the tip! I will check out Flatland.

          • Paul Halpern

            Higher dimensions are indeed hard to envision, but there is a long chronology of attempts to make them more tangible, including Flatland. My book, The Great Beyond, delves into the history of dimensions and also may be of interest:

      • Matt

        this! 🙂

        cute animation to explain it. basically the 4th dimension is time, think of yourself in as a point in the universe (not that difficult because we are infinitesimally small in the grand scheme). like the leap from zero volume point to line, this point’s line is our body snaking through the universe as it expands at 60 thousand miles per hour through space, from the time you’re born to the time you die. higher dimensions get somewhat confusing but they mirror these smaller leaps up. your 5th dimensional selves get into parallel universes where any possible decisions you could ever have made is a reality somewhere, branching out infinitely out of every temporal moment. as it gets up to 9 or so it begins to describe the entire universe as a point, and basically the highest up is every infinite possible destination universe, of every infinite parallel universe. (i.e. god–all encompassing existence, the omniverse, we really don’t know yet, that’s what these experiements @ LHC could tell us)

        • Matt

          you may need to smoke something in order to fully understand this. even if you’re the world’s smartest physicist. XD

        • CL

          That was not very helpful to me. I think you have to be one of those people… from one of those dimensions. 😉
          The one person who can sort of make me understand some of these concepts is Brian Greene(Fabric of the Cosmos). He even got me understand multiverse at one point… well just about anyway. 😀

      • carbonrider

        Dimensions are nothing more than degrees of freedom to move in or measure. Each unique direction is perpendicular to all other available directions. A 3D object has length x width x height. This means that a 4D shape has LxWxH times another ” tetralength ” , that stacks an infinite number of LxWxH pieces together. I like to make animations of exploring high-D shapes with cross sections:

      • sethf8403

        ur dumb

        • not just dumb

          and you are dumber

    • Maciej Marosz

      Maciej Marosz Engineer and Inventor – Dear Professor sometimes exist thinks that we can not describe by mathematica ( model ) ? only better or worse ?

    • Didi

      Wanted to read this article , but as soon as I saw she-engineer and she- physicist, understood it’s useless. the author who is so easily influenced by political correctness can’t have an independent, original mind.

      • carbonrider

        Hmm… I think the driving point of the article isn’t so much as gender based, but moreso to do with the number of dimensions in the universe…

    • Vidyardhi Nanduri

      Sub: Search Origins-Vedas

      the Science of Cosmology Vedas : Unity in diversity searches in depth to identify
      Cosmological Index from Prime Concepts to base Concepts. Accordingly the Dimensional Nature is identified. The heart and Center of the Universe around 100,000 LY beyond Milkyway Galactic Plane provides necessary inputs.

    • DLK //

      Not understanding consciousness —our ((MANS)) True and Real definitive environmental reality— you flatworlders THINK LIKE MICE in a maze..!

    • carbonrider, you answer Cory’s basic and valid question–What is a dimension?–with the comment, “Dimensions are nothing more than degrees of freedom to move in or measure”, which makes a lot of sense to me, THANKS!
      For me, Reality has three basic components: Nature, Nurture and Spiriture–a neologism, which I created and use to refer to the ability we, as human beings, have to reason, imagine and be aware that we are self-aware beings.

      carbonrider, may I assume that you think of time as a dimension? Speaking of which, here is
      Born Jan. 14, 1930.
      Sept., 1947, at 17, I Entered Mount Allison university as a freshman–on my way
      to a BA, I took basic maths, physics, English, French, Philosophy/Psychology (which, later, became my
      major focus), along with Biblical Greek, Hebrew, History–including History of religions, philosophy, the arts and the sciences. This led to my interest, to this day, in reading about such subjects.
      For more bio info, check out & about the FAMILY LIFE FOUNDATION, which I helped start in 1973, to serve the public good, especially those in need of help.
      Interestingly, it was on Dec. 30, 1947, that the great Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) mathematician and philosopher, died and thus became free from the dimension of time.,
      ABOUT the Steady State cosmology versus the so-called Big Bang theory:
      In my reading I, years ago, I discovered it was a Belgian Jesuit priest, Abbe Georges Lemaitre who, in 1927 spoke of what he called his “hypothesis of the primeval atom”.

      Before that, in the 1920s, Sir James Jeans was among the first to conjecture a steady state cosmology
      based on a hypothesized continuous creation of matter in the universe. The idea was then revised, in 1948, by Fred Hoyle … and others. It is also reported that Hoyle, jokingly, referred to the Lemaitre hypothesis as a Big Bang.

      In my opinion, Hoyle’s term was, and is, a misnomer. Rather than thinking of it as a big “BANG!” here is my opinion: First, I make no claim that I am an astronomer. Using my imagination to think, know, do and grow, I prefer to think that in the beginning, when there was nothing but a dark void (a black hole?) there was a Great~Omni~Dazzlement–a darkness-dissipating flash of light.
      BTW, see the latest National Geographic, March 2014, p. 89-103.

      The steady state cosmology? Theoretical calculations, astronomers tell us, eventually showed that a static universe was impossible under general relativity, and observations by Edwin Hubble had shown that the universe was–and is still is expanding.

      G~Õ~D? It is an acronym which, awhile ago, I concocted. It inspires me to think of a Great~Omni~Dazzlement–that is, light in motion, which Generates Organizes & Delivers. In good time–if we WILL it so to BE–it will also evolve into all that is beautiful, true and GOOD–that is, that which is god-like…

      • carbonrider

        Hmm, that’s some interesting thought processes. In an answer to your question, I understand time to be ” a ” fourth dimension. Physics uses time as ” the” fourth, in terms of relativity. But, I personally mingle in the definition of 4D as a space direction, purely geometrical. However, using time as 4D is a great way to grasp the concept, then apply it to space only. I firmly believe that there is no time, but only space. We are perceiving an infinitely thin now moment moving along this extra extent, manifesting things like motion. If there was only 3D, there would be no motion, only a static 3D snapshot of a particular instance in time. Allowing an additional dimension, that of time, allows things to move, when we move this snapshot along. Our motion now becomes curves and bends, tracing out where we’ve been, and where we are right now. Not to forget some measure of predictable ” where we will be”. Of which there are limits to that predictability! In another post on another forum, I delved into an interesting thought experiment we all experience everyday:

        ” We are still stuck in the 3D slice, but we are perceiving this ” now moment ” slice to be in motion. It moves along the 4th spatial axis of what can be called time. And, the strange thing about this analogy, is it helps explain what we feel with straight line acceleration when driving a car.

        – In one scenario, we are going down the highway at 60 mph ( 100 kph ). Maintaining a constant speed, we turn the steering wheel hard to go around a tight corner. And, while we maintain a constant speed, we feel a strong pulling force to the side.

        -Now, imagine another scenario: we are sitting still at a traffic light. The light turns green, and we punch the gas pedal, in a 400 hp car. We again, feel a strong pulling force, but in a 90 degree direction to the rear of the car. But, wait a minute!? Weren’t we just going straight? There were no corners involved here, just an increase in speed.

        So, in one test, we went around a curve at 60mph. In another test, we went straight from 0 to 60 mph. Both cases produced a strong acceleration pulling force, but in perpendicular directions. If we maintain that time may be a real 4th spatial extension, then going from 0 to 60 in a straight line ( in 3D ) will still be taking a curve, but in 4D, a curve in time. Motion can be explained as a slanted line, where sitting idle is a vertical line. In order to transition from still to moving, we have to bend a vertical line into a slanted line, therefore tracing out the mysterious curve we feel in the 0 to 60.”

        Give that one some thought….

        • QUESTION–about the art of communication:
          Carbonrider, hmmm. Whence the interesting moniker? And which method of communication do you like, and/or prefer, to use? DIALOGUE? DEBATE? Or what?

          Me? Thanks to Socrates and to the great DIALOGUES OF PLATO, I still like using this method. So here I CONTINUE:

          Carbonrider, recently you responded to me, “Hmm, that’s some interesting thought processes.

          “In an answer to your question, I understand time to be ” a ” fourth dimension. … But, I personally mingle in the definition of 4D as a space direction,
          purely geometrical.

          “However, using time as 4D is a great way to grasp
          the concept, then apply it to space only. I firmly believe that there is
          no time, but only space.”

          Carbonrider, feel free to call me Lindsay.

          And keep in mind that even in as a curious child and especially in my early teens I was a lover of all
          kinds of knowledge and ideas–including the weird kind of philosophies, sciences and the arts.

          So I now assume it is okay with you for me to write to you as a theologian. Agreed?

          With this in mind, may I also ask you about your comment above: You mention the words space and time. Is this where we get the word “spacetime”? Or is there a better word?

          Also, here is a revised version of some of the comments and questions I mentioned above, which, way back, I remember coming to mind as I thought about what I intended to do when I finished high school in June, 1946.

          At the time–number 7 in a family of eight–I was 16 and very happy that I had marks in all subjects, especially in the sciences, well above what were needed to qualify to enter university–the first in my much-appreciated family to get beyond grade 5.
          Keep in mind: Our mother died of TB in 1935. Then, father became seriously ill with miner’s lung and died in 1944. No medicare in those “good old” days.

          Meanwhile, our oldest brother, Bill (then 34) and his good wife then led the family–the oldest brother and sister had died, of TB, in their 20s. Their only nurse was mother. Yes, there was some good news:


          Interestingly, I soon found out that the person who became our minister–on –in the summer of 1942 (the year I was 12–was newly ordained and had also graduated from Mount Allison University–which is still connected with the United Church of Canada.

          When I expressed my interest to him that I dreamed of and would like to go university, he was delighted.

          Here are just some of the questions I asked him at the time: At Mount A, a church-based university, is it OK to question the Bible and what it says about God? That is, a god–one with dimensions–who many people think
          of and assume is a human-like supernatural being up there, or out there?
          [More on this story, later on. And STAY TUNED!

          About how I got the money I needed to get to MOUNT A ]

          I now wonder what my minister–long since moved on to the next and freer dimension–would have responded had I then asked him:
          God? Is He for you a male-like being with dimensions?

          How many in this forum are you open to having a dialogue about God vs G~Õ~D?–an acronym, which for me indicates the
          infinite oneness of total Reality, of Being itself and beyond the not-so-free dimensions that we know.

    • chelseyam

      Incredible article. It is amazing how
      we keep progressing and adding more to these theories, yet we’re
      still nowhere close to fully understanding what is going on within
      our own planet, solar system, galaxy…so on, let alone the universe.

      • Paul Halpern

        Many thanks! Yes you are right that despite our progress there is much left to learn.

    • Syed Asif

      Wonderfully written article. Loved every bit of it.

      • Paul Halpern

        Thanks so much!

    • Maciej Marosz
    • Adam Tindall

      Hopefully someone that understands more than I do and help. It’s hard to sleep and can’t stop thinking about it. Makes me feel sick. The universe is the only thing in physics that doesn’t abide by the law of infinite divisibility? I can’t get my head around that. I have background in mathematics but consider myself well read in the theoretical physics realm and study black holes. I can’t stop thinking that black holes are conic sections and the entire universe is one gigantic conic section that swirls down to the a super (super – ha) massive black hole. So that said, put two soda bottles together like you did in kindergarten to see a tornado put in water for the “space”, toss in some paper mache for the “matter”, swirl it and that’s the universe. There are so many implications and other thoughts spinning around in my head. i.e. space is being stretched like a rubber band as it moves towards the black hole. seriously makes me feel sick.

    • Prima Donna

      If scientist could unlock our brains all would be known why is it that an newborn baby’s brain lights up showing more use but as each senses develop for instance when sight becomes more focused part of the light diminishes or turns off in the brain why are we born showing more uses of our brain only to diminish or turn off are we somehow being conditioned or maybe kept under some kind of control to keep us calm and some kind of order in this world are we the only species that loose part of our brain use are there any new data on newborn brain activity and use comparable studies it seems only obvious to us that if we focus on unlocking our brains thus minds we would find all the other answers we seek we have to start with us for any real possibility of answers

    • Will Dixon

      What I got from this is simple its
      a higher thought

    • 10^-35

      Does the number 10^-35 ring a bell? Harhar

    • Anur Chandraiah Sriramaiah Set

      The universe has only two dimensions. 1)
      Before its being it had no dimension. 2) After its inception it is continuously expanding. Hence nobody knows its end.Therefore it is beyond the imagination of any human being and its mind. It has to be accepted as infinite. I don’t find its necessity and relevancy, since the object of human being is just to learn living harmoniously with others. Others means, other Human beings including animals plants and minerals, on the way to perfection. The example of perfection is THAT which is ONE and only ONE or. ONENESS

    • Mario

      Magnífic article. Does the 12- dimensions wraping model induce a proof for branes theory and for an entropy-free outter universe? I’m not sure of most things, but I feel sure that entropy must be a local effect associated to our particular mass-rich condition, else the universe would had already finished, at least for us. Time must emerge from mass as the only possible model, and at large any meta-universe model must generate it’s own time and thus be aethernal.

      • Radium

        I might have a similar ideea about a multidimensional perspective on entropy. Please read my comment above.
        Or maybe these things just feed my imagination which is also cool thing

    • Radium

      I think that the we can only perceive a 3d section of a multi-dimensional entropy (time? )thus we think that time it is irreversible. But maybe in the compactified extra dimensions, entropy is encoded in a different way, maybe past present and future are equal. Every particle that changes in the 3D space can have a different state in another dimension, or it could stay unchanged..

      I saw that graphical representation of the 4D space, where for each 3D point there is a perpendicular circle.

      We can imagine 4 points that make a square. each point has x y z coordinates in the 3D space but it could also have another extra polar coordinate in the curled circle dimension. In the 3D world it still looks like a square but in the 4D space it could be a little tilted or it wouldn`t even be a square.

      Then we can imagine the other way that we move or apply a deformation to the square in the 3D space (entropy) but we keep the same hidden polar coordinates.To us it looks like a change but in the forth dimension everything is the same.

      We can also extend this logic to the other extra-dimensions of the Calabi-Yau manifold.

      Sorry if i am just delirious but i just got this ideea since reading about extra dimensions and time.