Life, death and the 4th dimension

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by my_notebook, Nov 21, 2001.

  1. my_notebook wild hamster Registered Senior Member

    The example which follows is adapted from "An Old Man's Toy", by Alfred Zee, but the idea that follows after it is a my_notebook original.

    In the above example the princess is seeing the ground in 2 dimensions, and a behavior which seems mystical is taking place. When she sees the third dimension, from the ground, she realizes that there is no mystery, just gravity.

    This example is given simply to illustrate the difference ebetween observing soemthing in 2 dimensions, as opposed to 3. I give it here because I think that with it Mr Zee eloquently moves us into a ponderance of dimensions, and it was within just such a ponderance that I came upon the following idea:


    We, unlike our princess, always observe 3 dimensions, and actually live in 4 dimensions: the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time. Time, however, is only available to us of because of memory. We do not actually experience the 4th dimension per se. If we did we would see different moments in time the same way that we see different shapes in space. All we see is one moment in time - the "now" - and although we have remnants of past moments they are highly subjective, and for the most part not open to any further scrutiny. If you weren't paying attention you will not have another chance to scrutinize a moment. The other end of it-- the future - is nothing more than guesswork based on patterns observed and notes taken.

    So imagine, if you will, a being which does not sense time at all, and only sees the third dimension as we see the forth. If this being were to observe an apple, for instance, they would only be able to examine one cross-section at a time. Moving through the entire apple, they would be able to construct a pseudo-3-dimensional model of what they observed in 2 dimensions. Their model, of course, could not be truly 3-dimensional, because they cannot see in 3-D. They would have a "flip-book" (remember those?) of sorts, with a series of 2-dimensional images, which, when observed in sequence, would give them a good idea of the 3-dimensional apple as a whole.

    In the same manner, us 4-dimensional beings can construct a history or a biography by observing a passage of time in moments. We make a movie by constructing a sequence of still shots. We live a life in a sequence of moments, but we are always, unequivocally, in the *here* and *now*.

    So imagine a five-dimensional being. What would they see? It does not matter what the 5th dimension is for now; the only point is that this being can observe time, the 4th dimension, in the same manner in which we observe the 3rd dimension.

    The same way in which we can casually observe a glass model of an apple in it's entirety, this being could hold an entire life before its eyes, and study in detail every moment. Turning it over in it's hand, it could witness every detail, every experience.

    If this being were to observe me, it would see a birth which I do not remember, a death which I am blind to, and it would see me right now, typing away on my computer.

    Beyond me, it could observe anything which falls within it's sensory scope in the same manner, and might easily witness the history of the entire universe in a single glance.

    What do you think?
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2001
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  3. Benji Registered Senior Member

    lucky five-dimensional being

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  5. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    Ever looked into the eyes of an insect??

    Please do, it is rather peculiar. They have 8 facets in each eye....

    What do you think they see???

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