Visualizing up to ten dimensions

Bowloftoast sez, "This is a short animation that takes the viewer through a progressive description of all (and all possible) dimensions, up to and including the 10th. It is an elegant introduction to the fundamentals of string theory and a mind-blowing toe-dip into the pool of the metaphysical."

Imagining the Tenth Dimension (Thanks, Bowloftoast!)


  1. Wow, I love it, although it will take me a couple of times watching it to get the full gist of it.

  2. Whoa there! It was all very neat until the idea of choice and other universes/possibilities lying in different dimension collapsed by choice and observation of quantum phenomena. This is a tangent (pun intended) and not intrinsic in the idea of multiple dimensions. You can use multiple dimensions in the mathematical modeling of systems as simple as a geared bicycle.
    The ‘observation’ popularly alluded to in pop versions of quantum physics is a matter of measurement, not choice or ‘human observation’. To measure a quantum state requires interaction (as all measurement does), which collapses the state. The experimental physicist looks at the oscilloscope to see the outcome of their wave/partical duality experiment, but it is the experiment (the measurement) not the looking which determines what is measured.
    No need to go off on this tangent. It would have been nice to have stuck to the mathematical idea of multiple dimensions without going off into pop-philosophical whimsy.

  3. unfortunately this video is a very notorious piece of (well-presented and entertaining) pseudoscience.

  4. This is nonsense. It’s like timecube guy learned how to use flash. It certainly has nothing to do with”the fundamentals of string theory”, or any other subject in modern or classical physics, for that matter.

  5. I like the squiggly extradimensional “fold” symbol. Is it something they invented for this video, or is it a standard symbol like ones used in equations?

  6. Lovely video, with some interesting concepts, but it really is pseudoscientific gibberish (for dimensions 5-10 anyway). It’s got nothing to do with string theory – it implies more than one time dimension exists, whereas string theory only postulates extra spatial dimensions.

  7. It’s good to know that the theories me and my friend considered when we were introduced to the concept of the multiverse all those years ago are pretty much consistent with the basics of how string theorists think.

    Mind you, we only ever made it up to 8 or 9 dimensional thinking, largely because reaching the point where an infinite number of time lines in an infinite number of universes exist, you had to consider the possibility of an infinity of infinity squared existed.

    The concept for the infinity timelines overlaid to the infinity of universes was akin to two Spirographs being drawn simultaneously on top of each other. From the outside, a completely covered sheet, but at the “microscopic” level, millions of choices and actions being played out to determine the overall shape. The conclusion we came to once we reached this point?

    It was impossible to go any further without a lifeform that existed with the tenth dimension as it’s 4th dimension as it’s “perceived but unable to alter it dimension” as we perceive time. We reasoned that either by this point you had reached a level of God-like power which could only be surmounted by a creature that was at least 6 dimensions above the 10th Dimension Dwellers. An analogy for this would be the concept of the Over-Deity in a pantheon, whose power vastly dwarfs the other deities. However, by this point the dimensions we inhabit we be as difficult for them to view as we have viewing particles of the Sub-Sub-Atomic level.

    By this point, you’ve reached a recursion. You’re back to the point of how we perceive the world and the degree to which we are to interact with it. A creature that exists in the 16th dimension would only be capable of perceiving “particles” at the lowest possible level of 6 dimensions below itself. So by this assumption, what humans think of as “God” would simply be a tenth dimensional being, no more powerful in his own dimensional ground point than the best Olympic athlete or the greatest genius of humankind. From there we assumed that if we could become aware of and manipulate the dimensions above us, we could eventually reach the tenth dimensional level and be “Godlike”. But then the problem of this being utterly pointless came up. You could achieve the same level of power on Earth by only accessing the fifth or sixth dimensions. Why bother going higher, just to become equal to a few others?

  8. Feels like a well-intentioned effort, but the stuff after 2d is a mish-mash of misapplied technical terms (sensitivity to initial conditions, multiple universes, etc). If only he had included entangled states, you would have a crackpot singularity.

    If it were presented as entertainment it’d be fine. But the guy is dishonest when he makes something up (yes, just cold makes it up) and presents it as known physics.

  9. This is a bad video, I must say. It certainly has nothing at all to do with string theory. Its first few minutes are helpful for introducing people to thought experiments surrounding this kind of talk, but the latter half is terribly nonsensical.

    It makes no sense to call anything “THE #th dimension”. If you have a table of numbers that contains ten columns, then that table represents a ten-dimensional set of data. None of those dimensions are necessarily any of the ones the narrator mentions. It’s very frustrating when he says, “SOOO, the 6th dimension is blabbity blah gobblety gook.”

    And has anyone noticed that the narrator’s “10th dimension” does not actually signify anything? He points at a nine-dimensional data set, basically, and goes, “Because I can’t think of another one, that data set is actually the 10th dimension.”

    I’ll give you a tenth dimension, Bryanton. It’s the magnitude of how much BS you’re spewing in this video. The fact that it’s just a promotional video for a book you wrote– a tip of the pseudoscientific iceberg– is absolutely upsetting.

    A Google search for “ten dimensions” is a better use of one’s time.

  10. A possible 2-dimensional intestine was devised for The Planiverse (1984) using zipper/velcro hooks to compartmentalize the intestine while keeping the two portions of an organism intact.

    The project found clever solutions to other architectural and social problems.

  11. “If only he had included entangled states, you would have a crackpot singularity.”

    Best quote ever. Didn’t watch the video as this review made me realise I would probably tear my hair out in anger.

  12. Yup, fasinating to mesmerize like this, but he shouldn’t have presented it as if this is how string theorists (or even general relativity) approaches dimensions. As far as I know, the dimensions talked about in string theory are purely space dimensions, not time dimensions, and definitely not ‘possibility-dimensions’. Some of these space dimensions even rolled up into a tiny unobservable loop.

    Try this for a somewhat more mathematical approach:

  13. Limiting the whole of reality to 10 dimensions because “there’s nowhere left to go” is intentionally myopic. Several schools of string theory posit 11 dimensions, and one of them — the one containing the sci-fi favorite tachyon particle — has 26. Cf. Wikipedia’s string theory article.

    Humans evolved with freedom in three dimensions and only variable rate of progress in one direction in the fourth. We cannot actually comprehend other degrees of freedom, only analogies to such. Our most common analogy for visualizing alternate movement through the fourth dimension requires an abstraction (the ant on the rolled up newspaper/hose/whatever), and even that is an imperfect one, since we similarly do not have access to pure two-dimensional objects — newspapers and ants are 3-d, and even your model of a mobius strip has two faces (the edge of the paper is a face).

    Analogies are not reality. The map is not the territory. The movie is not something I would base a view of reality on.

  14. I must accept this charming lie-to-children graciously since it ain’t likely I’ll have time or opportunity to be taught better. And it you’re unfamiliar with LtC as a technical term, look it up.

  15. Flatlanders couldn’t have digestion systems? Obviously the fellow’s never read Dewdney’s “Planiverse,” required reading for anyone mucking about in dimensional stuff (after Abbott, natch). Dewdney’s flatlanders tackles the digestion problem with an internal zipper. Dewdney also tackles 2D physics and how to make a 2D crossover circuit.

  16. Okay, forget for a moment whether or not this is a good representation of string theory. Other than that, is there any thing about it that is “wrong”?

    I want to know because I find the ideas very appealing, but some of the comments above make me skeptical.

  17. I really liked this video and found it thought provoking. To everyone above me who’s complaining about misapplied technical terms or presenting as fact that which is not, I encourage you to actually watch the whole video. At the end, the author makes it clear that his explanation is not representative of accepted string theory, and is simply meant as a way of connecting a concept which is very difficult to grasp to what we already know.

  18. nonsense, when faced with something one can’t readily understand, the only proper response is mockery.

    “It is said that papers in string theory are published at a rate greater than the speed of light. This, however, is not problematic since no information is being transmitted.”

  19. I watched this with three other NYU philosophy students. I started objecting when the video started talking about curving dimensions as if an n-dimensional manifold can only be curved if it is embedded in n+1 dimensions. But then we all started objecting when the fourth dimension was treated as time, and the fifth dimension was treated as some way of cashing out the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, and the higher dimensions seemed to be mapping out larger and larger modal spaces. I’m used to (the more traditional?) thinking of higher spatial dimensions as being just like the ones we’re used to — so you can construct an n-dimensional manifold by taking your n-1-dimensional manifold and extending it in a new direction — any direction you want, as long as it’s orthogonal to every other direction in which the manifold is already extended. What we’ll end up with is just a larger chunk of space, with more places entities can be located. It’s no more mysterious than extending a 2-dimensional manifold into a 3-dimensional one. No need to posit restrictions on where in the manifold objects can be related, no need to appeal to time or possible ways for the world to be, or “alternative realities” (blech). But then, some philosophers do talk about using extra dimensions to cash out modal statements (about how things could be); other philosophers use spatiotemporally disconnected manifolds to do that work. I prefer to not posit any additional actual space specifically for that task.

  20. This video is nonsense. Mathematically speaking, “folding” a surface does not change its dimension. That is; a totally flat piece of paper is of dimension 2, but so is a hollow cylinder and a hollow sphere. (Think about it: the surface of the earth is (essentially) 2-dimensional. Hence, we can represent every point on it with 2 numbers: a latitude and a longitude.)

  21. Nothing to do with the word “dimension” as any physicist or mathematician uses the word.

    Bad choice, Boing-Boing. If only there was a video of Cory Doctorow explaining string theory… ON THE UKULELE!!!

  22. Well, the quantum mechanical comments are just hocus-pocus. QM states live in an infinite-dimensional vector space, entanglement and collapse take place in that space, not in 3- (or 4-) space as we perceive it.

  23. This is a cool little thought experiment, but Buckaroo Bonzai had better “science” than this.

    He’s (inadvertently?) confused a lot of concepts in Physics that don’t necessarily lead to solid logical conclusions such as what he’s proposed here. He mentions at one point that Quantum physics represents the collapse of a particle-wave as the outcome of several possible ones. That’s one of many interpretations, none of which are proven and none of which have yet to be explained.

    Furthermore, I sense some logical paradoxes in this. The whole of the explanation strikes me as extremely deterministic and yet he continually refers to people’s “choices” as something that would matter. If all your choices always happen then how is there any choice at all?

  24. We need someone who is qualified to address the accuracy of this model. I would like to show this to friends, but I will not due to the amount of dissention in the comments. Can someone in the know please confirm or refute this model?

  25. The video talks about “the” 1st dimension and “the” 4th dimension, as if that means something. Dimensions are just different axes along which you can measure things. You can treat time as a fourth dimension, but you could also treat, say, color, or density of matter, or temperature as a fourth dimension. It’s up to you. There is no “the” fourth dimension. Time makes sense as a dimension, so we often call it a fourth dimension, so I’ll grit my teeth and accept the video’s odd language that far. But after that… the things they’re talking about cease to make sense as dimensions. Mind-blowing things to think about while stoned, yes, but not “dimensions”, and especially not ones with a standard numbering, as they imply.

  26. IKE9898: “I want to know because I find the ideas very appealing” – these are the ideas you need to be the most sceptical of.

    This reminds me of “What the Bleep Do We Know!?”, in that it starts off reasonable but by the end its just talking unsupported nonsense.

    The first thing I noticed that is “wrong” is when he starts on dimension five, talking about branching possibilities as if they were alternate copies of 4-dimensional space-time bending through 5 dimensional space. To my knowledge, there is no evidence of this and nobody serious thinks it’s the way the universe is actually set up.

    From a mathematical point of view extra dimensions are pretty simple to talk about, and it only gets hard when you try to visualise them, so most of the time we don’t, and that’s ok.

    Here is how a mathematician thinks about extra dimensions: To talk about a point in 2D space you need two numbers, say x and y, so the point is at (x,y). For 3D space you need three numbers to determine it, so the point is (x,y,z). For 4D space you need four numbers, so a point is (x,y,z,w) (or whatever, which letters you choose don’t matter). For 13 dimensional space you need 13 numbers. And so on.

    That’s it. Concepts like distance between points and angles between lines all work by analogy with lower dimensions. No woo woo crazy pseudoscience needed.

  27. Sorry, as a string theorist I can safely say that this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the dimensions talked about either in string theory or in any other theory of physics with extra dimensions.

    The ten dimensions of string theory are not mysterious at all. There are nine spatial dimension which can be described perfectly well mathematically, just like the three dimensions we see around us, and one time dimension.

    When actually playing with these dimensions we use the language of mathematics, not the language of flash animation, going from four to ten dimensions just makes our equations a little longer.

  28. Wow, you people are savage! Leave the poor video maker alone; he just claimed to teach you how to visualize 10 dimensions. And he did, mission accomplished.

    It was bowloftoast who claimed it was the fundamentals of string theory. The video itself is just a handy tool for expanding your mind and making you say “whoa”. And there was nothing false in it!

    I can’t visualize a 4-dimensional object if I try to picture spatial dimensions. But a 4-dimensional solid pictured as a transforming/translating 3-dimensional solid is easy. And the math still works out.

  29. it’s my interperetation that he’s bastardizing the time dimension into a theory of a particle’s existence expressed in a linear manner. IE, expressing every atomic particle that consists of you in the realtively breif moment that it is a part of “you.” It’s not determinism, but it does stand to reason that matter that you consist of will exist forever; you will not, and expressing it’s existence on a time line is not the same thing he’s trying to prove, but it’s what i’m interperating his explaination to be actually saying. does that make sense? it’s more difficult to explain without a whiteboard than i realized.

  30. Whenever I see anything like this I always look for the caveat that QM only applies to sub-atomic particles. The person who created this animation may have been thinking that they’d use pictures of a person, or an ant, to represent quarks or photons, in a way that would be familiar to non-physicists. It mentions the possibility of inter-dimensional travel, but at no time does it say that this is only mathematically possible and only for incredibly small, high energy particles – not people or ants.

    Too many people (read – vegan west-coast crystal growers) will watch this video and then make the illogical jump that String Theory makes communicating with people from the past or future possible. That somehow there are extra dimensions that they can experience first hand. Just fold your consciousness and you can break out of this flatlander existence.

    Thus begins the slippery-slope down to “What the Bleep Do We Know?!?” Ramtha-inspired pseudo-science quackery. Without some statement that the rules governing QM and the 10 dimensions used to explain them don’t apply to us up here at the non-quantum level, the video is just misleading.

  31. I may not have learned anything about math or physics by watching this, but I do feel like I now know why everyone had time-tubes floating outward from their bellies in Donnie Darko.


    I know the type all too well, and nothing is going to send me to an early grave more than people who read oversimplified QM & String Theory and all of a sudden think that this new understanding of babyfood physics is going to allow them (with their BA in Sports History and Leisure Studies pedigree) to “concentrate” themselves into a “higher existence.” Some people smoked entirely too much pot in college.

    It’s to the point that I liked it better when they believed in parthenogenisis, talking snakes and zombies, because they’re ruining science for me.

  33. If you watch the video to the end, there is a disclaimer: ‘While this “way of imagining” is not the accepted explanation for string theory, it does have thought-provoking connections to many people’s impression to how our reality is constructed.’

    So, unbunch your panties, o noble defenders of Science.

  34. This is so wrong, it goes well beyond useless. I won’t even try to list the errors, except to say that it’s complete nonsense to say that there can only be ten dimensions. There could be any number of dimensions. The person who made this seems not to have a very good idea of what dimension actually means to either a mathematician or physicist (I am a mathematician, yes I have a PhD, yes I have a job, yes I’m a researching and publishing professor). If you’re looking for a discussion of higher dimensions amenable to beginners, I recommend the book “The Shape of Space,” by Jeff Weeks.

    By the way, any time you hear someone say definitively that “the fourth dimension is time,” look elsewhere for understanding. (They should rather say something like “one way to imagine an additional dimension is to think of it as representing time,” or “in relativity, one thinks of space-time as a four-dimensional object;” I know it sounds pedantic to distinguish these things, but anyone who understands what they’re talking about WILL be pedantic about distinguishing these things, even when talking to beginners.)

  35. I think many people here are being overly dismissive. The structure he describes is, in fact, ten dimensional, and does, in fact, help you visualize a ten dimensional object, and that all the video claims it would do. It’s true that it probably has nothing to do with the real world, and is certainly not how physicists or mathematicians think of higher dimensions, but the video states that itself. Now, I suppose that it’s a valid concern that some people may watch thisvideo and conclude that that’s the way the world works, but the video never makes that claim. Quite the contrary, in fact.

  36. Thus begins the slippery-slope down to “What the Bleep Do We Know?!?”

    Once upon a time I randomly happenned upon this while channel surfing. I was puzzled when there wasn’t anything to buy at the end.

  37. The first dimension was explained well enough but after that it got problematic. A 2-dimensional being, for example, would not see three-dimensional objects as described in the video. That is approximately how we see them. A 2-D person would only see in one dimension and use hardware and/or software to extrapolate a 2-D shape, much as we see in 2-D and extrapolate the 3-D shape. From the fourth dimension on, it’s just sci-fi. He even creates an extra dimension by declaring that while two 6-D “points” can join up to form a 7-D “line”, another 6-D point is enough to conjure up an eighth dimension. For the tenth dimension, all he can come up with is a point, but that gets him where he needs to go, because he’s heard physicists talk about ten dimensions.
    If we live in a ten-dimensional universe, all it means is that to fully describe any point in that universe, we need ten numbers.

  38. If the video’s authors provided any evidence, or at least explained what kind of thing would count as evidence, that suggested the world is actually as they depict it, I might be interested..

    Metaphysics is bunk.

  39. Wow…the Tenth Dimension is totally black! I mean, how much more black could it be? None!

  40. Was not able to see anything in Firefox 3.5.2 with Flash 10 running on Ubuntu 9.4 Linux. Surprised and disappointed.

  41. I think many commentators here are seeing things that weren’t in the video:
    -the video didn’t claim to be explaining quantum mechanics or string theory, nor did it put great emphasis on these in the discussion
    -I don’t think that the video claimed that it was explaining anything about the nature of the universe or reality.

    It did claim to help you imagine something that is ofter considered hard to imagine, and I think it should be judged on those terms.

    I also feel like there is an awful lot of hostility in the comments and it makes me wonder about the commentators (studied physics in college but now working in a non-physics job they hate; dealing with it by posting hostile comments on Boing Boing. Anyone?)

  42. @19.

    I took an interesting geometry class where we calculated the number of faces, vertices, etc. on higher dimensional squares. We didn’t confine ourselves to just expanding the parameters from (x,y) to (x,y,z,p,q,s, etc.)

    It was fascinating, and totally different from this video.

    I don’t know physics, and don’t really care, but thought this video was an interesting thought experiment. Who cares if it’s not accepted? Does that mean it’s wrong, or just a different kind of geometry? Do physicists work in Reimann space? Does that make it wrong?

  43. IKE9898: FWIW I’m a postdoc in mathematics at UT Austin.

    There are good ways to try to get an understanding of higher dimensional objects (abstract objects, not saying anything about the existence of such objects in reality), but this video isn’t telling you them. The flatland stuff for 2D and 3D in the video isn’t terrible, the rest might make you feel like you’re understanding something, but I don’t see it helping in any academic math or physics context.

    The truth is important. People care about nonsense getting dressed up to sound scientific here, just as they get annoyed with intelligent design doing the same in biology.

  44. @#33 IKE9898 “It did claim to help you imagine something that is ofter considered hard to imagine, and I think it should be judged on those terms.” For the most part, those disparaging this video are judging it based on your criterion. This video simply does *not* help anyone understand space-time in any scientific way.

    I also hope you see the irony in beginning your comment by claiming that people aren’t staying on point, and ending it with an ad hominem attack.

  45. @sfazzios: Touche. Good point re: ad hominem attack (although I still suspect there’s some truth to it).

  46. #26: So if i presented a way of imagining a different concept like evolution that involved a complete misapplication of terms and idea’s, it’d be okay as long as i was just presenting it as a “way of imagining it.”

  47. As a mathematician, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and working in higher-dimensional spaces. From a foundational point of view, nothing could be simpler than, say, 10-dimensional space: it’s just the set of ordered 10-tuplets of real numbers. So, (1.4, 4, 5, -4, 5, 0.66, 34, 0, 0, 14) is a typical element of 10-dimensional space, just like (3, 2, 1.7) is an element of 3 dimensional space. Of course, finding some intuitive physical “meaning”, or interpretation, is a harder question, and that’s what this video’s about.

    The first half of this was a decent recap of basic ideas from, say, Flatland. The second half completely lost me. After one viewing, I have no idea if it’s brilliant or nonsense. I’m inclined to suspect the latter… :)

  48. #19 posted by HenrySeg
    Thanks for putting the issue in such a concise manner. Now to use your easy-to-understand example to show where this video goes wrong:

    1st dimension coordinate:
    2nd dimension coordinates:
    3rd dimension coordinates:
    The next step is where the video goes off rails from the mathematical/physical into a philosophical realm–>

    4th dimension coordinates:
    [ a, b, ]
    a has x,y,z coordinates,
    b has x,y,z coordinates,
    so it can also be written out like:
    [(x,y,z), (x,y,z)]

    As you can see, those coordinates don’t make complete sense to previous dimensional representations. This, (mind the clumsy speculation) is the reasoning for assigning “duration”, or “time” to the 4th dimension. As in, “once here, now there” coordinates.

    Thus 5th dimension coordinates:
    [ d, e, f, g, h, i, etc.]
    d has a,b coordinates (the “d” timeline)
    e has a,b coordinates (the “e” timeline)
    f has a,b coordinates (the “f” timeline)
    and it goes on infinitely (apparently).

    I cannot make sense of this, it just seems like an arbitrary inflation of more coordinates assigned with a vague whim of assumptions.

    Anyone who commented to counter the “Imagining the Tenth Dimension” could you please recommend a more comprehensive explanation to explaining the dimensions? (Besides #6 naam’s excellent link)
    I would be very appreciative to any clarification now that I can’t stop thinking about it.

  49. it also completely ignores the idea that we have mathematical models of 4th spacial dimensions and above.

  50. There should be a bunch of videos created to “correct” this video or present other ideas in a fun animation sense.

    #10 would make a good video
    Draw some different dimensional beings.

  51. kids: it’s a ten minute animation. Use it as a spring board, critiquing it is just about you in the end.

  52. The universe is a computer, simply information processed by a particular set of code, with no beginning necessary. I learned that last Thursday here at BoingBoing.

  53. I suggested this post – bowloftoast – and have read a lot of these comments, so:

    #14 Metaphysics by definition is any philosophical idea or theory that transcends popular scientific theory about the stuff of the universe – I’d say this video qualifies

    80% of other comments…String theory suggests multiple parallel universes, which this video makes at least an attempt to explain, which is why I used the term ‘fundamentals of string theory’ in my description of the video. String is not the central theme, but this video makes an effort to unify elements of string with it’s own point of view. Pretty much in the same way that string theory is trying to unify the ideas in quantum mechanics.

    The fact remains that there are absolutely no ultimate mathematic or ultimate scientific proofs for string, which is why it’s ‘theory’. Nor are there any mathematic proofs that align the theories in quantum mechanics, and until there are, it’s all voodoo. So, since everyone in this thread is in the realm of the witch-doctor, what’s wrong with someone taking another kick at the can?

    I don’t think I presented this video as pure science, it’s just there to make you think.

  54. It sounds like dimensions 6 and seven are being described as having the same relation to the universe as dimensions 4 (time) and 5 do to a person. Different people don’t merit their own dimensions of time – they use the same ones that other people do. They simply occupy different //positions// on that dimension, just as we do in the 3 spatial dimensions. It seems to me the same should apply to universes as well.

  55. #68: Springboards preferably spring you to correct, and not errant territory.

    i don’t get this “well yes, its wrong, but its a starting point” nonsense.

    why not start out at a more correct starting point and avoid laying a bad foundation for ones understanding in the first place?

  56. DMWIZZARD Says:

    This Video is entitled “Visualizing up to ten dimensions”. Yet it describs 11 logical dimensions.

    I.E. Dimensions Zero through to 10!

    E.G.The second dimension is constructed of two (Lower order dimensions) 2 x Logical Dimension ‘1’, so too must the first dimension, I.E. 2 x Logical Dimension ‘0’.

    I thank-you…. LOL

  57. Frankly this is the worst metaphysics I’ve ever come across.

    My favorite howlers are:

    (1) The conflation of the mathematical model for what is being modeled.[If you stop and think about it you will realise that none of these dimensions exist. Points, lines, and sides comprise geometry, not the world. There are no more flatlanders than there are fairies or one sided pieces of paper.]

    (2) The conflation of probability and actuality.

  58. Out of all the dimensions I’ve been to, this is the worst. You people don’t even understand the basics yet.

  59. @ 70:

    “this video makes an effort to unify elements of string with it’s own point of view.”

    …probably by folding the attitudes of string theorists in such a way that what they think is right becomes what they think is wrong – from a higher dimension of thought called mental illness.

    lol – fail.

  60. I think it’s funny that this is exactly what I decided the 9 dimensions were (omitting the 10th dimension as a point) in middle school. My basis for this decision was that I thought it would be cool and seemed symmetrical.

    Sounds like that’s as much evidence this video has as being any way reflective of reality.

    He also totally messes up the “observer effect”. Or at least implies that it has to do with a human observing it.

    #80 “anyone who educates knows half the battle is getting them moving.”

    I guess my having totally bullshit ideas about the universe eventually led me to learn more and realize how silly it was to believe things just because they seemed nice.

  61. #78: A lie to children is explaining gravity with bowling balls marbles and sheets of rubber.

    there are other lies that will take you nowhere useful.

  62. bowloftoast (who brought us the link) said: “So, since everyone in this thread is in the realm of the witch-doctor, what’s wrong with someone taking another kick at the can?”

    True kicks at the can employ either an experimental scientific method, or a rigorous mathematical framework. It’s unfortunate that it takes 5 years of training to be able to make such a kick, but that’s how it is. Just saying stuff because it sounds cool is no substitute. And just saying stuff because it sounds cool, and passing it off as rigorous theory, is what is being objected to here.

  63. Here’s how I understand it using Freddy Krueger as analogy:

    1. length (a scan line from a DVD, say, A Nightmare on Elm Street)
    2. width (a frame of the movie)
    3. Depth (a frame from a 3-D movie)
    4. Duration (The motion picture, A Nightmare on Elm Street)
    5. Destiny (The plot of A Nightmare on Elm Street)
    6. Alternate reality (the plot of the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street)
    7. All possible realities in the universe (Series, Elm St. 1-7)
    8. Alternate universe (Friday the 13th)
    9. Multi-universal reality (Freddy vs. Jason)
    10 All possible realities in all possible universes. (the genre as a whole, or perhaps the act of storytelling itself)

  64. Here I was, wrestling with a fictional scenario where a faster-than-light ship has to communicate outside of its inertial thingy..

    When all I had to do was fold a dot!

    Thanks, dots. Thaots.

  65. A counterpoint to the string theorists here who say that, while this may be a nice bit of multimedia, it’s lousy physics: I’ve studied voiceover narration, and he’s no good at that either.

    If someone can confirm that the Flash authoring is poor, we can score a hat trick.

  66. “I guess my having totally bullshit ideas about the universe eventually led me to learn more and realize how silly it was to believe things just because they seemed nice.”

    see? It works.

  67. “It’s unfortunate that it takes 5 years of training to be able to make such a kick”

    Exactly. But first you must know the can exists. Then you must have your imagination provoked so you want to know more.

  68. #86 doomsdave:
    I’m sure National Academy of Sciences will formally endorse that example, unless the “Transformers merchandise” model is approved by the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

    #91 Takuan:
    Surely you’re joking Zombie Feynman?!

    #76 Sef, Excellent points… I cannot help but roll my eyes whenever the discussions of “Flatlanders” are brought up in these dimensional discussions. It feels like it’s rote medieval scholasticism all over again!

    Any of you “o noble defenders of Science” (#44 Johnny Coelacanth) have any sources for actual explanations for these bothersome dimensions? My kingdom for a link or book title!

  69. Repeating #48:

    Jeff Weeks’ Shape of Space is the authoritative version of the ‘astrophysical topology for dummies’ idea. Multiple copies are available at every academic library, but nowhere else.

    So, correct information is hard to find and impossible to discern (outside of the recommendation of an informed human being). What’s new?

    I’m happy to have so many people looking for clear, correct info as a result of this video. However, I support creationists for the same reason.

    Curiosity, wherever it is directed, is a public good. Yay BB!

  70. I’m not going to touch the physics. But from a mathematical standpoint, can this video actually help you visualize higher dimensions? Here’s an example:

    In four-dimensional Euclidean geometry, two planes can have only one of three relationships. The first two are the only two relationships possible between two planes in three dimensions.

    a) They can be disjoint and never intersect (although, in four dimensions, they need not be parallel).

    b) They can intersect in a line. (Well, they could also intersect entirely, but that’s not the usual definition of “two planes”.)

    But, with the addition of a fourth dimension

    c) Two planes can intersect in a single point.

    Now that you’ve watched this video, can you visualize that? I mean, we’re only talking four dimensions! Take a 3-space that contains one of the planes. The other plane is not totally contained by the 3-space but intersects it in a line. That line can intersect the first plane in its entirety, a single point, or not at all.

    Here’s a book that will walk you through the heavy lifting. (Now in the public domain, download in PDF!)

    or just google “manning four dimensions”

  71. Wow, you people seriously have no idea what you are talking about. The creator clearly states that this is not a representation, or likeness of any sort, to string theory. The whole purpose of this was to inform you tiny minded people of the most simplistic and logical explanation of our dimensions. This is the way our energy works, and eventually you will all be thankful for this explanation to ordinary people.

  72. “… It is an elegant introduction to the fundamentals of string theory …”

    Then, #70 “The fact remains that there are absolutely no ultimate mathematic or ultimate scientific proofs for string, which is why it’s ‘theory’. Nor are there any mathematic proofs that align the theories in quantum mechanics, and until there are, it’s all voodoo. So, since everyone in this thread is in the realm of the witch-doctor, what’s wrong with someone taking another kick at the can?”

    What’s wrong? What’s wrong?! It’s like posting a link saying ‘Evolution explained’ to a 10 minute movie about creationism which, at the end quietly says ‘Some parts of this film are not conventional evolution theory.’ Then, when people complain that when they’re told about a link that introduces evolution, and get creatonism instead, and only find out after 10 minutes of wasted time, your response is ‘Evolution isn’t proven’.

    If you want proof of scientific theories, you don’t understand science. If you can’t tell the difference between a model which is consistent with all the gathered experimental data, and something just made up ‘cos it sounds cool, you don’t understand science.

    And to make it worse, you’re not only wasting people’s time, but judging by the comments you’re genuinely confusing people with poor science BS detectors, who think they might have learnt something associated with reality.

  73. Even the flatlander scenario is wrong. He says that we must look very strange to a flatlander, and shows internal organs moving through the plane. The flatlander only sees the line of skin that describes the contours of your body. The only thing unusual a flatlander would notice, if your body passed through its plane of existence would be the line of skin changing shape and size (and even breaking apart) without rotating in the plane.

  74. I’m not attempting to criticize or defend this animation but aren’t mathematical notions of dimensions just as arbitrary as the notions put forth in this clip? I mean, adding an extra co-ordinate number simply because we can do it in a numerical system doesn’t make it any more indicative of “reality”. Mathematics, like every other school of thought, is just one language attempting to describe our environment as best we can. While it’s great at predicting certain things, it’s also great at coming up with mathematical curiosities that don’t have any observable correlation with physical reality (thus far of course).

    IMO Good models of reality are seeded by creativity, then tested for mathematical violations and finally sought out via observation and experimentation. The most elegant of these become generally accepted.

  75. bowloftoast again…

    #101 There are many people in the world who have no concept whatsoever that string theory even exists, or what it entails – particularly ideas of other dimensions in parallel to our own. This video is designed to help people visualize and grasp at least the concept of multiple dimensions. It doesn’t claim to be anything more. In that respect, it is an entree to the concept for those who may not have given it prior consideration – ‘an introduction.’

    If the makers of this video engage people’s imagination, inspire them to learn more, open their minds to other possibilities, and generate interest that may lead them to learn more about the theory, then what is the harm? If it’s just about your precious ten minutes and semantics, then my sincere apologies.

  76. #101 theWalrus,

    That would depend on how many flatlander eyes the flatlander had and what kind of spectrum it sees in.

    If it saw all the way through (each multicoloured line image section of) you, it could have evolved an enormous flat brain to image of the whole of you, especially if it ate people on the way through, and found some bits tastier than others.

  77. Unfortunately the concept of spacial dimensions and the fundamentals of (one interpretation of) quantum mechanics are presented as if there was some deep connection. That is just mumbo-jumbo.
    The idea of imagining a 4D object as a 3D object
    that evolves with time is nice, but one should make clear what is the point about that. I can explain how a 4D hypercube looks like to my little sister without getting all metaphysical about it.
    The clip starts off quite well and then goes down the drain.

  78. Hey thanks for the links and book recommendations, after previewing The Shape of Space, I bought a copy.

    Anyway, this “Imagining the Tenth Dimension” vid, though misguided, has the right intentions: the general public needs more high-visibility Science programming to popularize “newer” theories. Something along the lines of COSMOS perhaps?

  79. if more math and physics majors were better at explaining their vocation to the world, they might be less bitter since they’d actually be funded decently.

  80. i think this guy is going after something other than traditional maths or science academic concepts of ‘dimensions’ and is instead trying to explain a conceptual model of a multiverse scenario. maybe it he is clashing with science jocks by using terms such as ‘dimension’ – which may have other meanings – but since most people think of dimensions in these kinds of everyday terms – i think he can be forgiven.

    so to out it another way, he is describing a hypothetical model of reality – with it’s basis in everyday experience of space and time. he isn’t trying to keep in step with the science jocks.

    from a conceptual standpoint, or as an information organizational tool, i think this is an excellent model. he isn’t shy about his interest in non-conventional models – as someone pointed out, he has a youtube channel where there is shamans and auras etc.

  81. This guy is a hack!

    His site does have a disclaimer that he isn’t a scientist and has created his site based on his own personal speculations, but he does well to hide the fact.

    This really should come with a disclaimer screen!

    “Warning: This video is just the personal speculations of some random dude on the Internet and has no basis in reality or fact.”

  82. #76 Sef

    I’m staggered no one else has pointed out to you that there are one sided pieces of paper. Moebius strips.

  83. bowloftoast again…

    I’ve read a number of the more recent comments, and wish to clarify. Nowhere did I state ‘this is how string theorists think’ or ‘string theory explained’ as is suggested by #100 (and a number of others). It took me a while to understand why so much ire over recommending this link until I got the gist of what was being infered from my statement about this being ‘an introduction to the fundamentals of string theory’ – easily misconstrued.

    There are many people who don’t know string theory exists, and don’t even have a concept of multiple dimensions – which is fundamental to the theory. The video doesn’t claim to be anything more than an exercise to help people get their head around the concept of possible multiple dimensions, and in that respect it works. It never claims to be anything more than an exercise. Pseudoscience or not, it does provide access to the concept. Once there, I’d say the next logical step for any viewer new to the concept is to find out more about string theory, m-string, QM, etc.

    I don’t really believe anyone new to the concept is going to view this video and walk away from it thinking they now understand string theory – particularly since the video itself indicates it is not string theory – and I did not put it out there as ‘string theory explained’. Perhaps I give people a little more credit for critical thinking than the average commenter here. I think that people are going to walk away from the video considering greater possibilities in the world around them, and with an idea that a multi-dimensional universe can exist. At a basic level, they’ve been introduced to a concept which is fundamental to string theory. Primed to learn more. I don’t propose that A is B, but I certainly think that once A is achieved, B is more readily accessible.

    The guy who produced this little animation is provoking thought and making an effort to get people thinking in new ways. At no point does he say ‘this is the way it is’, he simply says ‘watch this and consider the possibilities.’ He’s made an effort to get fires burning, and even if he’s used the rubbing-two-sticks-together method to do so, he’s taken his shot.

    #85 says ‘True kicks at the can employ either an experimental scientific method, or a rigorous mathematical framework’. Given the choice, which of the two above messages is going to be more well received in the public realm?

  84. Why are people getting their panties in a bunch and trying to juxtapose this with creationism? This video isn’t trying to explain a phenomenon; it’s an interpretation of a series of concepts. Surely those better educated and trained in the language of mathematics can suppress the instinct to make concrete the abstract, but what about the rest?

    It’s as if some of you would go into a visual effects lab and berate people for using cone spotlights in 3DS MAX because they do not represent light as both particle and wave.

    There’s no doubt any interpretation of a concept has the potential to mislead if the viewer was not aware of its interpretive nature, but this post’s title is ‘visualizing up to 10 dimensions’. It’s just a way for the mind to digest the concept of dimensions higher than 3. I never thought I was about to be taught a rigorous lesson in mathematics or physics.

    Apparently some of you are simply too eager to prove your education background to the internet by picking apart videos intended for children.

  85. I know I’m a little late to the party, but I can’t resist mentioning the two things that made this video go from “pretty bad; I hope no one takes this seriously” to “I really wish this could be erased from the interwebs”.

    One: The idea that there is a relationship between human choice and things like quantum probability wave functions. Two faces of this fallacious coin: A) Probability wave functions are not collapsed by the act of being observed by a human. Certain kinds of particle interactions collapse certain probability wave functions, that’s all. Yes, it just so happens that many of the interactions that trigger sensors are of this kind. But many are not. Probability wave functions don’t only collapse when we’re looking, and don’t always collapse when we’re looking. And B) While it is perfectly possible that certain quantum interactions cause certain parameters of subatomic particles to be randomized or to be changed non-deterministically, this indeterminism does NOT extend to macroscopic events. In fact, it probably doesn’t even extend to the “neurons firing” level. Room temperature is too hot for quantum events to have any impact on neuron function, i.e. to have effects that don’t decay too quickly. To the best of our knowledge, the brain is a deterministic machine. So while there IS an alternate quantum universe where this photon went this way instead of that wat, there ISN’T an alternate quantum universe where I chose to wear my brown jacket today instead of my black jacket. Multiple possible quantum universes, yes. Multiple possible universes defined by human choice, no. Each decision has only one actually possible outcome: the experiment has been run, the result is whatever the outcome was, and this would repeat if you could somehow put all the molecules in the same place and kick-start them into the same motions.

    Two: In the end the video talks about different possible universes, which work by different rules. This calls to mind the anthropic principle, and the idea of the universe being fine-tuned. Of course, if all imaginable universes are indeed possible (i.e. if there can be a universe with different physical constants), then this universe isn’t fine-tuned at all, it’s just the one (out of many) where life arose because it was the only one where life could arise. Anyways, the video gives us ONE more dimension to stack all these possible universes into. But this assumes that there is only ONE fundamental constant to which all others are dependent. Sure, someday, a unified theory of everything could reveal that all the constants aren’t actually independent but are tied somehow… but for now they look pretty darn independent. So you’d need an extra FEW dimensions for the other possible universes, one for varying each of the independent constants (however many of those there actually are). and yes, I know that this is just nit-picking the fact that the creator of the video doesn’t know what “dimension” means (it means a space in which one more parameter can be varied).

    Of course, getting people to think about the probability space of all different possible universes (given quantum non-determinism and, I guess, different Big Bang configurations), and all different possible KINDS of universes (varying the fundamental constants), is a good idea. It might help them to realize that the universe is probably not as lovingly crafted as they think. But it’s possible to go there, entertainingly too, without misrepresenting as many concepts in physics and math as this video does.

    It’s not as bad as What The Bleep Do We Know… but only because it’s not as long.

  86. #120 Airshowfan

    ‘While it is perfectly possible that certain quantum interactions cause certain parameters of subatomic particles to be randomized or to be changed non-deterministically, this indeterminism does NOT extend to macroscopic events.’

    Isn’t that what Schrodinger’s idea (rig the quantum detector so it shoots a cat) was about?

  87. #115 Piers wrote

    “#76 Sef

    I’m staggered no one else has pointed out to you that there are one sided pieces of paper. Moebius strips.”

    Of course I have heard of mobius strips – it is to mobius strips that I refer when I deny that there is such a thing as a one sided piece of paper.

    Consider the following:

    (1) At a high enough level of magnification the mobius strip no longer seems to approximate a two dimensional object. Under such magnification the paper is revealed to exist “in the round.” How are we to consider the smaller surface comprising the edge of the paper strip? Shall we call this a side as well? Would this not mean that a mobius strip has two sides – a plane side and an edge side? Or at this magnification does the notion of a side begin to break down when the illusion of smooth regularity dissapears?

    (2) With any piece of A4 paper you can begin on one point and follow the object in one direction until you arive back at where you began. Does this mean that all pieces of paper have only one side? In an important sense this is true but for the sake of argument we will pretend that you say “surely not!- the same operation could be performed on a cube and that journey would traverse four sides of a six sided object!” In this case “crossing an edge” defines the limit of a side. You can of course “cross two edges” of a mobius strip to get back to the start position so this means that it has more than one side by this definition.

    Now does a mobius strip have one side or two sides? Don’t believe the hype.

  88. The physical manifestation of a Moebius strip has according to what you’re saying two surfacey type things. A side, or surface, and an edge surface which wouldn’t be there if it existed in it’s ideal state.

    A physical piece of paper therefore has six sides or surfacey things. More than the Moebius strip.

    But in actuality a physical piece of paper has two sides or surfaces. Moebius strip has fewer. One.

  89. “The physical manifestation of a Moebius strip has according to what you’re saying two surfacey type things. A side, or surface, and an edge surface which wouldn’t be there if it existed in it’s ideal state.”

    Yes – this notion of the “ideal state” is that which I was originally seeking to draw attention to. Sides only exist as “ideal states” but “ideal states” do not themselves actually exist. It is in this sense that I claim there is no such thing as a one sided piece of paper.

    I like the way you point out that a square piece of paper is really a type of flattened cube – I missed this when I was thinking last night and you are of course right. The circular piece of paper would, as a flattened cylinder, then be a “three sided” object in some sense.

    I don’t agree with “But in actuality a physical piece of paper has two sides or surfaces. Moebius strip has fewer. One.” which just ignores the progress we’ve made.

    Think more about the irregularity of a surface revealed under magnification so that it can no longer even be called a surface. The whole idea of a side is shown to be pure idealism. There is no law in nature that tells us a cube has six sides and in some sense no cube does – unless we allow that the cube is just one of these “ideal states” that we refer to in mathematical models of the world.

  90. OK eggheads, you can argue about the validity of the video and the content. I, as a mere human, found it useful simply to explain how the theories stack the dimensions. But we are trapped in our own inherited thinking forms, and find it hard to realize when that happens.

    So now, I too have a problem – two really. Answer these if you will with your higher math and scientific reasoning please. First, if dimension zero is the ‘concept’ of a point, couldn’t there be other concepts of some kind of a starting point? So would that not mean that ‘dimension zero’ was a multitude of concepts and therefore a ‘higher than one’ dimension already? I don’t see how this can be disproven with math or logic, as if that hypothesis is correct there could be other math or logic systems that would produce different starting ‘points’ (pun intended).

    Second, when we get to dimension 10 with ‘all possible possibilities and timelines’, we are supposedly left with only a concept again of dimension 10. But what about the concept being the result of only one perspective? Isn’t there a dimension of ‘all possible perspectives’ on the all possible possibilities? Here’s a few – good and ‘not good’, or directed creation and undirected creation. So if a view of time, in which we’re trapped, is a valid dimension, wouldn’t a view of ‘intent’ or ‘source’ be a dimension as well? And every variation in between those absolutes. I don’t think we stop at 10.

    OK? So, I’m a mere monk. Explain these extremes to me someone.

    1. The Mind has limitless possibilities. As a dimension it answers your quandry. Once the correct mindset has been achieved all answers come quickly. We live in space though and we all have to get the “point”. To be more comprehensive the point is 2 fold, biological and sociological. The bio being spacial and the socio being mental.
      Time is a factor of course but becomes irrelevant from a certian point forward.
      The point is found in the answer to the question Why are we here? The answer is “Crayola” of course but when we use the L word we get mocked. Know Love is Biological and Sociological, ie Love your Mommy (mental) and Love your Spouse (biological) your saccrum will tell you.
      The Unicorn does exist, and it three fold.
      Unich by birth.
      Unich by choice.
      Unich by someone elses choice. (ie Murder, Suicide)

      Please know I mean no disrespect and that I care. My handle points you to Tetragrammaton. It is the lowest common denominator.
      I = 9 fruits above them there is no law
      Double Y = 50, Male, Female and a glyph that is also a word
      H = 8, The bridge of sighs and there are 10 Hs in Tetragrammaton
      J = 10 a long stemmed U and a number of completion
      V = 22 and the Master Builder
      W = 23 and looks like V next to its self

      Here we go… Somebody is all of this the rest of us fit into one of the other 4 categories, the consanants if you will (5 groupings). Work the associations on your own and you might come up with something that I missed.

      There is also a Greek letter association that can help. Pi, Psi, Hue, Mue. Pi being the circular argument where you cannot tell the difference between them and the Psi or the line, as fibronacci is a line eventually and that is similar to the “truth”. Some stretched it and others have a degree of unsertianty as to why they make it, but the “line” makes it so.

      This is the product of 4 years of isolation and entirely too much time on my hands. I hope this helps, after proofing it it makes sense to me but might get a bit confusing to others.

      Nike to Lause… Victory to the People!

  91. Um guys, the only Mobius strip that doesn’t have three surfaces is conceptual. Even a one atom thick mobius strip will have the wider surface, and two edges. It’s a 3 dimensional object, useful for showing the conceptual mobius strip, but the paper one you mention has three.

    Even that much seems strange – 3 surfaces on an object that should have only 1 or 2 (depending on perspective) or would then jump to 6. How bizzare!

  92. #125 Sef

    All I meant was that according to what you seem to be saying ‘there are no such things as one sided pieces of paper’ seems to have the corollary ‘there are no such things as two sided pieces of paper’; and that the argument could be advanced that a paper moebius strip is one sided and one edged, if you agreed that a sheet of paper is two sided and four edged.

    I agree that a paper moebius strip is not ‘really’ a moebius strip.

    #127 anon

    Sheet of paper: 6 sides

    Circular sheet of paper: 3 sides

    Paper Moebius strip: 2 sides

    each of course then have their respective allocation of edges :)

    If there’s an edge to an ideal Moebius strip there’s only one of it.

  93. I would have taken the time to post the answer to all of the observations made here, but I must time and space travel as my phone is ringing in an alternative Universe and Googlevoice has not yet jumped out of this dimension.

  94. Wow, what a bunch of miserable complaining whiners.

    “This has nothing to do with String Theory”, “That’s not how the 10th dimension works at all”, well boo friggin’ hoo. Get over yourselves. Why, exactly, did you come and view this video, hmm? Simply to complain about it? Or do you simply have nothing better to do?

    I suggest you buy a dictionary and look up the word ‘Theory’. Judging by many of the comments on here I think some people will get a nasty surprise.

    So it doesn’t fit the model of ST and the QM is off but, frankly, who gives a rats ass? It’s thought provoking. And, I know, many of you haven’t got an imaginative bone in your bodies, but it helps ordinary folk open their minds to possibilities.

    Maths is fine for modelling 1, 2, 3 and maybe even 4 dimensions, but after that, how the hell can we be sure that our calculations will fit with something that we haven’t experienced yet? Saying that maths proves there are X number of dimensions means nothing when you’re trying to describe something our 3 dimensional minds won’t be able to visualise or perceive. Trying to describe how things work in higher dimensions is like trying to imagine a brand new colour.

    All we have to work on is theories, and that is all we’ll ever have. Sure the maths might suggest otherwise, but we’ll never be able to investigate them in any conclusive way.

    So, to sum up and to anyone who is complaining about the accuracy of this video: The word theory is simply the best guess of one or a bunch of people, not evidence.

  95. “…if dimension zero is the ‘concept’ of a point, couldn’t there be other concepts of some kind of a starting point? So would that not mean that ‘dimension zero’ was a multitude of concepts and therefore a ‘higher than one’ dimension already? I don’t see how this can be disproven with math or logic…”

    Math-wise, I guess it wouldn’t be about being “proven” or “disproven” as much as being “defined as”. My extremely limited spider-sense tingled as soon as I saw the video use “dimensions” in ways that didn’t match what I remembered them being defined as, specially the way it does metadimensions instead of additional dimensions.

  96. Hi, Rob Bryanton here, I made this much-discussed video, and as a long time fan of boingboing this is quite an honor. Thanks very much to Cory Doctorow and Bowloftoast for their interest, and thanks to those of you in the comments who understand the intent of this animation: as I say at the end, this is not the explanation for string theory, but it does have interesting connections to a lot of different schools of thought for a lot of people, and that’s why it continues to be watched, and why it has been translated into so many other languages. Do I hope that this video has started people thinking about big picture ideas, and encouraged some to learn more about cosmology, the multiverse, and quantum mechanics? Of course I do! And every day I hear from people thanking me for waking them up to these possibilities.

    When I came up with this way of visualizing spatial dimensions twenty-five years ago, I had not heard of the point-line-plane postulate, but it is very related. That postulate is accepted as a way of conceiving of any number of spatial dimensions, and that is what we are talking about here – spatial dimensions, each one at a new “right angle” to the one before. Trying to view a representation of a 4D hypercube without using “time” to rotate that object is a good way of thinking about how time, for us, is just one of the two possible directions in the fourth spatial dimension.

    I published my book and this animation in 2006. In 2007, physicist David Deutsch supervised a team of scientists at Oxford to publish a proof equating the branching possibilities resulting from chance and choice with the probabilistic outcomes of the quantum world. New Scientist magazine went on to call this one of the most important science news stories of the year.

    The Deutsch team’s proof and my video both show a way of visualizing Everett’s Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. Everett proposed that the quantum wave function is not actually collapsed, but merely observed in different states. In that regard, this way of thinking shows how free will can exist and yet all possible outcomes could already exist within a timeless underlying fabric. Physicist Tim Palmer’s “Invariant Set” is receiving a lot of attention this year because it also confirms the validity of this approach: has just published a very positive story about Palmer’s work:

    This year well-known physicist Brian Greene has come out to say that he now accepts the idea that the other different-initial-conditions universes are not merely theoretical, but just as real as our own. This “multverse” is another idea that is central to my approach to visualizing the dimensions which was much less in vogue back in 2006.

    Another important point to note is that this way of visualizing the dimensions does show a way of visualizing how the fifth dimension and above are “curled up at the planck length” from our perspective – it’s because our spacetime reality is not continuous, but rather divided up into quanta. For more about this:

    There are a few questions that come up again and again with my project:
    What would a flatlander really see?
    Aren’t There Really 11 Dimensions?
    Why Stop at Ten Dimensions?

    If you go to my website you will find many more connections.

    And as already been mentioned in the comments above, I have a youtube channel where I’ve posted 250 different videos that discuss the huge cloud of ideas that can be connected to this way of visualizing the dimensions:

    Since my day job is composing music and designing sound for films and television shows, you will also see that my project has 26 songs attached to it. Here’s one of those songs: “The Anthropic Viewpoint”.

    For those of you who are angered by a non-physicist trying to get people to think about cosmology and the really big picture, I can only say that the goal of my project is to stimulate people’s brains into considering new possibilities. My next book is called “O is for Omniverse”, and it boils all these ideas down into what looks like a children’s alphabet book, full of brightly colored pictures and bouncy poems. My most popular blog entry of all time is called “Creativity and the Quantum Universe” and that’s what this is all about for me: creativity.


    Rob Bryanton

  97. Hi, Rob – Thanks for coming here to see the comments in spite of the rough reception you’d expect from a crowd like this. My new-agey brother-in-law showed me this a couple of years ago, and it’s visually cute and it’s nice to have artists trying to explain things to people. But when mathematicians and physicists use definitions, we actually mean them and try to use them consistently, and when we’re talking about different things we try to use different terms for them to avoid confusing people.

    I’ll let you slide on getting your definition of points wrong (i.e. one or two sentences into the video, before you’d introduced any other dimensions) and on talking about what Flatlanders see because they’re not able to look at things from the top.

    But the jump you make from Dimension 4 into Dimension 5 is simply wrong – you’re treating Dimension 5 as a set of possible different values for what the Dimension 1-4 view of things could have been like, and while that may be a useful thing to consider, it isn’t a dimension. It’s a different kind of thing, so numbering the conceptual jumps you make after that doesn’t make sense, and folding things across those dimensions doesn’t make sense because they aren’t dimensions, they’re just different.

    Then there’s the jump into Dimension 10 where you’d like to get to a Dimension 11 but have run out of ideas about what that could be. That’s because they’re not dimensions any more, and haven’t been since Dimension 5, so saying you’re folding them isn’t very meaningful and what you’re doing to get each additional step is coming up with some new concept of something more complex to attach a number to.
    If you’re a mathematician you can keep stacking on as many dimensions as you’d like, all at right angles to each other, countably-infinitely-many of them if you’d like, and there’s no reason you have to stop anywhere. (I’m staying out of issues like the fractional dimensions the fractals people mess around with; not sure if there are countably many of those or if they’re non-countable.) If you’re a physicist, you can still do mathematical calculations with more than 11 dimensions if you want, but usually you don’t need to if the objects you’re mapping are representations of real space (except for the couple of people who’ve found 26-dimensional spaces useful.)

    On string theory vs. the M-theory membrane folks:

    • M: In our theory, the number of dimensions goes up to Eleven.
    • S: Why not just use large dimensions and number them up to 10?
    • M: (brief puzzled expression)
    • M: But Ours goes up to 11.
    1. If you are speaking of long run on sentences where only one person gets to talk. Well OK. How about this? Meet the CIAK47GGGMFBI AKA THEDOD. I’m The Mo Fo Bureau of I, and that is no Pho noodle. $$$ Chaching $$$ Or were you just Chached?

  98. Hi Bill,

    Yes, what we’re talking about are spatial dimensions, with each one at a new “right angle” to the one before. M Theory says there are ten spatial dimensions plus one of time. How can the fifth dimension and above be spatial, and the first three dimensions be spatial, but the fourth dimension be this nebulous “temporal” dimension (while the discussion of whether “time” even really exists continues to be an ongoing debate in cosmology)? That’s what I explore in “Aren’t There Really 11 Dimensions?”.

    Best regards,


  99. Most of my fellow flatlanders with proper schooling angrily consider your theory of depth to be pure drivel and believe your intentions to be evil, your video at least helped me to imagine such a dimension may exist.

  100. The creator of the video (post #132) sites several examples of well-known physicists promoting ideas supposedly relating to those in the video.

    I wonder if he could site a *single* well-known, respectable physicist who has kind words for the video itself.

    (Note that physicists will happily flock to a well-made science popularization– if it’s correct. For example, The Powers of 10 video.)

  101. A two-dimensional flat-lander observing a sphere intersecting the plane in which he exists would see only a point growing to and diminishing from a straight line (varying in length as the sphere passes through the plane) — he could not see that part (arc) of the circle obscured from him by the part (arc) closer to him; to see the circle resulting from the interesection of sphere and plane, one must be observing from outside (above or below) the intersected plane. — Anonym

  102. #141 Anonymous

    You’re assuming the flat lander has nothing corresponding to colour, transparency, parallax, and 2 point vision.

    It would have to be able to see a variegated line at least to have ‘two dimensional’ perception at all.

    When the sphere passes through it would see (one edge of) a circle changing size, in the same way we’d see (one side of) a sphere changing size if some corresponding hyperspherical entity passed through our space.

    It lives in a flat universe, if it can’t recognise a simple circular object when it sees one; it won’t live very long.

  103. This video is a beautiful, symmetrical piece of science fiction. This is how I picture most time travel SF stores. The Star Trek reboot doesn’t erase the previous series, it just takes place in an alternate time line. You have to think 5th dimensionally.

    If the Doc’s Delorean could move in the 5th or 6th dimension, the second movie would have been much shorter. The advanced timeships in Star Trek can move and have sensors that work in these (fictional) higher dimensions.

    Mathematicians and string theorists are right as to how wrong this is, but if you can’t see how cool and elegant this fictional model is, you lack some whimsy and imagination.

  104. I have been looking into the 18 dimensions spoken of in the new Transformers movie and happened upon this. I us only the library for internet comunicae so I didn’t watch the movie. Sorry.

    Here is what Einstein coded to us about dimensions… Length, Width and Height as the first three dimensions and Time as the fourth. Correct?

    Remember he coded the dimensions to us sticking out his toung saying catch me if you can. Here it is folks. Space = Dimension #4 (4 points to get space)
    The Mind = Dimnesion #3 (3 points to get a plane)
    Time = Dimension #2 (2 Points to get a line)
    The Undefined = Dimension #1 (The most logical beginning or the void, 1 point)

    Albert was clever… He tipped us off to there being 4 dimensions, and he hinted that one of them was a plane with his explanation of gravity. We learned in our youth that time is a line, and it is up to us to define space as a dimension.

    The mind is the tricky one. First one has to understand that they can see space “in” a plane (“mirror mirror on the wall”) the next step is to realize that we see space “with” a plane, a plane all our own, our own mind. To aquire the correct mindset in this most pale 4th world can be tough. Once achieved though, the healing begins and I’ll tell you what :) makes observing others interesting. Mostly folk don’t even know how to speak let alone formulate a logical argument.

    Although this seems Sociological or Philisophical one of Einstein’s goals was to unify the fields, He was speaking of the energetic fields of course. Why not integrate all of the fields?

    Logic… True Logic is a science. If the sentences don’t add up Big brother observes it and the debate is over, no matter the subject. I site David Kelly and “The Art of Reasoning” Folks are so quick to land in the logically fallacious. Especially when their beliefs are shattered with the truth and they have to face it. I site My Mom… “Stop it with the truth already”. She don’t like it and I was told only the 95th percentile accepts it.

    Here is a Holton original… It’s either in space or it’s in your mind. With enough time you’ll figure out if its in both. Am I a Tri Delt Tripple Geek or what? We move in space, and our minds continue to develop, and there is no stopping time. The undefined, or our understanding of where space came from dimensionally will forever remain unchanged. I never even rushed.

    The answer to that question is best left to the Theologins and the Philiosiphers.

    Do yo know why you are here?

    It is, after all, all Why.

  105. The guy who posted this video must have made a mistake in the description. I watch alot of Rob Bryantons other videos on YouTube and never once has he said that his “Imagining The Tenth Dimension” ideas have any basis on String Theory.

    He has said there are some interesting connections, but not an introduction to the fundementals of string theory, so to all of you complaining about that, just keep that in mind.

  106. Arrogant jackassary is a historical human constant. It takes time for humans to grasp new concepts. Not saying this is an accurate portrayal of physics and dimensional truth. But do any of you jackasses really believe that what you hold to be evident truth as of right now will be considered smart and obvious science 500 years from now? Humankind is millenia from having the aptitude and attitude to understand the existence of anything.

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