Thinking about dimensions other than the three we're used to can rattle one's mind. That's why it's usually left to stoned conversationalists and theoretical physicists. To help the rest of us navigate flatland, fractal landscapes, and hyperspace, New Scientist put together a concise and fun tour titled "Beyond Space and Time." From New Scientist (spacetime curvature illustration from Wikimedia Commons)
What is a dimension?"Beyond space and time: Fractals, hyperspace and more"
The most intuitive description is the oldest one: the number of dimensions a system possesses is the number of independent directions you or anything else can move in. Up and down count as only one dimension because up-ness and down-ness are two sides of the same coin: the further up you go, the less down you are. The same connection exists between left and right, and forwards and backwards, but not between up and right, down and backwards, and so on. Thus, the geometers of Ancient Greece recognised, we live in a three-dimensional world.
So far, so simple, but then things start to unravel. Our place in the cosmos is defined as much by time as it is by space. As long ago as the late 18th century, the Frenchmen Jean le Rond d'Alembert and Joseph-Louis Lagrange recognised that the mathematical language needed to address time was very similar to that which described space. Time, the mathematicians of the day rapidly came to agree, was a fourth dimension.
That opened the floodgates. Once untethered from its origins in physical space, the concept of a dimension began to lose its focus. It came to be used as a general term to describe the number of independent coordinates or variables needed to determine the state of any object.
Where are our petabyte drives? Brian Hayes takes us through the reasons storage is “stuck” in the low terabytes. The tl;dr is that we got such exceptional capacity growth in the late 90s and early 00s we don’t need much more right now, so the focus since then has been on SSDs, networking, interfaces, etc, […]
Amélie Lamont, a former staffer at website-hosting startup Squarespace, writes that she often found herself disregarded and disrespected by her colleagues. One comment in particular, though, set her reeling — and came to exemplify her experiences there.
In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences? Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon We […]
Isn’t it about time to stretch what your Mac can do? I mean, you’ve got plenty of great programs now…but don’t you think you could use some new tools to get your creative, analytical and organizational juices really flowing? It’s spring, so we cleaned up a whole bunch of super-cool apps lying around and packaged […]
In the world of app development, there’s no greater arena to find success than with Android users. About 80% of the smartphones in use today worldwide operate on the Android operating system, so if you build a great app that Android users love, you’re an international rock star. You’ll be able to make sure your […]
Unless you’re a programmer or webmaster, the term SQL probably doesn’t mean much to you. But for those looking to understand more about how and why the web works the way that it does, know this – SQL and its process of managing and presenting large data sets is everywhere…and it’s the most in-demand programming […]