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.
Neglected public payphones in New York City are being turned into “GuyFi” stations: a place where one can rub one out for the sake of “stress relief.” Annalee Newitz reports on the wank booths from a company named “Hot Octopus”… The company reported that at least 100 men used the booth on its opening day […]
You’d be forgiven for thinking the videocassette format long-dead, but it turns out that Betamax is still around. Sony is finally going to withdraw tapes from sale, bringing a 40-year story to an end. The last recorders were sold in 2002. ベータビデオカセットおよびマイクロMVカセットテープ出荷終了のお知らせ [Sony; via The Verge]
A leaked Comcast memo discloses that the company’s consumer data caps have nothing to do with network congestion, contrary to its public claims. The internet service provider has often complained (such as when lobbying against net neutrality) that it must impose limits on service to prevent network congestion. The argument suggests that these measures are […]
You’ve heard the news: cyber security is the new and very scary frontier. Hackers are out there just waiting for you to relax for a second and let them in. But that’s not going to happen to you. With a lifetime premium subscription to ZenMate VPN, you’re completely protected from anyone out there who wants […]
Remember back to the time when people thought java was just a hip way to talk about coffee? Or you vaguely remembered from geography class that it’s an island in the South Pacific? We’ve come a long way since then and now that we’ve rocket blasted into the tech future, you’re going to need to […]
Plastic is so 2013. You don’t want to buy something only to throw it away or lose it and barely care. You like nice things and want to hang onto them. The Plazmatic lighter here is a high quality, high tech alternative to the typical cheap, plastic lighter you get at the old gas station. […]