A Question of Dimensions

Sine waves of different frequency.
Sine waves of different frequency. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The New Scientist published an article a couple of weeks ago about why space has exactly three dimensions.


Blow! There goes a major premise of my novel…


So with great reluctance and heavy heart I read the article….


It boils down to saying: “Not only is quantum theory the only theory that can supply the degree of randomness and correlation seen in nature – but it can only do so if space is three-dimensional too.”


My reaction – well – that’s obvious. No I mean that is a no brainer (and not confusion).


Now that does sound arrogant of me doesn’t it?


But let me explain a little. I had started working on a sequel to my novel, to explore more what the physics would be like in four dimensions. This was after making such a successful job of explaining how gravity worked in four dimensions and how it could really be experienced. The next basic force to be tackled was electromagnetism as we humans can experience its effects in our everyday lives.


The way we think of electromagnetic waves are basically as continuous sine waves (much like simple waves in water or the shape of skipping rope when you wave one end from side to side). Now these sine waves are all to do with with the height of the projection of the vertical component of a circle against the angle.

The key word here is PROJECTION… I was working on how these sine waves could be projections from four-dimensional space into three-dimensional space. And believe it or not, I was getting somewhere.

Light is known to be dual natured – continuous sinusoidal waves and quanta at the same time. (Yes, well physics can be as weird as the weirdest of science fiction sometimes.) Interestingly the way I was doing the projections would explain this dual nature. And even more fascinating is I can see why the New Scientist’s statement above would be correct.

Describing this in a science fiction novel would, to put it mildly, be challenging. But I thought it was doable.

The only reason I did not pursue was that I came to realise my first novel would never see publication. So there was no point in working on a sequel. So I’m afraid you’ll just have to accept the over-simplified, non-detailed explanation above.

More seriously, what it does mean is that I don’t believe the title in New Scientist – Why Space has Exactly Three Dimensions.

And even more seriously this shows that science fiction has a potentially useful job to do – explaining physics in simple terms – which would help children understand and learn science.



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