More Than This
It feels unlikely that there aren’t beings who are able to perceive and manipulate more than just the three dimensions that we are aware of. It’s interesting to consider what a relationship might look like for our 3D universe as part of something with more. What are the possible touch points and surfaces? What might interactions look like for us and for “them”? I used quotes for “them” because perhaps our entire existence is a translation or mapping of higher dimensions onto lower dimensions, like a shadow of a cube or a balloon on a sheet of paper.
The picture above is a tesseract. As described at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesseract.
A tesseract is the four-dimensional analogue of the cube; the tesseract is to the cube as the cube is to the square. Just as the surface of the cube consists of six square faces, the hypersurface of the tesseract consists of eight cubical cells. The animation demonstrates a simple rotation of the tesseract.
I’m thinking about the effects their butterfly wings might manifest in this more restrictive realm we can perceive, understand, remember, and communicate.
Would there be any reason for them to be more enlightened than us? They may be more likely to be able to see us. Would they see or understand how we struggle? Maybe they give us no more thought than we give our reflections in mirrors.
There could be higher dimension things that aren’t “intelligent” or self-aware in ways that we attribute to ourselves. Maybe there are none or very few. But if there are some that are intelligent and they try to communicate with us, what might that look like to us?
Do they experience development like we humans do? Are there “children” of these higher dimensions? Are we interesting to them? Is it possible for them to recognize us as sentient beings? How many of them exist? Do size and numbers make sense to them like in ways we can comprehend or vice versa? How frequently do our path’s cross and in what manner? Do we disturb them like gnats or mosquitos disturb us? Could we cause them actual or perceived harm? Can they do the same to us, either maliciously, or while being completely unaware?
Would a malicious interaction be something we might have called a spirit or a demon or bad luck? How about the other way around?
Are there things we might take for granted about life, nature, or physics that could be clues or pointers to influences from, projections of, or interactions with higher dimensions? Perhaps it is something so apparently mundane, like the fact that many animals, insects, or “lower” life forms know things and have instincts. Maybe hive intelligence is a clue. Maybe gravity, time, the speed of light, are somehow pointers. Then again, maybe it’s something we haven’t figured out. We created the concept of dark matter to account for the mass needed to explain the observed expansion of our universe. Maybe the observed expansion is simply an artifact of our universe moving orthogonally in another dimension.
Imagine a two-dimensional world populated with fully self-aware beings as an interactive surface in a dark room. You can interact with their world and manipulate it in a number of ways. You might simply choose to touch it. As you touch it, your fingertip will look like a point or a line that seems to appear from nowhere. You can use two fingers and appear to be in multiple places at once. If they had the ability to detect sounds, you could speak and voices would also appear from nowhere. Now, let’s go a step further and say that you can manipulate the surface on which their reality is projected. You can bend it and potentially even have it intersect or cross in various places.
Now, instead of something in a dark room and on a fixed surface, let’s imagine a two dimensional plane floating around in our 3 dimensional space, completely unbound by our laws of physics or gravity. Let’s give it a fixed size. Let’s say it’s about the size of a chessboard surface. Also, let’s say that we can see it if it happens to be in front of us, but that we can’t move or contain it. We can only observe it and interact with it in an apparently immutable fashion. In other words, we can’t cause any lasting changes to it with physical interaction. The only way to ever see it would be to stumble upon it.
Let’s imagine what the interaction might look like with various people. Imagine someone 300 years ago coming across something like this. How about someone in the height of paranoia and a war? Imagine a politician coming across this. Now imagine a religious person, or someone deep in the midst of self-discovery, or a scientist, or someone building a business. What if a child discovered this, or a dog, or even a line of ants? How about an entertainer, or an artist? A story teller?
Because it’s all so dynamic, the context of the interaction is so important on both sides. For example, what was the mood of the person in 3D? What was the mood and reaction of the person or people in 2D? How long was the interaction? What if only some of the 2D people noticed and tried to communicate? What if they were only able to do it when their minds were in an impaired state? I can imagine lots of situations, in which the novelty might wear off quickly. We might get bored and simply leave it. We may be too preoccupied to even notice a plane of existence, or we might write it off as imagination, or the effect of a drug. Of course, I can equally imagine amazing and powerful interactions.
If I assume our laws of physics would need to apply there equally, two dimensions seems like an inhospitable number for life. I can’t imagine enough complexity to sustain something we could consider alive or at least not “intelligent”. Then again, I think it would be currently impossible for us to detect in almost every situation without either luck, and or an abundance of these 2D universes floating around. Wouldn’t it? I’ll leave that as a fun thought exercise for physicists, philosophers, or explorers.
Three dimensions seems very reasonable for life. Although, maybe that’s only because I know we’re here. I don’t think I have enough data to consider whether life in dimensions other than three is reasonable or sustainable. Let’s consider for a moment that it is. In fact, let’s say there are a number of higher dimensions and intelligent life that can experience and manipulate things in these additional dimensions. In addition to intelligent life, they may also have their own physics, which could be a superset of ours, a subset of ours, completely independent, or share some aspects. To us, their physics could appear as irreconcilable as general relativity seems to be with quantum mechanics.
The question would come down to whether or not they could ever see or interact with us, and if we could ever see or interact with them.
Perhaps, they already are interacting with us in ways that we simply take for granted. Science requires repeatability and testability. However, if there are variables that we will never be able to measure or in some cases, even be aware of, is it possible to apply science to their investigation, or investigation of their outcomes in the dimensions we can perceive? I might look for patterns in effects without apparent causes. Anomalies are maybe one of the most obvious places to look, but due to their nature and the lack of an identifiable cause, we might just be stuck. Perhaps we could get lucky. If we have the ability to affect a change in a higher dimension, that could then create an effect in one of the dimensions we can measure, we might start working towards something scientific. That process seems riddled with guesswork though if we approach it with only things we know from our existing understanding of science. Basically, we have to come up with something that is repeatable, but we don’t understand why.
Of course, even if the universe consists of some number of dimensions significantly higher than three, and if there are some highly intelligent beings able to see through any cross-section they choose, and if they are able to completely manipulate their consciousness outside the bounds of time or any other boundary we may not even be able to imagine, they will still have the ability to grapple with the same ultimate question of existence that I have found myself crippled by at times.