Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Fourth Dimension

During my last jaunt in Austin my friend and former roommate CP lent me The Fourth Dimension – A Guided Tour of the Higher Universes by Rudy Rucker. “You have to read it,” he said. Followed by “You’re going to read it right?” Followed by “If you don’t read it, then that’s ok, but just let me know.” And then “Don’t lose it.”

CP – if you’re reading this -- thank you for lending me The Fourth Dimension! And also be happy in knowing that not only did I read it but it was the first book I read during my St. Lucia travels. What a great book indeed!

Why I picked up and opened The Fourth Dimension is because it’s a book that explains our universe, the galaxy, time travel and parallel dimensions. Every time I head to Austin, in fact, undoubtedly CP and I will have a conversation about time travel. How does it work? Is it possible? Does time travel only work going forward and not backwards? Would you jump into a wormhole if you had the chance? How would you return back to this time and place if you did jump in a wormhole? Another reason is I had hoped the book would help me better understand LOST. (Did anyone watch last Tuesday’s episode? ::sniff sniff:: I don’t want to talk about it right now. I’m too choked up.)

Back to the book. Rucker accompanies very complex theories with graphics and allows an ordinary reader like myself to understand these very complex theories with simple stories. Here is an excerpt from the book that I found fascinating:

But if we take the fourth dimension quite seriously, then it seems natural to suppose that there might be other universes. All these universes taken together make up a much grander entity, variously known as the cosmos or as superspace. In traditional Christian doctrine, the cosmos has three parallel layers: heaven, our world and hell. The theosophists hold that the cosmos has seven layers, six of these being “astral.” A common notion in science fiction is that there are endlessly many parallel universes – with each possible universe existing somewhere. A variation of this last idea has actually been incorporated into modern quantum mechanics, and we will return to it in later chapters.
(Rucker 1984)

If you can imagine each universe as a sheet of paper stacked on top of each other, then it’s easy to visualize how three, seven, or an infinite number of parallel universes exist. Rucker says that if parallel universes exist that a “sufficiently dense object could bulge our space out enough to touch another space. And the two spaces might join together like two soap films that have been brought into contact.” What would a sufficiently dense object be? None other than a collapsed star, in other words a black hole, my friends. The book supports the theory that our universe is not flat but actually curved with bulges occurring all over. So another possible way to travel from one universe to the next might also be to pinch off a piece of curvature like a bubble and float off.

Have I lost you yet? Don’t worry, I’m almost done torturing you… in this universe at least.

Ok, well aside from figuring out how to travel from one universe to the next . . . I do have several questions about these parallel universes. Supposing there are seven universes – are they all connected? As in is there a Judy in each universe? Each slightly different then that one that you know in this universe.

It seems Lost would argue yes as we’ve seen the entire main (and many minor) characters exist and interact in sideways world. Doesn’t six copies of one person require a lot of orchestration though? For instance, my parents met quite by chance. And to have them meet in seven different universes seems highly unlikely, unless that is if each universe shared a common history or if it was fated to happen.

And the three universes correlating to Earth, Heaven and Hell opens itself up to another slew of questions and observations. If this is true then a sneaky person (such as myself) would bypass the whole commandment thing and simply find a black hole to reach Heaven. Right? Perhaps there are tons of imposters there now! Or perhaps not. Maybe if you visit Heaven alive you can’t really see the people who are dead. Oh Desmond, how I need you to show me the way.

Well… now that I’ve filled your head with enough nonsense for today -- be free. Explore! Find black holes! Go through them and please tell me what you discover.


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