## The Invention of Four-Plus Dimensions

In physics today, both mainstream and dissident, we hear of multi-dimensions. Eleven dimensional space, 22 dimensional space, 4 dimensions being x, y, z, and t for time.

Yet if you carefully think about it, human perception can only make sense of three. And a growing number of dissident scientists believe there are only three. The multi-dimensional “problem” is not one of science, physics, or even politics. It is one of math and linguistics.

# Language

I’m familiar with linguistics and math. I have a bachelor in mathematics and a masters in linguistics having worked almost 30 years in the area called “computational lingustics”. This area of study is trying to get computers to understand human language. My area is not speech recognition but of text recognition: getting computers to read text written by humans and to try and extract information from them that can be useful in databases. People, companies, dates, addresses, resume information, medical information, and more complex ideas such as business or political events. Sentences like “Company YYY was sold to IBM by the Moose Group for $1.3 billion last quarter” and extract which company was bought what company for how much and when. Many people confuse polyglots with linguists. Polyglots are people who speak many human languages. I am a polyglot – but for COMPUTER languages.

When I see and hear people talk about multi-dimensions, more than 3, as a computational linguist, I wondered where this came from.

Full disclosure: I believe there are only 3 dimensions. The other dimensions are not real physically.

Strings, a completely invented theory has up to 11 to 20 dimensions. Some dissidents in the CNPS talk about 4 dimension with time being the fourth dimension.

Being a linguist, we know that words exist because they fill needs. The word “dimension” comes from measuring and when you want to locate something in our universe, we can mathematically describe its position by giving its coordinates in 3 measured directions from some point of origin. These are the three dimensions.

We use math to symbolically represent dimensions. People also started to realize that because there is movement, time is important to describe where objects are in space as related to time. We then added “t” for time to our equations.

# Words and the Real World

But then came the linguistic moment where we took a word that had a concrete representation in the world “dimension” for a thing, and applied it to time, or movement. If you think about it in this way, it is hard to understand how movement can be directly represented by dimension. Dimension is for length, not time. Yet somehow we want to apply dimension, a word for length, to the concept of movement.

This falls right into the lap of one of my favorite dissident scientists, Glenn Borchardt. His favorite slide is to put up a picture of a dog and ask the audience what that is. Most everyone will say it is a dog. Glenn will correct them and say it is a picture of a dog. (I got this right since words and meaning are part of my work – Glenn claims I cheated! Now he knows why I got it right.).

Glenn constantly pounds into the heads of dissident scientists to be very careful with their vocabulary. Energy is not a thing. Don’t objectify things are are concepts but are not real in the real world. Einstein takes space and time, puts them together, and then makes an object “space-time” and then bends it. Very impossible given time is movement and not a thing, and that space is nothing.

Same can be said for the supposed 4th dimension “time”. Those who are prompoents of 4 dimensions call time the “4th dimension”. Dimensions are those things that are measured with a ruler. That is where the word comes from. Time is not something you can measure with a ruler. In fact, the use of time as a dimension defies common sense in the physical world and that is why the layman says they “don’t understand that idea”. The reason they do not understand that logic is not because they are dumb, the reason is because time is NOT a dimension. Their intution is in fact correct. Time is not a dimension because a dimension has the meaning of measure.

# Invent Magic When We Fail

Wherever we fail in science, mainstream science starts to talk as if they are magicians, voodoo masters, or new-age drug salesman. If our gravity equations don’t describe the speed of stars on the edge of galaxies, instead of saying our equations are wrong, we invent “dark matter” or “dark energy” (the latter being especially stupid given energy is not a thing but a concept).

When we introduce time, pressure, temperature, as dimensions, it is because we are trying to make our mathematical world into a magic place of “dimensions beyond the senses”. Space-time: can’t see it but it is there. Neutrinos, can’t detect them directly but they are there because special relativity says there has to be extra energy in the equation.

Dimensions are often used in the movies for magical places like “they live in another dimension”, or “they live in a parallel universe.” The idea that properties of some object is a dimension is where we make a fatal logical step. Many new age science people like space-time, the fourth dimension and say we are limited in our perceptions. They take math that is not physics and say the math dictates the physics and we simply can’t perceive it.

The simplest way to rid yourself of the dimension disease is to realize that time cannot be a dimension because you cannot have two objects occupying the same space at once. It is not another dimension. If it were, two objects should be able to occupy the same space at the same time.

# Math and Physics

Another problem with physics today is the problem of allowing math to dictate the universe, our experiements, and our theories and forgetting that physics is not mathematics. Mathematics covers a venn diagram much bigger than physics. Only a small portion of math can be said to may physical sense. Dimensions make physical sense in three dimensions. They do not make any physical sense for more than 3 – even if the 4th is time and may seem to make some sense. The problem with time is the average person gets that time can be superimposed onto our 3 dimensions and can describe movement of an object. But time is not a dimension. That is where the intuition of the average person is totally correct: there are only 3 dimensions. Time is something else.

This problem comes from the fact that far too often, ,we fall in love with math. I myself love math so much, I got a degree in it. Unlike language for example, math always has a correct answer you can check and you can be 100% correct. You can pretty much say that there is nothing else in life so certain.

When we fall in love with our math and our equations, we often overapply them to the physical world. For example: I believe the world is all electrical so I try to describe EVERYTHING as electrical. This is dangerous and is almost always doomed to failure.

# Dimensions are Solved

Folks, there are only three dimensions. There are other equations and concepts we can superimpose onto three dimensional space but they are no more dimensions than dogs and cats are dimensions. They are OTHER things but not dimensions.

So following Glen Borchardt, let’s all take a deep breath and realize there is a difference between a picture of a dog, and a dog itself. And that just because we call chairs dogs, people dogs, cats dogs, and food dogs, it doesn’t mean they are dogs. They are not.

Three dimensions plus time, not four dimensions.

Of course, even the notion of a “dimension” is an abstraction.

Yes, we have a Cartesian coordinate system. But it is not the *sole* method of locating a point in space. For instance, once could instead employ a spherical coordinate system or a cylindrical coordinate system rather than the Cartesian system.

So, even the notion of “3 dimensions” seems a bit like being pigeon holed by the specific abstraction we use to represent and numerically manipulate “space” mathematically.

Is a “dimension” truly “physical,” or is it merely another abstraction? I suggest the latter. A dimension is non-physical. It is one aspect of one specific method of observing and quantifying the universe (via length / width / depth). If we used a different coordinate system (say, spherical coordinates), would our abstract conception of “dimensionality” persist? Or would our different conception significantly alter our perception of reality and the terms we use to describe it?

But, in general, yes, I believe you are correct that conflating time with spatial dimensions is an incorrect approach.

Time is an abstraction.

As a colleague noted in a private exchange, “time” (or, at least, our perception of it) is predicated upon the observation of regularly occurring cyclical or pseudo-regularly occurring cyclical events of different frequency (the beating of a heart, the ticking of the hands of a clock, the vibration of cesium atoms, etc.). We then compare the frequency of these cyclical events to give a relative notions that “this event happens more frequently than that event” or “this event takes a longer or shorter time relative to some ‘reference standard’ frequency.” We can then also measure non-cyclical events against these reference standard frequencies.

But, all that said, this notion of relative durations of events versus some reference frequency is an abstraction. It is not a physical thing. It is not something you can bottle, etc. Things is reality move, and sometimes move with regularity. It is the relative motions that we concern ourselves with. But, again, motion is not a physical thing itself. “Motion,” per se, cannot be bottled either. Motion is the relative change in position of physical objects, etc. But that is itself, again, not a physical thing. “Change in position” cannot be bottled either.

So, this notion of treating “time” like a physical object or something that can be measured with a ruler (a physical “dimension”) is nonsensical. One cannot measure an abstract concept or perception of relative change in a system or the difference between the frequency/duration of events with a ruler…

One is also tempted to point out that “space” is itself quite ill-defined. Or rather, it has multiple competing definitions.

1) Some define “space” in terms of lengths, widths, depths. That is a mathematical abstraction for defining distances and volumes. But distance and volume are not themselves physical substances. So, saying that “space,” in this sense, can “warp” (as in relativity and/or “gravity”) is physically meaningless.

2) Some define “space” as a container, effectively a “void” or vacuum (in the truest sense) in which other objects exist but are not themselves considered to be “space” itself, but objects residing ‘inside’ space. But a true vacuum is not itself physical, is it? If it is a void it has no substance of its own. As such it’s basically an abstraction on the level of the distances and volumes aforementioned. “Nothing” is not itself a thing. “Nothing” cannot be warped, bent, compressed, etc. “Nothing” does not have characteristics such as density, flexibility, color, etc. Again, the notion of “relativity” or the notion of “gravity bending space-time” is again physically meaningless. How can one “bend” that which does not exist except as a container or bounding box with no substance of its own?

3) For lack of a better term, some define “space” as the “aether,” an actual physical substance of some kind. It’s not clear whether this substance is continuous like sheet rubber (leaving aside the notion of atoms) or discrete (like atoms, neutrinos, or marbles). But, even if there is a “substance” or “aether” that makes up the fabric of reality (I’m not 100% convinced there is, as opposed to a “void” that simply has other “stuff” in it), can this “aether” be “bent, twisted, warped” as in Einsteinian gravitatinoal metaphysics? What does it mean for “space” to “warp”? Where is the space “warping” to? If some part of “space” moves or bends to another location, what happens to the “space” that was already there?? Do they become superposed, occupying the same location at the same time, or does “this space” displace “that space”? If the latter, where does “that space” go? And the “space” after that? Are we not then simply talking about something like fluid dynamics, pressure waves, etc.? Does “space” behave as a fluid? Is “space” even a “thing” in this manner or just a void as in #2?

Regards,

~MG

David, Einstein did not invent space-time, that was Minkowski. Einstein at first rejected the idea and then later adopted it. So we need to be clear about where it came from. Einstein did not invent it, Minkowski did, and what happened was that they grafted it into Einstein’s SR. That is because the LT is basically an orthogonal rotation group in four dimensions in the Minkowski theory. Right there, there is a problem since the orthogonal rotation group has no inverse transformation in the actual space and time we live in. That creates paradoxes. That is the math leads into contradictions of physical reality if the symbols are interpreted the way they are defined in the rotation group math. But this then leads into the next problem in that they do experiments and say the math is right, it isn’t, because the experiments confirm the math. Of course to claim that, you have to demonstrate that the paradoxes are real in the experiments. But they can not do that because the paradoxes tell us that the math doesn’t reflect physical reality. Catch 22.

The interpretation of the LT as an orthogonal rotation group is the problem. That is the wrong math system interpretation of the physics involved. The problem can be fixed as I show in my papers by using a different group structure and not the orthogonal Lorentz rotation group. However, modern science is committed to the relativity ideology as it saves them from the embarrassment of the heliocentric versus geocentric debate which they have made into a gigantic mess.

Harry: agreed. Einstein did not invent space-time. Since these are “layman’s” articles I try to relate terms to what the average Joe knows. Your observation is noted.

I have found it very common amongst science mathematics to variables or parameters as dimensions. Like a piece at steel may be assigned 7 dimensions 3 spacial 1 temperature 1 density 1 conductivity 1 elasticity. A computer programmer like yourself I am sure is familure with the concept of multi dimensional arrays. To an outsider when you mention a 8 dimensional array they may think you are a little off. You on the other hand know that what you are really describing is an arrangement of subsets defineing possible combination of 8 uniqe parameters of an object. So all to often science adds dimensions when they are really should be saying properties.

Yes. I agree. The reason people call these things dimensions is because they start to make these properties into magical things. Into something we can’t see because we are limited in our senses. That is where the magic comes in.

Enjoyable read. But I respectfully disagree that there are only 3 dimensions. I think limiting the universe to only that which we perceive with our eyes is giving in to anthropic urges. We have even developed a sense which detects the 4th dimension which has given us an evolutionary advantage…memory.

Hi David

You are absolutely right. Space clearly has only three length dimensions. Time, like mass and temperature, is a separate independent variable. “Space-time” is clearly a nonsense.

The Einstein claim that the force of gravity is caused by the “curvature of space-time” is in my view an insult to intelligence, but endless repetition by people in authority results in acceptance by most people. Einstein claimed to know the cause of gravity and came up with some “mumbo-jumbo” to explain it.

Nobody knows what causes the force of gravity to occur although its effects are well known and defined precisely by Newton’s Laws.

Unfortunately in so-called “dimensional analysis”, mass, length and time are referred to as dimensions. This is a different, more general, meaning of the term “dimension”, causing some confusion.

Regards

Brian Sprigg

Dear David,

Great!

There are only 3 spatial dimensions.

The word “dimension” in this case, I think, means one thing that can only be related to space.

The Time has another nature.

It is very useful, to place the time as horizontal axis and space (or one of the 3 dimensions) as vertical axis. This is very good to learn about the history of one body movement. This is a good mathematical resource, a good mathematical representation. However, we always have to know about the limitations of the mathematical resources and representations. We can not let them dominate us and let them appear as the complete Physics reality.

Best Regards,

Helio

Time can be dilated and contracted but it cannot take a negative value because it is absolute thus it cannot be a dimension. It’s that simple!

I like Glenn Brchardt’s use of the picture of a dog vs. a dog; I think it was the artist Magritte who did that with a painting of a smoker’s pipe, captioned: “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.”

I’m uncomfortable about two aspects of this.

First: it seems to me that to insist that the word “dimension” has to refer to only to spatial distances is an artificial (and to me counterintuitive) restriction on its meaning. In particular, it rules out using the word in the way physics typically uses it! And the way the word is used is ultimately what determines its meaning. So “time is not a dimension” boils down to something like “The sense in which physicists use the word ‘dimension’ is different from the sense in which I use it”. This is clearly true, but I don’t see the need for using it in such a restrictive way.

Second: it struck me a long time ago that the language we naturally use when talking about time is FULL of spatial references. (I used one in the previous sentence.) This suggests to me that we do think of time in a very similar way to spatial dimensions. For example:

a long time ago

in a short while

in the space of a week

the time is fast approaching when . . .

he has his whole life ahead of him

in the dim and distant past

in the near future

at that very moment

far into the future

I’m looking forward to it

looking back at the last few weeks

The spatial concepts in those phrases include

time intervals as lengths (long, short)

time intervals as spaces containing events

times as locations which can be near to or distant from us

past and future as directions in which we can look towards events

motion of a future event towards us (viewing ourselves as in a stationary present)

It’s true that we experience time differently from the spatial dimensions, but I think we do intuitively see time as a dimension nevertheless. Just a dimension with rather different properties from the spatial ones.

I think the actual conceptual difficulties in grasping relativity are:

(i) visualising curved space, let alone curved spacetime. The best we’re used to is

visualising curved surfaces in ordinary euclidean space.

(ii) visualising time as a dimension with imaginary values.

So the difficulty isn’t in seeing time as a dimension, but in grasping the weird geometry involved. It feels quite natural that time is orthogonal to the space dimensions, but quite unnatural that in working out the “distance” between two points we SUBTRACT the square of the time difference from the squares of the other three components.

But it seems to me that spatial and dimensional language is at the heart of our everyday vocabulary for talking about time, and has been since long before Einstein or Minkowski came along.

Dear Tim: I appreciate your response but having a degree in Math, I understand the math “proposed” by curved space. Many of us just can’t accept “space” which is nothing that curves. Also, you use a phrase I and many others in this group have removed from our vocabulary: imaginary. Imaginary is great for math but not physics.

I appreciate you being cordial but I strongly disagree with most all your premises you have stated here and it is based on deep studying by thousands of us who have many of the qualifications necessary to make such judgements.

We can agree to disagree but the truth is, our group has moved well beyond the mainstream and are moving ahead nicely. Thanks again for your comments.

Thank you for publishing them.

I’d just like to clarify that I wasn’t making a mathematical or physical point about the realness or otherwise of time as an actual physical dimension, or the reasonableness or otherwise of mathematically treating it like one. I don’t have a view on that, beyond thinking that mathematical models shouldn’t be treated as if they were physical reality, merely as tools for describing aspects of its behaviour. Maybe also a feeling that if people need 10 or 11 or 26 dimensions to describe something, they might be on the wrong track.

I was mainly responding to a *psychological* point I understood you to have made, namely that:

(i) in general, people without a physics background find relativity, and spacetime in particular, baffling; and

(ii) this is largely because it treats time as a dimension, which is alien to their intuitive concept of time (as well as being the wrong way to treat it anyway).

My point is that I think that (ii) may well be untrue, i.e. that some intuitively spatial concept of time is found in everyday thinking (regardless of whether it’s an accurate way to see time).

My reason is that it’s hard to see how English could have acquired so many spatial metaphors for time if the speakers didn’t intuitively see it as akin to space in some way. If treating time “spatially” really was alien, spatial metaphors for it would be alien too, and not become part of our everyday vocabulary. So I’m suggesting the vocabulary is a hint as to the underlying psychology. This could in principle be tested: one could check its plausibility by investigating whether spatial metaphors for time in everyday language pre-date spatial representations in philosophy and science. Experimentally, one might compare the brain’s activity when thinking about events that are near or far apart in space or time. Or one might test whether thinking in a particular way about places influences how people subsequently think about time.

None of which is to assert that time IS, physically, a dimension like space. If it isn’t, then the comprehensibility issue people face may well be that they intuitively want to think of it as one and have trouble letting go of the idea, rather than that they find the idea of a temporal dimension difficult to grasp.

As for the word “dimension” itself: my point was that “time is not a dimension in the everyday usage of the word”, “time is not appropriately modelled as a dimension of some mathematical space” and “the mathematical dimension that represents time in a particular model doesn’t correspond to any real physical entity” are all different statements, involving at least two different definitions of “dimension”. (Maybe three.) All can be loosely written as “time is not a dimension”, but none of them need imply the others.

Re “imaginary”: I was using that purely in the mathematical sense, as the easiest way to say that the geometry is counterintuitive. E.g. not many people can imagine a triangle whose hypotenuse gets shorter the longer you make one of the other sides.

I hope these thoughts aren’t out of place here; I stumbled on the post while looking for anything that had been written about multiple time dimensions, then wanted to respond to these language/psychology points. If this is meant purely as s place for discussing the mathematics and physics and I’m therefore wildly off topic, then I apologise.

Tim: also, we’re currently working a new particle theory of the universe very different from the standard one and it does not include relativity but light does bend in Sun’s coronas. We have a physical model for light and gravity and currently I’m working on a physical model for the orbitals of atoms – all with a physical model. Light and gravity move at C, there is no big-bang, relativity does not exist but it describes GPS (ala Ron Hatch who has 30 GPS patents), and we also think we have a physical model for magnetism, electricity, and charge. We also have some idea as to why mass gains mass as in the expanding earth. So we’re pretty excited but although some of it lines up with mainstream models like atomic structure, much of it is quite different. But again, we only use 3 dimensions and physical models, nothing imaginary.

Picture a clock straightened out. The numbers are now hours look just like inches on a ruler. The hand points to the distance from the end. The distance is elapsed time. Seems the same as measuring the other 3 dimensions to me.