a seven-dimensional universe

by benjamin hollon on april 28, 2022

My current mental framework of the universe works in seven dimensions. It’s weird, and I haven’t seen this theory before, but neither have I seen anything yet that contradicts it. It’s perfectly possible something does, but I haven’t seen it, and this makes a lot of sense to me.

To understand my theory, you’ll have to understand two more mainstream interpretations of physics: Eternalism and Many Worlds.

eternalism

This theory has always fascinated me. I’ll give you a quick summary, then explain what it means. Eternalism is the idea that the universe is really a static, four-dimensional object, and that we only see a moving three-dimensional cross section of it.

This is easier to visualize if we remove a dimension; let’s look at film. In a video, the universe is reduced to two dimensions of space—width and height—as opposed to the standard three dimensions of space—width, height, and length. In addition to these dimensions of space, we have a single dimension of time, so a video reduces our four dimensions down to three dimensions, two of space and one of time.

Good so far?

Here’s the step Eternalism takes: if time is a dimension, just like width and height, why not represent it in the length dimension, which we currently aren’t using. By replacing length with time, we create a visible three-dimensional object that represents the entire video.

To imagine this, think of taking each frame from the video, printing it out on a piece of translucent plastic, and stacking them. The end result is a three dimensional object of each object in the scene, with every position represented.

We’ve represented two dimensions of space and one of time as a single, three-dimensional, static object.

To apply this to our universe, we do the same thing, but with all four dimensions. In the view of Eternalism, the universe is really a four-dimensional static object. We are limited to seeing three dimensions of it, the three dimensions of space. Because the three-dimensional slice we see is constantly progressing, objects appear to move, when we’re really only seeing sections of them from different locations in time.

many worlds

You’ve heard of this one before. It’s the standard explanation behind all the “multiverse” idea that’s popular in modern science fiction. Whenever a choice is made, the universe splits into two branches, both of which play out, though we only observe one.

In reality, this splitting happens at the quantum level, but we don’t need to get that technical for this article. Here’s the basic idea you need to know to understand my theory: every time two things could happen, both actually do, but we only observe one of them.

combining the two

Some may have seen where I’m heading. In Eternalism, we only see some of the existing dimensions. In Many Worlds, we only see some of the existing possibilities. In both, there are things we don’t see at any given time that nevertheless exist.

For review, let’s list our standard four dimensions: x, y, z, Time (x, y, and z are standard variables to assign location in space).

I said this is a seven-dimensional view of the world, so here are my three new dimensions: possible location across x, possible location across y, possible location across z. This adds in Many Worlds, not only representing every location a particle can be located, but every location it could be located at any given time.

Add in Eternalism; we now have a seven-dimensional object representing every possible location of everything in the universe at any given time.

visualizing it

Try paring the model down if you need to visualize it: one dimension of space, one of time, one of possibility across space. That should help.

the eighth dimension

While there’s no actual evidence to support this being true, I have thought through a way physics could allow non-paradoxical time travel if we added an eighth dimension: possibility across the time axis.

I’m not going to explain all the nuances of it, but here are the basics:

Previously, it’s been possible to visualize what I’ve been saying by reducing the number of dimensions to the minimum, but that’s not possible here. The minimum number of dimensions to model this would be four (one of space, one of time, one of possibility along space, one of possibility along time), so I absolutely understand if you can’t visualize it. It’s the more “out there” part of this theory anyway, so feel free to ignore or dismiss it.

conclusion

Well, that’s the theory. Let me know how bonkers I am by contacting me on one of my social accounts (ideally Mastodon) or via email.


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