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Parallel Universes — The Unseen Dimension

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By Alan Thurley

One way to choose a future is to believe it inevitable.

Richard Bach

How can we ever know if there is another dimension of space?

We are only aware of three dimensions in normal life. That is, any position in space can be located by three numbers, which refer to its vertical and horizontal positions in space. We have no means, and no concept, of how to define a position in a fourth spatial dimension. Nor do we know of any way to move in such a dimension.

Or do we? Perhaps as we consider the implications of a fourth spatial dimension we will find differently.

Science Fiction writers have been setting their stories in parallel universes for some decades. It is a convenient way of allowing them to invent a totally new world for their characters. However at least one of them, (H. Beam Piper) has based his stories on an ability to move between these parallel universes. So in this sense our investigation of a fourth dimension of space is not new.

The usual rationale for parallel universes is that for every moment in time there are many possibilities open as to what happens next. Thus there must be many ‘other’ universes in which all these possibilities can be true.

In our last discussion, about time, we found that we could see a life as an eternal unchanging entity in a space-time of four dimensions. We also realised that this view would mean that life was totally invariant; predetermined in every minutest detail, absolutely without choice, free-will, or chance.

We were not happy with this view. It did not accord with our perceived view of life, neither did it accord with our analogies. Indeed, those analogies suggested a high degree of variability as being normal.

It is quite irrational and dangerous to take an analogy and draw conclusions from it as facts. However, when many quite different analogies all point to the same conclusion, it is reasonable to investigate further. What would be the effect of allowing a variability to the four dimensional space-time life entity? Could this be encompassed by the three dimensions of space and one of time?

It could not. Very simply, this could only be resolved by invoking an extra dimension in which this variability could occur. What would be the main characteristics of such a dimension? Surely it cannot be a new dimension of time, for this would imply identical variations would proceed at randomly different rates, which is not in accord with observation in the real world.

On the other hand, an extra dimension of space would allow an infinite variety of possible lives, all with the same time relationship. This means that the time now, in absolute terms, is the same in all the alternate universes.

There was a possibility in the distant past that life would not have developed at all on this planet. So there must be many worlds in this ‘new’ dimension that are lifeless, or perhaps are populated by quite different beings from a parallel evolution. There will be many also that are so ‘close’ to us that they are virtually indistinguishable, there being only the tiniest of changes between us.

The reality of the fourth spatial dimension would put some detectable constraints on our perception of the universe. If we find this to be true it would be additional confirmation of this ‘new’ dimension.

One such constraint is an inability to know the future. Another, the impossibility of time travel in the usually accepted sense.

In the world of particle physics, science has discovered a fundamental limitation. It is impossible to determine the position of a moving particle with accuracy, as also it is impossible to state what path it will traverse between two points in space. It is only ever possible to say where it probably was; what path it will probably take.

This has been found to be an absolutely fundamental limitation. If the universe were to consist of only three spatial dimensions this could not be so, for as we have seen, the position or path of a particle would be determined absolutely in this case.

We cannot know the future in a space of four dimensions simply because the fourth dimension allows for all possibilities to be true. We can only guess the future on the basis of probability.

Why could we never travel through time? Well, to do so would mean our existence would extend outside the three spatial dimensions of normal life, indeed outside even four. There would need to be yet another dimension in order to allow this possibility.

Even were it possible to move through time physically, we could only do so away from now; we could never return. This is because for every past moment there are an infinity of futures, of which this is only one, an for every future moment there are an infinity of pasts. So time travel would be one way only; away and never to return.

So can we move laterally through this newly discovered dimension of space? What will we find there?

Certainly there is no reason why we should not expect such access to the fourth dimension; we would never have found a need to invoke it otherwise. We have already seen that this dimension is absolutely necessary to avoid a totally deterministic existence. We would be able to live a different version of our lives there, one in which all our dreams come true.

Just what we’ve always wanted!

Really? Aren’t we forgetting something rather important in the excitement of this new discovery?

This bright new dimension isn’t new at all. It’s always been there. We have always had access to it. We have always move in it. We simply haven’t yet put a label on it, given it a Name, or recognised it as a dimension at all in fact.

However variable the possibilities in this new fourth dimension, there is still the matter of the probability of some event or course of events occurring. In particle physics, although no-one can say for certain which path a particle will take between two points, (and there are an infinite number of paths,) some are much more likely to be traversed than others.

Thus particle physics is very much a matter of probabilities and we should expect lateral transitions into the fourth spatial dimension to proceed in the same way.

Not all incursions are equally easy. just by deciding: “I will do something totally out of character and different today,” does not determine that it will happen. How many times have we been frustrated in our wants and desires? How often has “something just cropped up”? Of course it is also true that we prevent other people from making their choices success­fully as well.

There is a common belief system on this planet that determines the range of the possible for us. If we could change this we would also change our ability to move in this fourth spatial dimension.

An example of this is readily available. Prior to this present century, human flight was considered essentially impossible. That was the prevailing belief system of the time. Early in this century however, the Wright brothers changed this belief system by demonstration.

Who would have thought then that, in less than a century, millions of people would routinely fly around the world in aircraft bigger than houses? Yet a forced change of belief system opened up an entirely new area in the alternate universes, where flying was possible, and indeed unremarkable.

This present century has seen the belief system of the human race challenged and changed, almost on a daily basis. The course of humanity has changed for ever. There is a new probability of development which has replaced the old entirely. In opening rip new areas in the fourth spatial dimension, we have closed off other, perhaps more tranquil, options. Similar changes have happened clown the millenia.

We are not new to this dimension; we just haven’t recognised it to be a dimension previously.

We have already used many words to describe what this fourth spatial dimension permits: chance, choice, and free-will among them. Flow can we recognise motion in this ‘new’ dimension?

Do you remember occasions when a simple decision seemed charged with power? Such times are nodes in our lives; points at which far reaching decisions are made, often in the simplest way. A nod, perhaps a shrug, a smile, simply looking a person fully in the eye. Nothing need be said or (done, but still one can feel a node, a pregnant pause in five dimensional space-time, giving birth to a new relationship with the Now; a change of direction; a change of Life.

What we refer to as chance is a manifestation of the ‘new’ dimension, as also) is choice. Each entails a small lateral movement in time. Most of these movements in every-day life, and we make them continually, are so minor that we can go home at night to find nothing has apparently changed at all.

We can also make choices on other people’s behalf, by changing the belief system of all, or a part, of society. This is not in fact at all as difficult as it may Seem. It could he done by writing a series of articles such as this.

© 1992 Alan Thurley

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