atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#3486: Six Dimensional Physics

I like to think that--in a few hundred years--people are going to say, "Thank God Hering had such trouble with insomnia! He did so much thinking that led to our present understanding of physics! It's like Martin Luther and his hemorrhoids, or something!"

But it's more likely that 90% of my musings are crap. That's Sturgeon's Law.


The other night I was thinking about physics when I couldn't sleep, and a notion occurred to me that I probably should put out there in the interests of possibly jiggling the right brain into doing actual real physics with the idea. You never know.

My thoughts were on the timelike nature of forces--gravity and magnetism specifically, but the same notion applies to the others as well--and my complete inability to shake the idea that there are a total of three time dimensions.

Why not? There are three space dimensions, and having only one time dimension seems...wrong. No, I can't explain why I feel like that, and there's no way for me to defend it as I can't handle the mathematics required to do so.

Look: I got through calc 1 and 2, and I somehow managed to struggle my way to a gentleman's C in Control Systems II despite a final exam that was written by Torquemada, but a mathemetician I am not. I know the difference between integrating and differentiating but please do not ask me to define them; and although I am a pretty smart person part of those smarts comes from understanding that mathematics is my weakest subject and always has been.

("If he had been capable of advanced mathematics, Hering probably would have won several Nobel prizes for physics, even well into his dotage." I may not be good at math, but I'm really good at "triumphant hero" daydreams....)

Anyway, three space and three time dimensions makes six dimensions, total.

The space dimensions need no explanation: left-right, up-down, forward-backward. Okay?

The time dimensions: past-future is the one we're familiar with. But then there are also motion-rest (the inertial dimension) and high potential-low potential (the force dimension).

So let's go with the explanations for the two new ones. Like the space dimensions, each one individually is one-dimensional, a line that is infinitely long. Just as you can say, "How high is 'up'?" you can also say "how soon is 'future'?" or "how fast is 'motion'?"

Motion-rest: this is basically the dimension of inertia. Inertia is timelike in that an object in motion tends to remain in motion. Absent any opposing force (drag or friction or whatever) an object will continue in a straight line approximately forever. Give that rock in deep space a 10 m/s shove and it'll keep moving at 10 m/s for eternity, because there's nothing to slow it down.

The push you give it changes the shape of space; it impresses a multidimensional curve which the rock then follows. "Tends to remain at rest" is the resistance of space-time to being bent into this curve, but it varies with the mass of the object. The harder you push the object, the steeper the curve. The faster it moves, the steeper the curve.

High potential-low potential: I've been struggling to come up with a better name for this one, but this'll do for now. This dimension is the force dimension and it actually applies to any force applied to any object (or group thereof). Gravity, electromagnetism, weak force, strong force, you pushing your car, what-have-you. This is the dimension that makes water seek its own level, which pulls magnets together (or pushes them apart), that lets CERN smash hadrons into each other...heck, it's the dimension of static cling.

This one is the one that gives me the most trouble, as potential is generally a vector, not a scalar. When you lift up a bowling ball, you're holding it up against Earth's gravity, and that bowling ball wants to fall straight down onto your foot, not straight west until it makes a nice hole in the wall before smashing the windshield out of someone's Buick and then departing for parts unknown in the same direction. It has potential energy but only in one direction: straight down towards Earth's center of gravity.

But since we're talking about 6D curves, I'm not sure that matters. The important thing is, given these extra three dimensions, you can then map the motion of an object in space--as well as its momentum, its potential energy, and such--in two 3D cubes.

If you have an object in orbit around the Earth, you can map its orbit in the space cube, and then show its inertia and potential energy in the time cube. Since seeing six simultaneous dimensions is impossible for beings built to perceive 3D space, this is the best we can do.

I can imagine, though, seeing a bowling ball falling from a ladder onto concrete plotted in these two simultaneous cubes. One looks like the "bouncing ball" picture we all know, showing it making parabolic arcs in space; the other looks nothing like that but shows us how its energy state changes as it moves from high to low potential energy, how its inertia changes with time. A computer could plot these things in real time, either showing us a moving dot, or else drawing the curves.

(Side note: a multi-exposure picture like the one I'm referencing is actually a three-dimensional image. It's a 2D space image but the multiple exposures add time to it.)

This notion doesn't do away with the four fundamental forces of nature, by the way; it merely explains how the action at a distance is accomplished. It explains how magnets pull on each other: they change the shape of space, just like gravity does.

And dang, that's a hell of a thing, isn't it?

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