03 April 2014

Let's Get (4th) Dimensional

Without the dimension of time, spheres would not exist. 

I was sitting reminiscing about the various times on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that the aliens inhabiting the artificial wormhole (known to the Bajorans as The Prophets, their gods) who existed outside space-time said of their Emissary, Benjamin Sisko, that he was “corporeal, linear”, and I started wondering, “What’s the opposite of linear?”.  So I did what most of us do these days, I googled it, and I got “nonlinear”.  Very original.  I was looking for something a bit more in the realm of the spatio-temporal.

After several more tacks, I ended up on a page detailing the difference between linear and planar and cubic.  It kind of explained why there’s no independent adjective standing as an antonym for “linear”.  Linear (from “line”) is an adjective describing one-dimensional space; there’s not really an opposite of “one-dimensional”.  Planar (from “plane”) is an adjective describing two-dimensional space.  Cubic (from “cube”) is an adjective describing three-dimensional space.

Which got me thinking, “what is an adjective describing four-dimensional space?”.  The web just shrugged its cyber-shoulders, but the only possible answer is “spherical”.  The fourth dimension, if you remember, is time.

Because of the dimension of time, our universe is a sphere rather than a box. 

Without the fourth dimension, we would all be built like Legos action figures.  Our planet Earth would look like a gigantic Borg cube.  There would be no problem with speeding because the rims of the tires would be too angular for anything more than a crawl.

So, thank God, Allah, Adonai, Brahman, the Heavenly Buddha, Mazda, the Gods, the Asuras, the Daevas, the Dao, the Force, the Big Bang, Chance, Order, Chaos, The Plan, astrophysics, or any other agency you think deserves your gratitude that existence of time and the possibility of spheres are part of the grand design.  Yes, time means impermanence and impermanence means entropy, and entropy means eventual death, but who would want eternal life as a Lego?

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