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Is it possible that there are organisms in higher dimensions?

  1. Aug 20, 2008 #1

    as the topic title suggests, is that possible?

    i was reading an article on string theory and i vaguely recall that humans live in a 3d world with an additional dimension of time. if we can live in such a space time dimension, would it be possible that there are organisms/beings living in a higher dimension??

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 21, 2008 #2
    A dimension is not another world, as one might think from the grade-B horror film, "Creature from Dimension X." It is, most simply, a way of measuring the world we already live in. In physics, anyway, higher dimensions are not spiritual planes where enlightened beings or other monsters live.

    Higher dimensions come into string theory as a way of explaining unanswered questions, like why gravity is so much weaker, locally, than the other known forces. I have heard that the dimensions of string theory are all thought to be spacial dimensions. Time is another question.

    I hope this helps. Corrections or additions welcome.

  4. Aug 21, 2008 #3


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    I assumed he was talking about something more like the novel flatland. The main character lives in a two-dimensional universe, but one day he has a dream about encountering a one-dimensional universe and meeting its inhabitants, and shortly thereafter encounters a three-dimensional being.

    So one might wonder if there are four-dimensional beings to meet.

    (The above are all referring just to the spatial dimensions)
  5. Aug 21, 2008 #4
    If you take the "M-Theory" version of string theory seriously then it is expected that our universe is embedded in a larger, 10-dimensional "bulk" universe. Embedded in this "bulk" universe are lots of "branes", which are vibrating objects of less-than-10 dimensions; the strings from string theory are stuck to these branes, and these branes produce the nature of the space that the strings stuck to it appear to be propagating in. So the bulk universe is kind of like a multiverse, with lots of little brane-universes floating through it. Each of these brane-universes could have a different number of dimensions to it depending on how many dimensions the branes have; and depending on how the branes are curved (i.e. their metric signature) each of the dimensions within one of those brane-universes could be either timelike or spacelike.

    So, I guess what this means is that the brane setup on which live the strings that make up our universe happen to act like three dimensions of space and one of time; but there are other universes, attached to other branes, in each of which there are anywhere between one and nine dimensions, with anywhere zero to nine of those dimensions in each universe being time versus space. So one would assume sure, if we have life here in our little 3+1-dimensional universe then somewhere in the braneworld bulk one would expect there to be an 8+1-dimensional universe that has life, too? I mean, after all, why not?

    ...This all sounds pretty crazy to me :O And the way that the braneworld scenario / m-theory makes it so easy to set up crazy scenarios like this makes it kind of hard for me to take m-theory seriously. But I guess it could make for some great science fiction...

    EDIT: For fun, here's a paper that was knocking around last year that proposes the reason for dark energy is that time is slowing down and about to stop. The suggestion in the paper is that the shape of the brane where our universe lives has sort of a kink in it, so that on one side of the kink the metric signature has three dimensions of space and one of time, and on the other side of the kink the metric signature has four dimensions of space and no time. So from inside of this brane it is like at a certain point in time there is a singularity, and after that time just stops. As we approach this singularity where time stops time starts slowing down, and from inside of the universe time slowing down could be easily mistaken for "dark energy". Yikes...
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008
  6. Aug 21, 2008 #5
    yes thanks!

    but juz wondering, if that is the case why so many books and movies and games on interdimensional beings?
  7. Aug 21, 2008 #6


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    The problem with higher dimensions is the laws of physics cease to play well together on macroscopic levels. Orbits are unstable in more than 3 spatial dimension, and so are molecules. New physics would be necessary to preserve order on the scale necessary for life as we know it to arise and persist.
  8. Aug 22, 2008 #7
    also magnetism only works in 3 dimensions. if there is a 4 dimensional world then it is a world without magnetism.

    orbits would be unstable but why would molecules be unstable?
  9. Aug 22, 2008 #8
    Ukitake Jyuushirou,

    You need to know that people generally do what they do in pursuit of money and personal power, not of truth.
  10. Aug 22, 2008 #9

    If you have studied any topology, you will probably know that the inside of a circle is well-defined on a plane, but not on the surface of a sphere. We see that adding a dimension to the world changes fundamental relationships like the notion of 'inside' as opposed to "outside". So, a simple orbit in three dimensions is not so simple in four.

    How can we define an orbit without a clear notion of what is inside the orbit and what is outside of it? How can we define a particle, if we cannot say what is contained in the particle and what is excluded on the outside?

    In a four dimensional world, the stuff inside your refrigerator could easily leak out into the room without having to cross the walls of the refrigerator. The furniture that one places in the room might be out on the lawn to a different observer. I don't know how one could define an atom, or a molocule, or a rock or a person, if the insides keep leaking out around your definitions.

    Of course we don't see any such effect in our macroscopic world, and our leftovers are safe. The interesting thing is that in some ways, on the quantum level, things do indeed begin to get hard to define. Stuff leaks out of sealed containers. The diameter of a sphere can be much larger than the circumfrence. Classical physics doesn't work any more under these conditions.

    The idea of extra dimensions has gained credence because using extra dimensions happens to rather precisely explain how some quantum behaviors might occur. If the mathematics fits the evidence to high precision, and it requires higher dimensions, shouldn't we accept that the extra dimensions may in fact exist?
  11. Aug 22, 2008 #10
    seems like a flatlander could say the same about us.
  12. Aug 22, 2008 #11
    There can not be no fatlander , no higher dimensional being

    if there were fatlanders .. they could not eat, their digestive system would split them into two (see Brief History of time)

    a body in n dimension would have a gravitational force (Gauss' law) going like [tex] C/r^{3} [/tex] making the Gravitational force getting bigger and providing the collapse of a 4-dimensional atoms (History of time again)
  13. Aug 22, 2008 #12
    Hawking is not a biologist. Many organisms live very nicely with no digestive system.
  14. Aug 22, 2008 #13

    So, this confuses me. Can you clarify? You're suggesting molecules/chemistry/etc could not work without stable electron orbits, and orbits in 4D are unstable, right? But my understanding was that the electron "orbits" are not literally orbits, but quantum states that are locked into certain values-- I was under the impression that one of the reasons for QM in the first place is that an electron in a classical "orbit" around a proton would have been unstable. Am I mistaken about anything here? Is there any reason to believe that just because literal, classical "orbits" around another body are unstable in 4D, that Bohr orbits will be as well?

    This sounds like a job for the Cloaca!
  15. Aug 22, 2008 #14
  16. Aug 23, 2008 #15
    I was wondering instead whether there could be waves or ripples in hyperspace, rather than organisms? and whether they could account for anything on the macroscopic scale?

    Many people have speculated about psychik powers, telephathy or even that consciousness might be some sort of signal in hyperspace. Since for example if telephaty exist, it would trasmit signals outside space and time. Michio Kaku has speculated about this stuff as well.

    And also Penrose has made a quantum mind theory based on the idea that a sort of ripple in fundamental spacetime geometry could account for consciousness. and there are many other sort of speculations about it.

  17. Aug 26, 2008 #16
    Something I've thought of now and then is the idea of beings that live in stars. Their life span - if we can call it that - would be in fractions of a second. Of course, these wouldn't be beings made of molecules, but rather some sort of plasma critters. I don't really think this is very likely, but it might make a good concept for a science fiction story. This isn't exactly higher dimensions, but it's sort of along the line of your topic.
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