A Walk Through the Fourth Dimension
Doing all this thinking and research on the Five Points has me wishing I could see the area not just in one time, but several times.
If I could go back, or maybe restore parts of the past, which would I choose? Perhaps the 1890’s in the last days of the 24 Baxter distillery building. Or maybe before the bowling alley was added, like in Riis’ photo, and then we could pick up from there and fix the whole area up. (I could picture a Fairway looking good in the building, and why not go far enough back so the main Old Brewery would be apart of it as well). Maybe even earlier, when it was all the little gable houses, or maybe leave the Collect Pond in place and build around it. Lower Manhattan would then resemble a Florida city like Orlando, with the downtown lakes.
But it would also be nice in the last days of the neighborhood, like that last new Mission building photo, when it probably resembled the Village across town with all the turn of the century larger tenements (including the ones that replaced the distillery).
Don’t even get me started on Norfolk. Downtown looks nice now with the Tide, MacArthur Mall, and Waterside Dr., the suburban looking new Huntersville, but old Main St. looked interesting as well, and the old Huntersville could have been fixed up into a nice looking old neighborhood.
With the actual timeline laid out as the fourth space dimension, we could have them all, at the same time!
(Remember, “time” and “space” are both media of displacement of objects and events; just that time is the direction of entropy, where one event causes the next, while space is a random access connection between objects relative to one another in multiple dimensions; i.e. you can go back and forth between points and measure the displacement with a fixed ruler).
So it has me thinking what it would be like if we could walk back through passed time as the fourth dimension.
When we talk about the “fourth” dimension, first, we number specifically the other three. Whichever dimension you are in, you must start with “back and forth”. You have to be able to look “ahead” into your dimension. So what we call “depth” is actually the first dimension.
The next fixed dimension for those anchored to a gravitational body is “up/down” or height.
So “left/right” or width is the “third” dimension; a sort of “extra” degree of freedom we have.
So if a Flatlander on a board could rotate to look out into our dimension, only his “depth” direction would change. (It would match ours, as we look at him at a perpendicular angle to his entire space).
Up and down would still be the same.
So likewise, if we could rotate into the fourth dimension, only our back and forth would change, and both up and down and left and right would be the same. (Rotation about a plane rather than just a line). If we didn’t move off of the hyperplane, one 2D slice of us would still be in the same slot, and one 2D slice of the rest of the universe to the right, left, above and below us (looking like a 1D line in each of these directions), would still be in those same positions from our perspective. By themselves, they wouldn’t be visible, because we would see them as having no thickness.
Now, if we were to lay out the timelike world line of the universe as a fourth spatial dimension we could walk through to reach other times, then as we look through the new dimension (“ahead” or “forth” of depth becomes the past), the 2D slice of the universe would smear out into the distance. Sort of like the older versions of Windows, when a window or application hangs, and you try to move it, its borders (or graphics, even text, etc) sweep out this 2D field of endless copies of itself.
Each “copy” of the image piled onto the next represents each instance of time.
Perhaps now it would be visible, though it would still be hard to make out what you’re looking at, since it’s just a smeared out 1D image for each direction. You would just see smeared out colors.
If you were in a room, it would become an endless tunnel. If you were outside between two walls or other large objects, it would look like you were in an endless ditch, with the sky above you, and whatever clouds were right overhead stretched out.
You would lose the ability to see into 3D objects (as you would have if you were looking at them from hyperspace and they had no hyperthickness) because the swept out surfaces would cut off your vision just as if you were still in 3D. The extended boundaries would now be able to enclose 4-space, at least in the immediate area.
If you then began walking into the direction representing the past, you would eventually see the smeared out surfaces around you end; when you reach the distance representing the time they were formed or at least moved there.
That would be the only place where you could look around the surface and see inside of the objects.
All of this is assuming we are still 3D, with 3D vision projected onto 2D retinas. If we were 4D, with 3D retinas, then each 2D slice of the universe stacked into the distance would still have the third dimension attached to it. This would be aligned in the new dimension.
So of the four dimensions visible, height and width would still be the same, depth would still be “past”, and now the fourth dimension would be what was originally depth; meaning the direction you rotated out of to turn toward the past.
As you walked, you would still pass each 2D slice for each instant of time, and for each one, you would also see the distance that was in “front” of you in this space regress. It wouldn’t be directly approaching or receding; you’d only be “passing” it, like the other dimensions.
Also think what it must be like to be in the act of rotating. As only your “forward” is changing, you see objects appear to get further away, as you’re looking at them further along the new dimension (past or future). They appear to reach the horizon, and then you see the other two dimensions form the “tunnel” or “trench” as mentioned, as you’re looking only at their history, totally parallel 0° in the new dimension.
So this is what 4D existence would be like. I use time, because it gives us something familiar to “fill” the new dimension with, so we could get the idea of what vision and motion through it is like.
The remaining problem with experiencing free motion through time as 4D like that is that 3D would not look the same. It would become an infinitely “thin” membrane in the new visual matrix, so we would always see the hyperspace “around” it. And then, the near impossibility of aligning ourselves perfectly with one particular “brane” of an instant; let alone staying there.
(I always say it’s just as difficult to visualize true 2D vision as it is for 4D!)
The eyes would have to have some mechanism to shut out the extra dimension, and the both the body and the fabric of space would have to have something to anchor one to a particular instant.