A question a kid might ask

(if he knew the word)

   is

“Why only 3 dimensions

      of space?”

 

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Dimension” –like “poem” and “preposition”–is one of those words that’s tough to define.

There are 3 space dimensions:  usually called “length, width, and height” or “width, height, and depth” as we think of movies, ordinary ones where real things are projected on a 2-dimensional, or flat screen; or where some newer 3-D movies create the illusion on a flat screen of “depth” or the missing 3rd dimension.

But why not a 4th space dimension¹?

Let’s not go there…

Instead, let’s go backwards. Take a look at the novella (you can get it free), Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, written in 1884 by Edwin A. Abbot (an English theologian) about life in a 2-dimensional world that tackles the reality of a sphere passing through it. First, the sphere appears as a dot which strangely and slowly grows into a line, only to suddenly stop and shrink slowly back to a point and disappears. Such a thing should be impossible. How could ever happen? Flatlanders wonder. If you’ll Google “flatland the book,” you can print it out or read it directly from your computer.

But first you can, and should,  wade through “flatland the movie” (with Martin Sheen) and look at the free trailer (brief, colorful, and engaging).

The human consciousness has limits that math doesn’t recognize. Dimensionality is–at least presently–one of those fences that keeps our logic from melting away.

   ----------------------------------------------------------------
  |        "O day and night, but this is wondrous strange"        |
  |        ______                                                 |
  |       /       /     /|   ------  /     /|      /|    /  /-.   |
  |     /----   /     /__|    /    /     /__|    /  |  /  /   /   |
  |   /       /___  /    |  /    /___  /    |  /    |/  /__.-'    |
  |                                                               |
  | No Dimensions                                  One Dimension  |
  |       .         A ROMANCE OF MANY DIMENSIONS       -----      |
  |   POINTLAND                                      LINELAND     |
  |                                                               |
  | Two Dimensions                               Three Dimensions |
  |      ___                                             __       |
  |     |   |                                          /__/|      |
  |     |___|                                         |__|/       |
  |   FLATLAND                                       SPACELAND    |
  |          "Fie, fie, how franticly I square my talk!"          |
  -----------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                 ²
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¹ There is a commonly recognized 4th dimension, but it is time 
   not belonging alongside the 3 ones of "space."

² Discovered on the Internet.