The 4th Dimension (Carl Sagan)

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7 thoughts on “The 4th Dimension (Carl Sagan)

  1. thinks says:

    We don’t have fast internet in the village, so, I can’t watch the video clips. But I don’t have to. I remember them by heart, from BBC2, the book (which I keep giving as a gift to people), and the DVD edition. That TEACHER was too good to forget.

    My little contribution:

    By the way, if the cube we draw on a flat paper is the shadow of the three dimensional cube, and the three dimensional cube is the shadow of the four-dimensional cube, and the fourth dimension is time, …I am still trying to fit the concept in my skull…

    • epanechnikov says:

      Carl Sagan was indeed a very charismatic teacher! You are extremely privileged to have met him. Thanks for your link!

      “By the way, if the cube we draw on a flat paper is the shadow of the three dimensional cube…”

      Well what we draw on a flat paper or we see on the screen is not a cube but something that our brain is fooled to interpret as such. It is actually a bunch of non-orthogonal lines 🙂 But I admit that we are so lucky to know how the actual 3-dimensional cube looks like!

      As living animals, we are currently enclosed in a 3-dimensional space (just like the infinitesimally thin slice of apple in 2D). Could our death be the point of return to an afterlife in 4-dimensions? That is probably the only way for us to discover how the 4th-dimension really looks like…

      • thinks says:

        Then, I wonder how the four-dimensional mind would explain whatit perceived as a three-dimensional cube.

        OK, this is interesting: if the 4th dimension is time, and we return to the 4th dimension after three-dimensional death, then, …hold that thought for a sec.

        We know that time does not exist at the speed of light, but also that the speed of light is not really a speed, and light is not light ( ), in fact a more “accurate” version of the universe we see exists out(side) of three-dimensional time. Or, said differently, if you ride a photon from the beginning to the end of the three-dimensional universe the elapsed time is zero.


        So, back to that thought, and with the nuances suggested in the two links I gave you, we could suppose that there is a place, out of time, where this place is visible from.

        One might argue that all this is in aid of the desperate thought that the soul must surely exist beyond the body, when in fact, the soul is nothing more than the “awareness” created in the physical mortal organ we call brain.

        One might also argue that this other “world” exists, but we may not travel to it any more than we can survive a trip through a wormhole.

        My question, right now, is this:

        In the second link I gave above, I propose that the last millisecond before physical three-dimensional death is the “eternity” of heaven or hell, or whatever.

        How does this “work” with what you said in your answer above?

      • epanechnikov says:

        thinks you have got an interesting interpretation of the mass-energy equivalence. To my understanding the infamous formula actually states that we have got three rather than one constants! The mass-energy equivalence implies that both theories of conservation of mass and of energy hold. Hence, the mass and energy of our universe should always remain constant. However bear in mind that even this formula is just a simplification. It is relevant only when we refer to the mass of our known universe (and not to multiverse whether the latter really exists) but not to the matter. Hence any projections to the unknown world would be extremely risky.

        Now we have to bear in mind that if the theory of the multiverse is true (as indicated by recent successes in the field of quantum computation e.g. The Shor’s algorithm) it is possible that we only exist in a small minority of our parallel universes. And that is actually really puzzling.

        I should note here that there exist serious arguments for and against dualism. Hence, we do not really know whether consciousness (and the mind) is solely a physical process. It could certainly be true that mental states and processes are not merely states and processes of a purely physical system, but also constitute distinct phenomena non-physical in nature! To be able to solve the problem we need (as a bare minimum) to answer the semantical problem. We need to know where the mental-states we perceive get their meaning…

        Now I feel obliged to state that your proposition appears to me quite counter-intuitive (at the first sight). We know (thank to Alan Turing) that we can physically create a virtual-reality generator which can render any physically possible environment. Furthermore note that the human mind affects the body and the “outside world” by emitting nerve impulses. A virtual reality generator could then obtain all possible information by intercepting the nerve signals from the user’s brain. Hence an appropriate “connecting cable” could be the interface between the user and the machine. But we know that each sensory nerve is capable of transferring signals at a certain maximum rate, because a nerve cell which has fired cannot fire again until about one millisecond later (that is a severe constraint and I will explain later why). Hence if the virtual-reality simulator does not reach this maximum rate the brain will slow down. But that will feel to the user like nothing. The user would just interpret years of experience in physical reality to just a few minutes of subjective experience! But the opposite can not possibly happen. No signal can travel faster than what we define (in our 3D universe) the speed on light! And that is why the subjective experience of the eternity can never last (at least according to our current understanding of the universe) as long as a 1ms of physical reality.

        But how can virtual-reality machines be related to our discussion? Our perceptions of reality are subjective and hence not independent of what we believe about it. We never experience the true reality directly. Our external experience is a virtual reality. The software our brain’s own virtual-reality generator runs to render our perceived world is our knowledge. Mathematics, Logic, Philosophy, Art, Science, Common sense, Intuition…

  2. thinks says:

    [while waiting for the (continued…) part:]

    I’m just thinking that interesting things happen to the subconscious when it begins to become disconnected from conscious time-flow. Also, I can’t help but think that what we call the “speed of light” is something very different and much more important than a speed limit: more like something to do with the fabric of the three-dimensional universe, through which we can understand the fourth dimension and a true-er image of the universe. I believe that the multiverse may be just a lame explanation for the nature of the universe which we do not comprehend. By definition there is one “universe”, so, the idea of multiverses may simply explain what we don’t …see. The result of the value of mass multiplied by “c” gives us a beautiful but deadly mushroom. But the square root of the value of Energy over the value of mass gives us, maybe, an insight into the fabric of the three-dimensional world. And if you think about it, that approach does not conflict as much with the suppositions for the world of Quantum Mechanics… I just feel that the question “is there a measurable time segment smaller than the time it takes for a wave of energy to travel distance equal to its own wavelength”, is, a fascinating concept/question…

  3. thinks says:

    Ah! here’s the (continued…) part! reading now and will respond when possible 🙂

  4. thinks says:

    I didn’t forget I wanted to write a response here. It took two weeks though!

    In my Feb., 11, 9:02 am I gave you a recap on the fundamental aspects of my thoughts -for which I have yet to discover a means to adopt and evolve or retract and reshape.

    But, going back to your full comment of Feb., 10, 10:48 pm, my first reaction is that, after what I take as a compliment -that I have an interesting interpretation, you proceed to steer the conversation away from the crude, if not naive, suppositions I put forth, and you elevate it to a discussion on perception.

    I, of course understand, that perception is in fact everything we think (deliberately messing-up the correct syntax of “everything we think is based on perception”). And I find it immensely interesting that through our conversations I am beginning to detach from examining a concept, as if in a test tube, and flirting with the adoption of a method of questioning that goes far beyond specific concepts.

    Of course I would revel in a conversation where a true scientist would comment and I could counter-comment on the principles and theories I propose, but, I am beginning to think there is greater treasure to be had in following your lead.

    To your first point, yes, the accepted simplified formula refers to the mass of the known universe, but what is unknown, in the known universe is the nature and implications of “c”. And that is why I tried to reverse the equation to give us “c”. I think it is possible that the unknown universe can be hinted at in a more eloquent way in that respect -subjectively of course. And also, there is something that bothers me in the theory of multiverses. Conceptually I would rather say that there is one Universe, by definition, and that we understand virtually nothing of it yet. Multiverses, not observed but shown in mathematical equations may well exist, but I would personally prefer a different word to describe the extreme complexity that exists within the one Universe.

    As I said before I do find fascinating the concept that is hinted by the statement “we do not really know whether consciousness (and the mind) is solely a physical process”: It’s true that we don’t know, and it is true that it would be fantastic for it to not be a purely physical process, but the supposition itself is so close to the promises of religions that we should approach it with great care, for it is minds like ours who created the concepts which became religions in the first place. Yet, your point is not lost with me.

    In your one before the last paragraph you very eloquently explain why even in the last milliseconds before the mind ceases to function, consciousness may not experience true eternity. I absolutely agree, and understand the explanation. In my proposition I was describing a sleep that becomes deeper and deeper, losing more and more track of time and where thoughts, events in dreams and memories completely merge, and, eventually the mind is not conscious of its own death -therefore not aware through an eternity but, rather, unaware of the point where consciousness stops.

    Going back to the virtual-reality machines, of which our brain is one. both your last two paragraphs describe, as far as I can understand it, what I have, for many years, believed to be true -that our understanding of the world based on the illusion of vision and the arbitrary knowledge gathered and subjective interpretation of this knowledge, is basically just that: not real, but our own virtual reality. Buts you have pointed out already, I express myself in a more poetic vein as self defense against the lack of scientific discipline which you are indeed remedying to whatever extend I can follow you.

    In a nutshell, I would say that I am just dissatisfied with the fact that our three dimensions plus time renders our universe non-explorable and incomprehensible. I want to find an explanation that can allow “c” to be a block perceived only by us in our state, and to show that it may, or can be in fact something much more than a limit. I’ d like to think of it as quite the opposite, in fact.

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