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I found this YouTube video of the late Carl Sagan explaining the ‘4th Dimension’ interesting:

Now apart from Sagan’s bald plagiarism in knocking off Hugo Weaving’s ‘Agent Smith’ from the Matrix movies (crumbly, but…good), he’s also of course taking much of the narrative here from Edwin Abbott’s classic 1884 novel Flatland. In its time, the book was on the cutting edge – not just for it’s coverage of thinking in a higher dimension, but also for its analogies to social heirarchies and deviantism. Of course, the idea itself can be found in various forms* throughout history, such as in Plato’s allegory of the cave (*pun not intended).

What I find ironic about this video though is that we have Sagan – a high-profile skeptic, who sits in the pantheon of ‘skeptical deities’ – discussing how anomalous (even mystical) phenomena can occur through some agency beyond our understanding, leaving the experiencer somewhat isolated due to the ineffability of the experience. Without Sagan batting an eyelid.

As Michio Kaku says, in his book Parallel Worlds:

…in a four-dimensional world, we are the Flatlanders, oblivious of the fact that higher planes of existence might hover right above ours. We believe that our world consists of all we can see, unaware that there may be entire universes right above our noses. Although another universe might be hovering just inches above us, floating in the fourth dimension, it would appear to be invisible.

Because a hyperbeing would possess superhuman powers usually ascribed to a ghost or spirit, in another science fiction story, H.G. Wells pondered the question of whether supernatural beings might inhabit higher dimensions. He raised a key question that is today the subject of great speculation and research: could there be new laws of physics in these higher dimensions. In his 1895 novel ‘The Wonderful Visit’, a vicar’s gun accidentally hits an angel, who happens to be passing through our dimension…The vicar questions the wounded angel. He is shocked to find that our laws of nature no longer apply in the angel’s world. In his universe, for example, there are no planes, but rather cylinders, so space itself is curved.

Flatland, in my opinion, offers a very good reason why investigation of anomalies is a valid exercise. Certainly, it demands the use of rigorous and honest scientific research; but also it requires an open mind and the willingness to speculate wildly at times.


Interesting sidenote: While researching this story I had a run of fun coincidences/synchronicities which readers might enjoy. I had just finished reading an article on filmmaker David Cronenberg and his movie VideoDrome, and walked into my study to begin work on this story about multiple dimensions. As I walked into the room, my gaze landed on two books on one of my bookshelves – Michio Kaku’s Hyperspace and Parallel Worlds. I sat down to see at the top of the list in Nambu (my Twitter client) an entry from Mac Tonnies: “Touch interface technology and David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome”: http://tinyurl.com/lf8x58″. After enjoying that little moment, I then went to Wikipedia to look up ‘Hypercubes’, and was pleased to find this animation of a rotating hypercube – I’d seen something similar a few years back on the web, but could never find it again. Once I finished reading, I then clicked on Mac’s link, which took me to his Posthuman Blues blog. Go on, click it, and look to the right of the page…