In 2010, researchers at the University of Buffalo, led by physicist Dean Stojkovic, came up with a crazy-sounding idea that the early universe was one-dimensional – essentially a line – and then subsequently expanded into two and then three dimensions as we know it now.
This hypothesis could be used to tie together general relativity and quantum physics which up to now have proven impossible to rationalise into a single working theory.
The idea of lower (and higher) dimensional space is also a central part of string theory, so there is a possibility that this idea supports that also. Of course the problem with these ideas is that they tend to be very difficult to prove through observation or experiment, which is why it has been impossible for a number of different arguments to be decided one way or another.
Recently though, Stojkovic and others have formulated a test that could prove or disprove their ideas. Through the use of the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) it should be possible to detect whether or not gravitational waves are detected coming from the early universe. Gravitational waves could not exist in lower dimensional space and so should be absent as LISA looks back in time.
The pin to burst this bubble is that the LISA project has just been closed down after withdrawal of funding due to cuts in NASA’s budget. The project was a collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), who hope to continue with a cut-down version.