Several years ago, I released the novel Mathematics of Eternity. The title comes from a theory held by one of the characters regarding how a prototype Jump drive works. The book was a science fiction action thriller, so the details were only alluded to briefly in a couple of places, so as not to drag the pace down.
But just because it didn’t feature heavily doesn’t mean there was no substance behind it. So here’s the explanation for those interested in “behind the scenes” information. 🙂
We live in a universe of many dimensions. Depending on the theory under consideration, there could be ten or eleven, maybe more. We are aware of only four – up/down, left/right, forward/back. That looks like three, but we’re missing an important one – time, which, unlike the others, appears to operate in only one direction, from the past into the future.
According to theory, the other dimensions are curled up at a quantum scale, so small that we can’t perceive them with our senses or detect them with our instruments (yet!).
As I was thinking about this idea several years ago, I wondered: why only three unraveled dimensions plus time? It seemed so arbitrary and nonsensical. Then a thought came to me, based on previous experience with math and, in particular, 3D coordinate manipulations (at one time I was a games developer).
In 3D graphics, if you rotate a dimension through ninety degrees, it effectively becomes the dimension it replaces. So, an X dimension rotated 90 degrees about the Y dimension becomes a new Z dimension, while the old Z becomes a new X. This type of math is called “commutative,” which basically means it doesn’t matter which dimension you choose, the result is still the same.
So what would happen if you rotated one of the dimensions we know around one of the curled-up dimensions? The same thing would result. So up/down rotated around the 9th dimension (purely an example) would, say, become the 7th.
So what? you might be thinking. Well, what’s the difference between these dimensions? The others are compacted. So, if you rotated an extended dimension into a compact orientation, wouldn’t it also become compacted? And similarly, wouldn’t the compacted dimension unfurl to become extended? That was the crazy idea that came into my head all those years ago. But it didn’t stop there.
We see three extended dimensions and time because our senses are attuned to the dimensions we evolved in. But what if there were creatures who existed in the compacted dimensions? Their senses would be tuned to their environment. So perhaps they’d see their universe as “expanded” while ours would be “compacted .” As Einstein said, everything is relative.
Here’s another thing. We live in an expanding universe, birthed in the Big Bang.” But what if that was actually the moment when the whole multi-dimensional universe rotated dimensions into a new orientation and they started expanding? Instead of a Big Bang we have a “great unfurl.”
And what if “time” is simply the dimension that’s unfurling? That would explain its apparent one-directional nature. Time can’t go both ways because it’s unfurling after the dimensional rotation. The only way it could go the other way would be for another rotation to occur, then a new dimension of time would start to unfurl.
The universe we see is simply the dimensions we can detect continuing in this great unfurl, extending into newly available space. There could be many other civilizations, living in other dimensional environments, in almost infinite numbers within that multiplicity of real dimensions.
Maybe the universe rotates like this periodically, each time creating a new unfurl around different directions, while ours collapses. Rhythmic, steady, necessary – with all of existence in one constantly evolving multiverse.
That was the mathematics of eternity I dreamed of so many years ago – pretty wild, huh?