A universe of 10 dimensions

December 11, 2014 by Matt Williams, Universe Today
Superstring theory posits that the universe exists in 10 dimensions at once. Credit: National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli.

When someone mentions "different dimensions," we tend to think of things like parallel universes – alternate realities that exist parallel to our own, but where things work or happened differently. However, the reality of dimensions and how they play a role in the ordering of our Universe is really quite different from this popular characterization.

To break it down, dimensions are simply the different facets of what we perceive to be reality. We are immediately aware of the three dimensions that surround us on a daily basis – those that define the length, width, and depth of all objects in our universes (the x, y, and z axes, respectively).

Beyond these three visible dimensions, scientists believe that there may be many more. In fact, the theoretical framework of Superstring Theory posits that the universe exists in ten different dimensions. These different aspects are what govern the universe, the fundamental forces of nature, and all the elementary particles contained within.

The first dimension, as already noted, is that which gives it length (aka. the x-axis). A good description of a one-dimensional object is a straight line, which exists only in terms of length and has no other discernible qualities. Add to it a second dimension, the y-axis (or height), and you get an object that becomes a 2-dimensional shape (like a square).

The third dimension involves depth (the z-axis), and gives all objects a sense of area and a cross-section. The perfect example of this is a cube, which exists in three dimensions and has a length, width, depth, and hence volume. Beyond these three lie the seven dimensions which are not immediately apparent to us, but which can be still be perceived as having a direct effect on the universe and reality as we know it.

Scientists believe that the fourth dimension is time, which governs the properties of all known matter at any given point. Along with the three other dimensions, knowing an objects position in time is essential to plotting its position in the universe. The other dimensions are where the deeper possibilities come into play, and explaining their interaction with the others is where things get particularly tricky for physicists.

The timeline of the universe, beginning with the Big Bang. According to String Theory, this is just one of many possible worlds. Credit: NASA

According to Superstring Theory, the fifth and sixth dimensions are where the notion of possible worlds arises. If we could see on through to the fifth dimension, we would see a world slightly different from our own that would give us a means of measuring the similarity and differences between our world and other possible ones.

In the sixth, we would see a plane of possible worlds, where we could compare and position all the possible universes that start with the same initial conditions as this one (i.e. the Big Bang). In theory, if you could master the fifth and sixth dimension, you could travel back in time or go to different futures.

In the seventh dimension, you have access to the possible worlds that start with different initial conditions. Whereas in the fifth and sixth, the initial conditions were the same and subsequent actions were different, here, everything is different from the very beginning of time. The eighth dimension again gives us a plane of such possible universe histories, each of which begins with different initial conditions and branches out infinitely (hence why they are called infinities).

In the ninth dimension, we can compare all the possible universe histories, starting with all the different possible laws of physics and initial conditions. In the tenth and final dimension, we arrive at the point in which everything possible and imaginable is covered. Beyond this, nothing can be imagined by us lowly mortals, which makes it the natural limitation of what we can conceive in terms of dimensions.

The existence of these additional six dimensions which we cannot perceive is necessary for String Theory in order for their to be consistency in nature. The fact that we can perceive only four dimensions of space can be explained by one of two mechanisms: either the extra dimensions are compactified on a very small scale, or else our world may live on a 3-dimensional submanifold corresponding to a brane, on which all known particles besides gravity would be restricted (aka. brane theory).

he existence of extra dimensions is explained using the Calabi-Yau manifold, in which all the intrinsic properties of elementary particles are hidden. Credit: A Hanson

If the are compactified, then the extra six dimensions must be in the form of a Calabi–Yau manifold (shown above). While imperceptible as far as our senses are concerned, they would have governed the formation of the universe from the very beginning. Hence why scientists believe that peering back through time, using telescopes to spot light from the early universe (i.e. billions of years ago), they might be able to see how the existence of these additional dimensions could have influenced the evolution of the cosmos.

Much like other candidates for a grand unifying theory – aka the Theory of Everything (TOE) – the belief that the universe is made up of ten dimensions (or more, depending on which model of string theory you use) is an attempt to reconcile the standard model of particle physics with the existence of gravity. In short, it is an attempt to explain how all known forces within our universe interact, and how other possible universes themselves might work.

For additional information, here's an article on Universe Today about parallel universes, and another on a parallel scientists thought they found that doesn't actually exist.

There are also some other great resources online. There is a great video that explains the ten dimensions in detail. You can also look at the PBS web site for the TV show Elegant universe. It has a great page on the ten .

You can also listen to Astronomy Cast. You might find episode 137 The Large Scale Structure of the Universe pretty interesting.

Explore further: Who cares about the fourth dimension?

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38 comments

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movementiseternal
Dec 11, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
whatThe
4 / 5 (10) Dec 11, 2014
This article, source from Universe Today, also sources PBS. Where none of the, sounds like nonsense, about dimensions 5 through 10 is spoken of. The Universe Today site seems responsible for adding all the stuff about parallel worlds, histories and so on; & the magical 10th dimension where all is possible & imagined happens. They offer no other source, if these are the authors personal musings, I do not know. Calling bull@$#!.

This site has a lot of pseudoscience and just plain wrong or misleading info; mixed in with actual true science; been thinking of avoiding altogether.
Egleton
3 / 5 (3) Dec 11, 2014
This autodidact was under the impression that the extra dimensions posited by string theory were to allow for vibrations that would permit the observed properties of matter.
It is not clear to me if they are a mathematical absraction or something "Real".
"Real" in as much as can be expected from a computer simulation. If the quantum erasure experiment results are correct, (and there have been many attempts to falsify them), then the most cogent explanation is that we live in a simulation. It is all information.
Which brings me back to the begining. The dimesions are "real", sort of.
It all depends on whether you have been totaly immersed in the game or not.
It is Time to get Unreal.
kochevnik
5 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2014
Timespace isn't physically four dimensional. Rather there is a maths relationship between velocity and time which warps objects relative to each-other. But it does not dictate some universal storage archive for a past and future separate from the moment. Rather people use these constructs as a virtual reality to better understand the maths relations of time to space via the Lorentz transformation. We must be careful projecting our virtual realities onto our senses lest the feedback create imaginary artifacts and shadows
fabb4eyes
1 / 5 (3) Dec 11, 2014
It doesn't matter how many dimensions there are. We are trapped in our three dimensional bodies, which are trapped on our three dimensional planet. We can only deal with what we can see, taste and touch. Matter itself can only form into the elements. It's the same all over the universe, no matter how big it is or complex it is. It's like a fat person who loses weight. So where is the truth about that person? She was fat, then skinny, and then probably fat again. So what? It's the same person, and we have to accept her in all her dimensions.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (7) Dec 11, 2014
We are trapped in our three dimensional bodies, which are trapped on our three dimensional planet. We can only deal with what we can see, taste and touch.

Well, doesn't "dealing with it" imply the next dimension of time? I mean, it takes time to process and identify what you have seen, tasted or touched.. (Don't forget - heard)
imido
Dec 11, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
donjoseph
5 / 5 (8) Dec 11, 2014
Aw c'mon
The Calabi-Yau manifold is a beautiful geometry construct and through the algebras of this geometry there are/will be countless new theorems for topo groups and much more.
Much great work is done on GR and QM with the standard 4 dimensions and there is far more to learn using the old fashioned 4D

(lucky me, I had Prof. Eugenio Calabi for tensor analysis way back in 1961)
big-ben-not-the-bell
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 11, 2014
Three theoretical physists, on a train in Sweden, attending a conference, solve the creation of the Universe..."Two undulating membrane, in the 11th dimension, rubbing together, create matter."
Proof there are at least 11 dimensions.
big-ben-not-the-bell
2 / 5 (8) Dec 11, 2014
Time is not a dimension...Time is a tool, created and used exclusively by human beings, to put things in perspective.
bigben
1 / 5 (11) Dec 11, 2014
They got it all wrong again. There are actually 12 Dimensions. It is something i call, the theory of Everywhere. I will explain these 12 Dimensions and how they all tie in together, thus, personifying a Universe that expands as it shrinks. My theory also explains why there is no such thing as nothing, no such place as nowhere, and no such thing as the past. The price for explaining my Theory is 18 Million U.S. Dollars, (It's well worth it). Find me, give me the Check, and i will write my Theory down for you, and verbally explain it, (you can patent it as your own). This is no joke.
imido
Dec 12, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
jjsupremeorta14
2 / 5 (4) Dec 12, 2014
Time is not a dimension...Time is a tool, created and used exclusively by human beings, to put things in perspective.


Time is not a dimension...Time is a tool, created and used exclusively by human beings, to put things in perspective.

You my sir have the knowledge of a wise man.
Fins2theleft
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 12, 2014
But this still doesn't tell me how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Also, I can imagine an 11th dimension, so doesn't that invalidate a 10th dimension in which "everything possible and imaginable" is covered?
justindadswell
1 / 5 (9) Dec 12, 2014
I think Imido get's it, at least I agree with what little is there.
Honestly, it seems like more and more scientists are starting to think that way. But I wouldn't just call it AWT. The distortion of energy in our universe gives a techni-effect, the movement of that extra-dimensional energy is partially explained by string, and the over all solidity SUSY.

One of the most interesting aspects, everyone lives in their own universe in a way. Interactions with other people are simply echo's from their energy. By the time you interact with their echo, the minute extra-dimensional phenomena means your universe is slightly different then theirs. You end up perceiving a slightly different universe.
Or as one physicist put it. If you took a worm hole to the proverbial other side of the universe and traveled back here, you may return to an Earth you don't recognize or there may be no Earth at all. Enough distance to create a large curve of energy and distort the universe completely
antialias_physorg
4.7 / 5 (13) Dec 12, 2014
It doesn't matter how many dimensions there are.

If there are more than we can make use of the interactions. Just like we are macroscopic beings that aren't (noticeably) able to perceive and manipulate quantum states - yet we have found a myriad of technological ways of making use of quantum effects in our daily lives.
kcwong6121
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 12, 2014
Many dimensions are complicated assumptions and concepts. May not be necessary. In reality from scientific point of view, there are only two different 'things'-measurable and not measurable. Our science is based on measurable 'things'.
'Things' may not be measurable at the moment because of our current limited knowledge. However, it is also possible that we can never measure them. For example, I don't think that the probability wave suggested in QM is measurable. However, the results predicted by QM is measurable.
If there is no predictable results verifiable by String theory, the theory is no better than imagination and cannot be qualified as science yet.

Egleton
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2014
The price for explaining my Theory is 18 Million U.S. Dollars, (It's well worth it). Find me, give me the Check, and i will write my Theory down for you, and verbally explain it, (you can patent it as your own). This is no joke.


Ben Bernanke could help you out, He has a printing press. The two Bens could have a wonderful chat about economic theory before you touch him up. I am sure he wont mind.
Whydening Gyre
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 12, 2014
But this still doesn't tell me how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

All at the same time or one at a time? The answer is easy - as many as you want to...

Also, I can imagine an 11th dimension, so doesn't that invalidate a 10th dimension in which "everything possible and imaginable" is covered?

Nope. Just makes it part of the tenth...
IainElliott
1 / 5 (8) Dec 12, 2014
The fourth dimension is the dimension of mind. It is from that dimension that we are able to comprehend the first three.
dblcrosser
1 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2014
Accepting the above article as fact -- What does this have to say about "Free Will"?
huckmucus
2 / 5 (4) Dec 12, 2014
Dimensions. Where logical argument begs for an attack on a premise; and logical argument places the burden of proof upon a proponent; and logic dictates that "A" cannot = "not-A"; and logical argument dictates that you can't prove a negative, isn't logic then founded upon something that can't be proven? Physics will marry general relativity and quantum theory when it understands that "A" does indeed = "not-A". "A" experiences all of itself as a singularity. "A" experiences parts of itself by blowing itself apart. That's what we are doing: "A" experiencing parts of itself. Entropy is the "continuation" of that experience. So, what is time? Time is perception. I am not saying time is perceived. Whether or not time is perceived is a separate issue. I am saying that time is perception itself. Perception = time. Time = Perception. In short, everything and nothing is happening and not happening, everywhere and nowhere, all at once, now, never and forever. Get used to it.
Modernmystic
3 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2014
While imperceptible as far as our senses are concerned, they would have governed the formation of the universe from the very beginning.


Always wanted to ask this question with someone who has the math to answer it. When they say imperceptible, do they simply mean imperceptible for human beings, or do they mean imperceptible no matter how sensitive and powerful our technology gets to visualize them? Or do we even know the answer to that yet?
ViperSRT3g
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2014
For those who are interested in learning more about this 10 dimensions theory of everything, please view the following video on youtube which has a great explanation of the whole process from dimensions 1-10. youtube.com/watch?v=gg85IH3vghA

This does not contain any pseudoscience, it's also a very long video so view it when you have time to spare.
douglasharris49
1 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2014
if the x y and z dimensions are physical descriptions and time as a reference point to those dimensions why are the following dimensions so amorphous? why isn't there some recognition of circumferential borders as in fields of gravity or radiation? Gravity fields are constantly moving in response to environmental forces but still there is a border between 0 and 1 and that doesn't seem to be addressed.
Please advise
crumbhead2000
5 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2014
Reminds me of an old Robert Heinlein story about a scientist who would hook folks up to a machine and then tell them when they would die. He could see their bodies in the 4th dimension as a long pink ribbon that would suddenly end.
Also, don't forget Mr. Mxyzptlk from the 5th dimension!
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Dec 12, 2014
The fourth dimension is the dimension of mind. It is from that dimension that we are able to comprehend the first three.

Wouldn't that make us (humans) the 4th dimension?
Accepting the above article as fact -- What does this have to say about "Free Will"?

Well, was a decent family oriented movie...
As to free will - you are free to choose what you want to within the universe's established parameters...
idaman
1 / 5 (6) Dec 12, 2014
Its my opinion that gravity is not a fundamental force. That rather it is an effect of the warping of space and time.
idaman
1.5 / 5 (6) Dec 12, 2014
I'm probably simplistic. I think of other dimensions as being phase shifted. Like amplitude modulation and frequence modulation. Atoms at the quantum level can be hugh distances away from each other. There can be an infinite amount of space between, like between the number 1 and number 2. This sounds crazy but what if souls do exist after physical death and we cannot see them because they are phase shifted. How different is that versus dark matter?
Our minds cannot preceive modulated signals but that doesn't mean they don't exist. We have methods to detect them.
ekim
1 / 5 (3) Dec 13, 2014
Accepting the above article as fact -- What does this have to say about "Free Will"?

One dimension higher and your entire existence, past, present and future, is observable and unchanging. One dimension higher than that, all of your "possible" pasts, presents and futures are observable.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Dec 13, 2014
Its my opinion that gravity is not a fundamental force. That rather it is an effect of the warping of space and time.

couldn't you just as easily say it's a property of matter?
btb101
1 / 5 (3) Dec 13, 2014
16 dimensions.. 12 of which form 3 habitat zones (ours included). The last 4 hold everything together..
How hard is that?
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 13, 2014
"Its my opinion that gravity is not a fundamental force. That rather it is an effect of the warping of space and time. "

There is no such thing as warping of space and time, which in fact have place only in the minds of some philosophers. Too naive to accept such ideas when we do not know the structure and properties of the cosmic vacuum. It may be the most rigid state of matter with defined crystal similar structure in which normal matter is disolved
Rens approach to science reminds me of another notorious guesser - Ken Hovind.
http://youtu.be/4_rvtjpgyc0

-I wonder if he's out of jail yet?
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 13, 2014
Oop guess not

"scheduled date of release: January 19, 2017"
http://en.wikiped...t_Hovind

-I guess he guessed that Caesar didn't really need all that tax money rendered into him.
Z99
1 / 5 (4) Dec 14, 2014
Astounding that Phys.org allowed this rubbish to post. The "first" dimension is length? The "second" dimension is height? LMFAO! What GR teaches us is that our world is made up of 3 space-like and one time-like dimension which are defined by our trajectory. If you need to ask which are which, then you haven't understood the theory. It is absurd nonsense to claim that the nth dimension is such-and-such. GR teaches than what is time to one observer is motion through space to another. That is, just as you can't disentangle length, width, and height (they are arbitrarily choices, but their number (dimensionality= 3) is NOT) once speeds close to c are considered you can only distinguish time by choosing a particular trajectory. This fact leads to the possibility that at very different velocities, one observer will see A preceeding B, and the other observer see that B preceeds A. This results in problems with our simple notion that cause preceeds effect (and can be agreed to).
jibbles
1 / 5 (2) Dec 15, 2014
Astounding that Phys.org allowed this rubbish to post..


Agreed! This is the most pseudo-sciency crap I've seen Phys.org let slip past its editors.
antigoracle
not rated yet Dec 15, 2014
Let's not forget the ridiculous dimension, from whence many of these theories originate and should have stayed.
Mike_Massen
1 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2015
Ren82 claimed
There is no such thing as warping of space and time, which in fact have place only in the minds of some philosophers
Did your heavenly father tell u, as its not in any book ever in religion, odd isnt it; an omnipotent god is nasty & a bad communicator, how can that be ?

How can U imagine any 'warp' is anything like conclusions of General/Special relativity, have U looked at Minkowski Space, Lorentz Contraction ?

Y claim anything U can't conceive, what proof can U find to show anything like that - ever ?

Ren82 almost got there
Too naive to accept such ideas when we do not know the structure and properties of the cosmic vacuum
Of course greater knowledge can be sought but, hey ew know enough to predict satellite motion get to moon & mars, space even has 'impedance' with a numerical value !

Ren82 speculated
It may be the most rigid state of matter with defined crystal similar structure in which normal matter is disolved
Opposite more likely !

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