Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Imagine standing on 161 images laid in a line on the floor. If you wanted to see only the first image followed by the last image, you would need to travel across the 160 images inbetween.

If you put the images on a 2D grid, say 12x14, you no longer need to travel as far to visit your next favorite, the worst case distance being about 18 images instead of 160.

If you arrange the images in a 3D grid (5x6x6) the worst case distance is only 8 images. In moving from a 1D organization to 3D organization, you have also increased the information content of the system. In 1D it took only one number to specify the location of an image, in 3D it takes three numbers per image.

If you assume you can travel at a constant rate of speed in all dimensions, then by reorganizing the space the images occupy (increasing information), you have also reduced the average time it takes to flit from one to another. Some scientists are now looking at information as one of the building blocks of the universe...matter, energy, information.

Superstring Theory postulates a 10 dimensional universe, with 4 dimensions of space-time and 6 shriveled, shrunken dimensions. Is it possible to somehow travel through these shrunken dimensions and end up on the other side of the universe? Does the quantum mechanism in our brain have access to these hidden dimensions? Is this how we make mental leaps…leaps of faith, jumps to conclusions, and spontaneous acts of creation?

At the origin all was still and balanced, then along came a quantum flux and the symmetry was broken. In our universe balance is dynamic, not absolute. You must shift your weight constantly to stay upright, afloat as it were, in air. The same imbalance that caused the big bang, the imperfection that causes supernova cycles of joining and explosion, also allows us to travel a non-linear path. We struggle to linearize our experiences, our reasoning of how we arrived from point A to point B, but such exercises are frustrated by our implicit non-linear nature.

We don’t dare trust non-linear forces like friction, which lets go of our feet at unseemly moments, causing us to stumble along like the physical analog of the thoughts that bump around in our head. Instead, we place our feet carefully, one after the other, directing ourselves on the shortest distance between two points, only to be smashed by the piano falling from the window.