Thursday, April 3, 2008

Book Review: Extra-Dimensional Universe

Some physicists now believe that the universe does not have just 3 dimensions of space plus one of time. Phenomena such as light and gravity become easier to explain if the universe has 10 or 26 dimensions. The obvious question is: if there are more dimensions, why can't we see them? The answer given is that the extra dimensions are very, very small. This seems to me to be a copout. The other reason that they are very small is that the math of planetary orbits doesn't work out otherwise; to that I say, so much the worse for the math of planetary orbits. We backed into it anyway (see Let's Talk Flying Saucers).

Extra-Dimensional Universe by John R. Violette talks about a universe with real extra dimensions larger than the Planck scale, in connection with the paranormal. The main theme of the book is that paranormal phenomena such as extra-sensory perception and UFO's can be explained by the extra dimensions. The flatland concept is used to help explain how things we would think of as impossible are entirely natural.

The bottom line? I don't know if Mr. Violette's model of the universe is accurate, but to the extent that the book helps us detach from our ideas about how the world works, it's useful.

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