Dr. Michio Kaku on higher dimensions

by himanshusahni

If any of you have ever watched documentaries about space on discovery channel, you’ve probably run into this guy. He’s a really famous theoretical physicist and here is a pretty interesting physicist’s take on the whole higher dimensional thing:


A part that I found particularly fascinating was when he tries to explain why we cannot see, feel or imagine the 4th spatial dimension:

However, try as we may, it is impossible for our brains to visualize the fourth spatial dimension. Computers, of course, have no problem working in N dimensional space, but spatial dimensions beyond three simply cannot be conceptualized by our feeble brains. (The reason for this unfortunate accident has to do with biology, rather than physics. Human evolution put a premium on being able to visualize objects moving in three dimensions. There was a selection pressure placed on humans who could dodge lunging saber tooth tigers or hurl a spear at a charging mammoth. Since tigers do not attack us in the fourth spatial dimension, there simply was no advantage in developing a brain with the ability to visualize objects moving in four dimensions.)

It is interesting how our creativity is limited by evolution and the world that we see around us. The reason that ‘visible light’ is ‘visible’ to us (meaning that we can somehow sense it) has nothing to do with the intrinsic properties of light itself but simply because it is the most abundant wavelength range the sun throws at us and hence most useful to sense in an evolutionary point of view. The reason we are able to sense different colors is not so we can know when to cross an intersection, it is because it enables us to distinguish naturally occurring objects that were of prime importance to our ancestors (like food, or a saber tooth). There is some evolutionary theory on music as well and how  certain frequencies produce ‘evolutionary pleasure’ in our brains.

We have encountered time and again in class how creativity is born as a consequence of constraints put upon the artist. Perhaps this is the greatest constraint put on any artist: his/her own mind and body.


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