Original Link : https://medium.com/predict/the-fifth-dimension-280fcd621403
Visualizing beyond the edge of the universe and the place of non-space
Infinity has never been a number — it’s an idea. One that’s difficult enough as it is for the mind to grasp. Yet there can be infinities of different sizes, just as Galileo imagined the problem of points along two circles. A larger circle and a smaller circle will both contain an infinite number of points and yet the larger circle, according to logic, must somehow contain more points than the smaller one. In the theory of transfinite numbers, infinities can be added to one another just as 3 and 3 can be added. They may also be subtracted and even give way to ever larger infinities beyond the smaller ones. A set of integers (1, 2, 3, 4,…) is infinite but is not as large as a set of transcendental numbers (numbers like π or e).
To be trans-finite is to be beyond a boundary. The term is meant to distinguish between different levels of infinity. While the theory of transfinite numbers and set theory — both created by Russian mathematician Georg Cantor around the end of the 19th century — are used throughout the branches of mathematics and are seen as fundamental to our modern insights, the theories weren’t welcome when they were first introduced. In fact, Cantor felt humiliated by his peers who had gone as far as to call the theories a “disease”. His former professor, Leopold Kronecker, barred Cantor from getting a position at a university in Berlin and Cantor died, aged 72, in poverty and huddled away miserably at a mental institution.
Cantor’s depression and frequent trips to sanitariums in the later years of his life likely stemmed from violent criticism against his ideas and his lack of a respectable position in the academic community. It was there in the sterile and unnerving confines of the asylum that one of the most brilliant men would give into mounting paranoia, delving ever deeper into strange religious conspiracies and the hedge-maze of infinity.
And yet as abstract and intimidating as these concepts can be, they’re the kind of headspace we must enter to understand the fifth dimension.
To find it, we journey to the frayed, far off edges of our universe. It’s not something we’ve ever seen for we are limited by the 46 billion light-year window acting as our cosmic horizon. Beyond that expansive but limited vista, most galaxies recede away from us almost at the speed of light, their radiation too weak to register. That is the sphere to which we are confined; a sphere weighted with treasures like star explosions and habitable worlds but not one which contains the universe in full. Whether finite or infinite, we aren’t sure, though research leans towards the universe being infinite and continuing to expand as dark energy pervades its fabric. The shape of the cosmos is also unlikely to be spherical but rather flat, or otherwise a shape so complex that it’d be difficult for our minds to imagine, just as it’d be difficult for our minds to imagine the various levels of infinity presented by Cantor. The shape exists only mathematically.
Choosing, then, an abstract and inflating shape for our universe we give the shape a kind of four-dimensional skin on which our world and all our galaxies reside. There are the familiar three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. But these four dimensions which we perceive to encompass all of reality are only the skin of the universe — a thick, bulky covering for the fifth dimension. If our four-dimensional skin is space, then the fifth dimension within and around it are a kind of non-space, a lifeless chasm. Or worse. Perhaps it’s best described as a gaping jetty without sensation and with nothing to give to its intrepid visitors. It’s impossible to say if a non-space could even welcome life or if instead organisms venturing into this place will cease to exist themselves. It is, for now, as unfathomable as traversing the event horizon of a black hole. How would one navigate through such pure, starless voids?
Time, too, is likely to act differently here. It could stop its progress altogether or submit travelers to the effects of time dilation, allowing them to age slower than the rest of us back on Earth. If time has no effect in the fifth-dimension, traversing it could be the key to instantaneous travel among the stars. It is time, after all, which makes interstellar travel unattainable for humans.
Interstellar travel has never been impossible. It’s taking a problem we’ve already solved and merely scaling it up. To get to the moon and to get to Proxima Centauri, our nearest star, are the same problem in different proportions. Our technology (the Voyager 2 probe last year) has already entered interstellar space. Twice. The problem for us is that these traditional sources of power — chemical rockets, for example — cannot reach the velocities to make interstellar travel feasible for the short, fleeting lifespans of humans.
The fifth dimension provides a different solution: rather than attempting faster velocities, shorten the distance between locations.
If a slab of concrete is mostly empty space, the shortest distance between points on the bottom and the top of the slab is by going through the slab and connecting the points that way. Yet we can’t. Our shortest alternative is an indirect route above and over the slab of concrete. If our universe is in fact this indefinite shape filled with and surrounded by a fifth-dimension, then the same is true for stars and entire galaxies. To arrive as efficiently as possible to the Alpha Centauri system we delve into non-space where a shorter route exists. One we haven’t yet seen. Our senses, for whatever reason (perhaps because we are made of open loops and thus bound to this brane) are unresponsive to our sister dimension. But that does not mean multiple dimensions will never come to be accepted, just as we do not need to interact daily with atoms to accept that they jostle and jewel everything around us.
It was Cantor’s work with infinites that inspired mathematicians like Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and J. C. Campbell to theorize that it should be possible to go from one location to another without traveling the actual distance — instant transit through the fifth-dimension. The power requirements to achieve this are, of course, out of our current reach. Some estimates place this power requirement at something like a million strong thermonuclear machines. But it isn’t an impossibility and it doesn’t mean a more technologically advanced civilization hasn’t already plundered this amount of energy. Another problem, besides developing the technology needed to sink into non-space and then return, is that for us to do this at all we may have to be located near the fifth-dimensional void. That is, we must be at the edges of our four-dimensional skin. Where exactly we lie in this respect is impossible to know. For that, we must have at least some definite idea of how the malleable fabric of our universe is truly shaped.
At the end of his life, Cantor tried his best to encourage young mathematicians. Revolutionary ideas are often met with bitterness and resistance. In his case, it drove an illustrious man to manic states. Many brilliant scientists in the past have felt disgraced and depressed despite the merit of their work. Science is, in large part, about seeking the truth no matter where it may lead. Sometimes the truth presents us with such paradoxes as infinite infinities or extra dimensions which we haven’t yet observed. Like his theory, Cantor became trans-finite himself. His work has gone beyond his lifetime, surpassing the boundary of time.