Monday, 7 February 2011

From 3D to ?siD

I've been pondering the subject of psychic powers and magic. Here's an odd and possibly even horrifying look at how they might work.

To understand the idea we need to think about the differences between 2D and 3D. Imagine a 2D world, strung across the room you're now in and perfectly immaterial. Imagine tiny 2D lifeforms getting on with their lives inside, moving across the surface and around each other of course because they can't go over or under.

Now imagine you step up to that flat world and make contact with the very tip of your finger. What's that going to look like from their point of view? Maybe an area of their world fills with an alien material, and friends and colleagues vanish.

Keep pushing and as the finger widens from the tip, the area of destruction in their world widens, and more bystanders are lost. If the world isn't perfectly immaterial, some of those individuals might even get pushed out of their world, either on or in your finger. What would happen if you blew on the world? Or sneezed?

Now imagine you did the same with a spoon, cruelly placing it parallel to the surface of the now panicking world and pushing both the end of the handle and the cup into contact. Now the weirdness manifests in two places, one smaller, one larger. Imagine what would happen if one of those 2D lifeforms could climb out of the world at one of the points and re-enter at another. How would that look to his buddies?

How about if one species of 2D lifeforms evolved 3D extensions? Like the spoon, they could make contact with another point simultaneously. They could goose each other pretty well. It would make them better hunters too. If natural selection is the driver of evolution, they might well be expanding into more dimensions.

Ours? Not necessarily. According to the current 'best' model, M-theory, our universe has 11 dimensions. Not the dimensions the scope of fiction tries to cover, but physical dimensions, like the two in 2D and three in 3D.

What if we evolved too? Well, who's to say we didn't, haven't or won't? In a fictional world, no one. So how about the idea that our bodies have a presence in another dimension? Maybe the mind is the connective tissue? Remember, there's apparently a lot of capacity in there not being used. Yup. Maybe we've got bits of us we don't know about waving around up there now, completely out of control?

But what if we could learn to control those extensions? What if we could use them to interfere with other parts of the 3D, in the same way as those little 2D guys? We could play with each other's minds, move objects, latch onto things in the beyond and catapult ourselves to new places. That sounds familiar.

Think of a power, any power. Name a spell. Could it be caused by this?

I've coined a silly name for the idea, at least provisionally, the one in the title. Not 3D, but psiD, or rather ?siD to make clear there's plenty of mystery involved.

So where's that possible horror I mentioned?

Imagine if creatures existed in those other dimensions. They might be watching us flail through their space, but not recognise it for what it is. Or maybe they recognise it, but the scales of size and time mean they can't do anything about, yet at least. Or worse, that they're in the process of reacting and a proboscis is stabbing down at us right now.

Maybe one of their dimensions is also one of ours? If so, they're already here.


Talysman said...

This kind of speculation has been swirling around discussions about dimensions for a long time, so it's about time someone applied it to gaming. Edwin Abbott's Flatland (1884) actually had vague suggestions of higher dimensions = supernatural phenomena, and there's something even closer to what you descibe in A. K. Dewdney's Planiverse (1984); for example, the ability of a 3D being to see the insides of 2D beings, as well as the way a 3D being's communication would feel like it came from inside a 2D being, resembles supernatural phenomena.

It's been a while since I've read P. D. Ouspenky's A New Model of the Universe, but I seem to remember that he claimed the fourth dimension as the method of manifestation for psychic powers.

The Angry Lurker said...

Ok I can live with this and the dimensions, but what dimension are we reading this blog from. I read once that there are 5 races on earth and they exist in the other dimensions.

Martin said...

This is a very interesting discussion and something I've pondered as well. Especially after reading Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe.

It's also an idea that appears in the adventure The Wild Hunt in Unseen Masters by Chaosium (which is an excellent adventure anthology by the way!). I don't want to spoil it, but it examines how extradimensional beings interact with our world.

Porky said...

@ Talysman - Welcome in these parts! I won't claim to have read any of those, but reading up on Flatland long ago was probably what planted the seed. Planiverse looks good too, and has the right publication date for the cage our 3D could be. I agree it's about time we saw it more. It's nothing fancy really and ought to be a mainstay of our thinking on the subject.

@ The Angry Lurker - This is the blogosphere: do not adjust your screen. Your bit of it is cool and pulpy, and this bit's a kind of porcine space. Those five other species might be the normal ones compared to us. I wouldn't argue if they said so.

@ Martin - More great suggestions. The world is so big and old, and the noösphere rich - I'd love the time to explore half the things we read and write about. Those books likely pick up well after I leave off.

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

Hmm. Must reread The Fabric of The Universe.

Dave G _ Nplusplus said...

Heh.. I could actually make a website that controls your horizontal and your vertical ;)

It goes beyond dimensions.. when talking about 2d vs 3d worlds, I think about Spore.. starting in the gene pool in 2D, growing legs and crawling onto the land. But from there, sometimes strange beings fly down and abduct your friends.. and later on, you're the aliens flying from planet to planet, "higher" unknown beings but on the same dimension.

Also not sure if it's covered by the dimensions, but the other possible concern would be if our actions cause ripples in the fabric of everything like light travels empty space. Light is recordable, what if so are our actions, that someone years from now can pick a place and a time and just watch?

Copyboy said...

Dude that stuff is on a dimension I can barely grasp. haha. BTW...made you new blog of the day.

Porky said...

@ C'nor (Outermost_Toe) - If you mean this one, it sounds like a book I'd like to read too. It covers a lot that's been talked about here lately.

@ Dave G _ Nplusplus - Spore is such a cool idea for a game, for the huge scope at the very least. As for recordability, have you read the post on the lifeform from 2001? There's a link to an explanation of a deep idea you might well like, the Omega Point.

@ Copyboy - We're in the same boat, in that I can only grasp the easy bits. Re blog of the day, I hope I'm not going to be freaking out innocent minds?

Jedediah said...

I've always liked the idea of time as just another dimension. That would be a powerful tool indeed and one that humans are definitely not ready for.

I'm also thinking of a scene from Babylon 5 where a character has just encountered one of the First Ones, the old races who definitely seem to live in more than just our dimensions. G'Kar picks up an ant and asks: when he puts down the ant again, the other ants will ask it "what was that?" and the ant will only be able to say "I don't know".

And I find myself agreeing with G'Kar when he says: "They are a mystery. And I am both terrified and reassured to know that there are still wonders in the universe."

Porky said...

Time as another dimension is an idea I always just accepted, but now that you bring it up here, it seems weirder. I though I was being clever by suggesting that scales of size and time could differ, but time being the dimension goes further. It also makes the extensions mentioned forms of time travel, with all that entails.

What does he ask the ant? I need to know! Regardless, it's a simple but profound idea, and I agree with him too. It's not going to happen any time soon, if ever, but could we live in a universe without mystery?

Jedediah said...

I found the scene on Youtube. What would we do without Youtube.

Porky said...

Now I see. How good was Babylon 5, for that aesthetic as well. G'Kar is played very well, despite or possibly because of the make-up. I'd revisit.