Do more than three dimensions exist?

Is evolution through dimension possible?

Is it possible for an organism to shift through dimensions during evolution?

These are a portion of questions that have flooded the “Ask an Expert” inbox on our site This post is an effort to answer these questions which students have been pondering on, in the wake of viewing the movie ‘Interstellar’.

Matthew Mc Conaughey’s character, Cooper, dies after he launches out of his craft and floats off into outer space. ‘Tesseract’ – the fifth-dimension portal allows him to communicate with Murph (Ellen Burstyn) along any point of her timeline. ‘Interstellar’ played fast and loose with science but here on, it completely threw judiciousness to the wind and just plunged down its silliest paths. In any case it did well by leaving most of us questioning the possibility of higher dimensions?

‘Can more than 3 dimensions exist?’ is indeed a tough question to answer, and quite possibly doesn’t have a conclusive answer within the current limitations of human knowledge.  That said, there are a few things that could be said in regards to it. Dimension is the measurable extent or quantity that denotes the degree to, or range over, which something extends. In scientific terms, a space has as many dimensions as there are mutually perpendicular axes at each point within it.

To perceive how lower and higher dimensions associate with each other, take any geometric object (like a point, line, circle, etc.) and drag it in an opposing direction (drag a point to draw a line, a line to make a box, a circle to make a cylinder, a disk to make a cylinder, etc.). The outcome is an object which is qualitatively larger than the previous object, qualitative in the sense that, paying little heed to how you drag the original object, you always get an object of the same size. Hence a two-dimensional space can be considered as a geometric model of the planar projection of the physical universe in which we live.

Day to day life has made us all comfortable with three dimensions; we constantly interact with objects that have height, length and breadth. But why our universe has three spatial measurements has been an issue for physicists. In the mid twentieth century, Minkowski and Einstein connected our comfortable three dimensions with a fourth, time, and defining special relativity using a space-time continuum. This sort of met expectations, yet at the same time didn’t clarify a troublesome new hypothesis of gravity called quantum mechanics that emerged around the same time Minkowski and Einstein were dealing with their speculations.

Quantum mechanics had its own guidelines that disaffirmed the ideas driving the space-time continuum. While higher theoretical dimensions began with Descartes in the 1600s, in the 1970s string theory elaborated on this idea as physicists attempted to tie everything together in one sophisticated description of the universe.

Variations of string theory require the presence of up to eleven dimensions and a slew of universes, with our universe forming a three-dimensional membrane floating around some higher-dimensional doughnut. It turns out that it is possible that our world is pinned to a 3-dimensional sheet that is located in a higher dimensional space. To represent this, think of an ant crawling on a sheet of paper in your hand. For the ant, the ‘universe’ is fundamentally two-dimensional, as it can’t leave the paper. It only knows – North to South and East to West, but up and down make no sense as long as it stays on the sheet of paper. In basically the same way, we could be limited to a three-dimensional world, which is indeed a piece of a more muddled multi-dimensional universe!

Superstring theory has remained little more than a theory for years. Investigations have been limited to discussing models and scenarios since performing the actual calculations have been exceptionally difficult. As such, superstring theory’s legitimacy and usefulness have remained indistinct. Our search for extra dimensions has just begun. Physicists are looking for the special effects of extra dimensions in collisions that produce various types of particles, such as quarks. They are also looking for procedures where gravitons are formed in the collisions and then leave our three-dimensional world, travelling off into one of the other dimensions.


Image source: Google

By Sayeda Akbar – Educational Specialist

Syeda Akbar

Syeda Akbar

I am a post-graduate in Mathematics and currently a research scholar pursuing Ph.D. in Fluid mechanics from Christ University, Bangalore. I have been working with EI for the last one year as an Educational specialist in the Maths test development team. I'm an avid traveler and passionate about health, learning, supporting causes and making a difference.
Syeda Akbar