The model that best describes the universe we see is of the three dimensional surface of an expanding four-dimensional sphere. As we look into space we see that we are apparently at the center of an expanding universe. The further away from us things are, the faster they recede from us. We also only see young things close to us. The very old structures in the universe are much further away. At great distances, we dont see the type of objects that were formed recently.
Because of the speed of light, the further things are from us, the further back in the past we see them. The Sun is roughly eight light minutes away from us, so the light from the sun takes eight minutes to reach us. When we look at the sun, we are actually seeing it as it was eight minutes before. The closest star is about four light years away. When we look at it, we see the light that left it four years ago. We are looking four years into the past.
Using visible light we can see back about 4,000,000,000 years. We can see almost another 1,000,000,000 years, almost to the back to the beginning of the universe, in different electromagnetic spectrums. Close to the edge of our vision, there are only exotic structures from which the galaxies formed. Beyond that, there is only the 30 centigrade background radiation leftover from the Big Bang.
We cant think in four spacial dimensions. Our limbs dont move in the fourth spacial direction. We cant point in that direction or visualize a fourth spacial dimension. So how do we know that there is at least one other spacial dimension? The three/four interface is beyond our ability to visualize, but we can look directly at the two/three interface and draw logical conclusions.
Imagine a two dimensional universe that is the two dimensional surface
of an expanding three-dimensional sphere. An expanding balloon is a good
example. The balloon appears to be covered with white spots. As we look
closer we see that the spots are made up of millions of tiny dots. These
are the two-dimensional galaxies and stars of our two dimensional universe.
Around the two dimensional stars orbit two-dimensional planets, and on
some of those planets live two-dimensional creatures.
A three-dimensional scientist could construct the three dimensional version of a triangle, a cone, and calculate the height. He could then measure the height and, theoretically, use any discrepancy as evidence of a fourth spatial dimension. The logistics of this method are beyond our reach and instrumentation today. There may be a more elegant way to measure the effects of our universe curving through a fourth spatial dimension, but the method described above demonstrates that such a measurement is possible.
We experience time one dimensionally, or as a line. We can only move
in one direction, forward, in time. We can conceive of moving backward
along the time line but, as a practical matter, we either are unable to
do so or are unable to detect when we do so. It is possible that we do
move backward in time but, just like the characters on a video tape, we
dont realize that we are moving backward. When we start moving forward
again we will flawlessly replay the same set of events, unaware that we
have been here and done this before.
If the present is the surface of an expanding sphere, then the future
doesnt exist yet. There is no matter in the future. As we move forward
in time, there is obviously a massive universe when we get there. Where
did the matter come from? Did we bring it with us from the past? If so
then there is no matter in the past. A time traveler could not go into
the past because it is no longer there.
What do we look like temporally? We probably resemble worms crawling
down straws. We exist in only one temporal dimension and can travel
in only one temporal direction. We are aware of the passage of time only
as it effects the three-dimensional spatial world we live in. It is probable
that we cant experience temporal events directly, as we apparently have
no temporal sensory organs.
How and why do we move through a temporal dimension? We have some awareness
and control of movement through three-dimensional space. We know
when we move relative to something else. Using our legs, we can move over
the surface of the earth. We can see that the earth we inhabit is in motion
relative to the sun, and the sun is in motion relative to the other stars
and galaxies. Einstein demonstrated that we can not detect some sort of
absolute motion. We can only determine that we are moving relative to something
It's a familiar scene. In response to some threat to the universe, Kirk,
Spock, Bones and a couple of expendable guys in red shirts head for the
transporter room. Scotty pushes the slide to it's stop and a whirring sound
fills the room. The landing party twinkles and disappears. At the same
time they appear on the surface of the planet the ship is orbiting. Or
When I was taking a college psychology class, we read about pigeons
trained to peck a bell in order to get food. Most of the pigeons learned
to peck the bell to get food. Some pigeons came to believe that they also
had to do other things. For example one of the birds, by chance, fluttered
its wings before pecking the bell. It now flutters its wings and pecks
the bell when it wants food. It believes that the wing fluttering is a
necessary part of the procedure. Every time the ritual is repeated and
food is delivered, the belief in wing fluttering is reinforced. Behavioral
scientists refer to this as superstitious behavior.
It's amazing how much I don't know about the little guy in the back of my head. I never know when or why he feels like working. I'm not even sure when I first became aware of his presence. The first clues must have become apparent when I was in college. It was then I first noticed that creative work was not under my voluntary control. It was then I learned to "sleep on" a problem. That first observation has grown over the years to the set of rules that I live by now. I'll submit a general set of parameters on a subject, then wait for the results to be delivered. This works just fine when results are delivered in a timely fashion.
The little guy does good work, but he doesn't understand deadlines. He produces what he wants when he wants with no consideration for the obligations I've put us under. It's not that he's vindictive or irresponsible. He truly does not have any concept of deadlines or obligations. He produces work for his own reasons. I don't understand those reasons, but I've learned to guide him in the direction that I need for him to go. I absorb a quantity of the type of material that I need. If it's comic strips I need, I read comic strips. If I'm trying to produce editorial cartoons, I read editorial cartoons. Whatever I need, I immerse us in until I've got him in the right mode. He doesn't care what my motives are as long as I keep him fed with interesting material. It's rare that he rebels over a particular genre.
I know he's rebelling when I don't get results. If he's not interested I can't concentrate. Our communication is not verbal. I'm not sure he even understands language. He uses the same eyes that I do, but he sees a very different world. I look at a sign and get information or instructions. He sees a shape that is attractive or ugly, that fits its environment or is inappropriate for its surroundings. He also sees our goals differently.
We produced a comic strip that ran in a local paper for a little longer than two years. I started the process by reading a lot of strips. I met and talked with several artists producing comic strips. I designed the characters, the environment, and what I thought was the mood or style of the strip. There came a time when I had to sit back and wait for the creative little guy to take the material I provided and turn out strips. I certainly have no complaint with the volume he provided. Though I was also happy with the quality of the work, it wasn't what I expected. I envisioned the strip as a "Bloom County" knockoff. The original cast of characters contained a plethora of political morphologies. There were elephants, donkeys, snakes, skunks. . . .
He didn't use them. The only scripts I was given to draw involved the most family oriented characters. He also only used the personas taken from animals that could be found on an American farm. I had ideas about what I wanted the strip to be. He had his own ideas. The final result reflected influence from both of us. Though I think of us as different people, we are never without each other.
Most of the time I don't even think about him being there. I'm aware of his presence in much the same way I'm aware of family members in the other rooms of the house. If I stop and listen I can hear him back there, but I'm not sure what he's doing. Something creative I suppose.
Other people often refer to him as "my subconscious." Maybe. I accept that we live in the same skull, use the same brain cells and have the same memories. Still, I don't feel that I've done the work he produces. We don't feel the same things. During times I've been in a panic he has dispassionately examined the situation and suggested ways out. It's not that he's brave and overcomes fear. He doesn't understand fear. The part of our brain that he lives in doesn't react to the adrenaline that so strongly affects me. The times our life has been endangered I've been afraid. He was annoyed at the prospect of not finishing whatever he was working on.
Many people think of the creative side of themselves as most closely related to their emotional side. The little guy in my head is not emotional at all. He doesn't have to deal with emotions. That's my job. We each have areas of responsibility in the functioning of our common life. If he truly is a part of me, it's a part that I can only get in touch with in this way. I won't argue with psychologists. I just accept the way we are.