Free dimensional thinking and time travel

Can free dimensional thinking help us to understand what exactly we’re talking about when it comes to time travel?

Some time ago I met a pretentious bloke at a party who was overly keen to tell me his views on philosophy and something which he called “free dimensional thinking”.

“What’s free dimensional thinking? ” I ask.

“Oh! Don’t you know? It’s when you’re free to think on different dimensions.”

“OK I’ve got that, but how? Can you give me an example?”

“Well it takes some getting used to. Most people only think one dimensionally. With free dimensional thinking you think on more than one dimension. You can think on two dimensions, or three. Or four…as many as you like. It depends how advanced you are. I’ve done 6.” He beamed.

I indicated visually the dimension of height of the room and the height of my frustration by rolling my eyes upwards, and departed.

Pretentious pillocks aside, this idea of dimensional thinking must have lodged (though perhaps in a different way than I was ‘supposed’ to) because I got round to thinking about the measurement of dimensions.

Free dimensional thinking
“Free dimensional thinking” – with a football! πŸ˜‰ Image credit: Chandra Sekaran.

Take a football game, for example. How long is it?

Would we say 90 minutes plus extra time (or as my daughter told me after 7 minutes…it’s too long, Daddy!) or would we describe it more literally as somewhere between 90 and 120 meters?

What dimension are we talking about here? The length of time, or the length of the more tangible field? It usually helps to be clear. H. G. Wells in his book The Time Machine famously commented that time is the fourth dimension – and yet the time traveler in that novel experienced nausea as he was subjected to the rotation of the 3 spatial dimensions and time upon their axes.

A shuffling of the dimensions can assist then, in time travel, but a precise knowledge of each dimension – and where it is – is a clear pre-requisite.

Maybe this mysterious free dimensional thinker / party goer may well have been aware of the multiple dimensions he was thinking along. But like the analogy between time travel and the teapot in orbit around Venus (* see footnote below) it’s extremely improbable.

It’s a shame. Not because I’d spent (and wasted) too much of my time with him, but because I probably missed his clues if he really was onto something useful.


* Note about Teapots – it’s been quoted (by I can’t remember who) that time travel is like finding a teapot in orbit around Venus – there’s no rule in physics prohibiting it, it’s just very unlikely.

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Author: Paul Wandason

I love astronomy and science fiction, but I love my family more. So I love time travel too!

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