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This passage from Death's End by Cixin Liu really gave me pause to stop and wonder about what the experience of seeing extra dimensions might be like (here translated to English by Ken Liu): --

A person looking back upon the three-dimensional world from four-dimensional space for the first time realized this right away: He had never seen the world while he was in it. If the three-dimensional world were likened to a picture, all he had seen before was just a narrow view from the side: a line. Only from four-dimensional space could he see the picture as a whole. He would describe it this way: Nothing blocked whatever was placed behind it. Even the interiors of sealed spaces were laid open. This seemed a simple change, but when the world was displayed this way, the visual effect was utterly stunning. When all barriers and concealments were stripped away, and everything was exposed, the amount of information entering the viewer’s eyes was hundreds of millions times greater than when he was in three-dimensional space. The brain could not even process so much information right away.

In Morovich and Guan’s eyes, Blue Space was a magnificent, immense painting that had just been unrolled. They could see all the way to the stern, and all the way to the bow; they could see the inside of every cabin and every sealed container in the ship; they could see the liquid flowing through the maze of tubes, and the fiery ball of fusion in the reactor at the stern.... Of course, the rules of perspective remained in operation, and objects far away appeared indistinct, but everything was visible.

Given this description, those who had never experienced four-dimensional space might get the wrong impression that they were seeing everything “through” the hull. But no, they were not seeing “through” anything. Everything was laid out in the open, just like when we look at a circle drawn on a piece of paper, we can see the inside of the circle without looking “through” anything. This kind of openness extended to every level, and the hardest part was describing how it applied to solid objects. One could see the interior of solids, such as the bulkheads or a piece of metal or a rock—one could see all the cross sections at once! Morovich and Guan were drowning in a sea of information—all the details of the universe were gathered around them and fighting for their attention in vivid colors.

Morovich and Guan had to learn to deal with an entirely novel visual phenomenon: unlimited details. In three-dimensional space, the human visual system dealt with limited details. No matter how complicated the environment or the object, the visible elements were limited. Given enough time, it was always possible to take in most of the details one by one. But when one viewed the three-dimensional world from four-dimensional space, all concealed and hidden details were revealed simultaneously, since three-dimensional objects were laid open at every level. Take a sealed container as an example: One could see not only what was inside, but also the interiors of the objects inside. This boundless disclosure and exposure led to the unlimited details on display.

Everything in the ship lay exposed before Morovich and Guan, but even when observing some specific object, such as a cup or a pen, they saw infinite details, and the information received by their visual systems was incalculable. Even a lifetime would not be enough to take in the shape of any one of these objects in four-dimensional space. When an object was revealed at all levels in four-dimensional space, it created in the viewer a vertigo-inducing sensation of depth, like a set of Russian nesting dolls that went on without end. Bounded in a nutshell but counting oneself a king of infinite space was no longer merely a metaphor.




Wow, if this is how it’s like to see three dimensions then where would one be able to hide information to the viewer? Probably another dimension. By moving an object from one location to another the information about the position in the previous states are lost. And information about the future states remains hidden. Alas, present states conceal everything hidden behind them, or ahead of them.


Also I loved how a little later in the book, when he gets back into into normal 3D space, he finds it claustrophobic to even float outside of the spaceship, because of his experience in the fourth dimension.




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