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Space Science

Was the Early Universe 2 Dimensional Spacetime? 309

astroengine writes "According to two theoretical physicists, our current four-dimensional Universe (3 dimensions of space, 1 dimension of time) is actually an evolution from a lower-dimensional state. The early Universe may have existed with just one spatial dimension (plus one time dimension) up until the Universe cooled below an energy state of 100 TeV. At this point, a transition occurred when the spatial dimension "folded" to create 2 dimensions. At 1 TeV, it folded again to create the Universe we know today: 3 dimensions of space, one of time. This may sound like a purely theoretical study, but there might be evidence of the evolution of universal dimensions in cosmic ray measurements and, potentially, in gravitational wave cut-off frequency."
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Was the Early Universe 2 Dimensional Spacetime?

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  • Physicists (Score:4, Funny)

    by wed128 ( 722152 ) <> on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:18AM (#35558174)

    Does anyone else think sometimes that physicists are just coming up with crazier and crazier ideas just to see what we'll buy?

    • Well they do get the very best weed available.

      "What if we're just a speck on a speck on a speck and that speck stack is like, you know, like, infinite man."

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Not far from the truth. You don't even know what big is. []

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by operagost ( 62405 )
        Replace "speck" with "turtle" and I'm totally with you.
      • Re:Physicists (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:55AM (#35558512) Journal

        Well they do get the very best weed available.

        "What if we're just a speck on a speck on a speck and that speck stack is like, you know, like, infinite man."

        Actually, in my twenty-plus years as an academic, the theoretical physicists I've known and occasionally played cards with are among the most grounded and sensible people. They are not weed-smoking crazies.

        If you want to meet the really whacky impractical "crazy-for-the-sake-of-crazy" folks, you have to go to the economics department. Especially since the rise of the contrary-for-no-good-reason "Freakonomics". Those are people who should not be driving cars. They should also not be calling themselves "Science" but that's a discussion for another day.

        • by khallow ( 566160 )


          It sells books. Now, you know too.

          As I see it, the real problem with economics isn't its status as a science, but the fact that there are huge interests at stake. In addition, a whole bunch of people already made up their mind on how human societies behave (ignoring, of course, the actual ones they're immersed in). So any science which draws contrary conclusions is likely to be ignored, perhaps even labeled "not science".

        • Perhaps theoretical physicists (at least the ones you know) need to get a little crazier.

          Niels Bohr wasn't sure about Wolfgang Pauli:
          We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question which divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct. My own feeling is that it is not crazy enough.

          So perhaps the next major breakthrough in theoretical physics will have Psilocybin [] to thank?

          If not, it might make for some interesting faculty meetings. :)

          • So perhaps the next major breakthrough in theoretical physics will have Psilocybin [] to thank?

            We English Dept types prefer ayahuaca. I knew a very bright physics post-doc who thought he'd find answers with DMT. He's a cabdriver now I heard, but who's to say he won't find those answers eventually.

            I'm of a generation that used drugs, especially entheogens, in the most irresponsible ways. The damage done really hurt the possibility for some possibly interesting tings that might have been lear

      • by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @10:03AM (#35559536) Homepage
        You are so wrong and in fact, this hypothesis about the evolution of space-time of the universe is in fact very attractive, even if still an hypothesis. And making sometimes silly looking hypothesis is what we need to make a leap forward. Science history has proven this very well over the centuries.

        Anyway, I am starting to believe we are now evolving to a higher dimensional universe with two time dimensions, otherwise how would you explain it is taking twice the time when my girlfiend is saying to me to wait a minute?

        Okay, I admit, real geeks don't have girlfriends.

        • So why are we still stuck on the 'three dimension' concept? It is impossible for any matter to exist if it does not have height, width AND depth: matter either exists, or it doesn't. Time, on the other hand, is largely a measure based on the context (timeframe) in which all matter was created. Physics should base its model upon the comparative interaction of existing matter; it's what happens that's important, how 'fast' a reaction happens is only a secondary question (that only appeases our longstanding ha

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      s/see what we'll buy/get the world to notice them/

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      Does anyone else think sometimes that physicists are just coming up with crazier and crazier ideas just to see what we'll buy?

      IF their second degree is in business marketing, sure.

    • Re:Physicists (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:27AM (#35558272)

      It doesn't matter what one buys or likes. Nature doesn't give a damn about opinions. It's just the way it is and that's it. Either scientists find data to back that hypothesis up and it explains data better than other attempts or not. But whether one finds it crazy or not is completely irrelevant.

      • True, but scientists at one point mathematically proved that the Earth was the center of the universe, based on all available data.
        • "Mathematically proved" would seem to imply something like reasoning that could be cast in formal logic, which I don't think you mean. It's an important point that scientific proof and mathematical proof are different. In science, you basically never prove things without any doubt--you prove likely error margins on data that supports or doesn't support your model. In math, the whole point is to prove things without any doubt whatsoever subject to the constraints of your system of logic/rules of deduction, a
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. — Albert Einstein

            The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of great importance, I think. When a scientist doesn't know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is in some dou

      • Here's a bit of post-diction for you. This idea might explain the evenness of the matter distribution in the universe (without needing an inflaton field). Since there is no continuous mapping from R to RxR or RxRxR, when these events occurred, locations throughout the universe would have been thoroughly mixed. Of course, I'm not a theorist and I'm not any good at differential geometry and I haven't read the paper. So this is nothing more than idle musings, and noone should take it as more than that with
      • Since we care nature cares (humans being a part of nature) and that is the "way it is".

    • by underqualified ( 1318035 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:28AM (#35558286)


      Wait. Physicists? I thought you were talking about Apple.

    • by Fibe-Piper ( 1879824 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:40AM (#35558372) Journal

      Does anyone else think sometimes that physicists are just coming up with crazier and crazier ideas just to see what we'll buy?

      And speaking of which, doesn't this make "foldspace technology" described in Frank Herbert's Dune a bit less fantasy based? The thought is making my mind crinkle!

      • Don't fear the crinkle. Fear is the mind-killer.
        I've always liked the classic name for a type of coffee called Melange. Drink enough and you will fold space. Can I watch?

        / I've got Dune quotes in my head for the rest of the day :)
      • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @09:26AM (#35558964)

        No, it doesn't sound anything like it. One is a theory about things that happen at Big Bang levels of energy, the other is an author putting the words "space" and "fold" together.

      • by mikael ( 484 )

        If space-time can "stretch" in the presence of a large amount of mess, then maybe it was crinkly in the first place? Presumably every atomic nucleus stretches a miniscule area of space-time around it, it's only really noticable to us as gravity when bundled together into planet sized objects.

        There was guy who was . []

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      How does a concept of heat and energy even work when there is no possible motion (how do you have motion with only one dimension?)?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AlecC ( 512609 )

        Backwards and forwards along the line. Each particle, if such exists, is bouncing back and forward against its neighbour. Or, perhaps more likely, there are no particles, and the universe is one ginormous string twanging along its length with compression waves which along though and interfere with each other. A bit like Gods organ pipe (God's bong?)

        • Particles as we understand them exist in 3 dimensions, however; it seems kind of silly to take concepts as defined in 3 dimensions and then apply the terms to a 1 dimensional hypothetical universe.

          • by Raenex ( 947668 )

            Reading Flatland [] might give you a different perspective.

      • Forward and backward.

        When you add a second dimension, you add left/right motion; the third dimension gives you up/down. All of which are really just convenient names for forward/backward along a different axis.

    • Not the physicists (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:59AM (#35558558)
      Its not the physicists, its you, along with billions of others. Your grip on reality isn't strong enough to deal with how strange the universe really is, or how limited your perceptions really are.
    • Re:Physicists (Score:5, Informative)

      by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @09:00AM (#35558568)
      In the past 40 years we've discovered crazier and crazier things about the universe. The discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, the discovery that the speed of stars around center of galaxy is nearly uniform (dark matter), CP symmetry violation, multiple quark flavors, irregularities in the cosmic ray background, etc.
    • There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

      There is another theory which states that this has already happened. -- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

    • I wonder if I can come up with an odd claim. Write a Paper about it. Attach 3 or 4 randomly generated formulas. And completely pass Peer review. As my peers would be scam artists it just might pass.

  • Duh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Stenchwarrior ( 1335051 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:20AM (#35558186)
    I thought we done with this "theory" crap ever since this guy [] revealed the truth...
    • You know, what I never got about that is that whole "earth is a cube, it has four corners" bit. Last cube I saw had eight.

      • Earth has 4 TIME CORNERS!! Further proof that Americans are dumb, educated ONE stupid and they worship ONEism Evil. It is not immoral to kill believers, for the stupid bastards EVOLVE from son or daughter who precedes them. NOT one damn human adult has ever been created - for ONLY babies are CREATED - and every adult has within them the LIFE given by children who DIE to give-up their lives to their parent image - so their mom or Dad can live.

        Seriously though...I hope he doesn't turn out to be right.

  • *Whoosh* (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The sound of this thing going completely over my head.

    • Re:*Whoosh* (Score:5, Funny)

      by leromarinvit ( 1462031 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:24AM (#35558238)

      The sound of this thing going completely over my head.

      Good thing we have three space dimensions now, otherwise it would have gone right into your head.

      • Good thing we have three space dimensions now, otherwise it would have gone right into your head.

        - aah, so there is a downside to having too many dimensions!

        • Last night I watched this movie called Cube^2. Hypercube []. The premise was interesting, the beginning and middle okay, but the ending just plain sucked. I felt like the writer got bored and took a cheap ending using violence. I mentioned this because of your comment. In one scene a character gets chopped up by a tesseract gone Freddy Kruger. That was the beginning of the slide down to the crappy end and certain one too many dimensions for the poor victim.

      • In 2-D space + time the point could have simply gone past him; I believe you were thinking of 1-D space + time when you wrote that.

        1-D space + time... where it'd be pretty damn hard to miss the point. Unless, I suppose, it's pointed the wrong way.

  • by swrider ( 854292 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:23AM (#35558230) Homepage
    "The Cameron Divide" is the point at which the Universe went from 2D to 3D. "The Lucas Shift" is when it went to being 'far, far, away'.
  • ...because most of the folks that I know who are hot-headed are still 1-dimensional.
  • Flatland? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vlm ( 69642 )

    With regards to 2 D universe in the early universe, "Flatland" was from 1884. Err... 1884 is "early universe" to this 5 digit UID, you lower digit UIDs probably think of 1884 as your middle age. []

  • Is a dimension we made out of our ass. its properties do not fit with the properties of the other dimensions it is being bundled with. its just for practicality of physics really.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Um no.

      • Re:Time. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PiSkyHi ( 1049584 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @11:34AM (#35560844)
        Actually, the URL you posted merely confirms it, check the the General relativity component and you'll find that unless the universe contains completely uniformly mathematically constructed content *and* reference frame together to define space-time, then the dependency of the reference frame's shape upon its content rules out time being a dimension anything like space is.

        It cannot be modelled mathematically unless it involves statistics, which physicists hate to admit becasue it means no tractable solutions for real General Relativity problems exist.

        Time is no dimension, but if you don't mind a little uncertainty, you can pretend it is.

    • The properties of Euclidean space were basically made up from nothing. I don't see how adding time as a dimension (presumably you mean in spacetime) is any less natural than, say, completing the rationals to get the reals for use geometrically. It's all contrived in some sense. One hopes the end result is useful is all.
  • So how long until it cools enough to get a fourth dimension and will we ever get to 11?
  • by BlueParrot ( 965239 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:35AM (#35558340)

    Fact of the matter is we can't deduce what happened during the early BB because we can't make experiments to determine how quantum gravity works. Until somebody comes up with a theory which actually produces testable predictions for it all the weirdo suggestions is just pure speculation.

  • At the very beginning there was just one dimension.
    Time is an illusion, big bang doubly so.
  • Since to the best of my knowledge no one has ever directly detected a gravitational wave the best guess for the cut off frequency is 0

    • I've never heard of such a blatant excuse for funding as "We have already placed a lot of money down trying to show evidence of gravity waves and come up with nothing, so why not pretend it is there so we can try again in a new way."

      I for one, believe Einstein was right, but am so disappointed that so many physicists failed to understand how a detector may actually be impossible to build at all since it is entirely possible that Gravity Waves are merely an observable phenomenon as distant objects have app

  • by rmcgehee ( 142010 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:40AM (#35558378) Homepage

    I wonder if this follows from the Holographic Principle [], which states that the information from the entire universe scales with area, rather than volume. That is, the information inside our universe is embedded in 2-space, not 3- or 4-space.

  • The actual article (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bromskloss ( 750445 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) ... erdda.yrailixua)> on Monday March 21, 2011 @08:54AM (#35558496)
    Please include a link to the work you are reporting on, not just to someone else reporting on someone else's reporting etc. I think this might be the link you are looking for: []
  • If everything was collected into a 1 dimensional line/point, wouldn't there be so much gravity that not even energy could escape? How can something cool down if it can't release energy? Or how can energy escape from an absolute container? I'm more of a fan of great crunch and bang than these singularities. I'd like to think that there truly is an absolute minimum space that matter can exist, and that space is bigger than a point.
    • by mikael ( 484 )

      Going back to that point is like winding the universe backwards towards the big-bang. As you collect everything into one point, all the energy in the form of photons and particle radation is going to heat everything up to the point it is ionized gas. Go to an even smaller volume and the nucleii themselves would break down into what the astronomers call a "quark soup". Forces such as gravity would cease to exist.

      Its been proved that the electromagnetic and weak interaction forces are two aspects of t []

    • by Tim C ( 15259 )

      Note: I do not know the details of this theory, and what little cosmology I did do was a long time ago and didn't touch on this sort of thing at all.

      That said I imagine it may be due to an effect like the Joule-Thomson effect [], which is why deodorant feels cold when you spray it on.

      (Also as an AC already pointed out, points are zero-dimensional, as they have absolutely no extent (size) whatsoever. Lines are 1D - they have length, but absolutely no thickness or width)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 21, 2011 @09:11AM (#35558748)

    When the Universe was new it wasn't 2D, it was text based.

  • Maybe this is proof that the entirety of existence is merely a simulation in a computer run by a superior race.

    After all, our increasing number of dimensions seems to match up with the increasing number of dimensions in video games. (Except Space War and Pong had the decency to skip that entire 1D thing.)

    Sure you laugh, but I'm starting to seriously consider the nature of that giant disembodied hand in the sky that periodically gives me orders to gather more vespene gas.

  • changing dimensions (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PJ6 ( 1151747 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @09:25AM (#35558944)

    This isn't the first theory about the dimensionality of the universe changing over time. A while back it was proposed that time itself is shifting into a spacelike dimension. []

  • So when the universe will be "real cool" it will generate new dimensions ?
    So maybe we do not have to fear the end of times, it will just become "curiouser and curiouser" ...

    I just wonder if there where some one or two dimensional sentient beings around at 100mev and 1mev, and what happened to them ?
    (except living and a cross of Jasper Pforde's bookworld and flatland...

  • Actually, if time is shifting into a spacelike dimension [], than perhaps this is the origin of all spacelike dimensions.

    In that case I would predict that they will not discover a gravity wave cutoff at high energies.

  • Villain: Mr. Bond, you will be witness to my transcendent rule over the reshaped universe. I will cause the universe to expand into a fourth spacial dimension.

    Bond: How do you plan to accomplish that?

    Villain: By cooling the entire universe below the transition temperature.

    Bond: But won't that kill everyone?

    Villain: No, Mr. Bond, just you.

    Bond: One last request, please before I die. I'd like an extra large martini, shaken, not stirred.

  • The "Earth is Flat" crowd just doesn't know when to quit!

  • Why restrict the calculations to integer dimensions. The universe is obviously highly self-similiar from repeated elementary particles to repeated large scale structures, so why not model its geometry as an attractor of non-integeter dimension?
  • Is it really valid to think of it as another "dimension" as such? It seems more like a geometric property of any space that supports interval.

    Speaking of which, I gotta go. Lunchtime.

  • Not that crazy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davevr ( 29843 ) on Monday March 21, 2011 @01:24PM (#35562468) Homepage
    In somewhat plain English:

    We might imagine the universe is starting with a very large amount of energy compressed into singularity and then it starts expanding by inflating dimensions. You can assume that there are as many dimensions as you want, but that they are very small; not infinitely small, but small enough so that a complete circuit of the dimension is much smaller than a Planck length. The dimensions are expanding to create a place to put all that energy, so we might expect that one dimension would inflate significantly before it runs out of space - literally - and the next one would start to inflate in earnest. So to expand out and get the three big dimensions we have now, you would naturally pass through a stage where we have 1 and then 2 dimensions. If this happened, we should be able to see the tell-tale signs still imprinted in the make-up of the current universe. For instance, events that happened at very high energies (from early universe), should look today like they all happened in a line or plane instead of in 3D space. That is what the paper is about - more ways to check for this..

    BTW, the reason inflation mostly stops after 3 dimensions is that three dimensions is the lowest number of dimensions where randomly distributed items are no longer on top of each other. (e.g., a 1d or 2d random walk will always return to its origin, but in 3D you can get lost for good). You can also hypothesize that a few more dimensions also expanded a little in the process, but not by very much. This is (very) basically what string theory holds.

    Many people have trouble understanding the relationship between how many dimensions you have, how much you can hold, and the energy levels involved. Here is a simple thought experiment that anyone can do with just a pen and paper or maybe a string. We will use the paper for space and the string for energy. Draw a 1" line. How long of a piece of string can it "hold"? Only an 1" of course. Now draw a 1"x1" box. How long of a piece of string can it hold? About 1.4", if you stretch it from corner to corner. Now make a 1"x1"x1" box. How long of a piece of string can it hold now?

    You can actually stick the Empire State Building into a 1" n-dimensional cube, as long as n is sufficiently large (I think around 225 million should do it... :-) ).

"Experience has proved that some people indeed know everything." -- Russell Baker