It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


Terminology Pet Peeve

page: 1

log in


posted on May, 11 2009 @ 03:21 PM
Maybe I'm nitpicking here. Maybe my complaint will be perceived as harsh, pointless or overly-technical, but I feel it is a valid subject which should be addressed. This is of course a site administrated and frequented by laymen, myself included. Maybe it is unfair of me to expect such standards of terminological precision, but here it is anyway.

There are three ideas which arise frequently in discussions of paranormal matters, namely higher dimensions, parallel universes and other planes of existence. I have been an enthusiast of such topics for many years, and am consistently frustrated by the conflation of these three terms. They are of course related to one another, but they are neither synonymous nor interchangeable. I can't really blame people for getting it wrong, especially with Hollywood's notoriously un-science-savvy sci-fi screenwriters perpetuating the confusion. But as one who has striven for years to achieve a real understanding of these ideas, I am bothered by people's prevailing ignorance of them. So, a little refresher for whoever needs it. Please forgive me if this seems pedantic.

A dimension is just a direction, also known as a degree of freedom. Ordinary space possesses three of them. We can move in space along three separate axes, all of which are mutually perpendicular, or orthogonal to each other. Our universe is generally considered to have four dimensions when time is included, or a greater number in string theory, though the additional ones are coiled up to vanishingly small distances. It is possible that there could be more large dimensions, like our three of space, which we do not have access to because of the architecture of our universe. When people talk of extra-dimensional beings who exist in a higher dimension, what people really mean is that they exist in a higher number of dimensions, i.e., they're able to move in and out of our familiar three by moving along a fourth or fifth orthogonal degree of freedom. This is basic, albeit strange, geometry.

A parallel universe is a concept implied by the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum theory. This holds that each physical change in our universe corresponds to a solid-state branching of a yet-larger multiverse. Two oft-cited examples are parallel universes in which the Roman Empire never fell, or in which the Nazis won WWII. Each parallel is a universe like our own -- a physical universe governed by the same laws of physics, simply corresponding to a different branch of the multiverse. These branching could be said to fan out across an additional dimension orthogonal to space-time, so it's easy to see where the confusion lies.

A different plane of existence is chiefly a metaphysical concept with no empirical correlate in science. This comprises such ideas as the Astral Plane, the spirit world, the faerie realm, Heaven, Hell, and so on. This would be a place entirely separate from our own universe, and not any branch of the larger multiverse. It would operate by different rules and physical laws (if any). When those who subscribe to New-Age belief systems refer to such nebulous concepts as "higher densities", this is typically the idea they are referencing. It is a concept with little to no scientific validity, though that does not necessarily mean there is no truth to it. Like parallel universes, these other realms could be thought of as separated from our universe across some additional space-like dimension.

Dimensionality is an infinitely useful concept to have operating in one's mind. It provides a versatile rubric upon which many other disparate and challenging concept can be understood. I hope this post has been helpful. I would be happy to address any confusion if anything I've written is unclear.

Thank you for your indulgence.

posted on May, 11 2009 @ 03:34 PM
For what it is worth, I think it is a valid pet peeve
It irks me, too, when people try to mush together things that don't really mush. And I liked the way you explained each term, not condescending and not complex. Well done!

posted on May, 11 2009 @ 10:21 PM
reply to post by MillionEyedMask

Good job, I was recently thinking about all that myself. Even physicist construe them sometimes when describing things.

I dont know if a level 1 or 2 parallel universe however would be accurately described by quantum events however, as they are more of a macro effect. Example would be level twos are created by bubble nucleation in the bulk or hyperspace. Level ones are simply due to an infinite universe and mathematical probabilities there-in.

Then you have the problem of not only accuately describing level 2's but also the creation of source universes in level 3 and 4.

Example would be if source universes are created by branes clashing then that would be a macro effect unrelated to the quantum world, as the only thing that separates branes from this dimension is well, dimensions,lol.

So I think this is just how it has to be right now until we gain more insight into parallel universes and extra-dimensional theories.......I mean we don't even know if any extra ones exist, then we don't know how many, it could be 6,7, 10, 11, or 26.

As far as "astroplanes" go, I think it is possible that indeed a "plane of existence" could be described as simply an extra dimensional space, which would have unknown effects on an observers reality.

I do agree with your post though, it is confusing and ambiguous.

new topics

log in