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
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
Thank you for your indulgence.