Skip to content

Thought Experiment

Assume superstring theory is correct, and the universe is 11-dimensional. 7 of those are so tiny and curled in on themselves that in human terms they are entirely extraneous; still, they exist.

You invent the world’s tiniest (and most sideways) centrifuge, and accelerate someone to near lightspeed along one of these dimensions. Does this brave experimentee experience relativistic weirdness?

My prediction: yes, but not in the traditional sense. The necessary caveat here is that I do not have the necessary math to back any of this up; this is just intuition based on my understanding of physics.

Let’s list the traditional effects of near-lightspeed travel. There’s an increase in mass, compression along the direction of travel, a reduction of rate of perceived time. These effects can only be perceived by an observer whose velocity relative to the experimentee is large.

The salient feature of the seven bonus dimensions is that they are very, very tiny and extremely tightly curled: any motion along any of them will quickly return an object to the starting point. (This is both why the experiment features a centrifuge instead of a traditional accelerator and why they play a negligible role in human-scale life.) Also, they are orthogonal to each other and to the traditional four dimensions of everyday life.

The centrifuge’s overall effect, then, will be to vibrate the experimentee; whether it’s a sine wave or a sawtooth depends on details of the wrapping that I don’t know, but that ultimately don’t matter. Either way, vibration can be averaged out to a single position.

We wouldn’t notice the spatial compression: that only applies in the direction of travel, and in this case that direction is orthogonal to any direction humans can sense. However, we would notice the other two effects: time dilation and mass increase. Even though the experimentee is at rest in the primary three dimensions and is effectively only vibrating in the fourth, that vibration is still at near-lightspeed. I can’t come up with any reason why those effects should be masked.

Holy crap. I think I just simultaneously invented both stasis fields and gravity generators.

RSS feed


No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.