098 Dimension

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THE FOURTH DIMENSION SIMPLY EXPLAINED

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Again, imagine a two-dimensional space, like the surface of water. Take a cone, point downward, and immerse it in the water. First, only a point touches the water. It becomes a tiny circle, which gradually expands, till the whole cone is just immersed. Plunge it deeper, and the cone vanishes from our two-dimensional space -- the surface of the water. A two-dimensional
Page 190 man could only conceive a cone in this way: a point, succeeded in time by expanding circles, and finally vanishing.

It is suggested that we in like manner could only perceive a four-dimensional form as a series of three-dimensional forms succeeding each other in time. Thus, the seven ages of man -- infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, to lean and slippered pantaloon -- may be thought of as our threedimensional perception of a four-dimensional form. They may be simultaneous, not successive, like the circles forming the cone. Both vanish at the end -- the cone into three-dimensional, the man, perhaps, into four-dimensional space. Thus time, which has only one dimension (length, but not breadth or height), may represent a fourth dimension added to our three-dimensional space. If our mental vision be four-dimensional, then our mental or spiritual self may be fourdimensional. If seance-wonders are four-dimensional, they may represent the powers of spiritual beings. If time is but the way in which we perceive the fourth dimension, then our spiritual selves, being four-dimensional, may be above time, outside of time -- eternal. Plato may have had this in mind when he compared us to men chained in a cave, watching shadows on the wall. That is, three-dimensional beings limited to two-dimensional perceptions. Did he mean that we are four-dimensional (spiritual) beings limited to three-dimensional (material) perceptions? Had Paul the fourth dimension in mind when, speaking of spiritual life, he enumerated "the breadth and length and depth and height" (Eph. iii., 18); or when he wrote: "I knew a man, whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell, how that he was caught up
Page 191 into paradise, and heard unspeakable words" (II. Cor. xii., 2-3)? Had John the same thought when he "was in the spirit" and saw "the city foursquare"? Was the body of the resurrection, which appeared in the midst of a closed room, a four-dimensional body? Was the ascension a like disappearance?

These are some of the questions connected with the fourth dimension. This much is certain, that the term comes to us from a firm believer in spiritual life. Henry More, the Platonist, used the phrase "quarta dimensio" -- the "fourth dimension" -- in his "Enchiridion Metaphysicum," ch. 24, 7, about the year 1671, while Milton was still alive. Again, solids move in lines, like a bullet; that is, in one dimension. Liquids tend to move in two dimensions, as water spreads over a surface. Gases tend to move in three dimensions, as air fills a bubble. Does ether tend to move in four dimensions? Are its contradictory properties the expression of this? Are dreams four-dimensional? Is this the reason of their "simultaneous succession" -- years in a moment? But our (three-dimensional) space is limited.

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