# Sabine Hossenfelder: Does the universe have higher dimensions?

This is Part 1:

Now, it might seem entirely obvious today that you can do geometry in any number of dimensions, but it’s actually a fairly recent development. It wasn’t until eighteen forty-three, that the British mathematician Arthur Cayley wrote about the “Analytical Geometry of (n) Dimensions” where n could be any positive integer. Higher Dimensional Geometry sounds innocent, but it was a big step towards abstract mathematical thinking. It marked the beginning of what is now called “pure mathematics”, that is mathematics pursued for its own sake, and not necessarily because it has an application.

However, abstract mathematical concepts often turn out to be useful for physics. And these higher dimensional geometries came in really handy for physicists because in physics, we usually do not only deal with things that sit in particular places, but with things that also move in particular directions. If you have a particle, for example, then to describe what it does you need both a position and a momentum, where the momentum tells you the direction into which the particle moves. So, actually each particle is described by a vector in a six dimensional space, with three entries for the position and three entries for the momentum. This six-dimensional space is called phase-space.

By dealing with phase-spaces, physicists became quite used to dealing with higher dimensional geometries. And, naturally, they began to wonder if not the *actual space that we live in could have more dimensions. This idea was first pursued by the Finnish physicist Gunnar Nordström, who, in 1914, tried to use a 4th dimension of space to describe gravity. It didn’t work though.

Sabine Hossenfelder, “Does the Universe have higher dimensions? Part 1” at BackRe(Action)

This is Part 2:

As I explained in the previous video, if one adds 7 dimensions of space to our normal three dimensions, then one can describe all of the fundamental forces of nature geometrically. And that sounds like a really promising idea for a unified theory of physics. Indeed, in the early 1980s, the string theorist Edward Witten thought it was intriguing that seven additional dimensions of space is also the maximum for supergravity.

However, that numerical coincidence turned out to not lead anywhere. This geometric construction of fundamental forces which is called Kaluza-Klein theory, suffers from several problems that no one has managed to solved.

One problem is that the radii of these extra dimensions are unstable. So they could grow or shrink away, and that’s not compatible with observation. Another problem is that some of the particles we know come in two different versions, a left handed and a right handed one. And these two version do not behave the same way. This is called chirality. That particles behave this way is an observational fact, but it does not fit with the Kaluza-Klein idea. Witten actually worried about this in his 1981 paper.

Enter string theory. Sabine Hossenfelder, “Does the Universe have higher dimensions? Part 2” at BackRe(Action)

String theory predicted 26 dimensions. Supersymmetry brought it down to ten. You probably get the picture though.

This creates the same problem that people had with Kaluza-Klein theory a century ago: If these dimensions exist, where are they? And string theorists answered the question the same way: We can’t see them, because they are curled up to small radii.

Sabine Hossenfelder, “Does the Universe have higher dimensions? Part 2” at BackRe(Action)

The difference between quantum mechanics and string theory is that quantum mechanics is weird but demonstrable. String theory is weird, period. Gotta be a message in that somewhere.

To understand what a two-dimensional world would be like, try Flatland (1884).

## 2 Replies to “Sabine Hossenfelder: Does the universe have higher dimensions?”

1. 1
bornagain77 says:

Before we get into higher dimensions, it is first good to note Hossenfelder’s own beliefs in her rejection of a personal God.

She states, in her rejection of a personal God, that “if you believe that evolution does not happen, or that praying cures cancer, and so on. If you want to defend such beliefs, you are in the wrong channel, good bye. I will assume that you are here because, as I, you want to understand what we can learn from nature, so ignoring evidence is not an option.”

Does God exist? Science does not have an answer.
Excerpt: Before we can talk about whether God exists, I have to be clear what kind of god I am talking about. I am talking about the old-fashioned personal god, the one who listens to prayers, and tells you how to be a good person, and who sorts the good from the bad in afterlife, and so on.
Some variants of this god are in actual conflict with evidence. Say, if you believe that evolution does not happen, or that praying cures cancer, and so on. If you want to defend such beliefs, you are in the wrong channel, good bye. I will assume that you are here because, as I, you want to understand what we can learn from nature, so ignoring evidence is not an option.
http://backreaction.blogspot.c.....-have.html

Well, as someone who has searched high and low for ANY evidence that unguided material processes, i.e. evolution, can explain the origin, and subsequent diversification, of all life on earth, I certainly take umbrage to her accusation that I, and other ID advocates, have been ignoring the scientific evidence.

In fact, Evolution has many lines of evidence that directly falsify it. Thus Darwinists, contrary to what Hossenfelder believes, are actually the ones who are ‘ignoring evidence’, not ID advocates.

Moreover, as a Christian who has seen a few ‘small’ miracles in my own personal life in answer to prayers, I also certainly take umbrage to her insinuation that prayers are ineffectual.

But anyways, besides all that, I find Sabine Hossenfelder to be very hypocritical in her claim that “ignoring evidence is not an option.”

Sabine Hossenfelder herself was blatantly “ignoring evidence” when see rejected the free will experiment of Zeilinger and company, and instead opted to believe in what is termed ‘superdeterminsim’.

Sabine Hosenfelder herself, instead of accepting the experimental results from quantum mechanics that show we have free will, has instead opted to say that events in the remote past, prior to the formation of the earth itself, were somehow ‘superdetermined’ and moreover, these ‘superdetermined’ events somehow ‘conspired’ to ‘fool us’ into erroneously believing our experimental results that show us that quantum theory is correct.,,,
To call such a move on the part of Sabine Hossenfelder, (i.e. the rejection of experimental results that conflict with her apriori philosophical belief, namely her philosophical belief in ‘determinism’), unscientific would be a severe understatement. It is a rejection of the entire scientific method itself. She, in her appeal to ‘superdeterminism’, is basically arguing that we cannot trust what the experimental results of quantum mechanics themselves are telling us because events in the remote past ‘conspired’ to give us erroneous experimental results today.
As should be needless to say, if we cannot trust what our experimental results are telling us, then science is, for all practical purposes, dead.
https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/michael-egnor-physicist-sean-carroll-rejects-logic-when-he-rejects-free-will/#comment-701634

Moreover, (besides Hossenfelder blatantly ignoring scientific evidence when it contradicts her priori philosophical belief in determinism), from. what I can gather, Sabine Hossenfelder also believes, (although she has been a very staunch critic of string theory and supersymmetry), that there still might ultimately be a single overarching mathematical ‘theory of everything’ that will eventually be discovered.

In short, in her very ‘unscientific’ appeal to ‘superdeterminism’, and in her ‘faith’ that there very well might be a single overarching mathematical theory of everything’ that is eventually discovered, (with no need of God to explain its existence), Hossenfelder basically views mathematics as being a rival to God rather than ever being a path to Him.

KEEP IT SIMPLE by Edward Feser – April 2020
Excerpt: athematics appears to describe a realm of entities with quasi-­divine attributes. The series of natural numbers is infinite. That one and one equal two and two and two equal four could not have been otherwise. Such mathematical truths never begin being true or cease being true; they hold eternally and immutably. The lines, planes, and figures studied by the geometer have a kind of perfection that the objects of our ­experience lack. Mathematical objects seem immaterial and known by pure reason rather than through the senses. Given the centrality of mathematics to scientific explanation, it seems in some way to be a cause of the natural world and its order.
How can the mathematical realm be so apparently godlike? The traditional answer, originating in Neoplatonic philosophy and Augustinian theology, is that our knowledge of the mathematical realm is precisely knowledge, albeit inchoate, of the divine mind. Mathematical truths exhibit infinity, necessity, eternity, immutability, perfection, and immateriality because they are God’s thoughts, and they have such explanatory power in scientific theorizing because they are part of the blueprint implemented by God in creating the world. For some thinkers in this tradition, mathematics thus provides the starting point for an argument for the existence of God qua supreme intellect.
There is also a very different answer, in which the mathematical realm is a rival to God rather than a path to him. According to this view, mathematical objects such as numbers and geometrical figures exist not only independently of the ­material world, but also independently of any mind, including the divine mind. They occupy a “third realm” of their own, the realm famously described in Plato’s Theory of Forms. God used this third realm as a blueprint when creating the physical world, but he did not create the realm itself and it exists outside of him. This position is usually called Platonism since it is commonly thought to have been ­Plato’s own view, as distinct from that of his Neoplatonic followers who relocated mathematical objects and other Forms into the divine mind. (I put to one side for present purposes the question of how historically accurate this standard narrative is.)
https://www.firstthings.com/article/2020/04/keep-it-simple

Hossenfelder’s belief that mathematics is somehow a rival to God rather than being a path to Him is very unfortunate thing for her to believe since the higher dimensional mathematics, that Hossenfelder herself is touching upon in her present videos, unambiguously points us to God.

Specifically, when looking at the higher dimensional mathematics that actually describe this universe, (and ignoring the imaginary higher dimensional mathematics of string theory and supersymmetry which have no experimental support), we find, as Eugene Wigner himself put it that “We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity.,,, The two theories operate with different mathematical concepts – the four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space, respectively.”

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960?
Excerpt: The great mathematician fully, almost ruthlessly, exploits the domain of permissible reasoning and skirts the impermissible. That his recklessness does not lead him into a morass of contradictions is a miracle in itself: certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.,,,
It is difficult to avoid the impression that a miracle confronts us here, quite comparable in its striking nature to the miracle that the human mind can string a thousand arguments together without getting itself into contradictions, or to the two miracles of the existence of laws of nature and of the human mind’s capacity to divine them.,,,
We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity.,,,
The two theories operate with different mathematical concepts – the four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space, respectively. So far, the two theories could not be united, that is, no mathematical formulation exists to which both of these theories are approximations. All physicists believe that a union of the two theories is inherently possible and that we shall find it. Nevertheless, it is possible also to imagine that no union of the two theories can be found.,,,
Let me end on a more cheerful note. The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.
– per maths ed UK

Specifically, (as to higher dimensional mathematics unambiguously pointing us to God), whereas Atheists have no experimental evidence that their imaginary higher dimensions in string theory and supersymmetry are real, the Christian Theist, on the other hand, can appeal directly to Special Relativity, General Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics, (and the higher dimensional mathematics that undergirds those theories), to support their belief that God upholds this universe in its continual existence, as well as to support their belief in the reality of a heavenly dimension and in a hellish dimension.”

January 2021
Whereas atheists have no observational evidence that the Multiverses that they postulated to ‘explain. away’ the fine tuning of the universe are real, nor do Atheists have any evidence that the ‘parallel universes’ that they postulated to ‘explain away’ quantum wave collapse are real, Christians, on the other hand, can appeal directly to Special Relativity, General Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics, (i.e. our most precisely tested theories ever in the history of science), to support their belief that God really does uphold this universe in its continual existence, as well as to support their belief in the reality of a heavenly dimension and in a hellish dimension.”
https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/closer-to-truth-are-there-really-extra-dimensions/#comment-722947

Moreover, if we do not reject the reality of free will, (as Hossenfelder ‘unscientifically’ did in her appeal to superdeterminism), and allow the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned,,,, (Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, and Max Planck, to name a few of the Christian founders),,, and as quantum mechanics itself now empirically demands (with the closing of the free will loophole by Anton Zeilinger and company),,,, if we rightly allow the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics, then that very reasonable concession provides us with a very plausible resolution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ in that Christ’s resurrection from the dead provides an empirically backed reconciliation, (via the Shroud of Turin), between quantum mechanics and general relativity into the much sought after ‘Theory of Everything”. Here are a few posts where I lay out and defend some of the evidence for that claim:

Jesus Christ as the correct “Theory of Everything” – video
https://youtu.be/Vpn2Vu8–eE

The Copernican Principle, (and/or the Principle of Mediocrity), itself has now been overturned by both General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, our two most powerful theories in science:
April 2021 –

(February 19, 2019) To support Isabel Piczek’s claim that the Shroud of Turin does indeed reveal a true ‘event horizon’, the following study states that ‘The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image.’,,,
Moreover, besides gravity being dealt with, the shroud also gives us evidence that Quantum Mechanics was dealt with. In the following paper, it was found that it was not possible to describe the image formation on the Shroud in classical terms but they found it necessary to describe the formation of the image on the Shroud in discrete quantum terms.
https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/experiment-quantum-particles-can-violate-the-mathematical-pigeonhole-principle/#comment-673178

The evidence for the Shroud’s authenticity keeps growing. (Timeline of facts) –
What Is the Shroud of Turin? Facts & History Everyone Should Know – Myra Adams and Russ Breault – November 08, 2019
https://www.christianity.com/wiki/jesus-christ/what-is-the-shroud-of-turin.html

Verse

Colossians 1:15-20
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

2. 2
polistra says:

A word is not a thing. A math formula is not a thing. Multiple dimensions are extremely useful in all sorts of math processes. This doesn’t mean that dimensions are things. All dimensions, not just the ‘extra’ ones, are syntactic forms that we use to help build concepts and products.

The three ‘basic’ dimensions aren’t even neurologically natural. Our internal universe is more like 3d polar coordinates, dominated by angles instead of linear distances. Altitude and azimuth, not length and width and height.