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Mind Game


The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art. A young-adult novel called The Boy Who Reversed Himself. They're all devoted to helping our brains break out of the three dimensions in which we exist, to aid our understanding of a universe that extends beyond our perception.

This is not just a hypothetical pursuit. Most of us think of time as the fourth dimension, but modern physics theorizes that there is a fourth spatial dimension as well—not width, height, or length but something else that we can't experience through our physical senses. From this fourth dimension, we would be able to see every angle of the three-dimensional world at once, much as we three-dimensional beings can take in the entirety of a two-dimensional plane. Mathematician Bernhard Riemann came up with the concept in the 19th century, and physicists, artists, and philosophers have struggled with it ever since. Writers from Wilde to Proust, Dostoevsky to Conrad invoked the fourth dimension in their work. H. G. Wells' Invisible Man disappeared by discovering a way to travel along it. Cubism was in part an attempt by Picasso and others to visualize what fourth-dimensional creatures might see.

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