The 5th dimension remains in debate, but many believe it could represent an undefined or unknown dimension in space that is unknowable to humans. Einstein’s general theory of relativity defines the 4th dimension as time and another 5th dimension yet to be discovered.
Even the most well-read intellectuals or the most highly qualified and experienced scientists are incapable of even imagining the fifth dimension. But is there a fifth dimension? The fact that a fifth dimension is impossible to imagine and what that fifth dimension may even look like is impossible to visualize has not stopped people from thinking about it.
How Many Dimensions Are There (5)?
It was traditionally believed that there were only three dimensions. For hundreds of years, scientists thought that the universe was three dimensional. This was indeed the popular belief because even people with no scientific background or training are able to perceive the universe as three dimensional.
According to what scientists believed for centuries, everything in the physical or material universe has three dimensions, which are a combination of width, length, height, breadth, and depth.
The first dimension is a straight line, which combines with a second dimension that can create any flat surface like, for example, a mirror, a picture, a screen, etc. The third dimension is what would add depth to an object. So, any physical object in our universe has three dimensions. For example, a table has three dimensions because it has height, length, and depth, all at the same time.
What Is the Fourth Dimension?
While the three dimensions were a good explanation for physical objects for hundreds of years, in the 20th centuries scientists such as Menkowitzcy and Einstein discovered that there was also the fourth dimension in our universe.
The fourth dimension is no other than time itself. Of course, time is near impossible to visualize, which is why it took scientists so long to establish it as a new dimension.
“An attempt at visualizing the fourth dimension: Take a point, stretch it into a line, curl it into a circle, twist it into a sphere, and punch through the sphere.” — Albert Einstein
The trick to visualize time is by imagining (or observing) any physical object throughout the course of a specific amount of time. For example, if you observe a couch in the course of a 24 hours period you will notice that at different times of the day different people may sit or lie on it or be used to lay different objects (pillows, and the like), which would change the dimensions of the space above it.
So, even if just for brief periods of time, the dimensions of the space occupied by that couch (and indeed any other physical object in the universe) will be altered. What this means is that the fourth dimension, time, also affect the three-dimensional reality of physical objects.
What Is the Fifth Dimension?
While the current scientific consensus is that there are four dimensions, an unperceivable fifth dimension is something that has been hypothesized for decades now.
But in spite of the fact that many scientists have done research into a possible fifth dimension, there still is not even a universally agreed-upon definition for it.
Even the name for this dimension is not something that scientists have not been able to agree upon so far. Among the different names that scientists have used to talk about the fifth dimension are the following:
- The space-time continuum.
- Space-time distortion degree.
- Parallel universes.
Some of these names will be familiar also to fans of science-fiction as they have been used in many novels (The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke), TV shows (Star Trek, The Twilight Zone), and movies of the genre (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home).
There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition – Rod Sterling
But while writers and movie makers have used their imaginations to paint a clear picture of not only what the fifth dimension would look like but also what the consequences of experiencing it would be, the truth is that even scientists do not yet know what the fifth dimension would look like.
When it comes to different versions or visualizations of this dimension, one of the most popular ones remains the one that Einstein came up with. Einstein used the image of a sheet of rubber as an analogy of the four-dimensional physical or material world. Then, in order to visualize the fifth dimension, we asked that we visualize how that sheet of rubber being bent out of shape by an invisible force. This invisible force, the fifth dimension, could squeeze the sheet of rubber but also flatten it, curl it, or stretch it.
Although this analogy remains popular because it makes it relatively easy to visualize even for people with little to no background in science other analogies have also been used.
The other main analogy that scientists have used to explain the fifth dimension is the image of a membrane. According to this other analogy, the known physical universe would be like a membrane that is surrounded by realities that we cannot yet see. These other realities that surround our fourth-dimensional universe forces or particles that are invisible to us know can move and affect our physical reality.
Where Is the Fifth Dimension?
If we use that other analogy to try to understand what the fifth dimension is, our immediate question would probably be: where is the fifth dimension?
For scientists trying to find the fifth dimension, their main intellectual drive behind their endeavors is trying to find a scientific explanation for those phenomena that affect our physical reality that has gone unanswered for millennia.
One of these questions is why a fundamental natural force like gravity is lighter than other natural forces. Scientists have been unable to answer this question adequately by using all their knowledge on our physical or material three-dimensional universe. So, the answer to this and other similar riddles may just be in the fifth dimension.
Isn’t the Fifth Dimension Just Mumbo-Jumbo?
The fifth dimension has not only been of great interest to scientists or inspiration to writers and film directors.
Many people who approach the fifth dimension do so from a philosophical or religious perspective. But this does not mean that their ideas about it amount to just a heap of mumbo-jumbo. Far from it, serious theologians and philosophers belonging to different traditions have also debated and studied the fifth dimension.