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 The space-time continuum

As any wise architect will tell you, a building is only as good as its foundation. The grander the ultimate design, the deeper and more unshakeable must be the foundation (linxxacademy.com).

According to Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, "space and time are interdependent and form a four-dimensional continuum." These four dimensions encompass the entire tangible universe, which is relative reality. Anything that is concerned with conventional reality (conditioned, time-bound phenomena) can be located within the first four dimensions. We locate things within the space-time continuum by indicating their coordinates. These are measurements of the three spatial dimensions and the fourth temporal dimension.

If you were to get up from reading this, you could move in three independent directions--that is, through three independent spatial dimensions. Absolutely any path you follow--regardless of how complicated--results from some combination of motion through what we might call the "left-right dimension," the "back-forth dimension," and the "up-down dimension." Every time you take a step you implicitly make three separate choices that determine how you move through these three dimensions. An equivalent statement, as encountered in our discussion of special relativity, is that any location in the universe can be fully specified by giving three pieces of data: where it is relative to these three spatial dimensions. In familiar language, you can specify a city address, say, by giving a street (location in the "left-right dimension"), a cross street or avenue (location in the "back-forth dimension"), and a floor number (location in the "up-down dimension"). And from a more modern perspective, we have seen that Einstein's work encourages us to think about time as another dimension (the "future-past dimension,") giving us a total of four dimensions (three space dimensions and one time dimension). You specify events in the universe by telling where and when they occur (The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory, pg. 85).

The three spatial dimensions are length, height, and width/depth. Within these first three dimensions, coordinates can be communicated for:

1. Location (position) sitting on the x-axis.
2. Direction (bearing) angled along the y-axis.
3. Movement (distance) moving through the z-axis.

The single temporal dimension is, of course, time. However, there is a lot more going on in these dimensions than just those few words. Since everything in space-time occurs within the four dimensions of space-time, then everything you can think of has to be explained by one of those four dimensions. Any of the diverse topics concerning the natural universe which you can discuss falls within one of these broad themes. Space Time ExistenceConditionsLocationFormation Force (actor)Cause (agent)DirectionDuality ActionAffect (change)MovementAppearance TimeEffect (result)ProgressionCausality Time - The Future-Past Dimension (Old English tide "tide, time, season")

The temporal dimension of time (duration) is the fourth dimension. The definition of time is "the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues" and the "non-spatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past to present to future".

Time is linear; it progresses in a straight line moving forward from past to present to future. Linear time has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Time is also lineal (c.f. lineage). This means that time advances forward "in the direct line of descent or ancestry". What came before influences what is to come next.

With time, there is always a sequential process. Events follow one another in a linked chain of causality. The principle of "cause and effect" is four-dimensional for this reason. Cause and effect is a mark of sequential existence. Since events occur in sequence, what follows an action is its sequel. Present circumstances are directly caused by past events, and these will then have future effects. Cause and effect is often called "sowing and reaping".

Action - The Back-Forth Dimension (Latin actus "a doing or moving")

The interaction of forces in the universe causes change and movement. An action occurs when a force exerts its influence, changing the position of an object or the state of the environment. The interaction between two objects produces two initial reactions, which in turn produce more changes in the interconnected web. This activity spreads, and soon the entire universe is in motion, a constant state of flux.

For example, gravity is a force of attraction. This factor when acting on two objects causes an attraction between them, and they gravitate towards each other. Many other forces are at work in the universe, and as a consequence, the universe is dynamic rather than static. The universe is animated.

Action itself is necessarily three-dimensional since the wave form of electromagnetic waves have both an electric vibration and a magnetic vibration which are perpendicular to each other and also to the direction in which the wave is traveling. The forces themselves are two-dimensional, but their interplay results in kinetic energy on the third dimension.

The most important particles/waves for us, per se, are electromagnetic. The electric force binds electrons in atoms, atoms together in molecules, and molecules together into ordinary lumps of matter, such as us. Photons/waves transmit the spectrum that includes light and radio. In their wave incarnation they are thought to be -D, because they have a magnetic vibration and an electric vibration which are perpendicular to one another and to the direction of wave travel. (Picture two ropes seen from the side, one vibrating up and down, the other towards and away from you, as they travel together to the right or left.) For many practical radio problems we solve wave equations as if they were -D, so how could light propagate if there were not two dimensions for the vibrations as well as a third to travel in? (Dr. William R. Alschuler, The Science of UFO's, pg. 5).

Force - The Up-Down Dimension (Latin fortis "strong")

A force is the "cause of motion or change; an agency or influence that if applied to a free body results chiefly in an acceleration of the body and sometimes in elastic deformation and other effects; any of the natural influences (as electromagnetism, gravity, the strong force, and the weak force) that exist especially between particles and determine the structure of the universe". A force exerts "push and pull".

Force is the power to act. As an example to distinguish force from action, gravity is the causal factor but not the effect of gravity itself. It is the actor behind the action, the doer of the doing. Forces are the agents that propel the universe into motion. The entire chain of events in the concept of Cause and Effect occurs because a force initiates a cause that acts upon an object thereby affecting it in some way so as to bring about an effect (the result). There is an "immediate effect" and also "overall effects".

Forces determine the inclination or direction of an action. As an example, gravity is not actually pulling anything, but curving the structure of space so that objects are inclined to move towards each other. According to the General Theory of Relativity, "the presence of matter results in a 'warping' of the space-time continuum, so that a body in motion passing nearby will describe a curve, this being the effect known as gravity, as evidenced by the deflection of light rays passing through a gravitational field." The greater the mass, the more pronounced the curvature, or "gravity well," will be.

The cause must be antecedent to the changes it makes. For example, when a rock rolls down a mountainside, the declination of the slope is a two-dimensional factor. It is the tendency of gravity to move the rock which is two-dimensional, whereas the actual rolling of the rock is three-dimensional. Compare gravity versus gravitation. In physics, there is a distinction made between potential energy (Latin potens "power") and kinetic energy (Greek kinetos "moveable"). "Potential energy is energy that is the result of relative position or structure instead of motion," whereas "kinetic energy is the energy of a body that results from its motion."

Existence - The Left-Right Dimension (Latin ex-sistere "to stand out")

Existence is a condition or state of being. It is the aspect of arising (birth) and becoming that is fundamental to all things, living or inanimate. In Life Theory, existence refers to the gross physical element of an object, its corporeality. Matter is defined as anything that has mass and takes up space; therefore, anything material is located within the Space-Time continuum, specifically the first dimension.

Simple existence is the only attribute of this level. If something does not exist, then the most basic foundation is missing. Knowing this, we can easily verify whether a philosophical view becomes nihilistic (tending towards a view of non-existence), as well as absolutist views (belief in unconditioned existence).

Yet, exactly how something conventionally exists is also described by the first dimension. Everything in nature is compounded. It is important to note that unless there is an aggregation (or "congregation") of matter, then we have nothing to point to and say, "the rock is there". Therefore, existence is conditioned. All formations are composite, composed of many parts which are themselves composite: elements, atoms, protons, neutrons, electrons, quarks. In particle physics, Superstring Theory posits that all matter is composed of one-dimensional strings. These are the smallest possible particles and exist one-dimensionally, without height or width, only length.

According to string theory, if we could examine these particles with even greater precision--a precision many orders of magnitude beyond our present technological capacity--we would find that each is not pointlike, but instead consists of a tiny one-dimensional loop. Like an infinitely thin rubber band, each particle contains a vibrating, oscillating, dancing filament that physicists, lacking Gell-Mann's literary flair, have named a string. [We] illustrate this essential idea of string theory by starting with an ordinary piece of matter, an apple, and repeatedly magnifying its structure to reveal its ingredients on even smaller scales. String theory adds the new microscopic layer of a vibrating loop to the previously known progression from atoms through protons, neutrons, electrons, and quarks (The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory).

It all depends on what you are looking for: the first dimension of an apple, therefore, is its various chemical compounds. The first dimension of one of these compounds is its element, such as carbon. The first dimension of a carbon molecule is an atom that it is in turn composed of elementary particles, namely protons, neutrons, and electrons. The first dimension of these subatomic particles is quarks! These also have a first dimension: strings. Particles which arise as vibrations of strings are very similar to known matter and force particles.