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How Many Dimensions Does the Universe Have?

Next time you're at a dinner party, ask your friends how many dimensions there are in the universe. Unless you're eating with a bunch of quantum physicists, chances are they will guess the answer is three (X, Y, and Z). If they're a little more scientifically savvy, they might say four (X, Y, Z, and time).

But watch their minds blow up when you tell them that the prevailing scientific theory is that we living in a universe that has ten dimensions! If they ask you to explain then, well ... you might be screwed because it's not one of those questions that has a simple answer. At this point, you could say, "Just trust me on this one." However, if you're up to the challenge, read on ...

Why are we even going there, you ask? Well, director Christopher Nolan's new big-budget sci-fi blockbuster Interstellar has a lot of science it in: wormholes, space-time, and stuff like that. But when DNews host Trace found himself getting lost in the science of it, then you know it's time for us to delve deeper.

One of the biggest problems in contemporary physics is trying to reconcile the science of the super-big (Einstein's theory of general relativity) with the science of the super-small (quantum physics). String theory is an emerging, evolving "theory of everything" that attempts to bridge the gap between these two seemingly contradictory paradigms. In the simplest terms, string theory says that all mass is composed of impossibly small, vibrating one-dimensional "strings". Their vibrational frequency determines the physical properties of the particles they create.

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Physicists have been able to work out the math of string theory, and it all seems to work out but with one issue: the universe needs to have 10 dimensions for these equations to make sense. So what do these ten dimensions look like? Trace does he best to explain in this video ... it might make your brain hurt, but it’s definitely worth watching if you want to have a better understanding of how the universe may work -- or at the very least understanding some of the concepts discussed in Interstellar.



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