Once upon a time, there was a circle named Carl. He lived in a town called Flatland. But, as the name suggests, his world was completely FLAT. Yes, there was no moving above or even looking above. Everything was on a plain surface, and everything was F-L-A-T.
In Carl’s world, the sun would appear from the left and set at the right. Whenever he would look at things or people, regardless of their shape, he would only see a part of them as straight lines. The only way to distinguish between a circle, square, or any other shape was to judge them from the difference in the shade of the line. Someone who is a circle like Carl would appear darker along the edges and brighter at the center of his line when seen by another creature. All the creatures in Flatland cast shadows which were also just lines.
Carl was just 20 years old and a very curious kid. He used to walk his way to his school. His favorite subjects were physics and mathematics. He, however, hated to write things down and loved to read them instead. That was because creatures in Flatland used Morse code and binary to communicate. But, of course, their papers and blackboards were flat, and from their perspective, were just straight lines for them. And the only way to write on a line was to plot dots and dashes. Carl found it really time-consuming and frustrating.
His diamond-shaped heart pumped blood through his veins. He felt pain near his bean-shaped kidneys, so he consulted a doctor. The doctor said the kidney needed to be operated on and removed. So, Carl had his kidney removed. The doctor cut Carl’s boundary and removed that defective kidney. Poor Carl will have to survive on only one kidney from now on.
Creatures in the Flatland could only move front, back, left, and right. Nobody knew or even had the concept of top or bottom. Nobody even tried looking above or below. He was very sick of his world and imagined a world beyond Flatland’s perspective… a world with 3 dimensions. He worked late at night, wrote a research paper on 3D, and imagined all the possibilities he thought he could encounter if he ever were to be in such a world. And guess what, he forgot to fill his cup of coffee! And soon dozed off…
He woke up inside a closed room. He looked front, back, left, right, and all the ways around. He was completely trapped. There were walls of lines all around him, and there was no way out. He tried all he could, but all he saw around him were walls surrounding him. Finally giving up, he closed his eyes and tried to wake up. He couldn’t. Suddenly, a bright white light appeared out of nowhere in that completely closed room. He tried to locate the source of the light, and he looked at it. It came from somewhere he had never looked before. It was “above” him. For the first time in his life, he saw the third dimension and realized a completely different world out there. The square room was not closed at all. It was completely open from the top. He jumped outside the boundaries of the square, and he was out. He was very excited, and it was his first jump, after all.
The 3-dimensional world was extraordinary! Carl soon realized that his body was 3D too. Everything was 3D but had 2D shadows. Circles became spheres and cylinders, and squares became cubes, and rectangles were cuboids. His new world was a sphere, and so was the sun which rose from the east and set at the west; always stayed somewhere ‘above’ him. “Above,” it felt awkwardly cool… he could not only move front, back, and sideways but also move above and below things. Things had heights. Papers and blackboards were no lines, but flat 2D shapes and things could be written with alphabets & numbers that were 2D symbols. That solved his binary problem indeed.
He then drew a diagram of a circular organism of his old 2D world. Before, he could only draw lines and see his friends who were circles and squares as mere lines. Now he was introduced to the 3D world, and he wished that his doctor had known about it. If his doctor was aware of it, he could have removed the kidney from the top instead of opening his body from the side.
Carl started his research in this new world. Many months passed. He found out that his previous 2D world was nothing but a sheet of paper bent in the third dimension. Places that seemed like miles apart before were actually so near in the third dimension. If only somehow someone created a hole in that paper, one could emerge on the other side of the page.
Well, it seemed like months passed out until Carl woke up. He was back in his 2D world, sadly with no memories of his supernatural dream…
The story doesn’t end here, folks. That Carl might have been you! Imagine having a spectacular journey in a 4D world! You could have perceived people with a whole different view. Imagine that you were in a 4D world, and the boards and paper were all 3d. Wouldnt that be amazing? You could move out of a closed room by jumping into the 4th dimension!
The concept of the 4th Dimension is not new. However, it takes an extraordinary mind to think out of the box. Scientists and Mathematicians have developed so many theories about the 4th dimension, which came from the pioneer scientist Einstein himself. Our 3D universe is made up of an infinite expansion of space & time, which is bent in the 4th dimension.
Philosophically taking Carl’s story suggests that our senses confine us. We judge the world around us merely on things like our eyes, ears, and our brain. So this world around us, what we can and cannot perceive, everything that we can see and can’t see, all the mysteries of the world, all the things that we cannot completely understand yet; love, the soul, the concept of life, the universe, and everything… all of it – is nothing but an artifact of a greater dimension beyond our scope, out of our perspective.