For a long time, humans didn’t know that the earth orbited the sun… but some people figured it out way before everyone else. Heliocentric models were proposed more than 1,000 years before the Copernican revolution; they just weren’t popular because humans are stupid.
This raises an interesting question — in the future, what ridiculous conjectures will become common knowledge? What are most of us ignorant about in 2023? I’d like to attempt an answer: 2-dimensional time.
I propose that consciousness works like this — when our neurons fire, we’re choosing a single valid path through the quantum fields:
We tend to think of space as 3-dimensional, but of time as only a single dimension. This is a great mental abstraction for our daily lives, but it breaks down at the edges:
Einstein’s special relativity (there is no universal timeline)
Wave function collapse (watch this video at 2x)
Quantum Field Theory (watch the end of this video at 2x)
This world makes a lot more sense if we update our understanding of time to have more dimensions… let’s call it 2.
The basic idea is this: Time is a continuous 2D plane, with every probability of quantum variation in any particle representing a sort-of “fork” in the road (although the fork’s position is fuzzy). When our brains are conscious, we are continuously down-casting this higher-dimensional space onto a single timeline. We don’t actually alter the world around us in any way, but rather we slot our perceived self into a coherent series of forks comprising a single apparent “reality” of 3d space + 1d time.
This is why there is a single “route” highlighted in the past. Whenever our conscious mind notices anything, it identifies a route-of-least-resistance through the quantum fields of all entangled particles, and in doing so, we slot ourselves into a thin 4D slice of the 5D universe.
This continuous dimensional down-casting makes our brains tired, so we stop doing this when we sleep, which changes the way we experience time when dreaming.
Here is a really fun way to develop an intuitive sense of dimensional down-casting. Carl Sagan refers to it as “projection” and demonstrates its consequences in the spacial dimensions (the end is especially good):
I don’t like to think of “multiple universes” because it sends the wrong message. There is a single universe, but the one we typically think of is merely a thin slice of the overall thing. The universe is infinitely bigger than we can imagine. Every dimension of time exists (maybe there’s more than 2!!), but our flawed consciousness results in a lossy projection so that we can only experience a single timeline in this limitless space.
This makes Einstein’s special relativity significantly easier to wrap our heads around. The different observers, with their different frames-of-reference, are simply existing along different coordinates in the time dimension.
This requires a small update to the interpretation of Schrödinger’s cat — there are way more than 2 resulting timelines, where the cat is alive in ~half and dead in ~half. We vastly underestimate the number of such forks… Maybe there’s one for every possible shred of uncertainty in the quantum foam.
This might explain how dark matter works. Particles which are right here in space but nearby in time still bend the fabric of space-time, which is observable through gravity but ~nothing else.
This might explain how psychedelics work. The human brain is doing so much subconscious work on this constant down-casting, and the drugs inhibit the part of the brain that does it. This blasts unfiltered information at our visual interpolator, and we attempt to see the 5D universe in a more “raw” form.
This adds a sense of justice to the universe — when millions of sperm race to a single egg, there is perhaps an infinite number of universes for each sperm to live an infinite number of fulfilling lives.
And maybe… just maybe, this down-casting isn’t strictly probabilistic.
Do you know any annoying self-help people that talk about “manifesting” success? You know how athletes talk about seeing the play “in their mind’s eye” beforehand, thus increasing the odds of success?
Maybe these people have figured out how to prime their brains to resolve familiar patterns from the quantum foam. They’ve biased their system to chose the quantum timelines they want.
This process wouldn’t be exactly conscious or exactly subconscious. It would work similar to how our visual system processes optical illusions. You don’t just “tell yourself” to see a duck or a rabbit — there’s some weird hack to it.
Maybe all of this is just a result of how “memories” are created when neurons fire in our mind. We are higher-dimensional beings, constantly branching into infinite lives, but our conscious sense of self can only imagine a fraction of our ever-expanding reality.
This proposition is deeply humbling, but so was the heliocentric model. It was tough for humans to accept that our planet is not the center of the universe. Perhaps it will be more difficult to realize that our entire experience of reality is like that of an inch-worm, crawling forward along a single timeline, unable to comprehend our higher-dimensional environment or seriously ask questions about where everything came from.
I suspect these answers will be spiritually similar to ancient, pre-globe questions like “What does the end of the world look like?” and “Can we fall off the edge?” The solution to this puzzle was to add another dimension to our map — the surface of the world is not a 2D circle but a 3D sphere.
I hope that, by adding a dimension to our concept of time, we can ask better questions about the origin of the universe & why we’re all here.