Wednesday, 13 January 2010


If all of your experiences, present perceptions and past memories were contained on a single straight line, instead of in the vast neural network that is your brain, the possibility of complex recall would seem remote. As an example, imagine a million personal events on a timeline; you wouldn't be able to see experience number 6 from your current state of 1,000,000 because the distance would be too great and there'd be too many numbered experiences on the line obstructing your view.

Let's reduce that lifetime of memories to four individual experiences, which we'll represent using the following one dimensional string:

If we assume that in order for two separate experiences to exchange information they must touch directly, then 2 and 3 have to be seen as a gap, or an obstruction between 1 and 4.

But when we add a second dimension represented thusly...
...then each experience makes direct contact with the other. So if your present state is 4, it is easy for you to see any of the other experiences.

Now let's add four more experiences, placing them directly behind the first four, essentially creating a third dimension with 56 directly behind 12 on the top line and 78 directly behind 34 on the bottom line.

While we have doubled the number of experiences from four to eight, the number of connections between those experiences has already multiplied, hence our memory is enhanced with this model.

Interestingly, a timeline is represented by a straight line, i.e. a one dimensional structure, while time itself is referred to as "the fourth dimension".

But for our purposes here, every dimension is a representation of time, in that every dimension I've demonstrated thus far has a string (or pair) of experiences that have taken place in time, it's just that I used the three geometric dimensions to demonstrate how those experiences could have direct contact with one another.

But what if there are more dimensions, again all of them creating only direct connections over the distance of time?

So far I have used three. But if we can imagine another dimension, then we can at least come up with an abstract representation of how we can add more experiences to the chart without losing direct contact between any two individual experiences.

(I am reminded here of the movie version of Carl Sagan's novel Contact. The characters in the story had received a set of blueprints for a machine and they were not able to interpret them correctly until they combined the pages, bending the data into a sort of spherical form, thereby making connections where they had theretofore seen only jumbled figures.)

There is a problem in quantum physics in which two particles are light years away from each other, yet behave as if they are directly connected. One proposed solution to this quandary has been to apply the idea of parallel universes, i.e. more and more dimensions.

If we apply this idea of more dimensions to our present and our present's relationship to our past experiences, as roughly postulated above, then we can imagine a model in which each one of those million past experiences is directly linked to each and every other one.

Likewise, if we apply this utter interconnectedness to personal human relationships, then six degrees of separation becomes a notion limited to the universe we think we happen to occupy. In reality - or better yet, all realities considered - everyone has been in a movie with Kevin Bacon.

But what does this model mean about all we are able to perceive in this universe?

Does it have any relationship to the fact that a few hours after I'd been thinking about Josh and Michael and ImprovOlympia (contact lost for 157,000 hours), Josh sends me this, which he found whilst googling his name:

Yeah, I know. By extension, of course it has a relationship, that's the whole point of the model in the first place. But what is that relationship?

And what can we say about future experiences, or whether or not we can predict a type of experience relative to all of those which preceded it on that one dimensional timeline?

I got Salon Bruit booked into April. I have to clear dates ahead of time with the house, which I wanna/need t' do for the next several. I'd prefer to keep it every two weeks. Neat. Simple.