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Handmade Dimensions

Dreamed 2009/3/2 by Wayan

Sketch by Chris Wayan of a dream figure: a woman in blue coveralls stretching her arms at a right angle.

Dream 1: The Dimensional Traveler's Question

A woman asks me urgently: "In this universe, how far apart are lines at right angles?" The answer clearly helps define this universe as opposed to others she knows.

On first thought, the question's unanswerable. "From zero to infinity"? They just keep diverging...

Now wait--if the two sides of our right angle have roughly equal lengths, and from her gesture that's what she means, then let's call that length 1. Then the distance between their tips is about the square root of 2. For uneven lengths we'll have to get into the Pythagorean formula, and I can already tell my questioner's allergic to math. At least human math. So I don't even mention square roots, just say:

"About 1.4 times their length."

"No, no" she says "I need a specific number. Inches, centimeters."

What more can I tell her? Well... within a given scale--arm's length, a building X stories tall--a rough number is possible.

So I say "If you stretch your arms out at right angles, in this universe your fingertips will be about 4 feet apart--120 cm."

She nods firmly, says "Thanks!" and walks off. What a seat-of-the-pants pilot!

Funny. Interdimensional travelers, even the most pragmatic, need math to navigate--but maybe not OUR math? She clearly asked her question to gauge the curvature of this spacetime she's landed in, and that implies its nature and history. I wonder what such a rough answer tells her? And even if she's willing, can she express it in terms I can understand? I'm the ignorant local, after all! Maybe it's OUR mathematical language that's limited.

Dream 2: Handmade Dimensions

My friend Lily, a fabric artist, complains "My room's too cluttered." Duh. Jammed!

"Lily, all you have to do is materialize more space in another dimension. Anyone who stretches out their arms can do it." I show her how, though I'm a bit tentative... unsure I can explain it or teach it to her. After all, I wasn't taught--I only read about it in books myself.

In fact, no one's done it successfully in sixty years, and the last person to manage was famous for it--she was my rolemodel as a kid.

But I stretch my arms to try...


Sketch by Chris Wayan of a dream figure: close-up of a woman in blue coveralls stretching her arms at a right angle.

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