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Thu May 23, 2013, 08:45 AM

Flat Land

Is the "God Experience" the 4d to 3d version of what Sagan explains in this clip?

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Reply Flat Land (Original post)
demwing May 2013 OP
djean111 May 2013 #1
demwing May 2013 #2
pangaia May 2013 #3
DreamGypsy May 2013 #4
demwing May 2013 #5
DreamGypsy May 2013 #6

Response to demwing (Original post)

Thu May 23, 2013, 08:59 AM

1. Never had a "God" experience, but this is fascinating.

Great way to start the day, and I will look for the rest of the talk - the url is truncated or something.

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Response to djean111 (Reply #1)

Thu May 23, 2013, 09:03 AM

2. The video cuts out as he segues into a different subject

If you have Netflix, you can stream the entire Cosmos series for free.

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Response to demwing (Original post)

Thu May 23, 2013, 09:11 AM

3. This concept has been studied for hundreds of years.

Then there is the concept of time as the 4th dimension of space.
I spent a number of evenings with Carl Sagan in the 1970's. Over dinner.. he talked. We listened. :>

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Response to demwing (Original post)

Thu May 23, 2013, 10:31 AM

4. Flatland by Edwin Abbott, 1884



Full text available here: http://www.eldritchpress.org/eaa/FL.HTM

Of the Nature of Flatland

I CALL our world Flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space.

Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like shadows--only hard with luminous edges--and you will then have a pretty correct notion of my country and countrymen. Alas, a few years ago, I should have said "my universe": but now my mind has been opened to higher views of things.

In such a country, you will perceive at once that it is impossible that there should be anything of what you call a "solid" kind; but I dare say you will suppose that we could at least distinguish by sight the Triangles, Squares, and other figures, moving about as I have described them. On the contrary, we could see nothing of the kind, not at least so as to distinguish one figure from another. Nothing was visible, nor could be visible, to us, except Straight Lines; and the necessity of this I will speedily demonstrate.


I remember very well reading it around 1963 when I was 12 or so. The worlds it presented have live with me ever since.

I would have posted this in Science, rather than Religion....but no big deal. Thanks, demwing.

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Response to DreamGypsy (Reply #4)

Thu May 23, 2013, 10:46 AM

5. I posted in Religion on purpose

Specifically because the way Sagan describes the experience of a 2 dimensional entity interacting with a 3d entity sounds remarkably similar to the experiences religious believers describe.

Transpose Up with Heaven and Apple with God.

The difference between Science and Mysticism is slighter than either side would admit, I think.

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Response to demwing (Reply #5)

Thu May 23, 2013, 04:45 PM

6. In the video clip Sagan presumed for some reason ...

...that Flatlanders had not discovered the necessary mathematics. In all likelihood, eventually, a two dimensional Edwina Abbott would have written a book about Lineland:



...and realized that the Points, 0-dimensional occupants of a 1-dimensional universe, would be severely limited by their perceptions and would have difficulty accepting the reality of the 'real' 2-dimensional universe. From there, a small epiphany could occur as Ms. Flat Abbott realized that her perceptions were equally constrained. But that her mind was not: add a third number to the set of ordered pairs that describe all of space and you can describe, in the language of mathematics, shapes that you cannot see but which you can project into your own limited universe. In particular, you can now understand how other flat or 3-dimensional spaces might exist and develop tools to search for them and to conjecture about how your limited senses would perceive them if you somehow found yourself lifted outside of your own flatland.

The next steps to 4 or n-dimensions are simple once the language is known, just as we scientifically oriented occupants of Spaceland have discovered.

The beauty of Abbott's book is that it elucidates the very non-mystical aspects geometry. Check out Section 16, in which the Sphere attempts to instruct the Square (who is the 'I' in the story) about a cube:

How the Stranger vainly endeavoured to reveal to me in words the mysteries of Spaceland

Sphere. We began with a single Point, which of course--being itself a Point--has only one terminal Point.

One Point produces a Line with two terminal Points.

One Line produces a Square with four terminal Points.

Now you can give yourself the answer to your own question: 1, 2, 4, are evidently in Geometrical Progression. What is the next number?

I. Eight.

Sphere. Exactly. The one Square produces a Something-which-you- do-not-as-yet-know-a-name-for- but-which-we-call-a-Cube with eight terminal Points. Now are you convinced?

I. And has this Creature sides, as well as Angles or what you call "terminal Points"?

Sphere. Of course; and all according to Analogy. But, by the way, not what you call sides, but what we call sides. You would call them solids.

I. And how many solids or sides will appertain to this Being whom I am to generate by the motion of my inside in an "upward" direction, and whom you call a Cube?

Sphere. How can you ask? And you a mathematician! The side of anything is always, if I may so say, one Dimension behind the thing. Consequently, as there is no Dimension behind a Point, a Point has 0 sides; a Line, if I may so say, has 2 sides (for the points of a Line may be called by courtesy, its sides); a Square has 4 sides; 0, 2, 4; what Progression do you call that?

I. Arithmetical.

Sphere. And what is the next number?

I. Six.

Sphere. Exactly. Then you see you have answered your own question. The Cube which you will generate will be bounded by six sides, that is to say, six of your insides. You see it all now, eh?

"Monster," I shrieked, "be thou juggler, enchanter, dream, or devil, no more will I endure thy mockeries. Either thou or I must perish." And saying these words I precipitated myself upon him.

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