X-Message-Number: 19169
Date: Wed, 29 May 2002 09:58:39 EDT
Subject: language corruption

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Thomas Donaldson agrees that a small universe is not the same thing as a 
small dimension, but most writers still speak of "dimensions" as having shape 
and size, which I believe is nonsense. 

Language corruption is a disease to which physicists and mathematicians are 
not immune. A very simple example is in the use of the same units or 
"dimensions" for two very different quantities, work and torque, both 
expressed e.g. in "foot-pounds." You will be hard put finding a physics book 
that really explains the difference.

The difference is that "foot" in "foot-pound of work" means the displacement 
through which the force acts, while "foot" in "foot-pound of torque" means 
the lever arm, not the same thing at all, even though the same word or symbol 
is used.

Time as a "dimension" has been found useful for a long time, and some of 
today's workers even talk of more than one time dimension. Yet time and space 
are profoundly different, even though connected, both mysterious in many ways 
but time the more mysterious. As for "coiled" time, I leave that to the 

Now space "dimensions" again. Consider a "universe" consisting of the surface 
of a circular cylinder of small diameter and infinite length. Most of today's 
writers would say one of the dimensions is small and coiled. Not only is that 
diseased language, but it is not even clear by what criterion the angular 
coordinate (or the second linear coordinate, if you want to do it that way) 
can properly be elevated to the status of "dimension." Coordinates, degrees 
of freedom, and dimensions are all separate and different things, frequently 
mixed and confused even by the brightest and the best.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society


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