Yog-Sothoth by Chivohit (www.deviantart.com)
At the end of Chapter IV of “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” written by H.P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price, Randolph Carter says to Yog-Sothoth that he is ready to peer beyond the Veil of reality. Suddenly, Carter’s mind is flooded with knowledge on the true nature of the cosmos. One concept that was discussed in some detail was how our perception of a “tri-dimensional world” or even a four-dimensional Space-Time does not represent the true nature and structure of the Universe / Multiverse. Additionally, Carter realizes that human senses can only perceive of a portion of reality; however, once he passed beyond the Ultimate Gate he saw “…in the brooding shadows of that which had been first a vortex of power and then an illimitable void, a sweep of creation that dizzed his senses.”
Yog-Sothoth continued to fill Carter’s mind with energy waves of information to obtain a better understanding of the Universe. Carter then understood that he was an infinitesimal part of a multiform entity; was this a realization and subsequent access to other beings in other Multiverses? Carter also understood that
“…every figure of space is but the result of the intersection by a plane of some corresponding figure of one more dimension – as a square is cut from a cube or a circle from a sphere. The cube and sphere, of three dimensions, are thus cut from corresponding forms of four dimensions that men know only through guesses and dreams; and these in turn are cut from forms of five dimensions, and so on up to the dizzy and reachless heights of archetypal infinity.”
Yog-Sothoth by Nightserpent
The net result of this higher multi-dimensional view of reality is that our 3-space and 1-time Universe is merely a shadow or illusion of the true nature of substance and reality. Thus, the way the shadow of a cube is 2-dimensional representation of a cube in a 2-dimensional world, the Tesseract is a 3-dimensional shadow representation of a hypercube in 3-dimensional space (see below). According to Lovecraft and Price, if we had the appropriate knowledge and senses, where the Veil of reality has been pulled aside, we would perceive the true, multi-dimensional nature of reality.
The shadow of a cube is a 2-dimensional representation of the cube
The Tesseract is a 3-dimensional shadow representation of a 4-dimensional hypercube.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries mathematicians were investigating geometry beyond the three known spatial dimensions, as well as working on “non-Euclidean” geometry, which is essentially a description of curved space and shapes. A lot of misinformation and pseudoscience was developed in light of these investigations, essentially from people who knew very little about the science. However, to many mathematicians surprise, such investigations into curved fourth dimensional Space-Time had a practical application in Einstein’s work on gravity and how the amount of matter determines the type of geometry that exists in the surrounding space (https://web2.ph.utexas.edu/~coker2/index.files/4d.shtml). As Kip S. Thorn put it in his essay Spacetime Warps and the Quantum World in The Future of Spacetime (2002), “…Einstein concluded that space and time are warped by matter and energy and that this warpage is responsible for the gravity that holds us to the surface of the Earth.”
Yog-Sothoth by John Coulhart (www.johncoulhart.com)
While higher dimensional mathematics continued through the 20th century, incorporating high dimensional concepts into physics and the nature of reality went largely unsuccessful. However, with quantum physics, the need to include more dimensions seemed apparent but it was in the 1980’s with the development of String Theory that the need for higher dimensional math appeared necessary. In order to include gravity into a single equation with the other forces of nature (electromagnetic, weak nuclear and strong nuclear) String Theory needed 9 or 10 spatial dimensions and one dimension of time (https://web2.ph.utexas.edu/~coker2/index.files/4d.shtml). In turn, String Theory has led to M-Theory, where the strings are looped and/or tethered to surfaces or membranes, possibly stitching together the Multiverse.
Again, before there was a mathematical need for higher dimensions in many of the leading theories of physics, discussions on this subject were largely thought of purely the stuff of fiction. Not only that, but many were criticized for considering such concepts or ideas. In his article “H.P. Lovecraft and Pseudomathematics” in Darrell Schweitzer’s Discovering H.P. Lovecraft (1995), Robert Weinberg dismisses Lovecraft’s thoughts of higher dimensions discussed in many of his stories. Weinberg states, “The existence of higher dimensions should be of little concern to this world as any contact with such dimensions is impossible.” Based on the current state of both String Theory and M-Theory higher dimensions are absolutely essential working through the development of a Standard, Unifying Theory.
Weinberg also goes on in the article to state, “It is impossible (not unlikely or not yet possible, but impossible, actually shown to be never possible) to construct a higher dimension from a lower one.” That is a pretty definitive statement. While it may not be possible to construct a higher dimension, we can represent or model high dimensions (see above). Also, such higher dimensions may be useful in obtaining a better understanding of the Universe. Thus, I think casually discarding an idea or hypothesis and saying it’s just not possible or relevant can be dangerous in science. Who knows, maybe the next generation of physicists will come up with a new theory that completely does away with the need for String Theory and the consideration of higher dimensions. However, if working through String Theory and these ideas have led others into investigations that shine a little more light on the true nature of reality then that is a good thing. Science is very much built upon its history; Einstein’s General Relativity did not result in throwing out Newton’s Principles of Gravity, just like Quantum Mechanics did not result in throwing out General Relativity. It should also be emphasized that we always learn something even when our hypothesis is not proven correct.
Getting back to “Through the Gates of the Silver Key,” three dimensional entities like us who exist in linear time, cannot perceive the higher dimensions that are “wrapped and curled up,” tucked away from our perception. However, other entities, from other Universes with slight modifications in their natural laws, may be able to perceive or even have access to higher dimensions, which may allow them to travel through time and space in very unconventional ways (e.g. The Dreams in the Witch-House).
Based on what we know about dimensionality and Space-Time, life can only exist in a Universe of three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension. Based on Max Tegmark’s paper “On the Dimensionality of Spacetime” (Class. Quantum Gav. 14 (1997), L69-L75), other realities with more or less dimensions than ours would be “dead worlds.” Tegmark states in his abstract “In a space with more than three dimensions, there can be no traditional atoms and perhaps no stable structures.” This may be the case, however maybe many Lovecraftian entities can access the energy in these higher dimensions to conduct incredible feats thorough time and space. Thus, Yog-Sothoth maybe a unique and fluid form of life that both easily travels through and exists in all of these dimensions at the same time. If Tegmark’s idea does hold true, then any inhibited Universe, where atoms are stable enough to eventually rise to life, would be squeezed into that little box labeled “We Are Here” in the figure shown below.
Next time we will wrap up our discussion of Chapter V in “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” with a discussion of some of the exoplanets described by Randolph Carter. Thank you – Fred.