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Transcript: Thad Roberts on Visualizing Eleven Dimensions at TEDxBoulder

Thad Roberts

Here is the transcript of theoretical physicist Thad Roberts’ TEDx Talk: Visualizing Eleven Dimensions at TEDxBoulder.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Thad Roberts on Visualizing Eleven Dimensions at TEDxBoulder


Does anybody here happen to be interested in other dimensions? All right.

Well, thank you all for your time and your space. Good, I’m glad that one worked here.

All right. Imagine a world whose inhabitants live and die believing only in the existence of two spatial dimensions. A plane. These Flatlanders are going to see some pretty strange things happen; things that are impossible to explain within the constraints of their geometry. For example, imagine that one day, some Flatlander scientists observe this: A set of colorful lights that appear to randomly appear in different locations along the horizon. No matter how hard they try to make sense of these lights, they’ll be unable to come up with a theory that can explain them.

Some of the more clever scientists might come up with a way to probabilistically describe the flashes. For example, for every 4 seconds, there’s 11% chance that a red flash will occur somewhere on the line. But no Flatlander will be able to determine exactly when or where the next red light will be seen.

As a consequence, they start to think that the world contains a sense of indeterminacy, that the reason these lights cannot be explained, is that at the fundamental level nature just doesn’t make sense. Are they right? Does the fact that they were forced to describe these lights probabilistically actually mean that the world is indeterministic?

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