Moving Through Matter with Buckaroo Banzai
If you can imagine this journey through matter in Buckaroo’s jet car, you’re almost there. But where is “there?” Buckaroo’s destination is not the fourth or even the fifth, but the eighth dimension! Where in hell is the eighth dimension?
The world of our everyday existence is known as “Minkowski spacetime.” It has four dimensions, three spatial dimensions and a time dimension. When we deal with very large objects, it is essential to take into account the curvature of space which plays an important role in Einstein’s special theory of relativity. At the human scale space doesn’t look curved, but astronomers, who work at the galactic and supergalactic scale, must take the curvature of space into account.
In 1921, Theodore Kaluza, and later Oskar Klein, speculated that there may be mini-dimensions to space that we do not perceive. Here we are working in the realm of the very small, so we need to consider the geometry of space at a scale that is even smaller than the nucleus of an atom.
Dimensions are usually diagrammed as infinitesimally thin, mutually perpendicular lines. In the Kaluza-Klein theory, these lines become cylinders with a radius much less than that of an atomic nucleus. In other words, each dimension of spacetime is in fact two-dimensional: a cylinder of finite radius but infinite length. There would then be a total of eight dimensions, in which the eighth dimension is the sister dimension of everyday time, but at the subnuclear level.