Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 1

# THE FOURTH DIMENSION SIMPLY EXPLAINED

11

dimensional retina, or at least his picture of an object in his world would be a mere line, different pictures being distinguished by the lengths, colors, and shading of these lines. The retina of a four-dimensional being would be three-dimensional if he is to
Page 22 receive separate impressions from all the rays of light within a given angle of vision. In fact, the boundary of an opaque object, the part which alone he can see, is three-dimensional as is always the boundary of objects in space of four dimensions.

It is not easy for us to imagine such pictures, and so we can attempt to get an impression of the shapes of objects by supposing that a three-dimensional being, a person like ourselves, could pass through a series of parallel three-spaces (three-dimensional spaces) and in each three-space examine that portion of the object which lies in this space, that section of the object. This is just as we might suppose a two-dimensional being able to pass through a series of planes and in each plane to see the section of an object made by that plane. The section which we should see of a four-dimensional object would be a solid whose surface forms a part of the three-dimensional bundary of the object. This way of studying four-dimensional objects is discussed quite fully in Essay VII. (See also Essay V, page 85.) There is another somewhat similar way of studying an object that we may find quite useful. We can imagine ourselves turning from one three-space into another perpendicular three-space. That is, by discarding one of the directions in our space we can suppose that we take into view the fourth direction, which goes away from our space, and so get its relation to two of our directions. We shall describe the section of an object made by any three-space as what we can see in that three-space. We shall do this particularly with reference to the different sections of an object obtained at any point by taking different perpendicular three-spaces.
Page 23

One of the first things, for example, that we consider in studying Geometry of Four Dimensions is the line perpendicular to a three-space; such is the line which goes out from a point in our space in a new fourth direction perpendicular to all the lines of our space through that point.7 If we can let go of one of the dimensions of our space, keeping only that part which lies in a certain plane, and take into view the new fourth dimension, we shall see a plane and a line going out from it, perpendicular to all the lines of it, something with which we are perfectly familiar. As another example consider two absolutely perpendicular planes. If we take a plane through a point O and the line which is perpendicular to the plane at O all in our space, and then take the line through O in the fourth direction perpendicular to al the lines through O in our space, we shall have a plane through O and two lines both perpendicular to the plane and perpendicular to each other. These two lines themselves determine a plane every line of which through O is perpendicular to the first plane. The two planes are said to be absolutely perpendicular. (See Essay I, page 45, where the expression completely perpendicular is used.) The most that we could see in any three-space of two absolutely perpendicular planes would be one, of the planes and a single line of the other plane, a line passing through O perpendicular to the plane that we