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THE FOURTH DIMENSION SIMPLY EXPLAINED

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Let us now place the same figures in the positions shown in Fig. 5. Given the same hypothesis, it might appear at first glace that this case is similar to Fig. 4, but a closer examination shows that Fig. 5 involves the

Figures 5 and 6
simple preliminary operation of reversing one of the triangles before it can be superimposed upon the other. It is evident that this "turning-over" process requires a knowledge of three dimensions, and, therefore, to creatures with a comprehension and breadth, the possibility of an Euclidean proof would be inconceivable. We will now suppose our two-dimensional world pierced by a line LN (Fig. 6), and imagine it to consist of such material that Fig. 6. the line may be moved about at will without necessitating its withdrawal from or tearing the plane. It is evident that the only portion of this line which could be detected by these creatures would be the point P -- a form of creature with which we have supposed them familiar -- freely moving about
Page 177 and apparently limited to the two-dimensional existence, while in reality requiring three-dimensional space for its accommodation.

We now come to the consideration of objects with which we are familiar, namely, those in three-dimensional space. All forms of matter manifest to our senses require space for their accommodation, having length, breadth, and height. The plane, line, and point exist in theory only to aid man in the present crude state of his mental development to build up imperfect images in conformity with forms as he senses them in the material world. As universal laws are the media through which nature works, she builds according to conditions and environments and inscrutable laws of economy. In nature, the straight line and the plane surface are the exceptions, appearing most frequently among the lower forms of plant and animal life, but man, ignorant of the finer considerations which shape the course of nature, and continually prone to error, must accomplish his results by the simplest, most direct methods within his comprehension. In doing this he has adopted as the standard of length a straight line; the unit of area, a plane figure known as the square; and the unit of volume, a six-sided figure called the cube. We have already seen how the plane may be derived from the straight line, by the same method we shall construct the elementary figure of three-dimensional space. Referring to Fig. 3, let us imagine the square AA'B'B moved at right angles to its surface, a distance equal to one of its sides. In doing this we have generated a figure (Fig. 7) which is three-dimensional. Suppose that in selecting the straight line AB, from which our figures have been constructed, we had

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