I’m trying out a new photography challenge (Dutch Goes The Photo’s Tuesday Photo Challenge); this week’s topic is circles. Seemed like fun!
Circles are just a two-dimensional spheres. I read about physics in my spare time. I study science policy and while I don’t need to know theoretical physics to understand science policy (certainly the policymakers don’t!), I pretend it’s for my studies rather than purely for fun. Then I feel productive!
Recently I was reading about higher dimensions as they relate to string theory and the holographic principle. I’m not going to try to explain either of those concepts (though if you’re curious, Brian Greene’s books are excellent, as are Neil deGrasse Tyson’s if you are looking for a more accessible summary). My point is that I read a surprisingly clear (although probably wildly over-simplified) analogy of how one can visualize higher dimensions.
A circle is just a two-dimensional depiction of a sphere. You can picture both of those and you probably remember that basic fact from art or geometry class. So if you hold a sphere under a light source (or, say, take a photo of a sphere) you end up with a shadow that’s a circle (or a photo that is actually a 2-D circle that represents the 3-D sphere). Again, easy to visualize. So a sphere is, basically, the 3-D “shadow” cast by a four-dimensional hypersphere. Cool, right?
In any case, here are some 2-D, circular depictions of 3-D spheres at the Natural History Museum’s Hayden Planetarium (where Neil deGrasse Tyson happens to work). These spheres are actually scale representations of the sun and planets, as well as some smaller orbs like atoms. The cool white thing is in the back entry atrium of the planetarium, I don’t know what it is, but it’s definitely got a bunch of circles! If you’ve never visited, I highly recommend it. The museum is pay what you want and it’s really worth the whole price of admission.