The Fifth Dimension
“If I placed the target in a faraway galaxy, do you think you could hit it?”
“That’s impossible mommy, I couldn’t hit that. I would have to practice a million years.”
“Well this project I’m working on, it’s a bit similar to that. We’re trying to aim very precisely, and the math for that is very complicated. Our spaceship has to be aimed perfectly, the man I’m working with, Dr. Keno, well, he thinks we can do it with the help of many teeny tiny robots with little boosters, so tiny you can’t even see them. They could push the ship using micro movements until they have the aim just right.”
She always remembered her little Sofi’s awestruck gaze suddenly turn into a face of worry and sadness.
“Mommy, you’re not leaving on that spaceship are you?”
“Of course not baby, you know I would never ever leave you. And anyways, even if we did build that ship, it would take many years to do it. But we would send someone else to explore, of course.”
“Good.” Sofi beamed as she grabbed the target and skipped out to the yard with her bow and suction cup arrows in hand.
It had been weeks since she had received the transmissions from Dr. Keno. Several hundred messages had been picked up by the QED (quantum entangled driven) radio all at once only a few minutes after the ship had departed:
-"Dr. Helsley, do you copy?”
-"Dr. Helsley, come in, are you receiving transmission?”
-"We hope you are alive and well Dr. Helsley, we assume you cannot send transmissions, but hope you are still able to receive ours.”
-"We will continue to update you and hope you are out there. Oh and happy birthday.”
-"World war has been declared; they’re taking most of our group for weapons research. I will try to transmit as often as I can.”
-"It’s been so long, but in my mind you are still out there, exploring the unknown.”
-"They are evacuating Earth. They are taking our team with them on board one of their lifeboat ships, we are fortunate to be scientists. But I’m not sure where we’ll all go. I won’t be able to transmit anymore. I have to go. My thoughts will be with you. If you're still out there, I hope you're in a better place. May you be well Marie, Godspeed.”
She soon realized that decades had passed on Earth in those first few minutes she had been on the spaceship, and all of those messages had been sent many years apart. Now, after weeks of being on the ship, she could only imagine how much time had dilated. She felt truly alone.
Shortly after departing, in the span of a few minutes, she had watched Earth shrink down to a tiny speck right in front of her. Then the same had happened to the entire solar system, then the Milky Way. But she was not farther away exactly, she was more like “bigger away”, if that could even be said, and her known universe was now like a particle to her, tiny and unseen, somewhere within her or around her.
Through her research at LIGO, Dr. Helsely had first detected the abnormal gravitational wave patterns about ten of her years ago. Her research had led to more collaborative research with Dr. Keno, a man known as the greatest mind of the generation, whose greatness had been compared to the likes of Einstein himself, and an expert in a handful of fields including artificial intelligence, femto-technology, quantum mechanics, and M-theory, and together they eventually came to discover the source of the strange patterns: a previously undetected dimension.
Most physicists at the time who followed M-theory had believed that all of the other theorized dimensions were folded up at the string scale within a Calibi-Yau manifold, in other words, too small for humans to interact with. Dr. Helsley and Dr. Keno’s research showed that their newly discovered dimension, though folded in an unknown way, coexisted with the other four known dimensions. Theoretically, they should be able to travel through this other spatial dimension. The reason why no one ever interacted with it (as far as anyone knew) was that in order to be properly oriented towards the “direction” of this special dimension, one would require angles of azimuth and elevation so precise that any deviation even ten hundred billion times smaller than the size of an atom would be enough to prevent any interaction with the dimension. Essentially, it would be easier to hit a target in another galaxy with a bow and arrow.
It was after this discovery that Dr. Keno had begun building his ship.
Dr. Helsley had been asleep. She didn't remember opening the door or stepping out, but somehow she was outside of the ship, the ship stationary behind her. Total darkness was around her. And right in front of her was a little girl.
how can it-
are you real?”
The little girl gazed at Dr. Helsley, her smile was calm yet it seemed to project a sense of knowing much greater than any little girl could have.
“Yes, and no. I am everything, so I am also Sofi, and I am also you. I am also nothing. You are interpreting me and, therefore you, as Sofi, because in your life and your experiences, Sofi was the purest interpretation of the universe, of you.”
“I-how-I went away, as far as I could possibly manage, out here God knows where, running away from my grief, from losing you, only to find myself looking at your face again. I’m not sure I understand. I’m not sure what is real, what isn’t anymore.”
Sofi giggled and it seemed to echo from everywhere at once.
“Well, funny you say this, for the answer is both. You traveled far and eventually reached this point, where everything is and isn’t real at the same time. The singularity. Where all that was, is, and all that will be, always was. Both the largest and smallest point, where size, time, information, and everything else folds over and converges. You already know this, for there is no here or now, here, and yet it is peculiar that in your material form still, in order to process things, your mind creates the illusion of chronology in the form of asking me questions and me giving you answers, when you are in reality having this conversation with yourself.”
Dr. Helsley was too numb to be confused about what she was hearing or to ask Sofi why and how she was speaking the way she was. She was numb from the many other unbelievable things she had seen. The blue-green creatures about her own size that somehow fluctuated in and out of existence the way only quantum particles should be able to. The “school” of planets, dozens of gargantuan, Saturn-sized orbs wandering together and changing direction in unison the way she’d seen fish do. The room of the purest white she had ever seen containing only a chair and a desk that was covered by hundreds of what looked liked leather-bound journals.
But mostly, she was numb from seeing her little girl’s face again.
And yet, somehow, she felt like she was suddenly beginning to understand everything that Sofi was saying.
“You’re saying I am at the singularity of the universe? Of everything? Can I stay here? What about- what if I keep going the way I’ve been going?”
Too many thoughts and questions were racing through her mind.
Sofi answered, but this time, the words seemed to emanate from within Dr. Helsley’s own mind.
“Past this point is where the dimension you have been traveling along folds back on itself. Size, time, entropy, and information will loop. You will emerge at the other end, as a tiny elementary particle, with no control of your course. After an eternity you will form into an atom that becomes part of a molecule that will, after many more eternities, become a cell that will eventually form into the egg inside of a womb, the womb which will be your mother’s. You will be born and be unaware of where you’ve been and where you come from. You will live your life the way you have lived it before. You will then, yourself, give birth and watch your own baby grow, and again you will watch her die. From that point onward, due to the chaotic nature of the quantum effects of strong emotion, your path is more uncertain. You may make the same choices or you may make different ones. You may end up here again. But, alternatively, you can prevent all of this by choosing not to go further, by choosing to stay and know everything, be everything, be nothing. Either way, whatever you choose will happen and has already happened.”
At some point in, at the beginning of existence, the universe had been faced with the same decision and had also chosen to forget everything, only to re-explore and gradually rediscover itself. That was what consciousness was. That was what a human was.
And this is what Dr. Helsley would do. She would rather rediscover herself and relive her pure love for Sofi, even if it meant seeing her die again. If given the choice each time, she would choose to do it more times than Sisyphus ever pushed a boulder.
“Sofi-or... universe, this leather-bound book is my journal. I've kept it since the day Sofi-you, passed. I leave it here- or not here- with you, maybe you can keep it someplace safe for me, in case I return.”
It was a silly thing to do, Dr. Helsley realized afterward, right before she crossed the threshold. After all, if she did return, she would know everything once more.
"I love you, baby, I'll see you again soon."