High-School Physics And A Fourth Dimension

Haven’t written new stuff for quite some time, have I? I usually make it a rule to write at least one post every week. But this time my schedule was disrupted by the SAT reasoning test, a mild cold and general laziness. As usual, I have no idea what I should write about. So, I guess I’ll just pen my thoughts and see how things get along.

Why Do Schools Hate Teaching Modern Physics?

Most high-schools tend to avoid teaching post-19th century physics. In fact, even some universities religiously follow this limitation and are actually proud of it. I read recently that when the renowned Pakistani Nobel Laureate, Dr. Abdus Salam, joined the Government College University in Lahore after completing his Masters from Cambridge, he was discouraged and even condemned by some of his colleagues for teaching students modern particle and quantum physics instead of the age-old classical ideas.

Of course, to be precise, some examination systems such as the Cambridge International A Levels™ and the SAT™ Subject Tests do include some comparatively modern ideas, but even they only give you a sort of an introduction, barely touching the most fundamental concepts and not discussing the various derivations and postulations at all.

Living in a Four Dimensional World

Can humans even begin to imagine a world with more than three dimensions? Of course it is easy to imagine a world with less than three-dimensions, because we have seen a lot of objects that seem to be two-dimensional because of their negligible thickness. In fact, we make two-dimensional drawings and graphs everyday. The blog-post you are reading right now is more-or-less two-dimensional. It’s a bit more difficult to imagine a one-dimensional world but it is still possible.

But if one tries to imagine more than three dimensions, it gets a little difficult. How can one visualize something neither seen nor experienced by him before? It’s like telling a blind person to play eye-spy. I was watching Carl Sagan’s television show from the 1980s, called Cosmos. In one of the episodes, he discusses how we might be able to imagine a four-dimensional world by looking at it’s three-dimensional imprint. Similar to how the two-dimensional imprint of a cube can be drawn on paper.


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