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### Beyond Three-Dimensional Geometry

```
Date: 06/17/2001 at 21:27:44
From: Tanner Wilson
Subject: Beyond 3-dimensional geometry

If the first dimension is a line and the second dimension is a flat
figure, the the third dimension is, say, a cube, then what is the
fourth dimension? What is the fifth dimension? How do you figure them
out on paper and could you draw them on paper?
```

```
Date: 06/18/2001 at 14:32:44
From: Doctor Peterson
Subject: Re: Beyond 3-dimensional geometry

Hi, Tanner.

The fourth dimension is something you can't see, so it's impossible to
describe. The 4-d equivalent of a cube has been called a tesseract, if
that means anything to you.

When we draw a cube like this

+--------------+
/|             /|
/ |            / |
/  |           /  |
+--------------+   |
|   |          |   |
|   |          |   |
|   +----------|---+
|  /           |  /
| /            | /
|/             |/
+--------------+

we are "projecting" the 3-d figure onto a 2-d surface, as if we were
looking at the shadow of a wire-frame cube. Notice that it looks as if
I drew a square and then dragged it diagonally, with each corner
lifting a track as it moved. That corresponds to making a cube in
space by making a square vertically in the third dimension. A cube
doesn't really look like this, of course; and as we move around it,
its shape will seem to change dramatically, though it is not changing
at all.

We can do the same sort of thing to "project" a tesseract onto a 3-d
space, dragging a cube diagonally to represent motion into a fourth
dimension. If we project the result onto a piece of paper, it looks
something like this:

+--------------+
/|\            /|\
/ | \          / | \
/  |  \        /  |  \
+-------\------+   |   \
|\  |    +------\-------+
| \ |   /|     | \ |   /|
|  \+--/-|-----|--\+  / |
|  /\\/  |     |  /\\/  |
| /  +--------------+\  |
|/   | \ |     |/   | \ |
+----|--\|-----+    |  \|
\   |   +------\---|---+
\  |  /        \  |  /
\ | /          \ | /
\|/            \|/
+--------------+

You could continue this into other dimensions, but it gets very
crowded, since you are squeezing more and more dimensions into only
two, and the edges get tangled.

You can find some interesting information by searching our archives
for the words "tesseract" or "four dimensions"; here's one that lists
sites with pictures:

Tesseracts and Hypercubes
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/smith5.22.97.html

- Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
```
Associated Topics:
High School Geometry
High School Higher-Dimensional Geometry

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