Message #2785

From: Ben Blohowiak <>
Subject: Re: Your expertise
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2013 21:18:29 -0400

I’m new to the group and sorry to be late to what looks like a cool party.
Like some of you, I’ve made my way here because of my general interest in
the fourth dimension, not only as an object of understanding, but also as a
sort of frontier to conquer. To solve the 4D puzzle is to win.

By day I work as a simulation technology specialist at the University of
Virginia. On my own time, however, I’m part of an open source collaboration
called Hyperland that is building a simulation of four-dimensional space
and a user interface so that users can interact with 4D objects and other
users moving in 4D. The project’s web content is hosted and maintained on a
platform known as the Open Science Framework, which is supported by the
Center for Open Science, for which I have done some volunteer work. You can
learn more about all of the above (including me) via the link below:


On Tue, Oct 22, 2013 at 6:38 PM, Melinda Green <>wrote:

> Hello Ben,
> There is still something of a "ray of hope" as you call it which is that
> humans can with practice become quite facile in interpreting and
> manipulating the 3D projects of 4D objects. In other words we can come to
> intimately know these objects and manipulate them as if we could grok their
> full 4D nature, even though we cannot perceive them that way. This is no
> small feat and is worth celebrating. If you put in any substantial time in
> attempting to solve the 4D cube then you will know what I am saying. I
> recommend getting familiar with the UI and attempting to first be able to
> solve any single random twist, and then 2, and then 3. You can get there in
> just a couple of hours and it will give you an idea of what is possible.
> I don’t know anything about 5D Minkowski space, but to the extent that it
> involves a 4th large spatial dimension it is perfectly fine to call that a
> 4D space. Likewise with a 5th dimension, but anywhere that you are really
> talking about a system with a time dimension, I urge you to keep the
> different dimension types separate, for example "4 spatial dimensions plus
> time", etc. The exception would be where the correct terminology in some
> field that you are discussing does not make that distinction. So for
> Einstein’s work the word "spacetime" is understood to mean "3D plus time",
> though even then it is helpful to remind readers of the meanings.
> I’ve sent you the invite to the 4D Cubing group and I encourage you to
> browse the discussion history and to send an introduction to yourself and
> your project including links for members to explore and perhaps reply or
> even join in your efforts.
> Best,
> -Melinda
> On 10/22/2013 4:56 AM, Ben B. Blohowiak wrote:
>> Melinda,
>> Thank you for your feedback; that Yahoo list you mentioned would be a
>> welcome addition to our resource base.
>> You are correct regarding my opinion of your "not at all" answer–I’d
>> much prefer a ray of hope, which I will deliberately cling to for the time
>> being. However, I will take under advisement the omission of the dimension
>> of time from the discourse until we feel prepared to tackle simulation of a
>> 5D Minkowski space; that was a good catch that I am grateful for.
>> Best,
>> Ben
>> On Mon, 21 Oct 2013 16:36:40 -0700
>> Melinda Green <> wrote:
>>> Hello Ben,
>>> You probably found me either through my exploration of the 4D
>>> Mandelbrot/Julia space or my 4D Rubik’s cube called MagicCube4D. As you
>>> have guessed, I’ve done a lot of exploration of the issues of visualizing
>>> and manipulating 4D objects. My original goal that led to the above works
>>> was the same as yours: To find out what limitations there might be to the
>>> ability of humans to perceive 4D objects with anything like the ease with
>>> which we can grasp 3D. I now believe that I’ve answered that question, but
>>> you’re probably not going to like the answer which is "Not at all". I know
>>> that given the seemingly limitless ability of the human mind that may be a
>>> surprising conclusion, but having done as much exploration as I have on the
>>> subject, I also feel that I know why that is so. The answer is simply that
>>> our brains evolved in very large part to be expert in visualizing and
>>> manipulating things in the 3D world, but there was no evolutionary reason
>>> to be able to do anything close to that in 4D and beyond. Certainly we can
>>> deal very effectively with any number of dimensions, but we should give up
>>> hope of ever groking 4D in any way similar to what we can do with 3D.
>>> The good news is that with experience, we can get very good at
>>> manipulating higher dimensional objects using other mental skills.
>>> MagicCube4D is the perfect tool for that job because it gives you something
>>> non-trivial to do in 4-space. You manipulate the object through direct
>>> interaction with its 3D projections, and you learn to separate the
>>> projected experience of the object from its essential 4D state. (I.E. the
>>> aspects that don’t change as you change its projection.) We have a very
>>> nice community of a couple hundred people who discuss these things and more
>>> via our Yahoo group mailing list, and I encourage you to join and pick
>>> their brains about some of the things you want to understand. I will
>>> shortly send you an invite in case you are interested.
>>> I looked briefly at your documentation and have one suggestion: Please
>>> avoid all suggestions of time as an extra dimension. This is one of the
>>> most unfortunate ideas that the general public has and it is very
>>> counter-productive. Time is simply another dimension and is completely
>>> different from the 3 large spatial dimensions, and in that way is no
>>> different from other continuous dimensions of mass, color, or even smell or
>>> price. So while it looks cool to talk about 5D spaces, it really masks the
>>> 4D issues you are really interested in. That’s just my 2 cent contribution.
>>> I wish you the best with your project,
>>> -Melinda Green
>>> On 10/21/2013 7:13 AM, Ben B. Blohowiak wrote:
>>>> Dear Ms. Green,
>>>> I’m putting a team together for an initiative called the Jefferson
>>>> Trust.
>>>> You’re invited to participate to the extent of your availability and
>>>> interest. I have yet to formally secure grant funding, though I expect
>>>> to
>>>> hear final word by February.
>>>> You can learn more about the basic idea I’ve got in mind here:
>>>> https://openscienceframework.**org/project/dXJEO/wiki/home<>
>>>> Best,
>>>> Ben Blohowiak
>> Best,
>> Ben B. Blohowiak
>> Simulation Technology Specialist
>> University of Virginia School of Medicine
>> PO Box 800863
>> Charlottesville, VA 22908
>> 434-243-2759