1 The Fourth Dimension


Science is about to enter a third stage. The first stage was trial-and-error; it began with the Stone Age, the Iron Age, the Bronze Age, Columbus, Copernicus and Darwin. This stage produced remarkable discoveries, and still does. The second stage was mathematics, which tries to unify the results of trial-and-error. It too produced remarkable results, and still does. But mathematics is only about the nature of numbers; it cannot help us understand the nature of reality. If trial-and-error produces the fruit of science, mathematics is not the fruit tree. Only the third stage of science can tell us about the true nature of the universe.

After Christopher Columbus staked his life in 1492 proving that the earth was spherical in shape, he probably realised that he now inhabited three worlds. First was the limited, pre-1492 world that everyone else inhabited; then there was the new spherical world that everyone would have to get used to, which took more than a century; and third was the environment of this sphere; the universe. Then in 1532 Nicolaus Copernicus pointed out that the earth was not the centre of the universe as was commonly believed, which also took some getting used to.

Christopher Columbus, Nicolaus Copernicus and Charles Darwin in 1859 knew that man could not adapt to new environments without abandoning his old ways. The problem today is that scientists refuse to change their ways. For example, the word ‘force’ is so embedded in the English language that it can be blamed for hampering the advance of science. Let’s face it, a force is an effect; it cannot cause anything. A US literary friend of mine summed it up: ‘Force is an adjective but has become a noun. How could an adjective attain such an elevated status in the scientific world when there ain’t no such thing as a force?’

Imagine for a moment that you, a scientist, have landed on a far-off planet deep in space. It might seem that your experiences on this planet will be more valuable than if you had relied on a telescope to view this planet from a distance; and this telescopic view would have seemed more valuable than viewing points of light in the night-time sky with the naked eye. Theoretical physicists say they can feed the information gathered from all three views into a computer and combine them. The problem is, this composite view cannot predict what you may discover next. As you examine planetary dust under a microscope, you suddenly realise that your telescope is also a microscope; it enlarges what seems small. You have been searching for the secret of the universe in the realm of the ‘very small’, which could equally well be carried out somewhere else deep in space, such as planet earth; or can it? Scientists have created atomic bombs, but they still do not know why atoms should move. Their movements are caused by forces, say scientists. Hmm! I don’t think so; forces are caused by movements.

Strangely, we experience the secret of the universe wherever we are, alone surrounded by nature, shopping in a busy street or looking through a telescope. Wherever we happen to be, we see only colours; the word ‘seeing’ means experiencing colours. All of us float in a sea of colour. But here’s the rub; the secret of the universe cannot be found by interpreting the colours that surround us. It lies in the nature of colour. For some of us, this may also take some getting used to; but Gautama Buddha knew this secret 2500 years ago.


The author holds an engineering degree from Imperial College