Monday, July 25, 2011

four or five or more spaces we are always in

Four or even five spaces we are always in: the astronomical space, the earth crust space, the atomic space but don't forget the imagination space and the emotional space.  Maybe cyberspace, too.

When I wrote some ideas in meditation, I included words about where we are.  I included the entire space of the universe, the heavens and the subatomic space of our atoms and the space in them.  I mentioned the skin of the orange, the little rind of water and soil on the outside of our planet ball, where we all live.  But I didn't think of two other spaces or worlds that are very important to us and that I visit quite often.  I am thinking of my head space and cyberspace.

Many people divide one's head space into at least two parts, the rational and the emotional.  We could also decide to separate out the conscious from the unconscious or subconscious.  What I "have on my mind", preparing dinner, say, may be quite different from the anticipation I am feeling about seeing a promising film tonight.  Further, my conscious mind might be thinking of lentils while another part of my brain is regulating my blood pressure and sending signals that there is an insect crawling on my neck.  

In physical space, we can indicate location with three numbers: latitude, longitude and altitude.  So long, that is, if we have an agreed-on point from which to measure such as the Greenwich Observatory and sea level.  With appropriate points of origin from which to measure, maybe we can indicate whether we are on land or not with a further number, bringing us to four numbers.

Legend has it that Descartes was lying in bed one morning watching a fly.  He realized that a scale along the length of the room, one along the width and one dangling from the ceiling to the floor could be used to indicate the location of the fly at any moment as it flew about.  Thus was the bridge built between geometry and algebra, allowing lines and shapes and curves to be written in numbers and then calculations could be done with the numbers.  That lovely invention set the stage for Newton and Leibnitz to invent the calculus.  

Today, researchers are quite used to working with entities that are specified by many numbers.  Since Descartes' invention, understanding the geometry of spaces, curves and angles has been extended from sets of three numbers of specification to many readings on the fly or whatever is being studied.  It is a bit beyond us just now to specify the cognitive and the emotional state of a person right along with the physical location but the day may come when we are used to dealing with a standard people space of ten or 20 variables or dimensions.

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