For a long time have scientists thought that the universe had three spatial dimensions: top-down, left-right, front-back.
In 1905, Albert Einstein helped us with his theory of relativity to understand “the dimension of time”. But the new fourth spatial dimension has remained hidden so far.
The truth is that the fur dimension is as mysterious as it gets.
Two groups of scientists from America and Europe claim to have discovered the fourth dimension, and their findings have been published in the journal Nature.
Researchers carried out two experiments in which they could observe the quantum Hall effect – the movement of electrons within a material limited to two dimensions as this material passes through a magnetic field in a perpendicular way – and they demonstrated— theoretically—that this effect can be extended in four spatial dimensions.
Despite the fact that the papers focused on two different experimental approaches, they arrived at a similar conclusion.
European scientists created a 2D system with supercooled atoms held in position with a special grid made of lasers. Referred to as ‘charge pump’, scientists used it to test the flow of electrical charge while monitoring how the atoms behaved. Scientists noted how variations in the movement match up with how a 4D quantum Hall effect would ripple out, which gives us hope that a fourth spatial dimension may somehow be accessed.
The second group of scientists created a system with light particles which were set to move through a special glass that has the ability to bounce light back and forth between the edges. Scientists simulated the effects of electrical charges via physical input and observed how the light behaved. Experts looked for irregularities that could only exist if there was a fourth dimension. Again, researchers observed a 4D quantum Hall effect.
Speaking about the discovery to Ryan F. Mandelbaum at Gizmodo, Mikael Rechtsman from Penn State University said: “Physically, we don’t have a 4D spatial system, but we can access 4D quantum Hall physics using this lower-dimensional system because the higher-dimensional system is coded in the complexity of the structure.”
“Maybe we can come up with new physics in the higher dimension and then design devices that take advantage the higher-dimensional physics in lower dimensions.”
The discovery is perhaps best explained by Science Alert writer David Nield who wrote: “just as a 3D object casts a 2D shadow, scientists have managed to observe a 3D shadow potentially cast by a 4D object – even if we can’t actually see the 4D object itself. That could unlock some new findings in the very fundamentals of science.”
“I think that the two experiments nicely complement each other,” one of the European researchers, Michael Lohse from the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Germany, said in an interview with Gizmodo.
The findings from the two experiments have been published in Nature here and here.