just finished another physics book, which was quite fun (and likely inspired the picking up of the math book), but reading it before going to bed was a bad idea. Half the fun of reading it was visualizing the effects of higher dimensions, and it provided numerous examples of ways in which to do so. The author successfully illustrated his point (over a couple hundred stimulating pages) that laws of nature become simpler when seen from viewpoint from a higher dimension. His stated goal was to help explain current wacky ideas to non-physicist-type people, and he was very successful in making the idea of higher dimensions seem graspable. However, when it came to the specific theory that certain physicists have actually been contemplating, he sort of copped out. It was as if he said, "see, here's what happens when we have a fourth spacial dimension, and here are some ways to conceptualize that dimension, and it's not so hard to understand, see? By the way, the going theory is that that there are ten and twenty-six dimensions, so you're still not smart enough to get it. nyah nyah!"
okay, he didn't actually say "Nyah nyah." and I'm willing to accept that i'm not smart enough to understand ten dimensions, what with my three-dimensional brain and distaste for mathematics. But I think he could have made a bit more effort. for example, sometimes he said there were ten dimensions, and sometimes ten and twenty-six. apparently the twenty-six aren't that important, because he only mentioned them half the time. but he could have put more effort into explaining why it was ten and twenty-six, instead of just thirty-six. or did the twenty-six include the ten, but the extra sixteen were only important some of the time? speaking of time, is it ten spatial dimensions and twenty-six temporal dimensions? i don't think that's what he meant for me to deduce, but i don't see as how he offered any other options.
but here's the thing that bugs me the most: supposedly, after the big bang, the 10-dimensional universe split into a 4 dimensional and a 6-dimensional universe. The 4 got really big and the six got really small. i'm not making this up. how does a dimension get small? Now my brain's too tired to even formulate the rest of my complaints...i'll try again another time. i'm just bummed that the book glossed this stuff over.