Imagine being a two-dimensional being, just able to move in two dimensions, just able to perceive two dimensions. You would not be able to realize that there is yet another dimension; you would not be able to imagine this other dimension, in fact - if it were possible to exist that way, in just two
dimensions - you would feel very comfortable about it, not at all missing the missing third dimension. But then, we are used to three dimensions: width,
height and depth describe the physical world outside very well, this being neither a microscopic nor a macroscopic description but just describing our range
of vision. But then there is time as another dimension. Well, just call all those three physical dimensions X, meaning width, height and depth together, and
you could create a history for that certain set of coordinates: Like point X at the time t1, point X at the time t2 etc. You would get a mathematical
function that would describe the point X in how it depends on the factor of time: X=X(t). That means that there would be a whole bunch of data describing
that point X, in fact it would be an inifinite bunch of data: As we cannot determine the start or end or measure of time to count the sets of data. That
would mean that you would integrate X over a period of time. OK, I promise I'll finish this mathematical stuff soon.
What I wanted to point out in the preceeding paragraph was that there is a way to try to imagine how space and time can be seen in that you think of each
portion of space existing at one special point of time; that past and present and future are different. But that would be just one approach, it would
just define the view of that special point X(x,y,z,t). But what is a dimension? This is a question of algebra: In 3d space, three bases, three directions,
allow us to navigate: width, height, depth - x, y and z. The number of possible directions is the dimension of that mathematical space. Those directions
are independent from each other; a combination of all these directions (may it be 2, 3, 4 or 23 or whatever, depending on the system) defines a point in
that system (I sincerely hope that if there was a scientist out there thinking that I'm talking nonsense, they would speak up). So this would be a much
better description of spacetime, all four (basic) dimensions working together but independently to determine the position of a certain element of spacetime.
What is the point, you might be asking. Well, in my humble opinion that means that if each dimension is working independently, there is nothing
special with time. We are just used to the three 'local' dimensions, we are used to travel and live within them, so why shouldn't it be possible to some
day have time-travel? Perhaps it is us, and not spacetime, that's the problem - the solution might be simple, we just have to find it. As
mathematical and physical sciences have developed during history, every new theory added a piece to the already known, always fitting in perfectly, always
seemingly being the ultimate and up-to-date knowledge, laughing about former inadequacies of description. Science Fiction has added another perspective to that approach: There will always be scientific progress if there is research, and the result will always be somewhat unexpected but so logical and easy that one would wonder why it hadn't been figured out before.
There are certain "theories" within sf about spacetime, all of them accepting that you should expect everything: subspace, hyperspace, jumpgates, warp technlogy, particle transmitters, time travel, time control, parallel universes - a future to come true or not? It would seem logical for it to come true in one way or the other. Why? Because our knowledge about spacetime, about the universe in general, doesn't allow us to say what would be possible and what wouldn't! Is the truth beyond our comprehension? Or is it just necessary for us to grow, not to already be grown-ups? Isn't that process of growing part of the "game"? The "real" fabric of "reality" will even exceed our craziest imagination.
The complicated thing with the "fabric" of things is that we don't even really know what this physical fabric would consist of. What started with the model
of the elements developed into nuclear physics, with atoms - particles which one would not be able to split up any further - forming the basis of all
matter. This obviously being disproven in a drastic way in 1945 at the latest, scientists had already discovered other elementary particles, electrons, neutrons and
protons. A whole zoo of elementary particles was made visible, basic forces (strong and weak nuclear force, electro-magnetic force) proven to be just one
force with gravity still not (yet?) included. But even this model of elementary particles faded away with theories about strings and even sub-quark
components, that means: What we perceive as particles and matter is just a flux of energy, held in form by electromagnetic fields. Sounds a lot like
Voyager's holographic doctor, or what? But this would be just matter-energy (or anti-matter energy), not even including temporal (or anti-temporal?) energy. And what about mental energy? How could all of this be connected?
June 16th, 1998