Sunday, August 31, 2008

Britney in the 4th dimension

Today's vigil in Mexico was impressive and massive (unlike the few dewds at Tibet's vigil last month)... I can't help but to think about the darker side: how many cars of people attending that vigil may have been vandalized or stolen? I've always said that Andre Breton was absolutely right: "Mexico is the most surrealist country in the world". But I must be honest, you need a certain degree of surrealism to understand the 4th dimension.

britney spears' guide to semiconductorsIf Britney Spears can understand semiconductor physics, I don't see why it could be so difficult for me to imagine a 4th dimension in space. I'll have to find some time to read Edwin Abbott's "flatland" since it is the main reference to understanding a 4th dimension, and Britney only helps in understanding and visualizing curved surfaces... or just "visualize" some videos about that. In fact, it all started when I was looking at Persistence of Vision Raytracer (POV-Ray) and found this amazing movie:

Dimensions: A two hour movie made in POV-Ray!

Jos Leys, working with Etienne Ghys and Aurélien Alvarez (both mathematicians from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France) produced a two hour movie in POV-Ray which explores in beautiful visuals the concepts of dimensions and mathematics.

View the trailer, then head over to the Dimensions website where you can download all 9 chapters or purchase it on DVD for the very reasonable price of 10 Euros (which, as a non-profit project, covers the cost of production and includes worldwide shipping!). The project is released under a Creative Commons license (see site for details).

dimensions movieA spoken commentary is available in French, English, Spanish and Arabic on both the DVD and the downloads, with subtitles provided in Arabic, Dutch, Chinese, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian. Instructions on how to use the subtitles are available on the website, which also includes pages with more detailed explanations on the topics in the different chapters of the project.

Check out and support this fantastic project and send in some feedback and comments!

Maybe because I'm already a bit familiar with Adrien Douady's rabbit and fractals... that I got more interested on Ludwig Schläfli's 4th dimensional polytopes. They are stunning! I've seen the hypercube (tesseract) before, but never actually put much attention into that... or even tried to draw my own hypercube! I was living my life as a simple flatlander, now I'm becoming like Escher's lizards. See you in the 4th dimension, dewds!

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