In the evolution of the paranormal epoch of which we are currently at the pinnacle (arguably), there have been a class of entities -called so for lack of a better term to describe the phenomena associated to them- whom have been deemed by a great many people, some more learned than others, to be visitors, or sometimes possibly invaders, from another reality, more specifically another dimension of reality. Schattenwesen readily comes to mind, as does some of the wilder speculation about the origins of El Chupacabra and even the Loch Ness Monster. There are those who would even go so far as to say that all (or most) paranormal activity is the result of various incursions of inter-dimensional energies and/or consciousness’, including ghosts, demons and the like…and at some point in the past, I would have been included among them.
Is there any truth to this notion? Is there any possibility that everything we know to be real is just a short space away from the alien reality of another dimension? The short answer is yes, though getting to that point is going to take some work.
Before moving toward an explanation, it bears relevance to separate the visions of the silver screen from the reality of this complicated science. Hollywood has been working hard to proliferate a notion of inter-dimensionality into our collective culture, they seem to be smitten with the idea of infinite worlds, replete with earthen similarities in physics, environment, atmosphere and even biology to our own “dimensional reality”, all only just a “spacetime tear” or “stargate jump” away. However, the truth about such notions is much less fantastic and far more interesting.
Unfortunately, this notion is based on a total misunderstanding of the science in this regard. That science is the realm of quantum physics, superstring theory and M-theory, and if we were to look for a reason for this thorough misunderstanding, it might be rooted in the simple and unfortunate fact that these topics are notoriously complicated and exceedingly difficult to visualise. Few talented writers are able to grasp the subtle nuances of the science and few scientists are interested in explaining them in simple terms, though there have been exceptions, but nonetheless this is the realm of science and not science-fiction.
If you were looking for ways to bolster an argument on the side of inter-dimensionality as a refuge for weird and wonderful creatures, who harbour an ability and a penchant for visiting our world’s darker places, then I’m afraid you’re about to be disappointed. I intend to shed some light (in my humble capacity) on the misuse and misunderstanding of the terms and ideas behind inter-dimensional physics. Firstly, what is a dimension, and how has its concept been twisted through a preponderance of general ignorance toward the theory.
A dimension is a spatial direction, or axis, along which objects can move within an area of space. We inhabit a three-dimensional universe, in that there are three directional axes along which objects in our reality can move. Another way to look at it is, in order to find a particular point in space you need to have three pieces of information; on earth a latitude, longitude and altitude (you would also need to know what time to look, as time constitutes the fourth dimension of space-time, though this isn’t particularly important for the current topic). This is a relatively easy to understand idea and visualising objects in this reality is equally easy, though modern physical theory has thrown this idea out the window.
It is conceivable and indeed likely, that there are spatial dimensions necessarily beyond what we can perceive; in fact the most advanced understandings of superstring theory and M-theory have all but proven the existence of several additional dimensions…seven more to be precise. Through decades of mathematical theorising and cosmological observation, modern physicists are on the threshold of astounding experimental confirmation of this idea, culminating in results achieved through the use of particle accelerators (also known as particle smashers) like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and both the science and history of these theories is well worth examination.
Essentially, and with an admittedly limited knowledge of the actual science, the existence of these extra dimensions will be proven through the discovery of supersymetrical particles created as a result of smashing known particles (electrons and protons etc) together at enormous velocities and then measuring the constituent particles that rain out of the collision. Already, this subject is overcomplicated, but then we are talking about understanding that which cannot be seen or detected in any other way. I can do no justice to the beautifully contrived experimentation, but I can tell you that most physicists are confident in the existence of 10 spatial dimensions, plus one more to account for time.
So, one might ask, how can there be 10 dimensions in a three-dimensional reality? And the answer is quite simply that the other seven are just too small for us to perceive. And barring a lengthy discussion of gravitational theory, the second law of thermodynamics and basic cosmology, suffice it to say that this answer is far more complicated than it appears. However, as it pertains to the paranormal notion of inter-dimensionality, this answer provides some insight into the problems one would encounter when trying to fit any theory of inter-dimensional beings together with string theory/M-theory. Most estimates suggest that all seven other realities, which we already inhabit, are on the order of a billionth of a billionth of a millimetre in size (a Plank length or 10-33 centimetres), and while the size of each dimension presents certain problems for the notion of housing entire worlds whose inhabitants can visit our own, the fact that we already inhabit these dimension puts a bigger wrench in the works of this paranormal theorising.
String theory, or more accurately, superstring theory, makes certain suggestions about what it is that makes up the particles that make up atoms, the supersubatomic realm. Essentially, string theory describes, through highly complex mathematical predictions, the constituent elements of subatomic particles. The idea is, as the name suggests, that strings of energy, in various shapes and lengths, and vibrating a various frequencies are what make up and what determine the species of the various subatomic particles (quarks, bosons and leptons etc), but further than this, string theory also suggests that there may be what some physicists are calling branes (membranes) to which the strings are attached, and which take on or possibly even generate the same vibrational frequencies as their companion strings. Many of today’s leading physicists believe that our three dimensional reality is housed inside one of these branes, a three-brane, and as such the other seven dimensions are housed in other branes, which precludes our being able to detect them. They suggest that, if we inhabit our own particular three-brane, then because of some equally complex ideas, such as Einstein’s cosmological constant and certain elements of gravitational theory, all the other possible branes must only exist on the supersubatomic scale (Plank scale).
None of this, of course, does anything to improve our ability to visualise these concepts, and alas, I won’t be the one to provide such understanding, as I have just as much difficulty with the idea as the next man. However, the one aspect I can fully grasp is that, while we speak of alternate or disparate dimensions of reality that exist beyond our own, we’re actually speaking of dimensions of reality that exists alongside and within ours. As alien and awkward as the ideas may seem from a visualisation standpoint, they are no more foreign than our own living rooms, and as such are not suitable originations for the likes of demons, monsters or ghosts.
Others have posited ideas that conjure visions of alien worlds and alternate universes, though, as much interest as even I have in speculating on the many-worlds and multiverse theories, there is less and less scientific support for such notions as viable descriptions of reality, as the envelope of understanding is opened by leading physicists and cosmologists around the world.
In recent years there have been various books written to bring this science reasonably into the realm of layman understanding, though most have failed miserably. Some have painted pictures of multiverse hives, huddled together in some vast and cold void like soap bubbles on the surface of someone’s dirty dishwater, and others have inspired notions of many-worlds floating in alternate realities, just begging to be explored by those with the technology to breach the threshold between them. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these books and ideas have fallen short of getting across the truth about these theories, and even where they haven’t, the readers have often taken more from the subtle misunderstandings than from the grand ideas. By all accounts, if there is a realm beyond ours, travel between is a physical impossibility not soon to be overcome, if ever, and not for reasons of technology, but for the boundaries of physics in this universe.
Underlying the demotion of inter-dimensional possibilities from the origins of paranormal creatures and entities, is the assertion that, with qualification, a great many paranormal encounters are bound inside the mind of the experiencer and not of the corporeal world we inhabit. This is not to say that the various entities don’t exist, any more so than it is to say that every claim of an encounter is true and accurate. The unfortunate outcome is that the many imagined or misidentified experiences that are reported through official and unofficial channels, serves only to dilute the total field of potential cases, thereby obscuring the relatively small amount of truly wondrous phenomenon from scientific observation.
To gather a deeper understanding of the above, in a much more elegant, albeit much more complicated form, I suggest picking up a copy of Brian Greene’s national bestseller; The Fabric of the Cosmos – Space, Time and the Texture of Reality, as well as the classic by Carl Sagan; Cosmos.
 For a reasonable accounting of the basic science behind string theory (technically termed ‘superstring theory’) and M-theory, please see the Wikipedia entry for each respective title:
 An involved description of supersymetry can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supersymmetry
 A discussion of Plankian distances etc can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_length
 Multi-verse theory is a Big Bang Cosmology theory discussing possible conditions of pre-bang universes, and Many-Worlds is specifically a discussion of parallel cosmic timelines.