Can life exist in 2D? The physics of a 2D Universe
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Why is everything three-dimensional? We
have three spatial dimensions plus one time dimension.
You don’t need sophisticated scientific instruments to confirm this. This is
obvious to any observer. Why aren’t there four dimensions? Or two dimensions? Is
there something special about three dimensions that makes life possible?
Scientists have presumed that life could only exist in our three dimensions
because the laws of physics, as we understand them, wouldn’t quite work the
same way. But is this really true, or is this just our self-centered anthropic bias talking? Could it be that this bias is not really rooted in
science? This is the question that cosmologists dr. James Scargill recently
examined, and released in a preprint on June 2019.
I personally spoke to Dr. Scargill, and I think you’re going to be surprised what
science has to say about this. Can life exists in another dimension? And what
does this say about our place in the universe? That’s coming up right now… There was a great story written by an
English school teacher Edwin Abbott in 1884 about geometrically shaped creatures that lived in a 2-dimensional world called flatland. There was a strict
hierarchical social structure based on the shape that you were born with.
Besides being a social commentary, it examined what life would be like from
the perspective of sentient two dimensional beings. And more recently, on
a TV show called The Orville on Hulu, which by the way, I think is the
real heir apparent to Star Trek, the TV franchise, even though it’s not in the
same universe, the crew of the Orville encounters a
two-dimensional universe. They didn’t get into the details of the two-dimensional
creatures that lived in that universe, but it was an intriguing concept. This
idea of creatures living in two dimensions has been the purview of
science fiction. But is the science really all that far-fetched? Let’s look
at the case for higher dimensions first. One reason we don’t see four or five
large spatial dimensions is that, according to science, life cannot exist
in more than three large dimensions, at least not life as we know it. Why?…because
stable elliptical orbits around stars are not possible in more than three
dimensions. The force of gravity gets weaker the more dimensions you add. For
example, in four dimensions, gravity varies as the inverse cube of the
distance, rather than the square of the distance. As a result, even small
disturbances such as the pull of other planets, would send an orbiting earth
either toward the Sun or spiraling away from the Sun. No orbits means no solar
system, and presumably no life. And thus life presumably could not exist. Another
good reason is that the latest data from the detection of gravity waves, using
LIGO, suggested that there was no higher dimensions because if higher dimensions
existed, we would expect to see some of the gravity leaking into these other
dimensions, weakening it by the time it reached earth. But this weakening was not
seen. So if higher dimensions exist, they exist on a very small scale, on the scale
of Planck lengths, where the tiny strings of string theory can vibrate. You might
ask, “why can’t life exist on these small scales?” Well, these scales are so small
that not even atoms could fit on these scales. If an
atom was the size of the earth, these dimensions would be much smaller than
even the size of a ladybug! But what about two dimensions? Why can’t
life exist in two dimensions? Unlike higher dimensions, we know for sure that
two large dimensions actually exist. Most scientists had believed that
two-dimensional life was impossible. But Dr. Scargill found that the barriers to
existence of life in two dimensions are not insurmountable. I spoke with Dr.
Scargill and he generously agreed to be the technical adviser for this video. The
link to his website and paper are in the description below. There have been two
main arguments against the possibility of life in two dimensions. First, because
gravity according to general relativity requires three spatial dimensions and
one time dimension. In other words there would not be enough degrees of freedom
for space to curve in two dimensions. And second, scientists have believed that the
neural networks for complex brains which require hundreds of connections per
neuron could not form enough connections in two dimensions, because the number of
connections would be physically limited compared to three dimensions. Let’s first
look at what is needed for life to exist in two dimensions. And let’s start with
the problem of gravity. In two dimensions if only the equations of general
relativity were applied, it turns out gravity would exist only inside the
mass-energy components. And so outside a star, where there is no matter, space-time
must be flat, meaning no gravity. And hence there are no orbits. Why does this
happen? Simply put, there’s not enough freedom in
how space-time can curve. And it is instead, completely determined by the
matter energy content of the space-time. This seems to present the same problem
of no orbits that we had for four dimensions. But nothing forces gravity to
be only defined by general relativity. In particular, there could be other degrees
of freedom, such as a simple scalar field. It would allow stable orbits around
point sources. And it really would be equivalent to the kind of
two-dimensional bending, like a rubber mat, or trampoline that you
commonly see for 3-dimensional gravity, except that it would be a more accurate
representation of the two-dimensional gravity. You should note that this
graphic is not what scalar gravity actually physically looks like, because
there would be no third dimension for the two-dimensional universe to bend
into. The bending just represents the effect of gravity encoded in the
geometry of space-time, including 2d space-time.
Dr. Scargill showed that even though there are fewer degrees of freedom for
space-time geometry in two dimensions, the equation still allows scalar gravity
to exist in the spaces between the masses. What about the rest of physics?
Would the other three fundamental forces from the standard model still exist — the
strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, and electromagnetism?
According to Dr. Scargill, they would. Two dimensions would not be a limiting
factor since two dimensions provides enough degrees of freedom for the
respective equations to work. So for example, two-dimensional atoms could
exist, because the strong nuclear force binding protons and neutrons together in
the nucleus would be present. electrons could orbit around the nucleus,
since electromagnetism should also exist. In addition, the Higgs field would exist
with no problem, in principle. Dr. Scargill says that it is interesting to
note that the Higgs field and the weak nuclear force are probably NOT required
for life to exist. Only about two percent of the mass of an atom comes from the
Higgs field. Almost the entire mass of atoms, and presumably then most of the
universe’s mass, comes from energies present in the nucleus of atoms. I have a
video on that if you want more details. And scientists who have studied the idea
of the universe without a weak nuclear force have concluded the such a universe
would not be devoid of life! And what about the complexity of life, because of
the limitations of a number of neuronal connections that you could have? Dr.
Scargill shows in a series of planar 2d graphs, that connections could be made
with nodes such that they exhibit complex communications networks. They
would not have the complexity of three-dimensional brains,
but they could come close if the brains were much larger. A human brain has about
a thousand connections per neuron. Because of the limitations of 2
dimensional planar connections, the two-dimensional neurons would have an
average less than 6 connections each. But our neurons are limited in active and
inactive phases. In other words, they can only process so much information. It’s
estimated that only about 10% of the connections are working at any given
time. So the effective number of connections is about a hundred per
neuron. Two-dimensional creatures, on the other hand could be 100% efficient. So
now we have a ratio of 6 to 100. But if the two-dimensional brains were about 16
times larger (16×6=96) than the human brain, it’s possible that their processing capacity
could approach that of the human brain. Now this may be a stretch, but perhaps 2d
creatures could emulate less complex brains. It’s known, for example, that
nematodes, or roundworms, have about 300 neurons with 30 connections each. A
two-dimensional creature could probably more easily match that kind of
processing power. So what would be some of the real limitations for
two-dimensional life-forms? The 2d universe would be a surface. Planets
would be solid circles, and creatures would be 2 dimensional beings composed
of molecules which would be like two-dimensional strings of beads. The
organic chemistry, that we’re used to, depends on the 3d shapes of molecules, as
well as their composition. So this kind of chemistry would be a limitation in 2d.
However, this does not preclude some other form of equally effective organic
chemistry to rule the 2d universe. In fact, in the 1980s, scientists such as A K
Dewdney thought a lot about biochemistry of 2d molecules. And their studies
suggested that 2d chemistry, while simpler than 3d chemistry, could be quite
sophisticated. For any organism to exist and thrive, it has to be able to consume
and process energy. It could not have a digestive tract going one way completely
through its body like you and I have, because this would cut the organism in
half. But it could consume food in the same orifice that it releases its waste.
This may be disgusting to us, but again that is just an anthropic projection of
our values to other life-forms. Heat dissipation would be an issue, because
the relative surface area for 2d creatures would be much smaller than for
3d creatures. So for example, in 3d, the surface area of a sphere, is 4*PI*R^2, whereas the surface area in 2d would simply be 2*PI*R. So for any given
radius, the surface area would be much smaller in two dimensions. So the
creature, in order to increase its surface area for heat dissipation, would
likely not be smooth. It would have multiple folds, like a radiator in your
car, to dissipate more heat away from its body. It may also have a sophisticated
cooling system like your car. Everything inside the creature would likely be
connected to everything else, so the inside of the creature might look nearly
like a solid. There’s a famous line from Jeff Goldblum’s character Dr. Malcolm in
the movie Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.” I want to emphasize that just because we
can show something can exist, does not mean that it does exist. Can we
demonstrate that 2-dimensional life exists? We can’t even demonstrate that
three-dimensional life, outside of Earth, even exist yet. So demonstrating
two-dimensional life seems out of the question right now. But what Dr. Scargill
shows is that to understand the true nature of our universe, we need to think
beyond our self-centered anthropic point of view. In other words while every
indication is that earth is rare and indeed, we’re lucky to be alive here and
now, each of us would be well advised to get over ourselves. This universe does
not revolve around us. Life in our 3d universe may not be all that unique. And
we may not be all that special.

I wouldn’t think that life could exist in 2D. I say that because if you only have length and width and no height, you would have a volume of 0 which would make containing stuff impossible. I’m not too educated on this stuff so please correct me if I’m wrong

I think 2d is just conceptual and cannot truly exist. it has to happen to build upon our math, which does not truly exist. Computers can simulate up to 10 dimensions but it's just using the math system that is man made. There's only 3D space and time which some consider 4d, but is there really other dimensions

2D life is impossible. how can a 2D being with a 2D heart and 2D eyes can see anything without some thickness. are you telling me life can exist without thickness?

Futurama posed an interesting solution to the problem of digestion: Enveloping the food completely like a microbe.

Always thought there were different vibrations on the same plane. Vibrations based on energy. When energy is applied or taken from matter we see it changes physical states.
Good Spiritual beings are usual described as glowing(high amounts of energy) and bad as dark (low amounts of energy)
So what would that be called if not dimensions?
I also can see dimensions on multiples of threes with the ones in between being a type of "support", but then that seems impossible to enter into those spaces. Only for the higher dimensions beings could enter the lower planes but…
Ok I'm rambling. I'm done .

Good talk bro but in two dimensions there's literally no space. It's just a plane. You couldn't even draw something on it. It doesn't even exist without the third dimension. Doesn't exist separate from Life as We Know It

An important thing you missed is that the structure of the periodic table depends on the degrees of freedom available to electron orbitals, so the chemistry of other dimensions would be entirely different.

Hmmmm….. why do we need stars and planets in 2D? After all, what would the flatlanders live on? It wouldn't be on top of the planet's surface, as that would be them moving up into a 3rd dimension.

I would like to ask the professor if our universe could be just a 2d universe's 'planck' and the possible absence of certain strong forces in such a universe.

How does a 2D organism move about in it's 2D world? If it's true 2D it cant be like paper figures layered ontop of each other, that would be 3D as they stack higher. Does the molecules more around and threw the 2D organism, like it's swimming(kinda like organisms under a microscope)? If so, shouldnt different densities of matter determine the "landscape" where they can and can not go?

The answer its absolote yes, because energy its all there is, and its infinite making possible that posibility

then again this is from a 3d view and applying 3d logic to a 2d world, but what if 2d has it's own logic which we may not even be able to comprehend?

about the 4d orbit thing, won't the mass also increase from πr^3 to πr^4 making the difference smaller

There is not and can't be a two dimension space with life. There wouldn't be any electrons, gluons, quarks, or probably photons. If string theory is correct they have to vibrate in three dimensions to exist. It is my opinion that there is no first or second dimensions. There has to be at least three dimensions for any thing to exist.

One thing that I tend to see in imaginations of two-dimensional life is that people generally imagine height as being the dimension that's removed. Which, if the 2D universe bears any resemblance to ours in having solar systems and round planets, wouldn't be the case. Instead, the surface of any given planet is going to be a LINE… making life on those planets more like a side-scrolling platformer game. You can go forward or back, you can jump, fly, or swim up and down if you have the capability, but there is no sideways!

Which is something which, if it doesn't prevent life from arising altogether, is certainly going to affect how it can spread and how complex it can get. Aquatic life won't be able to spread from one water body to another: any land in between will block them. Even if an animal could get on land, it would easily be blocked by a cliff or even a two-dimensional tree if it can't jump, fly, or climb.

It's hard to say that time is a same dimension as space dimensions, since it's possible to travel only in one direction. Also what about gravity dimension, magnetic fields dimension, and other 9 different dimensions which are exists in our universe on micro scale? We barely can imagine what life would be without a gravity, would it be possible at all. If you have time, gravity, fields, but one less space dimension, you can't scientifically call it 2d. If it's not at least popular scientific, what is the point to create "flat-earth like" conspiracy theories?

I think this is more of a question fit for existencial philosophy rather than raw physics. While it could be possible for life to exist in 2D it wouldn't make any sense at all for it to do so.

So much bullshit in one video. Why dont you just answear the topic instead of focusing on possible causes. For example we in fact know that there are organisms who will function without a brain. Yet you present the things with the brain you said as an important fact. Get to the topic next time.

A brain 16 times the size of a human brain? I.e. 1.6 trillion neurons, not in a big 3D ball, but spread out, one neuron deep (sic). Soo… 100 Bn Neurons, in 2000 cm3 = 50 Mn per cm3, roughly 400x400x400 Neurons per cm3. If we imagine the brain as a sphere, with radius 7 cm, then in its 14 cm depth, there will be 14x 400 layers = 5600 neurons deep. Our 2D brain equivalent, would be 5600 x 16 = 89600 circles of 7 cms radius = 89600 x 153 = 1379 M2, 0r a circle of radius 20 metres. Not wanting to be bigoted, but 3D-ers RULE! Where do 2D-ers live? In a FLAT. 2D-ers car wouldn't work?…FLAT tyre.

i think God, angels and demons are higher dimensional beings.
and "God created us on his image"
so maybe we are "gods" and our drawings and/or games is our "human"
or maybe galaxies are like molecules to God.
the planets are like atoms to God.
maybe we are living inside of God's
body?

Any force needs a 3rd dimension to have a value greater than 0. so in the video at 6:01 to 6:10 the force of gravity in 2 dimensions would still be zero.

Yes, life can exist in 2+1 dimensions. Conway proved it with his game and told you what physics you need.
It's Turing-complete, which means if all else fails, you can simulate a 3D world with it that has life, and thus have life.

Of course 2D organisms can have a digestive tract going all the way through their bodies. Imagine passing a sheet of paper between two magnets. Or a zipper opening and closing so it's only open around the food. It doesn't cut the animal in half.

you're missing the fact that molecules and atoms are 3d objects which means that you cant hypothesize 2d life using those. if anything 2d or 4d life is beyond our imagination and we cant even comprehend the way they work

Could life exist in a 1st dimension? Nothing would be moving I imagine, so could individual species life on as one, until death which would be their extinction? Depending on change over time? This question is probably way too out of your understanding.

When they say "2D" are they referring to something that is 1 atom thick and incapable of moving in a 3rd dimension, or something that physically has no third dimension? Is it possible for an object to have no third dimension?

how can you have a simple coherence of a 2d sun, I would like to see an object in 2d being able to hold a force to initiate a nuclear fusion.

My brother had to read that book by Edwin Abbott for his freshman year geometry class. Teacher didn't really know what she was doing.

Friends, people, everyone, all this says is that life in an upper dimension would be far, far more powerful than anything in this dimension. THIS IS A HIGHER POWER. IT EXISTS ABOVE TIME, ABOVE SPACE. YOU ARE STARING, STARING INTO THE FACE OF GOD. Open your eyes

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