I recently praised Planiverse as peak hard science fiction. But as I hadn’t read it in decades, I thought maybe I should reread it to see if it really lived up to my high praise. The basic idea is that a computer prof and his students in our universe create a simulated 2D universe, which then somehow becomes a way to view and talk to one particular person in a real 2D universe. This person is contacted just as they begin a mystical quest across their planet’s one continent, which lets the reader see many aspects of life there. Note there isn’t a page-turning plot nor interesting character development; the story is mainly an excuse to describe its world.
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The number of people and size of cities needed to support a technolgical civilization probably depends on the properties of "people".
For humans, it's clearly a lot. Probably many millions of people. (If Elon Musk's attempt to colonize Mars goes forward, we'll find out how many.)
But Planiverse people might be different. Maybe they learn quicker, have larger memories, live longer, etc. It would be facinating to know how that affects minimum civilization size.
Maybe something like a cable car - the wires move, and you latch onto them. Or "walk/climb" along the cable using electromagnets on your feet/hands to latch at the appropriate times.
I'm not sure magnets would work so well with thin things taking up such a small volume of the magnetic field. What are the other attractive forces - electrostatics, nuclear forces, or maybe something like Van der Waals force?
Possibly some controllable attractive force pulls you towards the wire and then a wheel (or whatever the 1kD equivalent is) lets you roll along it.
Isn't any wire going to have a tiny surface area compared to the volumes and weight of things trying to grip it? Are all structures spindly wire type things, or at least 2 and 3D within the 1kD world?
How many time dimensions does this 1KD world have - 250 time dimensions and 750 spacial?
Edit: To avoid the need for stiffness in most dimensions (and therefore thickness) knots or other similar tension things should probably be used as much as practical.
Further Edit: it seems knots only work with things two dimensions less than the space in which they exist ,or something like that. So strings and wires don't knot in 4D or higher dimensions. Does anything constraining movement to be along or against a wire need to also have a lot of dimensions in 1KD?
I agree that subsystems based on the density of molecules seem possible in 2D.
This reminds me of molecular signalling networks. In a cell (an idealized one) the different subsystems are distributed over several enzymes and proteins, encoding logic gates and phosphorylation memory and whatnot. These proteins diffuse randomly in the cytoplasm until they come into contact with the relevant partners. I don't see any reason why this kind of cells wouldn't be possible in 2D, and there is no hard theoretical limit to the number of subsystems that can get along in this way.
I'm not imagining packets with walls, just stuff attached to a wire. Walls are crazy expensive, so you want to avoid them if at all possible.
But wouldn't 1KD packets also have the problem with crazy expensive walls? I think it was in a previous blog you wrote that in 1KD, 'not-crazy-huge objects can’t have separated pipes or cavities', which means making a small packet to deliver a good seems impossible.
I think the optimal approach in large-dimensional space would be to steal a page from Fantasy and have different 'planes' where an entire dimension is walled up and devoted to a specific use (e.g. water, air, whatever), and then to tap into it from any point, you just need to go through the barrier in that specific dimension. (For a 3D version, I'm picturing something like an ice covered lake, where essentially the bottom part of your vertical dimension has been walled off for water, and you can access it from anywhere on the lake, by just going down)
You could still have conservation of motion. Things could only move if they were in contact with other things, but it would be possible to become stranded if you propelled yourself farther from other objects than you could reach. This would allow for a more open world, but create unique hazards. You would also have to explain why any matter tends to clump together at all.
I am also curious how respiration and elimination happens for a 2D creature. You have to avoid discontinuities in the body structure.
Right, Flatland takes the other approach in which the 2D world is like a top-down view of our world. Such a world's physics would have to be more different from our own, or else for example conservation of momentum would prevent people from moving since they have no ground to push against.But several of the problems in the above post go away. They can have a large population since they are not confined to a 1D planet surface. Their houses can be more simple since they don't need floors to stand on. They can just protect their stuff by encircling it with a single wall.
That sure looks like an ant farm to me. Just increase the intelligence of the ants, and there you go. Right?
Thanks. I see. It's really just a matter of which 3D terms you retain to try to explain a 2D reality.
ETA: Also depending on assumptions about whether 2D objects have mass and "gravity" or whether 2D objects could move freely in their plane.
I added a diagram from the book; see if that helps.
What do terms like "over" and "under" even mean in a 2D universe? How can something be built underground? How can there be a space station when there's no "up?" What does "standing up" mean?