Thanks to Michio Kaku’s book, Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension, I finally know what’s been troubling our cat, Tuesday. She’s been trying to teach me theoretical physics! Michio Kaku is one of those rare geniuses who is so smart he can not only understand theoretical physics, but also explain it so clearly that his non-physicist readers imagine they understand it, too. To help us ordinary folks make sense of dimensions beyond our own, he asks us to imagine what it would be like to live in a two-dimensional world.
The denizens of this world, the Flatlanders, are incapable of visualizing three dimensions, and can only interpret what they see based on their own world-view. A Flatlander prison, for example, would be a cinch to create. To imprison a Flatlander, all you have to do is draw a line around him. There he’ll stay, unable to escape.
My cat has demonstrated this principle by pretending to be a Flatlander. If I make a circle of yarn or string on the floor, she’ll sit down in it and give me a penetrating stare. See, human? Now I’m trapped!
Liminal space also fascinates my cat; she uses it to tutor me in the theory of the multiverse. She’ll pause half-in, half-out of the doorway, look up at me, and mew. Obviously, she’s trying to explain that until she makes a decision, the waveform of potentiality remains intact. She’ll walk through the doorway, then direct my attention to the fact that the waveform is now collapsed for that particular decision. Immediately she’ll reverse directions and face the doorway again, or take a few steps backwards, or bound back through the doorway to demonstrate the infinite number of potentialities possible in each simple decision.
The concept of “now,” or the rate of time, is another subject dear to our kitty’s heart. The perception of “now,” as explained by Richard A. Muller in Now: The Physics of Time, is the number of milliseconds it takes to send a signal from our senses to the brain, plus the time it takes the brain to process, record and remember the signal. “In humans,” Muller explains, “that’s a few tenths of a second; for a fly, a few thousandths of a second. That’s why it is hard for a human to catch a fly…your threatening hand approaches in slow motion…”
Tuesday has shown me time and time again that she can catch a fly in midair; her quicker, more sensitive brain is capable of processing much faster than mine. The flow of time I perceive is much slower than the flow of time she perceives; therefore, when she requests her dinner a half hour in advance, her expectation is realistic based on her own perception of time. Einstein’s twin paradox is fully comprehended by our cat. She isn’t asking for dinner early, we are providing it late. It isn’t her fault we are stuck in a slow, sludgy flow of time and never make allowances for general relativity.