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|The Time Machine
|H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
|Page 2 of 6
`_I_ have not,' said the Provincial Mayor.
`It is simply this. That Space, as our mathematicians have it, is spoken of as having three dimensions, which one may call Length, Breadth, and Thickness, and is always definable by reference to three planes, each at right angles to the others. But some philosophical people have been asking why THREE dimensions particularly--why not another direction at right angles to the other three?--and have even tried to construct a Four-Dimension geometry. Professor Simon Newcomb was expounding this to the New York Mathematical Society only a month or so ago. You know how on a flat surface, which has only two dimensions, we can represent a figure of a three-dimensional solid, and similarly they think that by models of thee dimensions they could represent one of four--if they could master the perspective of the thing. See?'
`I think so,' murmured the Provincial Mayor; and, knitting his brows, he lapsed into an introspective state, his lips moving as one who repeats mystic words. `Yes, I think I see it now,' he said after some time, brightening in a quite transitory manner.
`Well, I do not mind telling you I have been at work upon this geometry of Four Dimensions for some time. Some of my results are curious. For instance, here is a portrait of a man at eight years old, another at fifteen, another at seventeen, another at twenty-three, and so on. All these are evidently sections, as it were, Three-Dimensional representations of his Four-Dimensioned being, which is a fixed and unalterable thing.
`Scientific people,' proceeded the Time Traveller, after the pause required for the proper assimilation of this, `know very well that Time is only a kind of Space. Here is a popular scientific diagram, a weather record. This line I trace with my finger shows the movement of the barometer. Yesterday it was so high, yesterday night it fell, then this morning it rose again, and so gently upward to here. Surely the mercury did not trace this line in any of the dimensions of Space generally recognized? But certainly it traced such a line, and that line, therefore, we must conclude was along the Time-Dimension.'
`But,' said the Medical Man, staring hard at a coal in the fire, `if Time is really only a fourth dimension of Space, why is it, and why has it always been, regarded as something different? And why cannot we move in Time as we move about in the other dimensions of Space?'
The Time Traveller smiled. `Are you sure we can move freely in Space? Right and left we can go, backward and forward freely enough, and men always have done so. I admit we move freely in two dimensions. But how about up and down? Gravitation limits us there.'
`Not exactly,' said the Medical Man. `There are balloons.'
`But before the balloons, save for spasmodic jumping and the inequalities of the surface, man had no freedom of vertical movement.' `Still they could move a little up and down,' said the Medical Man.
`Easier, far easier down than up.'
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|The Time Machine
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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