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The Time Warp

    Sometime ago, as I sat leisurely reading the piece by Charles Choi published in UPI Science News, Scientists may find space warps in 3 years, I was taken back to an event my family experienced in 1969.

      Scientists said Sunday they expect to discover so-called space warps -- hidden extra dimensions of existence other than space and time -- within the next three years by making energy apparently vanish into thin air.

    Back in 1969, my father was employed at a college so my childhood vacations were infrequent, but educational in nature, thus my memories of them are indelibly etched in my mind. When I was about 13, my family spent a weekend at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), held in Ontario, Canada.

    After our vacation ended in Toronto, we got into our car and began the journey back to Erie, Pennsylvania. My older sister was sitting in the front seat with my father and my mother in order to practice map reading since she had just gotten her Learners Driver Permit. My younger sister and I were sitting in the back seat, so we had a good view of what was going on out the windows.

    The trip began uneventfully on a summer day with beautiful sunny weather. We were all relaxed and looking forward to returning home. Once out of Toronto, we headed down a highway which eventually turned into a two-lane highway, and I recall seeing a wall made of stones about 3-4 feet in height along the left side of the road, just before a bend in the road. We passed that landmark and the road veered off to the right.

    As we drove along, we noticed the scenery became less urban and more rural. Suburban homes were replaced with farms and fields of cows in the countryside, and after perhaps a 30-minute drive, my father commented that we seemed to be getting off course and that we should stop somewhere to be sure we were headed in the right direction.

    We stopped at a small country gas station on the right side of the highway, and after my father consulted with the owner, he returned to the car quite upset. He got inside and blurted out that my sister had given him wrong directions. We were not heading south; but west, directly toward Detroit, Michigan!! The storeowner indicated we needed to backtrack until we reached the landmark stonewall, and then to come to an intersection where we would turn in another direction to get back on course.

    My angry father grabbed the map from my sister and we were all hushed into soundlessness. He turned the car around and we got back on the same highway and began to drive back in the direction of the landmark stonewall.

    After about 10 minutes, my younger sister sitting next to me in the back commented that the scenery seemed to be so different than it had been when we first saw it. I, too, had noticed that everything we were seeing was different from the farms and fields of cows we had seen previously. The rural scenery had vanished completely, and even though it was 1969, were replaced by modern homes and suburbs like you would see in the 1990s! The barns, farmhouses and fields of cows were completely gone.

    Everyone in the car had noticed the change as well. Finally, one of us blurted out to my father something like "Dad..........where did all the cows go? Where did the farms and farmhouses go? Where are we????"

    My father noticing the changes was extremely frightened and upset by what he saw, but he concealed his concern from us.

    "SHUT UP, Everyone!!!"

    was his reply. So we all rode in hushed silence as he drove along the highway, and stared out the windows at what appeared to be a scene from the future. Until we reached the landmark stonewall. After we passed by the wall, the scenery returned to what we remembered before. And we rode all the way back to Pennsylvania in silence.

    Once home, my father summoned all of our family into the living room and told us to sit down on the couch. We did so, and then, trembling and visibly shaken, he relayed to us his perception of what had happened. You have to understand that my father prided himself on being an extremely logical man. He was a realist and not one prone to fantasies of the imagination nor given to daydreams or illusions.

    So as we numbly sat on the couch, he explained to us in a very low voice that he believed what we had just experienced was time travel--that for a brief period of time, we had passed through a time warp, which transported us into the future. He had no other explanation for this and it had bewildered him as well.

    Perhaps our angels had intervened to divert us from becoming involved in an automobile accident. Or perhaps we had simply passed through a time warp by accident. Only God knows the reason we were allowed to experience this, and it shall remain forever in my mind a vivid experience which has expanded my perception of reality enormously.

    Scientists may find space warps in 3 years
    by Charles ChoiUPI Science News
    February 17, 2002

    BOSTON, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Scientists said Sunday they expect to discover so-called space warps -- hidden extra dimensions of existence other than space and time -- within the next three years by making energy apparently vanish into thin air.

    These new dimensions, warped up into extraordinarily small balls, may have the potential to help scientists develop a theory that unites all the forces of the universe -- from gravity to electromagnetism � under one master explanation.

    "The way we think about things is about to change completely," said lead researcher Maria Spiropulu, an experimental physicist at the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago. "This is truly a revolution in the way we understand our world."

    This "grand unified theory" may in turn help scientists detect new extra-dimensional forms of matter and finally unlock the secrets of cosmic phenomena, such as the microwave afterglow of the Big Bang, black holes and dark matter.

    "We would understand the physics of black holes. We would understand the physics of the cosmic microwave background," Spiropulu told UPI. "It would be big."

    Science is able to explain how electromagnetism and nuclear forces control the microscopic particle world and how gravity works on large scales. When scientists try to explain how gravity acts on particles, however, the result is mathematical gobbledygook, Spiropulu explained Sunday at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    For a century, tantalizing theories have suggested gravity and electromagnetism may work together in realms we cannot yet mathematically define -- in extra dimensions.

    These dimensions are hypothetically not infinite, like the three spatial dimensions of length, width and height, but instead are finite and tightly bundled into spheres, poles or other geometric shapes billions of times smaller than the wavelengths of light.

    "It sounds outrageous," Spiropulu said. "To be honest, we don't know what the heck is going on at these length scales."

    This notion of extra dimensions is gaining favor in the science world under "superstring theory," the idea that the fundamental building blocks of the universe are not points in space but tiny, tightly bundled vibrating loops or "strings." These loops are warped into extra dimensions and therefore do not look like strings, much as how a strand of yarn seen end on end would only resemble a point.

    There is no undeniable proof of this theory -- yet. While scientists around the world are searching for trace evidence that implies extra dimensions, Spiropulu suggests an innovative strategy to directly observe the hidden realms -- by making energy disappear into the dimensions, thus revealing their existence.

    In her experiments, protons going at almost light speed are smashed against their antimatter opposites, antiprotons. If measurably less energy is produced than went into the experiment -- an apparent violation of the law of conservation of energy -- this imbalance "is a viable signal that there is an extra dimension," Spiropulu said. "We hope by 2005 to have great results on this topic."

    Such findings could be extraordinary, suggesting that quarks � the fundamental building blocks of the universe -- may have mirror cousins in other realms. In addition, Spiropulu said the invisible "dark matter" physicists say must exist to explain the shape of the universe might be found in these extra dimensions.

    "Only a couple of years ago, extra dimensions were thought to be completely unobservable," said Nobel laureate Leon Lederman of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy outside Chicago. "The extra dimensions may now be observable. This is news that has many possibilities."

    � Soulful Connie