Thinking in 4D!

In amongst lots of other things we are doing this week, we watched a couple of documentaries that I personally have found thought provoking and interesting. I have also been totally gob-smacked by son's level of knowledge and insight...

The first one, is part of the Through the Wormhole series - Are There More Than 3 Dimensions?

This intrigued me, because we really enjoyed Flatland and the concept that we find it difficult to perceive other dimensions bigger than the ones we experience. It is very hard to visualise a third dimension if you only live in two (eg: Flatland) and we find it very hard to visualise four (or more!) dimensions if we are living in three (length, width and depth). I'll leave out the argument that time is the fourth dimension for the time being...

Video Boy: Hey, you know how energy equals mass times the square of the speed of light, if you have enough mass in one place, you would have so much energy that it would be able to go to the fourth dimension - like in the big bang hyper-accelerated photons of light went to the fourth dimension. So, a black hole is simply a torn hole into another dimension just next to us, a four dimensional hole, that's all it is!

I followed along with his logic and it made sense (given my limited physics knowledge). But I was overwhelmed by how well he understands the concepts and attempts to put them all together and synthesise an understanding.

Then last night, I was watching the (ahem, quite intoxicating) Professor Brian Cox's Wonders of the Universe on ABC with my hubby. I loved it, because it put lots of ideas in the same place and without getting too scientific, maintained a childish sense of wonder about the universe and our place in it. I thought the kids, especially Video Boy, would enjoy it (although I am sure he is oblivious to the charms of Prof Cox).

Well, Wombat Girl found it a bit hard going, and we paused frequently to discuss various terms and issues. I had been so enthusiastic, because it had explained difficults concepts like "entropy" and "time" really well. As Brian's dulcet tones stated "As the story of time unfolds, a fundamental truth is revealed - nothing lasts forever".

"Because of entropy" pipes up Video Boy. Say what? And then when Prof Cox is describing entropy, comparing it to grains of sand, Video Boy pauses the video and gives us a rundown of how entropy relates to the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

And just now he tells me that he thought of a way you could see into the fourth dimension - if you could bend light (using electromagnetics) in the shape of Klein bottle, you could view the fourth dimension and how cool it would be if he could create the technology that allows us to do this.

Here is my boy who refused this morning (with much tears and carry on) to write four sentences. Who struggles to ride a bike. Who finds it incredibly difficult to sit still and do a few maths problems.

This is the essence of the twice-exceptional - high level knowledge, brilliant insight and often amazing creativity. But below-average writing skills, gross motor skills, executive functioning. What a contrast. What a problem - especially for schools - to deal with. How do we keep up with him intellectually, but not expect university-level output? I'm so very glad we are homeschooling because I get to see (and hear) the brilliance. If he was still at school, all the teachers (and therefore I) would see would be inability to complete written work, lack of concentration and a boy who didn't quite fit in with his peers. It would be like only knowing 3 dimensions, so you can't imagine that the fourth exists. If you only focus on the disabilities, you can't imagine the giftedness.

I get to see the real Video Boy and I get to give him the opportunity to think in 4 dimensions, if that is where his mind can take him.


  1. Ingi I think I'm raising your son's twin! It's amazing how much alike they are! We struggle with writing too, but Geekling just turned 7 and has an amazing grasp of Quantum Physics. I have a huge crush on Brian Cox too! He's second only to Jon Stewart on my "list of 5!" Have you looked at his talks? Love your blog and thanks for sharing! Stephanie from

  2. Stephanie - I thought you might relate! OK, off to do some "research" on Brian Cox on TED...

  3. Did you see the banner on my Night Owl 1967 blog (main one)? It shows an 'entrophy' of my face :D


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