Whether you’re the sort of brainiac who easily gets the concept behind the fourth dimension or, perhaps, are still trying to wrap your head around the abstract mathematical concept, this new app is a great way to spend more time on the subject.
The fourth dimension is a concept that applies the rules of vectors and coordinate geometry to a space comprising, obviously, four dimensions. It’s a heady idea–one you might not fully understand even after spending considerable time with this app–but you’ll likely have fun trying.
The Fourth Dimension app is a 30-page digital booklet that breaks down the concept with a series of animated, interactive pages. Here, the fourth dimension is explained by comparing it directly to the concept of the third dimension–i.e, as humans we live in a 3-D world in which objects are not flat but our movements are limited to three simple directions: left-right, forward-backward and up-down. (The app also helpfully explains and visually illustrates the concepts behind the first and second dimension).
In the fourth dimension, ideas about our physical relationship to space are blown to smithereens. This app uses an animated tesseract to illustrate the concept. A tesserect is a cubic prism that is, in theory, the 4-D version of a simple square–it’s made up of 8 cubical cells that, when rotated, can cause it to change shapes (into a trapezoid, for example).
Still don’t get it? Don’t worry, this app guides the user through the entire concept but it may take several reads (at least) to fully understand it. The fun part is getting to compare how shapes exist in a 3-D world versus the abstract 4-D world. Here, these differences are highlighted with animation, shadows, color and user manipulation.
What I liked: The user interaction is great–here you’ll stretch lines, spin cubes and be asked to stare at a series of images until you’re dizzy. Plus, the app’s developers clearly had fun with this project–there’s a lot of playfulness and humor, which is nice when trying to learn about such a mind-boggling theory. It’s especially fun to explore this app with a friend or family member.
What I didn’t like: I liked everything, I just wanted there to be more. Then again, unless you’re a scholar in this subject, these 30 pages will likely keep you busy for a long time. The only improvement I could see would be to add a Table of Contents feature that is accessible from any point in the app–as it is now you’re limited to flipping through the “back” and “next” tabs.
To buy or not to buy: The price is low and certainly worth it if you’re looking for some smart entertainment.