The world we live in is described in three dimensions, left-right, up-down, and forward-backward, to which is added a temporal dimension. Many scientists argue that the world could be composed of at least four spatial dimensions, while the String Theory postulates the existence of up to ten dimensions. Fortunately, a recent experiment carried out by two independent laboratories, one in Switzerland and the other in the United States, observed the phenomena of higher dimensions and helped scientists observe the behavior of a four-dimensional space.
Of course, the experiments have been carried out in the inhospitable terrain of subatomic particles, a microscopic world with its own rules described by Quantum Mechanics, where the laws of traditional physics cease to function and in which the particles are capable of extraordinary things.
Each of the two laboratories devised their own experimental configuration, the first with ultra-cold atoms and the second with light particles (photons), something that permitted them to observe the fourth spatial dimension helped by the properties of the well-known quantum Hall effect.
The studies examined the quantum Hall effect behavior in a four-dimensional space
Two independent teams of researchers, one led by Oded Zilberberg, in Switzerland, and the other led by Mikael Rechtsman, at the University of Pennsylvania, in the US, have managed to develop a way of observing those physical phenomena that according to the theories they only manifest in a dimension superior to ours.
“When the theory predicted that the quantum Hall effect could be observed in four-dimensional space, it was considered to be of purely theoretical interest because the real world consists of only three spatial dimensions (…) we have now shown that the four-dimensional quantum Hall effect can be emulated using photons (light particles),” explained Mikael Rechtsman.
In short, both experiments show how the Hall effect would look if it occurred in four-dimensional space, although that, according to the researchers, does not constitute evidence that a real four dimensions space behaves similarly.
This type of scientific research could help to prove aspects of the String Theory, according to which many higher dimensions were “compressed” in the past in such a way that currently there is only the three-dimensional space that we can see around us. However, the results are big step forward in the Quantum Mechanics and in the observation of the fourth dimension