header image

of hypercubes and tesseracts…

Posted by littleindian on July 23, 2007. |

How does
Doctor Who
Mad Eye Moody
and Salvadore Dali
come together into a blog!

Because I spent an entire weekend
struggling to think laterally, literally in right angles
or as learned mathematicians would call it, along orthogonals.

Before you think i have gone completely bonkers,
(tell me something I do not already know! 🙂 )
I assure you, I no longer have interest
in any form of mathematics.

I was only trying to understand how and why
the Doctor’s TARDIS looks bigger on the inside. Honest.
I found it was a bit of ‘space’ which was beyond our three dimensions
the result of Time Lords’ transdimensional engineering.
It is a hypercube,

“which is a “closed, compact, convex figure consisting of groups of opposite parallel line segments aligned in each of the space’s dimensions, at right angles to each other”…

And I agreed. (I am not going to argue with the learned mathematicians).


a point and move it, you get a line;
a line and move it at rightangles, you get a surface;
a surface and move it at rightangles, you get a solid;
a solid and move it at rightangles, you reach the realms of hypercubes;
starting with the tesseract – which in geometry,
is the four-dimensional analog of the (three-dimensional) cube.

In muggle terms:
The tesseract is to the cube as the cube is to the square;
as the square is to the straight line as the line is to the point.
You get the point?

The TARDIS has an interior which is voluminous in four or more dimensions.
So did Mad-eye Moody’s magical trunk, in which he himself got imprisoned.

I found an image of a tesseract unfolding (or is it folding) upon itself to


Feeling suddenly brave, in my new found cleverness, I decided to explore the Tesseract.

tesseract folded Tesseract unfolded

I found a picture (on left) that projects a tesseract in 2D,
and then unfolds it into its 8 cube components.
It looked like a crucifix, reminded me of
a very special one.

This is a painting I have always held in awe.
I have looked at it many times, feeling there was more to it,
with the feeling that I was on the verge of an elusive understanding…

Now I think I do.
Dali, with his genius, in this painting had opened out
the scene of the crucifiction into the fourth dimension and maybe beyond.



The painting Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus), by Salvador Dalí, 1954,
depicts the crucified Jesus upon the net of a hypercube.

A whole weekend gone to waste?
Not if I can bore you, ahem 😀 , share this with you.





Posted by littleindian on . |

8 Responses to “of hypercubes and tesseracts…”

  1. Wow, I hate math, but I love Geometry. This is an excellent post! I am a fan of n dimensional theory such am M theory. I got hooked on this stuff in the ’70’s by reading science fiction like “666 the number of the beast by my favorite author Robert Heinlein. In the book 666 was an address in n dimensional space.

    So it seems we share more then an interest in politics, you and I!

    The scientifically impossible I do right away
    The spiritually miraculous takes a bit longer

  2. @ Clapso,

    I was so thrilled to have found a meaning to that painting after so many years, that I had to share it out loud. I couldn’t really do an Archimedes up the road, modern day legislations forbids that 🙂 . Hence this blog.

    The result of a thoroughly idle but inquisitive mind.
    I liked maths, but only till senior school many decades ago. I was aware of multi dimensional mathematics, never had the interest to try to explore.

    I love proper sci-fi. Anything that will make me think, yes that is possible, maybe not tomorrow but a few years on. It is nice to be able to share our interests.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Not boring us at all Little Indian. But I have a dread of anything pertaining to mathematicals and as if that’s not enough, you only went and brought Dr. Who (DALEKS!!) into the mix.

    Great crucifix picture there though.

  4. All this beyond my ken, I just couldn’t learn mathematics and remained duhhhhh
    But looking at Dali’s painting, I was reminded of Goddess Kali on Shiva….any thoughts on that?
    and like Earthpal I was amused and triggered, not bored at all!

  5. @ another woman,

    I did try my best to keep it un-mathematical. 🙂

    I am not sure what you refer to with reference to Kali and Shiva.
    Would like to more about your thoughts on this.

  6. Perpendicular kali on horizontal shiva, the balance of this universe?

  7. @ another woman,

    Her posture, as if she had stopped half way through a step.
    I know what you mean, and I agree. It invokes a certain kind of feeling deep inside.

    You must have heard of Shantipur, my Ma’s family was from there.
    There is a temple (I cannot remember the name), where they have the yearly Kali Pujo.

    The image is always 16-20 feet high.
    And by tradition it is carried by a team of men on their backs for immersion.
    To cope with the weight they walk very fast and never stops till they reach the river.
    They carry flaming torches ‘moshals’ to light their way, not the usual glitzy electric lights or generators.
    No music or marching bands, a totally ‘dedicated’ pujo.

    The aethist me, once went to watch out of curiosity, unaware of all these details.
    I was standing on the side of an otherwise unlit road, in a crowd, waiting for a the usual ‘procession’.

    Suddenly the image appeared around a bend in the road,
    it was dead silence, no one made a sound, the area got lit up by the torch flames.

    I had to look up and even more to see the whole image, in the traditional posture of like you describe, “the balance of universe”.
    They passed me by and was gone in a matter of seconds, gone beyond the next bend, an everything turned dark again.

    Believe me, it felt like something hit me in the chest and went through me. I was in goosebumps.
    I have never been religious, then or after, but that day I was awestruck by what I saw.

    I think I know the feeling you describe.

  8. […] I had spent an entire weekend struggling to think laterally, literally in right angles or as learned mathematicians would call […]