My company tagline, The World In 4D, indicates Time as the Fourth Dimension. This spacetime interpretation of 4D was formally presented in 1907 by the mathematician Minkowski, building on Einstein’s Special Relativity theory of 1905*.
In plain language, 4D means everyday three dimensional space moving forward in time. For example: our bodies change, our friends change, our homes and workplaces change, and our world changes.
For virtual environments it is the same: first you build (3D) and then you operate (4D). Build means: develop an interesting space. Operate means: run the space with interesting experiences over time.
Think of a successful shopping venue near where you live. Think of how they keep you coming back by having sales events and periodically refreshing their look in order. I think of Memorial City Mall in Houston, Texas: they fix up old wings; they change decors; they promote local schools with events and discounts; they add ice skating rinks (!); they add free wireless; they keep a gorgeous website; they keep shop spaces rented and looking good. They keep things happening throughout the year.
Now, think beyond shopping: where you live, where you work, your city, country, world. What keeps you feeling good in your home – new TV? new stove? new wallpaper? What keeps you feeling good about your city, profession, friends and family – new things to do? new places to see? festivals? projects?
For real and virtual environments it is the same. It’s all 4D: endless happenings in the space-time continuum.
*It is also valid to think of 4D as a fourth spatial dimension (bumping time out to 5D). In fact, physicists are up to 11 spatial dimensions so far, in the quest to express and test cosmological string theory.
EXTRA CREDIT: Here is a pictorial table showing the progression from zero (0) to four (4) spacetime dimensions:
|Points, Grains||0 Spatial|
|Lines, Rods||1 Spatial|
|Planes, Mats||2 Spatial|
|Solids, Cartons||3 Spatial|
| Events, People
|3 Spatial +