Image in modal.

Multidimensionality. I know, it sounds like a made-up word. One of those words with too many syllables. A big word designed to impress when a shorter, simpler word would suffice. A word like that is actually called a sesquipedalian. Go figure.

Multidimensionality has a specific definition, but like many other words, the definition shifts, or is tweaked, depending on the subject being spoken of and its context. My most recent brush with the word, or its concept, was a bit of an accident.

I must be watching too many documentaries because the content-streaming algorithms are suggesting I view even more documentaries. During the 30-second previews that play when you're on these streaming platforms—and at a moment when I wasn't really paying attention—I heard a voice say:

"In any finite region of space, like the observable universe that we now inhabit, there's a finite amount of energy, which is carried by a finite number of particles. And those finite number of particles can only be arranged in finitely many distinct patterns. Because there are only finitely many distinct ways that the particles can be arranged, if space does go on infinitely far, the particle pattern has to ultimately repeat. And that would mean there'd be copies of us out there."

Wait. What?

The voice was that of theoretical physicist Brian Greene, well-known for his books geared toward the general public, from the 30-second preview for the documentary "A Trip to Infinity." Greene's voice is followed by a number of other top scientists reiterating, "There'd be copies of us."

"I was the kid who would take the [Rubik's] cube apart and put it back together solved."

I'd heard of multi-dimension theory before, but perhaps it was that, in just a brief 30-second encounter, it began to make sense. I've since begun to consider it like a Rubik's Cube, or even like languages.

The English language has 26 letters. These letters are the building blocks, allowing for the building and recognizing of words, sentences and phrases. The agreement and recognition of the patterns of words and phrases is key to our ability to write and speak to others and understand those that are writing and speaking to us.

I might have chosen the Rubik's Cube example, but I was the kid who would take the cube apart and put it back together solved rather than taking the time and energy to solve it on my own. Even more depressing was when 10-year-olds around the world started solving the Rubik's Cube in a matter of seconds.

But I digress. Outside of physics perhaps, multidimensional is something with many different parts or aspects or it may describe something that is intricate or complex. Relationships can be described as multidimensional. We may not think much about the relationship between two roommates, but if those roommates also are husband and wife, the relationship is multidimensional. The way we teach our children is said to be a multidimensional approach as to include the importance of cognitive, emotional, and social components of successful learning.

The entire quality industry is no stranger to complexity or multidimensionality. In addition to dealing with the intricacies of measuring and testing components in the manufacturing environment, as Duke Okes writes, "Quality is not a single field, but in fact the integration of knowledge from many fields of science, technology and management. This can be seen by looking at some of the quality gurus and their more well-known contributions."

So read Duke's column, The Multidimensionality of Quality" and everything else we have to offer in this month's Quality.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!