Time


Remnant of SR 1572 "Tycho Brahe's Supernova"

Remnant of SR 1572

Is time immutable, or is it subjective?  Philosophers have debated the nature of time, and whether it is intrinsically ordered and has tense.  I have devised a mind experiment to show that time depends not only on the observer, but the observer’s position, that before, after and simultaneous are subjective.

Visualize two observers on opposite sides of a town, one north, one south.   Both have clocks that were synchronized, and the observers moved slowly apart, so that relativistic effects on their clocks is insignificant, and flash detectors connected to the clocks to properly record the time of lightning flashes.

A storm comes up, and a lightning stroke hits in the middle of the town.  The two observer’s flash detectors record the time of the flash, and agree on the time.  The light from the flash travels to the flash detectors at the speed of light, producing a time delay of approximately 3.33 microseconds per kilometer.  Lets say the the observers are 6 km apart so the delay from the stroke until the observers detect it is 10 microseconds, and both of them agree on the time of the lightning stroke.

Lets now assume that there are two lightning strokes, one near the north observer and the other near the south observer, and from the “god’s eye view” (lets say, from the point of view of an astronaut on the moon) the north stroke took place at Time = T and the south stroke took place at Time = T + 5 us.  “God” would say that the north stroke took place first.  The north observer would agree, but would claim that the south stroke took place 25 microseconds before the south stroke.

The south observer would disagree, the south stroke took place 15 microseconds BEFORE the north stroke!

The speed of light is the limit of the rate of information flow in the universe, and is the basis for the visualization of the “time cone” where occurances at a distance from an observer are experienced at a later time than it would have been experienced by a proximate observer (more…)

The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics

Julian Barbour has written a clear and groundbreaking manifesto in The End of Time that states what may be the most profound insight since Aristotle. Time, according to Barbour, the reference by which all of Newtonian physics is measured is merely an illusion!

Newton proposed a universe of physics which contained a fixed reference coordinate system upon which physical existence plays out. The cartesian or polar playing field contains three fixed dimensions of space and one of time. In Newtonian physics, the world simply operates according to the rules of motion which he so clearly identified.

While most experiments conformed to Newton’s picture of physical reality, there were some experiments, like black body radiation, that did not work out according to plan. Just as Newton corrected and extended Aristotle’s views, Einstein, Bohr and the others corrected and extended Newton’s mechanics with quantum mechanics.

Just as Newton’s view ran into experimental problems, quantum theory runs into problems when trying to incorporate gravity into a grand theory. Barbour painstakingly develops his theory, and a method of visualizing the basic concepts that permit his theory to be understood. (more…)

Arrow of TimeDileep George has conducted research into modeling the structure of the human neocortex and constructed artificial neocortical arrays that mimic thought processes. These arrays are arranged in a heirarcial structure, with some closely connected to sensors and others a level removed, and so forth. Each heirarchial level resolves the invariant portions of a signature of the inputs through learning. His example of the visual cortex’s ability to identify the difference between a dog and a helicopter independent of position, version or race through learning. An audio recording of Dileep’s paper is at http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail732.html
The structure and organization of the neocortex requires a number of relationships and feedbacks including statistics, probability and temporal feedback. It occurs to me that the human perception of time may be inextricably linked to this temporal feedback. If time is not a fundimental feature of the universe, but instead simply a “rate variable” clocked by our own neocortex, then the time we have used as reference for all of our present science may be merely an artifact of our mind’s perception. (more…)

I always wondered why the biblical folks in Genesis lived so long. Adam, 930 years, Methusela, 969, Seth, 912, Jared, 962, and so on. Then folks born after about 1750 B.C.E. started living only as long as we do.

Was there some virus that caused people to die early? Did God decide that people were living too long and the world would get crowded? What phenomenon could cause this sudden biblical gerontological phenomenon?

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I have had the pleasure of serving as alpha, or beta after my wife to a number of dogs. In this capacity it became obvious to me that dogs do not have the same sense of time that people have. For people, time is a continuum, constantly seeming to flow from the past to the future.

When a properly cared for dog’s people leave and then return the joy and pleasure on their return is as complete and total whether the absense has been ten minutes or ten days. The dog seems to know no difference! If you go away for a minute or two and return, the dog recognizes that you have only been absent momentarially and greets with only a modest recognition.

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p-BraneString theory postulates ten or eleven dimensions, only three of which we can “travel” in. Time is a fourth dimension that we experience “now” and can experience “the past” through memory, but we have no knowledge of “the future”.One could say that we traveling in only one direction on the time dimension, and cannot reliably control our transit through time. (Although when one is bored, time certainly approaches stopping!)The other six or seven dimensions are often referred to being “curled up” in a microscopic manner so that we cannot experience them. This is not something that is intuitive, and is tough to keep straight.

One alternative to envisioning these other dimensions as curled is to postulate a brane – a flat surface that is analogous to an infinitely large and thin piece of paper, but in two (or more) of the “other dimensions”. Any entity that inhabited a brane would have no or little knowledge of anything the might exist outside of the brane.

The existance of branes, facilitates string theory to describe gravity, and could be the source of missing “dark matter” and where particles in an adjacent brane reduce gravity to the weaker than expected effects of recent experiments.

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