Saturday, May 22, 2010

And now for Now

We set out to understand time but what did we learn? I concluded time was a direction in four dimensional space. But I can never really say it is so as a matter of fact. I used a model to describe certain traits of what I understand time (and space) to be. If it did anything at all it was probably to confuse matters even more. I stated that if there is no spatial change an observer will not experience time and without time the observer will not be able to experience spatial volume. At the same time I logically concluded that even if time has stopped and consequently spatial volume has collapsed that does not mean that the physical properties of that spacetime have seized to exist. The time of existence is clearly an other aspect of time.

So what about the moment of now? We seem unable to define what now is or to quantify it in any way. I know I write this sentence now but right now I started the sentence some seconds ago. The writing of that whole sentence is in the past now. I know for certain that I wrote the sentence because I can read it back but although I intend to write the next sentence I can not be sure that I actually will, as anything can happen right now or now or in the very near future that will prohibit me from actually writing it. Luckily nothing happened! It seems that we can only experience time passing but not a static moment of timelessness. That is maybe not all that weird. As our experience of time is completely based on spatial change. Even if we could identify an interval of time in the near future in which absolutely nothing would change we would not be able to experience that interval just because nothing changed. Our brains need change to work. So even if there is a period of two hundred years in which nothing at all changes spatially right now, now that it is over we can only conclude we did not notice it. I just kept writing on and never noticed the two hundred year moment of complete and utter nothingness. We experience time and space as a continuum even though in actual fact it might not be a continuum at all. And again human nature intuitively hints to something weird about time: I described a period of no spatial change to last two hundred years. But that period is characterized by there not being any time at all! So once again I assumed another type of time.

If we ever needed a metaphor it is now:

Imagine a book. When you read a book the story evolves and the characters come alive. The descriptions of the surroundings create, in your mind, a reality in which the story takes place. Each page is a discrete object, a snapshot, but when they are read one after the other they produce a dynamic and flowing reality. If you stop reading, the characters in the book will not notice it. Yet the book continues to exist. When you start reading again but accidentally start a few pages too early the characters happily relive the story and unaware of the future you already know. If you have a new book and start reading right from the middle the events and characters all evolve as if the unknown past actually happened. The characters remember things that were, although you have not read them, because the pages are written with the past coded into them. Problems first arise when you rip out all of the pages and shuffle them. Reading the pages in a random order will create a discontinuity. The story will never make sense. The order of the pages is of vital importance. The parts of the book that safeguard the structure of the story are the binding that holds the pages and dictates the order of the pages and the pages themselves that define the content of the story.

Now that was not hard to imagine but what is it a metaphor for? This is going to be wild but please try. Lets try to imagine that instead of stuff moving about in spacetime our consciousnesses hop from space to space like reading the book page by page. Instead of something moving about we hop from space to space and in each space all exists in a slightly modified configuration in such a way that we experience the thing to move about. You may need to take a short break now.

If this model has somehow taken form in your mind you will understand that the changes in each space configuration are responsible for the time we experience, the actual clock time. This clock time is responsible for our notion of spatial volume. We can now also see that there is another element of time namely the actual progression of the “pages” or the spacetime configurations that causes our perception of spatial change or clock time. It is this process that is responsible for us experiencing anything at all, both past and future. As long as the order is OK we experience a continuum. I will call this element of time primary time or linear time. The clock time we experience is at right angles to and caused by the primary time and I will call it lateral time or secondary time. With this we have changed our idea of time quite drastically as our model of reality now is a progression of three dimensional spaces constructing our experience of four dimensional spacetime. We have also noticed that, in this model, there seems to be a maximum allowable amount of change between space configurations in order to preserve our experience of a continuum. This last observation is a very important and fundamental aspect of the model as we will see later on!

And just as with the book, if there is no space progression, meaning no movement in the direction of linear time (turning the pages attached to the binding), all experience of time and spatial volume stops as the progression causes our experience of spatial change. What remains in that case is the construct itself (the book), the set of all possible spaces linked together in the right order. The order that dictates both our future and past and forms a unique and continuous reality for each and every consciousness. If you could behold that sum total of all things possible (which is logically impossible) you would finally see the real moment of now, the timeless set of everything that is, the one and only real Now, just existing, right now (and now).

If this metaphor is not working for you at all you do not need to worry. In the next and many other essays I will use different metaphors and also cast light on some of the things that may not be obvious or explained at all such as the role of consciousness or interaction, the apparent limit on spatial change and what I mean by "existing".

Epilogue and prologue to the rest

Some of you may, by now, have noticed that some elements of my tale on time are comparable to the ideas presented by Gevin Giorbran in his book Everything Forever: Learning To See Timelessness. This is no coincidence. Many years ago I had some very interesting correspondence with Gevin or Devin as I knew him then. His ideas about multi spatiality and the model of space progression were uncannily similar to my own. We certainly had different ideas on many things and, at the time, focused on different aspects of cosmology but on the whole our ideas were very compatible. He must have thought the same as he asked me to proof read the draft for his book. There still is a quote of mine on his web site In 2008 I learned that Gevin had passed away. A great loss. I can only hope that my writings inspire others in the same way as his inspired me. I also hope that the sum of our ideas may cause more people to think about and refine the models we both understood to be so obvious and natural.

No comments:

Post a Comment