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Author Topic: Does time exist?  (Read 1636 times)

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Offline KaneTopic starter

Does time exist?
« on: March 15, 2014, 05:20:25 PM »
((Take a note that when I give my definition of time, it's from a purely philosophical point of view, through logical thought progress. It's not supported by facts or science. Don't take this as a scientific write up. Science holds no answer to whether time, or something that explains the illusion of time exists, the existence or non-existence of time is a hypothesis.))

Now this is a topic I keep wrestling with myself, and while I'm not expecting any definitive answers, I think it's an interesting subject.

So, essentially, the big question of the day in astrophysics is whether time exists or not. Time, as we understand it, seems to not exist, and is merely an 'illusion'

I get it. Time is not what we think it is. That much is rather certain, but this is where the science hits the wall. The leading hypothesis appears to go something like this: The past, present and the future exist simultaneously. Furthermore there actually isn't such a thing as 'now' if you were to see your life outside a space and time continuum, you would see a sort of a worm, sliced in pieces that would be called 'moments' the past, present and future are equally real. At the start of the worm would be you as a baby, and at the end, you just before your death.

Now here is the issue I have with that. If this is the case, what exactly dictates the moment that we are experiencing presently. Technically speaking, if all the moments are equally real and constant, then all of the events must also be unchanging. Why are we experiencing the moments we are experiencing, in the order we are experiencing them? Logically thinking, it appears abstract that without there being anything to assert the order in which we experience things, we should still somehow experience them in a manner that makes sense.

So the answer to this? Laws of thermodynamics. Aha! Got me! Thermodynamics dictate that things happen in a certain sequence, energy moves, changes and acts in a certain way in a specific order through... Time... Yeah, you guessed it... But if 'time' doesn't exist, then nothing ever actually happens. The reality is static, every moment that has ever happened and will ever happen already exist. Therefore, the laws of thermodynamics become obsolete, since nothing is actually happening in this static universe composed of moments. Now, don't take my word for it, it's not like I'm a physics major or anything. I'm more of a philosopher, but think about it. If every moment already exists, then nothing can ever 'happen'

So what is time? I don't have the answer for you. The science behind the fact that it is not what we think it is is pretty solid. But just because it is not what we think it is does not mean it doesn't exist. Just because time is not how it feels it is, doesn't mean it isn't there. If time didn't exist in any manner or form, we wouldn't need the 'coordinates' of time to explain at which point in history 'something' happened. We could just give the spatial coordinates and voila, "That's when Julius Caesar died!" In essence, I feel there is a great semantic confusion in the time debate. Claiming it doesn't exist just because we don't know how it exists is like claiming gravity doesn't exist. I mean really, do we have any idea what gravity is? Where it comes from? How it works? This is as much as we can say for sure: "Gravity is the force that attracts a body towards the centre of the earth, or towards any other physical body having mass." Despite this, we know for a fact gravity exists.

So... Doesn't that sound a lot like saying. "Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole."?   We know for a fact that things 'happen' and that they happen in a sequence, all science depends on this. This, is what I call 'time.'

Some people say time doesn't exist because there is no 'now' we can universally define. But the same logic could be applied to space. There is no 'here' we can universally define, my 'here' is just as different to your 'here' as my 'now' is to your 'now'.

So, how would I define time? Essentially, it seems to me that time is much like space. Like we constantly travel through space, we simultaneously constantly travel through time. As a matter of fact, since space expands faster than light, we travel faster than light in space. (There is a great difference in travelling in space vs. Relative to space) If time is like space, then it would be follow that we are travelling 'faster than light' in time as well. So essentially, what this means is that we are unable to travel 'back' in space, as this would require us to travel faster than light 'relative to space' which is by all accounts impossible. Similarly, we can only travel forward in time, at varying speeds, because travelling back in time would once again require us to travel faster than light. Essentially, this dictates we can only be in one point of time at once, and we can only travel to one direction through time, we can travel to that direction faster or slower, but essentially, we can never return to a past point in time. It's a difficult concept to grasp, but it's one that makes sense to me.

Finally, I would conclude that if time acts like space, then we can only ever occupy one point in time at once, just like we can only ever occupy only one point in space at once. This space I am occupying now is my personal 'here' and it is as real as it gets. This time I am occupying is now and it too is as real as it gets. I am not somewhere else in space, and I am not somewhere else in time either. And if I can only occupy one point at a time, then I must not live in a static block universe, and I must conclude that in some form, in some fashion, time does indeed exist, just like space does.

« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 05:28:00 PM by Kane »

Offline Vekseid

Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2014, 05:53:22 PM »
Where is time's existence in question, anywhere in any science?

You seem to be confused as to what a time coordinate is, first off. We measure time in units of 'time' because the conversion to length gives rather large numbers. One second is 299,792,458 meters. "Julius Caesar died 20 quadrillion kilometers ago!" - the kilometer is not a useful unit of resolution when discussing time, though a foot, being roughly equal to a nanosecond, is sometimes used.

And as for the usefulness or lack - regardless of whether or not what we perceive as the future is 'fixed', we do not see altogether very far along it. However, our understanding of time, thermodynamics, and science in general allows us to see a bit further, and make better decisions. If these things were in fact 'predestined', it is only because we also acquired this understanding and subsequently applied it.



 

Offline KaneTopic starter

Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2014, 06:24:05 PM »
Where is time's existence in question, anywhere in any science?
Time's existence is often brought to question where it doesn't fit the bill with the theory of relativity. For example, the theory of relativity predicts the existence of wormholes. Wormholes do not fit the bill with time as we tend to think of it. (Presentism is the way most people perceive time, and how I believe time works, personally.)

The "block time" or "block universe" theory forfeits the existence of time entirely, and is proposed by many scientists (Not by the majority, but not a fringe element either). No passage of time is capable of happening as the block universe is in a static state of being. (Do not confuse with the growing block universe, where past and present exist, but future does not.)

Though, maybe a better title would have been 'what/why is time' since I admit that even these models still account for 'time' in some sense, just in a very roundabout way.

Quote
And as for the usefulness or lack - regardless of whether or not what we perceive as the future is 'fixed', we do not see altogether very far along it. However, our understanding of time, thermodynamics, and science in general allows us to see a bit further, and make better decisions. If these things were in fact 'predestined', it is only because we also acquired this understanding and subsequently applied it.

I agree completely. Essentially, whether or not the past present and future exist simultaneously or not, it wouldn't have any more effect on us than a part of space that exists beyond the reach of our observation, forever expanding further away faster than the speed of light.

As for the confusion on time coordinates. Expressing time as units of space or length is another matter of semantics. It is only so because we define it so. There is no science that I know of to back up the statement that "One second is 299,792,458 meters." It could well be so, but if there is a scientific reasoning to this, I would very much like to read it, since I am completely unaware of this, and for some reason, I find myself immensely intrigued about time.

Edit: In my view, space is no better (or worse) measure than time. Some will question how much time goes by in a second? There is no satisfactory answer. "A second per a second." is circular reasoning which can be reduced to a fraction: One. One is a number, and holds absolutely no meaning. Similarly I could ask how much space is contained in a meter?

« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 06:55:36 PM by Kane »

Offline Vekseid

Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2014, 07:34:13 PM »
Time's existence is often brought to question where it doesn't fit the bill with the theory of relativity. For example, the theory of relativity predicts the existence of wormholes. Wormholes do not fit the bill with time as we tend to think of it. (Presentism is the way most people perceive time, and how I believe time works, personally.)

The "block time" or "block universe" theory forfeits the existence of time entirely, and is proposed by many scientists (Not by the majority, but not a fringe element either). No passage of time is capable of happening as the block universe is in a static state of being. (Do not confuse with the growing block universe, where past and present exist, but future does not.)

Though, maybe a better title would have been 'what/why is time' since I admit that even these models still account for 'time' in some sense, just in a very roundabout way.

Wikipedia says it's a philosophical view of time informed by physics.

A Cauchy surface is still more useful.

Quote
I agree completely. Essentially, whether or not the past present and future exist simultaneously or not, it wouldn't have any more effect on us than a part of space that exists beyond the reach of our observation, forever expanding further away faster than the speed of light.

As for the confusion on time coordinates. Expressing time as units of space or length is another matter of semantics. It is only so because we define it so. There is no science that I know of to back up the statement that "One second is 299,792,458 meters." It could well be so, but if there is a scientific reasoning to this, I would very much like to read it, since I am completely unaware of this, and for some reason, I find myself immensely intrigued about time.

Edit: In my view, space is no better (or worse) measure than time. Some will question how much time goes by in a second? There is no satisfactory answer. "A second per a second." is circular reasoning which can be reduced to a fraction: One. One is a number, and holds absolutely no meaning. Similarly I could ask how much space is contained in a meter?

An explanation is going to have to depend on what your current understanding is. Are you familiar with how we know light is massless?

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2014, 08:10:24 PM »
It exists for us. Time is basically motion. I'm not sure the human brain is able (presently) to conceive of time without some form of motion or distance. :|

Offline KaneTopic starter

Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2014, 08:10:39 PM »
Wikipedia says it's a philosophical view of time informed by physics.

A Cauchy surface is still more useful.

'What is time' or 'Does time exist' is essentially a philosophical discussion until there is actual scientific evidence of one ting or another being the case. That said, it might just be that 'what is time?' Is as futile of a question as 'what was there before big bang?' none the less, I enjoy philosophy of physics.

Cauchy surface is indeed useful, though it is perfectly compatible with any of the philosophical models I mentioned.

Quote
An explanation is going to have to depend on what your current understanding is. Are you familiar with how we know light is massless?
If I say that they have no 'rest-mass' though they do have a relativistic mass, am I right? (If I'm right, then I'm up to date on that.)

I'm more of a philosopher and logician than a scientist, but I try and keep up with the science, just bear with me :P



It exists for us. Time is basically motion. I'm not sure the human brain is able (presently) to conceive of time without some form of motion or distance. :|

Well, motion is a change in position of an object with respect to time and its reference point. We end up with circular reasoning here. (Essentially, I do think time has to do with motion, so I actually agree with you, sort of, but thought I'd point out it's not exactly a way you can define it. even philosophically.)

Anyway, nothing is ever able to happen with some form of motion and distance, including human brain activity.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 08:20:56 PM by Kane »

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2014, 08:21:25 PM »
That's the point, it's supposed to be circular. We don't conceive of time without distance and vice versa. :\

Offline KaneTopic starter

Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2014, 08:25:46 PM »
That's the point, it's supposed to be circular. We don't conceive of time without distance and vice versa. :\

No, we don't nor do we conceive absolutely anything at all without distance and time, or matter. So essentially going ahead with that logic we could say everything is everything, but I think that's another topic entirely, so I'll leave it at that. It would have to do with the laws of causality.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 08:27:20 PM by Kane »

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2014, 09:22:18 PM »
No, we don't nor do we conceive absolutely anything at all without distance and time, or matter. So essentially going ahead with that logic we could say everything is everything, but I think that's another topic entirely, so I'll leave it at that. It would have to do with the laws of causality.
I'd like to point out that everything does equal everything. :P

Offline Oniya

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Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2014, 10:31:43 PM »
I'd like to point out that everything does equal everything. :P

Energy can even be converted into matter - but it takes an awful lot of it.

Offline KaneTopic starter

Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2014, 06:43:40 AM »
I'd like to point out that everything does equal everything. :P

Yes, you could say that, but it gives us no information about anything. But I'm not debating the nature of 'everything' here. I already said so.

Offline Sabby

Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2014, 08:50:40 AM »
These kinds of discussions usually devolve into a rather pointless plodding over Solipsism. The whole 'can we really ever know?' approach to questions like 'does Time exist?' have always seemed rather pointless to me. Whether or not we can be 100% certain of the existence of time, fact remains that a phenomena exists that we can understand, measure and predict. Regardless of it being a physical law or a construction of the brain to comprehend a stranger reality, what matters is it's utility at the end of the day.

I believe majority of you have a smart phone, watch or alarm clock on you right now. That pretty much demonstrates that time exists in a manner that we find useful.

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Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2014, 01:10:20 PM »

I believe majority of you have a smart phone, watch or alarm clock on you right now. That pretty much demonstrates that time exists in a manner that we find useful.
This prompts a very interesting question. ;D

"What is time?"

This had been the topic of various, very interesting discussions I've had with friends. There was the conclusion that if it is something we can question, then it must exist (which I tend to disagree with at times). Time itself is a highly interesting thing, in my opinion. We cannot touch it, smell it or taste it. But - we do see and feel its effects all around us but in the same moment, time is quite intangible.

On the other hand, there is this wonderful quote from A. Einstein:

"Time is an illusion."

Offline Kurzyk

Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2014, 02:15:37 PM »
My limited understanding of instruments of "time" (i.e. clocks etc.) is that it's a system of measuring change that humans created to help with farming, agriculture and other social systems. Our system of monitoring or quantifying change keeps a sense of order.

Asking what is time, is more like asking what is change.

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Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2014, 02:34:17 PM »

Asking what is time, is more like asking what is change.
Yes! And this is what makes it so wonderfully interesting to me. ;D

Of course, at one point, mankind started to use time as a measurement system. Or we started to use the measurement system to explain time. Whatever.

As an artist, of course I ask myself how I would portrait time. What would it look like on, say, a painting? I could paint a clock - but then I would merely display the tool we use to measure time, and not the subject itself. Or I could display a person from birth to death, and even then I merely would display the effect of time.

Does time exist.

Did time exist before the universe was created? Was time a result of the creation? An unwanted (or wanted) side effect, maybe? Is time an universal thing (as in: Is there something like a 'Universe Time'?)or is it something only we invented?

For me, I am not able to answer the simple question "Does time exist?". But it is a source for great discussions and doing some philosophy. ;D

One last thing. Very amusing, in the context of the OP's question:

"I do not have time."

Offline Vekseid

Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2014, 03:42:58 PM »
'What is time' or 'Does time exist' is essentially a philosophical discussion until there is actual scientific evidence of one ting or another being the case. That said, it might just be that 'what is time?' Is as futile of a question as 'what was there before big bang?' none the less, I enjoy philosophy of physics.

Cauchy surface is indeed useful, though it is perfectly compatible with any of the philosophical models I mentioned.

It's also compatible with other potentially valid models of time, such as multidimensional models.


Quote
If I say that they have no 'rest-mass' though they do have a relativistic mass, am I right? (If I'm right, then I'm up to date on that.)

I'm more of a philosopher and logician than a scientist, but I try and keep up with the science, just bear with me :P

They have momentum, and through their momentum, they have mass-energy which can generate gravitational fields in sufficient quantities. All the light in the observable universe is roughly the equivalent of 100 solar masses a second.

In any case, through our understanding that photons are massless - and even if they had mass, imparting more energy to a photon should change its velocity - this means their velocity should be 'infinite'. In a way, it is - a photon does not experience time, the whole of the Universe is infinitely compressed from its perspective. To us, it has a finite velocity, and through figuring out the math behind these headaches, Maxwell, Lorentz, Poincaire, Einstein, Minkowski, etc. figured out what we know today as the theory of Relativity.

One way of conceptualizing this is that you are moving through the time dimension at the speed of light, always, from your perspective. From the perspective of another observer, you are moving at some values v and t such that v^2 + t^2 = c^2, where v is your spacial velocity and t is your temporal velocity.

This sort of equation is only possible if we can convert distance to time and vice-versa. It's called a 'light-year' for a reason, after all. That unit of conversion is one second = 299,792,458 meters, exactly.

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Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2014, 04:44:49 PM »
"What is time?"

"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once.  Space is what prevents everything from happening to me!" - John Wheeler (1911-2008)

(Wheeler is perhaps best known to the general public for coining the term 'black hole', and was one of Richard Feynman's instructors at Princeton.)

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2014, 07:30:03 PM »
The idea that the future, past and present already exist would fit in nicely with hard determinism - rendering freedom to choose or change as more of an illusion. It suggests that life is more like a movie or a trip where one's purpose is to merely to experience a single cross section or sliver of the universe in a given direction for a short period of time. The idea that we cannot possibly affect or cause change (because things happen due to prior events and not due to our thoughts or wishes) seems logical. ( though it certainly does not *feel* that way. )

Stepping outside of the box for a moment, (yeah, this is going to sound trippy) let's say you were some sort of god or advanced life form and you had this gigantic chunk of four dimensional "space-time" that you picked up at a flea market. How might you examine it? Perhaps one way might be to travel though it and experience it from a creature's perspective or through the perspective of a tree, human, bird, or whatever.  Maybe such an advanced being or god could even examine and appreciate a single, fixed point in time in a more complex way than any of us could?

« Last Edit: March 16, 2014, 07:32:26 PM by TaintedAndDelish »

Offline KaneTopic starter

Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2014, 04:49:12 PM »
It's also compatible with other potentially valid models of time, such as multidimensional models.


They have momentum, and through their momentum, they have mass-energy which can generate gravitational fields in sufficient quantities. All the light in the observable universe is roughly the equivalent of 100 solar masses a second.

In any case, through our understanding that photons are massless - and even if they had mass, imparting more energy to a photon should change its velocity - this means their velocity should be 'infinite'. In a way, it is - a photon does not experience time, the whole of the Universe is infinitely compressed from its perspective. To us, it has a finite velocity, and through figuring out the math behind these headaches, Maxwell, Lorentz, Poincaire, Einstein, Minkowski, etc. figured out what we know today as the theory of Relativity.

One way of conceptualizing this is that you are moving through the time dimension at the speed of light, always, from your perspective. From the perspective of another observer, you are moving at some values v and t such that v^2 + t^2 = c^2, where v is your spacial velocity and t is your temporal velocity.

This sort of equation is only possible if we can convert distance to time and vice-versa. It's called a 'light-year' for a reason, after all. That unit of conversion is one second = 299,792,458 meters, exactly.

Thank you for taking the time to explain that. I got it.

Though you still could not put spatial coordinates to the 'time and space' death of Julius Caesar, which was my original point, not in the scale of the Earth, Solar System, the galaxy or the local super cluster anyway... Though maybe in the scale of all of space you could... Depending on what is the true structure of space itself.

The idea that the future, past and present already exist would fit in nicely with hard determinism - rendering freedom to choose or change as more of an illusion. It suggests that life is more like a movie or a trip where one's purpose is to merely to experience a single cross section or sliver of the universe in a given direction for a short period of time. The idea that we cannot possibly affect or cause change (because things happen due to prior events and not due to our thoughts or wishes) seems logical. ( though it certainly does not *feel* that way. )

Stepping outside of the box for a moment, (yeah, this is going to sound trippy) let's say you were some sort of god or advanced life form and you had this gigantic chunk of four dimensional "space-time" that you picked up at a flea market. How might you examine it? Perhaps one way might be to travel though it and experience it from a creature's perspective or through the perspective of a tree, human, bird, or whatever.  Maybe such an advanced being or god could even examine and appreciate a single, fixed point in time in a more complex way than any of us could?



Block Universe doesn't render freedom of choice obsolete. Essentially, what free will actually means, is the freedom to make decisions. It means the ability to consider a range of many possible courses of action, and to select only one course of action from that range of possibilities. To all intents and purposes, I think that is a reasonable definition of free will.

The key thing is that only one course of action results when we make a decision. There is only one outcome. There is only ever one stream of events.

In the block universe model, events are unchanging and "frozen-in-time". But that does not mean that those events do not represent the expression of free will. For example, when we look back into the past we consider those past events to be "frozen", and nothing could change those events. However, we might also remember some of those past events as representing moments when we made decisions, i.e., expressed our free will.

A decision can only ever have one outcome, so only one road is travelled.

(Take a note, that Block Universe is not something I actually feel is the most likely option, due to a few hitches I feel it can't overcome. But Free will is compatible with it.)

Offline Vekseid

Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2014, 06:01:20 PM »
Though you still could not put spatial coordinates to the 'time and space' death of Julius Caesar, which was my original point, not in the scale of the Earth, Solar System, the galaxy or the local super cluster anyway... Though maybe in the scale of all of space you could... Depending on what is the true structure of space itself.

This statement is false. Not only is it false, a pretty significant chunk of modern technology would not exist in its current state if it were true.

Julius Caesar perished roughly twenty quadrillion kilometers ago. I mentioned this in my reply above. Years are not typically a feasible unit of distance on less than astronomical scales, and kilometers are not a feasible unit of time outside of computer networking scales. This does not prevent us from using them, and two thousand light-years will not get you out of the Milky Way.

Even if you hold presentism to be true and demand to know the exact spot, this still lies well within the Milky Way, and is close enough to be guessed at if the CMB is representative of the appropriate neutral frame.

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Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2014, 09:40:49 PM »
We know time exists because when you describe an event you do so using all four dimensions (three spacial, one temporal).   For instance, you may say something like "At 2:15 at the bus stop on 5th and Garden, I saw....." You could leave the time part out of it, but then the person you're talking to has no idea whether you are describing something that just happened or some event in history.  Using the example of Caesar's death, we know when and where it occurred.   We may not know the precise time down to the last millisecond or the precise coordinates on a map, but in our daily lives we never need such precision so that's no determent.


Did time exist before the universe was created? Was time a result of the creation? An unwanted (or wanted) side effect, maybe? Is time an universal thing (as in: Is there something like a 'Universe Time'?)or is it something only we invented?

To my knowledge (which granted is minor when it comes to relativistic and quantum physics), the consensus is that time began at the instant of the Big Bang.  Because time is easiest to define as the duration between events.   We define a second as being a certain number of vibrations of an atom (9,192,631,770 vibrations of a cesium-133 atom at 0 Kelvin).  Ask for instance what happened before the Big Bang is like asking what is further north than North.  If the multi-verse idea is correct then that question becomes much more interesting.

I would also like to offer two short youtube clips from Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson (total fanboy geek-gasm for that man) concerning time.





« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 09:52:42 PM by Hades »

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2014, 04:20:30 AM »
Block Universe doesn't render freedom of choice obsolete. Essentially, what free will actually means, is the freedom to make decisions. It means the ability to consider a range of many possible courses of action, and to select only one course of action from that range of possibilities. To all intents and purposes, I think that is a reasonable definition of free will.

I apologise in advance, I don't have any physics, math or philosophy background other than what one might learn from casual reading, but I do find this stuff terribly fascinating.

I looked up "block universe" and watched the two youtube clips, but that didn't seem to help.

What doesn't make sense to me here is how a choice is even possible. How does one choose which event will occur? You can say you willed something to happen, or you thought about it and "willed" the neurons in your head in to fire in a way that contradicts what preexisting forces would have caused? That sounds more like magic than anything else. 

What is choosing? What happens when you decide that things will just happen differently? How does that desire get converted into "work"? Unless telekinesis is possible ( and can happen prior to all the brain chemistry stuff needed to work it ) I don't see how the will and physical change connect.

For this reason, it seems like it would make more sense to say that objectively, the universe in all its dimensions (including time) is static and unchanging (what will happen already exists later on in time), but from a subjective point of view - from that of someone travelling along the axis of time and seeing it in 3d, the universe appears to be constantly changing and moving because as a viewer, you are only seeing/feeling/tasting/hearing a tiny cross-section of space-time at a time- much like the film on a movie reel. When its all rolled up and in its can, it appears to be motionless. When you watch it, you see it unfold progressively over time. ( Maybe a 3d reel of film would make for a better analogy if that was someone possible.)

It would be easier to believe that life as we experience it is more akin to the playing of a reel of film, except that it's so compelling that we can't tell if it's us doing the driving, or if its just a movie. Likewise, we can't test it because the test and its results are actually already a part of that film. o.O
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 04:24:28 AM by TaintedAndDelish »

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Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #22 on: March 19, 2014, 06:35:52 AM »
I apologise in advance, I don't have any physics, math or philosophy background other than what one might learn from casual reading, but I do find this stuff terribly fascinating.

I looked up "block universe" and watched the two youtube clips, but that didn't seem to help.

What doesn't make sense to me here is how a choice is even possible. How does one choose which event will occur? You can say you willed something to happen, or you thought about it and "willed" the neurons in your head in to fire in a way that contradicts what preexisting forces would have caused? That sounds more like magic than anything else. 

Even with some background in those subjects (I highly recommend Rudy Rucker's 'The Fourth Dimension' for those interested in the topic without a lot of heavy math), the Block Universe does not seem to allow any leeway for choices, unless there's the possibility of 'jumping' from one block to another with each choice.

Offline KaneTopic starter

Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #23 on: March 19, 2014, 09:06:33 AM »
This statement is false. Not only is it false, a pretty significant chunk of modern technology would not exist in its current state if it were true.

Julius Caesar perished roughly twenty quadrillion kilometers ago. I mentioned this in my reply above. Years are not typically a feasible unit of distance on less than astronomical scales, and kilometers are not a feasible unit of time outside of computer networking scales. This does not prevent us from using them, and two thousand light-years will not get you out of the Milky Way.

Even if you hold presentism to be true and demand to know the exact spot, this still lies well within the Milky Way, and is close enough to be guessed at if the CMB is representative of the appropriate neutral frame.

I will need to do more reading to this. More than anyone will be willing to post on forums... I don't think I can debate this on the same level of scientific accuracy.

That said, the technology would work anyway. All that matters to the technology is that light travels a certain distance in certain time, it doesn't need any other implications.

I apologise in advance, I don't have any physics, math or philosophy background other than what one might learn from casual reading, but I do find this stuff terribly fascinating.

I looked up "block universe" and watched the two youtube clips, but that didn't seem to help.

What doesn't make sense to me here is how a choice is even possible. How does one choose which event will occur? You can say you willed something to happen, or you thought about it and "willed" the neurons in your head in to fire in a way that contradicts what preexisting forces would have caused? That sounds more like magic than anything else. 

What is choosing? What happens when you decide that things will just happen differently? How does that desire get converted into "work"? Unless telekinesis is possible ( and can happen prior to all the brain chemistry stuff needed to work it ) I don't see how the will and physical change connect.

I explained my point as well as I could, so I find it hard to explain it any better. Anyway, I'll give a practical example, because I find that universe without free will contradicts with itself. Let's play hypothetical matrix.

From all your daily actions you know that if you have two options, you usually consider them both, and choose one. Right? Now you are generally able to freely choose without anyone 'forcing you' at gun point. Now. Imagine the world we live is a computer simulation, you are a computer simulation. There is no 'real you' other than the computer simulation. Now imagine the creator of this computer simulation, decides to give you an exact copy of the computer simulation you are in. This computer simulation can show you exactly how everything will pan out, it will show you every single action you have done, or will ever do. So now that you are equipped with this information, do you suddenly lose your ability to consider between two options, because you 'know' what you are going to choose? Shouldn't this break the 'illusion' of free will?

Well, it wouldn't. You would be able to choose the exact opposites of all the decisions that you were supposed to pick from, onwards from the point where you were given all the knowledge needed to do so.

Would this change anything? No. It's still a block universe. The creator of the simulation could run the software as many times as he wants, and you would always pick the same choices, whatever they might be.

Or if you want to picture our universe forget the matrix... What if you were able to simulate our universe from big bang onwards, exactly. Even if this was the real world. You would be able to know what you were going to do, but because you knew what you were going to do, you could decide not to do as you were going to do. Even so, it would not change anything, despite the fact you can freely choose not to do as you are 'pre destined to do' you were still always going to do so, and while it might seem like you changed the future, you really didn't. However, you exercised your free will to not do as you were 'pre-destined' to do. So really, we are not 'pre-destined' we have a free will.

It boils down to getting a fresh perspective to cause and consequence. The way I see it, even if block universe was true: We are not making the choices we make because it is determined that we do so. It is determined that we do what we do, because of the choices that we make. However unintuitive it might seem at a glance.

Even with some background in those subjects (I highly recommend Rudy Rucker's 'The Fourth Dimension' for those interested in the topic without a lot of heavy math), the Block Universe does not seem to allow any leeway for choices, unless there's the possibility of 'jumping' from one block to another with each choice.

My response to Tainted would be my response to this too.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 09:08:19 AM by Kane »

Offline alextaylor

Re: Does time exist?
« Reply #24 on: March 19, 2014, 09:13:38 AM »
I'm an engineer. I use models to replicate and figure out how to modify reality. I believe that all models are tools. They are flawed in one way or another. For a common example, the number 0 is extremely useful and very powerful, but it's flawed in that you can't divide anything by it. I wouldn't bother thinking of a way to get an absolutely perfect model - that's the job of professional mathematicians and philosophers. But I'll just use a model that does everything I need of it.

I use two models of time:

1. Your typical relative 'coordinate' model of time. 2 hours before, 2 years later, 8 PM. This one has its flaws - you can't actually move backwards in time in the same way way that you can move in a 'negative' spatial direction.

2. A sequence of events. This is possibly our first models of time, what we think of as infants and toddlers, before being taught of how a clock works. I go back to this, because the first model can be too complex for a lot of things. Like our subconscious brain doesn't handle coordinate based time as well as it handles it as a sequence of events. But this model is obviously flawed as well - it's too personal and very difficult to compare MY sequence of events to YOURS, and it doesn't allow scheduling very well.

There's probably a third model. Or rather an improved model 1, based on relativity theory. But I've never had a use for that, so I don't look for it.


Kane, you seem to be arguing that Model 2 is more accurate than Model 1. Maybe that's so, but Model 2 doesn't work well for time management. So we model time as a kind of coordinate, despite the flaws in doing so.