## Space the now point in time

Use this forum to discuss the philosophy of science. Philosophy of science deals with the assumptions, foundations, and implications of science.
Atreyu
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### Re: Space the now point in time

Ranvier wrote:Interesting

How do you resolve the irrationality of time, which works equally well in both directions of time? How can these equations be an accurate description of space and time, when they can't predict the direction of time. We only know that time is in a certain direction because we observe the past, present, and predict the future but it's not revealed through the equations.
It's resolved by understanding that the "direction of Time" is subjective, which is precisely what the "equations" tell us.

The math tells us that every moment of time exists concurrently. The division of Time into separate moments is merely the result of the limitation of our psychic apparatus being unable to perceive all of Time at once...

Steve3007
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### Re: Space the now point in time

Ranvier:
How do you resolve the irrationality of time, which works equally well in both directions of time? How can these equations be an accurate description of space and time, when they can't predict the direction of time. We only know that time is in a certain direction because we observe the past, present, and predict the future but it's not revealed through the equations.
Good question! Why does time appear to flow in one direction? Why does remembering the past seem so different from trying to predict the future? etc.

A possible answer can be illustrated using the concept of "phase space" that I was talking about earlier and involves the observation that, on the scale of individual particles, the laws of physics work equally well with time running in either direction but when you scale things up and consider large systems of interacting partlces, treating them using the statistical methods of thermodynamics, the direction emerges. The direction of time appears to be a consequence of the statistical fact that there are many more ways for a system of particles to be in a "disordered" stated than an "ordered" state. i.e. the "disordered" states occupy a larger volume of phase space.

This brief description may be badly written because it's too brief. But the subject has been discussed a few times previously on this website. Here is one:

onlinephilosophyclub.com/forums/viewtop ... 089#p88089

I think there was a topic specifically about the arrow of time and the second law of thermodynamics, but can't find it now.

Ranvier
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### Re: Space the now point in time

I think that probabilities work well regardless of the size but depend on the scale of the observer. From the point of "view" of subatomic particles, time may have just as much preferred direction as for our experience, only from our scale we perceive QM as there is no direction in time. Logically, the direction of time should propagate equally throughout the system, regardless of the scale.

Greta
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### Re: Space the now point in time

My understanding is that, intuitively, quantum "stuff" would move through time as does everything else, ie. it is in x state, then something happens to it and it's in x + y state, and then something happens to that, and so on. By contrast, it seems that electrons are not really particles but waves. Some physicists say that an electron is a "probability field" but that appears to posit the map as territory.

Ah, I've just had a brainwave (or brain fart?): It's has been assessed that the net energy of the universe is zero, balanced between the positive - energy and matter - and the negative, space. Meanwhile, atomic nuclei are positive and electrons are negative.

Electron/s act like a protective shell for nuclei, separating them from other nuclei. If not technically, at least literally, electrons act as "space energy", performing an equivalent role to the negative energy of spacetime that protects stars, planets and galaxies from each other. Negatives and positives tend to be attracted and then form more stable structures, akin to acids and alkalis forming salts. The gentrification of reality :)

So space is that which gives energy the capacity to stretch out, to grow and develop over time.

Steve3007
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### Re: Space the now point in time

Ranvier:
From the point of "view" of subatomic particles, time may have just as much preferred direction as for our experience, only from our scale we perceive QM as there is no direction in time.
I realise you're not talking literally when you talk about a particle having a "point of view" here (hence the scare-quotes), but I think it's important when considering the directionality of time to remember that they don't, and the reason why they don't.

Humans are (among many other things) complex systems consisting of many trillions of particles. So the laws of thermodynamics (laws that are fundamentally statistical and therefore only make sense when considering systems, not individual particles) apply to us. As was said earlier, and as has been discussed in other threads dealing with this topic, the laws of physics at an individual particle level seem to be time-reversible. The arrow of time seems strangely to emerge as a statistical property of complex systems.

So I think it doesn't make sense to talk about the "point of view" of an individual particle because once of the criteria for possessing a point of view at all is that you must be a complex system, and therefore be subject to time-directional statistical laws.

Greta:
My understanding is that, intuitively, quantum "stuff" would move through time as does everything else, ie. it is in x state, then something happens to it and it's in x + y state, and then something happens to that, and so on.
The idea that the laws of physics are time-reversible on an individual particle scale doesn't remove the concept of cause/effect that you're talking about here. It just means that the chain of causality can be reversed.

It's easiest to think about classical mechanics. Snooker/pool/billiard ball type concepts. If ball A collides with ball B and causes ball B to change its movement, with time running in one direction, it's equally possible to consider ball B to have collided with ball A and caused ball A to change its movement, with time running the other way. The physics works just as well. It's when you consider large numbers of "balls" and multiple interactions that the arrow of time emerges.

Ranvier
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### Re: Space the now point in time

Steve3007

I don't presume that we have the same understanding of a "particle" as a complex set in the quantum field. From our point of "view" such field can only be appreciated in terms of the statistical probabilities. Perhaps from the point of "view" of the galaxy or the universe, life on Earth could only be appreciated as a statistical probability as well.

Steve3007
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### Re: Space the now point in time

To clarify: when I was talking about the statistical properties of systems of particles I was only going as far a classical thermodynamics and ideal gas laws and stuff. Consideration of the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics adds a whole new layer. One thing at a time!

Atreyu
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### Re: Space the now point in time

It's all "easily" resolved once one understands that all of Time exists concurrently. There really is no 'past, present, or future' because all moments of Time exist side-by-side, just like all points on a line concurrently exist side-by-side.

We have the illusion that Time "flows" in a certain direction simply because we can only experience one moment of time singularly. Then, naturally, moments which we remember experiencing we'll call 'the past', moments we are experiencing we'll call 'the present', and moments we anticipate experiencing we'll call 'the future'. So the reason time seems to "flow in one/a direction" is simply because we are seemingly "flowing" in a certain direction.

If we could experience Time as it really is, i.e. if we could experience all the moments of our life concurrently and simultaneously, then this "flow" would stop and we would recognize it's subjective nature.

A good analogy would be to imagine a microbe travelling down a line. The microbe can only experience one point of the line at a time. All the points it remembers crossing, it would say that those points existed in the past, but apparently they are 'gone', and no longer exist. The point it is currently on it would say was 'reality', or the 'present'. And the points it anticipated crossing, it would say that those points are going to exist someday, but presently do not. They will come into existence once the microbe crosses them, i.e. experiences them. All those points on the line are 'the future'.

Actually, of course, this is completely subjective because all the points of the line exist at once, and dividing the line into 'points of the past', 'points of the present', and 'points of the future', is obviously completely arbitrary on the part of the microbe, and is based on his limited awareness, which causes him to be able to only experience one point on the line at a time; while we, being more aware, can experience all of the points at once, i.e. we can experience the line as a line, while the microbe, having more limited awareness, can only experience them as a series of points (points separated by "moments of time").

Similarly, due to our limited awareness we can only experience Time as a series of points (moments), when in reality Time is more like a line. And the reason the series of points seem to flow in a particular direction is because it's convenient and practical for us to cognize it as such, not because of any inherent property in the world-at-large. Just like the only reason the microbe says that the points to the left of it are 'the past', and the points to the right of it are 'the future' is because it happens to be travelling from left to right. If it was going from right to left, then the points to its right would be 'the past', while the points to its left would be 'the future'.

The reason why time seems to flow in a particular direction, and not the other, is simply because of a certain "flow" in us, not because of any inherent property of Time itself. And just as Time would flow in the opposite direction for the microbe if it could start moving in the opposite direction, so too would time seem to flow in the opposite direction for us, if we could change our psychic apparatus, i.e. if a certain "flow", which is internal to us, changed directions...

Steve3007
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### Re: Space the now point in time

Atreyu:
It's all "easily" resolved once one understands that all of Time exists concurrently.
Concurrent = existing, happening, or done at the same time.

So all time exists at the same time? Similarly, do all points in space exist at the same point in space? How useful do you find this worldview?

-- Updated Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:54 pm to add the following --

Atreyu:
A good analogy would be to imagine a microbe travelling down a line. The microbe can only experience one point of the line at a time. All the points it remembers crossing, it would say that those points existed in the past, but apparently they are 'gone', and no longer exist. The point it is currently on it would say was 'reality', or the 'present'. And the points it anticipated crossing, it would say that those points are going to exist someday, but presently do not. They will come into existence once the microbe crosses them, i.e. experiences them. All those points on the line are 'the future'.
The analogy here is between time and space. You say that, as observers above the line, we can experience all points on the line at once, in a way that the microbe cannot. But we have to be a little bit careful with analogies like this, I think. Unless we get down with the microbe we don't actually experience all points at once. They're all at different distances from us and therefore information about them takes different amounts of time to reach us. Of course, Special Relativity has a lot to say about the consequences of situations like this.
The reason why time seems to flow in a particular direction, and not the other, is simply because of a certain "flow" in us, not because of any inherent property of Time itself. And just as Time would flow in the opposite direction for the microbe if it could start moving in the opposite direction, so too would time seem to flow in the opposite direction for us, if we could change our psychic apparatus, i.e. if a certain "flow", which is internal to us, changed directions...
Do you have any thoughts as to how the time-asymmetrical laws of thermodynamics affect this analysis? You've pointed out a certain similarity between the acts of remembering the past and anticipating the future. You've suggested that the reason we feel that there is a difference between the two is purely a function of ourselves. But isn't it also a function of the second law of thermodynamics? Would you say that law is subjective to a greater extent than other physical laws?

Atreyu
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### Re: Space the now point in time

Steve3007 wrote: So all time exists at the same time? Similarly, do all points in space exist at the same point in space? How useful do you find this worldview?
Yes. In reality, Everything is here. Everything is happening Now, and it's all here. "Here and there" are subjective. Your "here and there" is not the same as mine, which is not the same as Greta's, and so on. All beings existing in the Universe have their own "here and there". The most objective view is the view of the Universe (and if you don't consider it sentient, you can just imagine if it was). From the Universe's POV, Everything is here, because Everything is Itself. There is nothing outside of Itself, so for It, Everything is in the same place. Right Here. And from Its POV (if it had one), Everything would be happening Now. To try and see the Universe from the most objective POV possible, one must imagine the Universe as the Universe would see Itself.
Steve3007 wrote:
The reason why time seems to flow in a particular direction, and not the other, is simply because of a certain "flow" in us, not because of any inherent property of Time itself. And just as Time would flow in the opposite direction for the microbe if it could start moving in the opposite direction, so too would time seem to flow in the opposite direction for us, if we could change our psychic apparatus, i.e. if a certain "flow", which is internal to us, changed directions...
Do you have any thoughts as to how the time-asymmetrical laws of thermodynamics affect this analysis? You've pointed out a certain similarity between the acts of remembering the past and anticipating the future. You've suggested that the reason we feel that there is a difference between the two is purely a function of ourselves. But isn't it also a function of the second law of thermodynamics? Would you say that law is subjective to a greater extent than other physical laws?
Allow me to correct myself. Our perception/cognition or time is due to the nature of both ourselves and the world. But the most important dynamic is within ourselves. We won't unravel the mystery of Time by tinkering with things outside of ourselves, but rather with changing things within ourselves (our own perception/cognition of Time). But you are quite right in suggesting that both internal and external forces ultimately are responsible for our subjective experience of Time. The point is that our cognition of Time becomes more objective when we learn to cognize it as a higher dimension(s) of space, which is something we've been "unconsciously" doing for ages by constructing timelines and calendars. When we learn to cognize Time as merely an extension of space outside the the known 3 coordinates of space, we learn to cognize Time closer to the way it really is.

As far as the 2nd law of thermodynamics is concerned, I'm not knowledgeable enough to comment on it. But as I said above, yes, you can certainly also say that our cognition of Time is a function of how the world works. Perhaps you could elaborate on exactly how the 2nd law of thermodynamics is responsible for our cognition of a 'before, now, and after'? It sort of sounds like you're proposing that we cognize Time because things change, but that is circular logic. Change and Time go hand in hand. Naturally, if we have a cognition of 'before, now, and after' we will also have a corresponding cognition of the idea of change, and vice versa. I don't think you can explain the one by the other.

But I must note that I would not take change as an absolute fact. It's no more fantastic to suggest that, in reality, while Everything seems to be in a state of flux/change, in reality nothing is really changing, anymore than it is to say that really Everything is happening Now. Perhaps things only appear to change, but in reality they ultimately stay the same, or perhaps another way of looking at it is to say that, while things are constantly changing, at the same time they don't change. For example, we could alter 'x' by adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and squaring it by various values, but the final value of 'x' could still be the same if the net value of all of our augmentations are '0' (x+2-2 = x). Perhaps the Universe is like that as well. Constantly in a state of flux, but in the end, it always remains the same....

Steve3007
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### Re: Space the now point in time

Atreyu:
As far as the 2nd law of thermodynamics is concerned, I'm not knowledgeable enough to comment on it. But as I said above, yes, you can certainly also say that our cognition of Time is a function of how the world works. Perhaps you could elaborate on exactly how the 2nd law of thermodynamics is responsible for our cognition of a 'before, now, and after'? It sort of sounds like you're proposing that we cognize Time because things change, but that is circular logic.
The laws of thermodynamics essentially started with the industrial revolution and considerations of "heat engines" - devices that convert heat energy into work. At the time that meant steam engines. Concepts like temperature, heat and pressure are statistical. That is to say, the temperature of an object or a fluid is a measure of the average speed of billions of individual particles all jiggling around. Similarly for the amount of heat energy stored in it. Pressure is an average of the force exerted by those billions of particles when they bounce off the wall of a container. So one thing to bear in mind is that any law dealing with these quantities is about statistics. It doesn't make sense to apply it to the dynamics of individual particles, in the same sense that it doesn't make sense to talk about the average height of a population of one person. It's about the averaged-out behaviour of systems of particles.

The second law introduces the idea that energy changes in ways that are irreversible. Specifically, energy in the form of heat (that collective jiggling of all those particles) will, in an isolated system, naturally "flow" from a smaller volume to a larger volume but not back again. And you can convert the movement of a large-scale object (i.e. the movement of all the particles of which that object is made in the same direction) entirely to heat energy. But you can't do the opposite. You can't entirely convert heat into work.

The 2nd law is often characterised as stating that closed physical systems move (irreversibly) from a state of order to disorder. The reason that it's often put like that is that heat energy, being the random jiggling of particles in all different directions, is regarded as "disordered". Whereas the energy that a large-scale object has by virtue of its movement is regarded as relatively "ordered", because that energy is about all the object's particles moving in the same direction at the same speed.

What's more, heat energy confined to a small volume is regarded as more ordered than heat energy in a larger volume. To see why, I think it's best to consider such things as the number of degrees of freedom in a system, and the number of small-scale states that correspond to a given large-scale state. But that's probably too much for one post.

Now, the laws of physics which describe the movements of those individual jiggling particles are reversible. If you stop treating them as statistics and start treating them as individuals, the concept of an "arrow of time" vanishes.

This, very briefly, is the reason why I suggested that our perception that time flows (that the past is different from the future; that remembering is different from predicting) is statistical. If we didn't consist of billions of particles ourselves - if we were not ourselves "systems" - then maybe the concept of time's arrow would be meaningless. Although obviously it's kind of meaningless to even contemplate that, because then "we" wouldn't be "we".

I can talk about this more if you like, but that's probably more than enough for now. Or possibly forever.

Atreyu
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### Re: Space the now point in time

Steve, thx for the reply. I get the gist of it.

However, I myself am more interested in the psychological explanation for our cognition of time, rather than an explanation based on physics. What is it about our psychological makeup which causes us to have a sense of 'before, now, and after', when, as far as we can tell, in reality all "moments of time" must concurrently exist?

Obviously, one general truth would be lack of awareness, specifically an inability to perceive time they same way as we do space. If we could perceive 'before, now, and after' the same way we perceive 'length, width, and height', then we would be able to look back and forward in time, seeing the past and future as if they were the present, and even perhaps seeing possible pasts and futures which we never did and never will realize. We come close to doing this when we construct timelines, although this is not actually seeing into the past and future. But it is representing time as if it were space (a line), which provides a cognitive framework to express such an enhanced perception/cognition.

Dark Matter
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### Re: Space the now point in time

To me, this video is fascinating because it discusses in scientific language some of the things I've talked about using the language of religion. Don't worry guys. As weird as the ideas may seem to some, it's real science.

Atreyu
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### Re: Space the now point in time

That last video only reinforces my belief that most people who talk about higher dimensions of space have no clue what they're talking about.

If one cannot visualize how the phenomenon of time can be cognized as higher dimensions of space, then one will not be able to understand, in the least, the modern theory of so-called 'space-time'...

Jan Sand
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### Re: Space the now point in time

I am new to this discussion and the last entry is the better part of a year ago so perhaps there is no more discussion. Nevertheless the problem of now has bothered me for some time and I have a couple of concepts that have not been mentioned.

Now in time seems very similar to the idea of here in spacial dimensions. The video expresses this as I see it with one possible lack which seems important to me and seems not to be discussed in physics. The puzzle of traveling from the past to the future is somewhat simulated in what happens when one sees a film or reads a book where the past and future are all present in the film reel or the entire book. What "moves" is nothing in neither reel or the book but is in the mind of the viewer. It is a movement, not of physical things, but of attention. Of course the mechanics of film projection and the movement of the eyes along the sentences of the book is real movement and this comprises the real puzzle of existence. What is it that makes the attention travel? I have not even a speculative answer.

The other unmentioned problem is that time is usually conceived as a one dimensional line extending from past to future in Einstein's static universe . Suppose, like space, which we perceive as three dimensional, time also was multidimensional so that, instead of a line, it was a surface or a volume and each of our conscious paths could move in ways that would seem to be different universes although, as in spacial patterns, the multiple possibilities of our individual experiences would be related but permitted to vary between consciousnesses. On rare occasions in my life it has seemed to me that what I had remembered in the places I had been before seem somewhat different than my memory retained. I had attributed this to bad memory but I have often wondered if I had somehow taken a different pathway in a multidimensional time universe than my fellow humans - or perhaps we each wander through different variations of a strange universe we do not acknowledge. It seems possible.