Newborn Baby Bunny

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The Timeless Conundrum

   Throughout our lives we’re constantly rushing around from one place to another, working ourselves overtime to no avail. We may say to ourselves that we don’t have enough time to do everything we want or need to do. This statement may seem like nothing exceptional, until you begin to ponder “What is time?” To state it as simply as possible, time as we know it is an illusion and everything happens at the same time.

   The world, and time, as we know it exists in two definite forms (the past and the present) and an abstract form (the future). The present, now, is everything that your senses are showing you. Everything you perceive of the world around you exists in the present. The past is everything that lead up to the present, all the choices you made, and all the things that happened to you. The past exists in our memories, as something that once was, but is no more. Lastly the future, having infinite possibilities, and existing only as an idea or goal viewed in the present, something always to come but never actually arriving.

   It’s funny, the way our brains work; they take in information via our senses, and use them to display for us, the world around us in a vivid, perfect display. We tend to view time as passing, or progressing. It’s only natural, as our memories are saved in chronological order, implying one occurred before the other, when in reality that’s not actually the case. Everything that has happened, everything that is going to happen, and all things that are possible exist together, simultaneously, in our universe.

   In “The Special Theory of Relativity”, David Bohm describes the same idea of a time existent simultaneously across the universe, “Given any event with time coordinate t, as measured by an accurate clock, there exists a potentially infinite set of events, all co-present with the first mentioned event. As a result, no observer who carried out proper procedures for time measurement will ever find that any one of this set of events is before or after another. If this is the case, then it makes sense to ascribe the same time coordinate t to all these events, and to say that they are simultaneous.” (Bohm 46)

   Basically, Bohm is trying to say: Take any random event. Along with that event, are an infinite amount of possibilities that could stem from that event. All possibilities stemming from that event are occurring at the same time. As a result, you will find that none of the events occurred before or after each other. They happened simultaneously. For example, you wake up. Upon waking up, several things happen. You may choose to go back to sleep, you may choose to roll out of bed, or you may jump out of bed, rent a plane, and teach a group of tourist the fundamentals of skydiving. No matter how unlikely the case, an infinite amount of possibilities exists simultaneously.

   One may argue that they know that time is not simultaneous; because they have a past, and know it didn’t happen right now. That’s pretty sound logic, however they must understand that that is how the brain remembers. The illusion of the passing of time is conceived from the passing of events and the progressive experiences of the person, along with relative gaps of boredom between events of a more entertaining nature. This is basically like saying “This happening lead to that happening, so this happened before that”, you can see how one would come to that conclusion, however it is incorrect.

   It is well known that matter and energy can not be created, nor destroyed. We are composed of energy and matter, and have always existed in some astronomical form, whether as space dust, drifting through the vacuum trillions of years ago, or as a plant, growing slowly in the hot dessert thousands of years ago. You have existed on a cosmic level for ever, and will always continue to exist just as you exist now. Your life is taking place faster than the blink of an eye, and lasting longer than an eternity.

   A more conventional definition of time would be described as a line, with a beginning and an end. It starts, then progresses and continues, eventually stopping, or in some theories, restarting. This, however, is not representative of time. Many prescribe to this belief, because our brains can not experience everything at once. Our brains have a limited capacity, and can not deal with everything at the same time, so it is sorted and filled into memories in chronological order.

   Physicist Erwin Schrodinger, in 1935, proposed the theory of Schrodinger’s cat. The theory plays off of a thought experiment, involving an atom, a cat, and cyanide. The people at physicsworld.com described his experiment as such, “In his original thought experiment, Schrodinger imagined that a cat is locked in a box, along with a radioactive atom that is connected to a vial containing a deadly poison. If the atom decays, it causes the vial to smash and the cat to be killed. When the box is closed we do not know if the atom has decayed or not, which means that it can be in both the decayed state and the non-decayed state at the same time. Therefore, the cat is both dead and alive at the same time - which clearly does not happen in classical physics.”

   This example of quantum physics proves, on a quantum level, that all events occur simultaneously, and are only specific when consciously observed. Since the cat can be both dead and alive at the same time, two extreme conditions, so would also be true for everything else. One could go as far as to say that an infinite amount of possibilities are forever occurring around you, always within your grasp, if you consciously focus hard enough. It’s enlightening, and an amusing way to ponder at the universe.

   There is no progression of time, everything is as it always was, and time is an illusion. Time, as we know it, is really just a conscious mind observing change, usually in distance. After all, a day is a measure of the rotation of the earth, and a year is based around a revolution around the sun. When you think about it that way, it’s easier to put into perspective. There is no night or day in space, it’s constant.

   Our universe is governed by forces so specific, so exact, that we can time perfectly the launch and landing on the moon. These forces, along with matter and energy, make up everything we see, perceive, and interact with. The universe is in a constant state, with every possible outcome occurring simultaneously with the event causing them. A conscious perceiving of the event gives it the illusion of a flowing time.

   A description of the two slit experiment explained by James Higgo, from his A Lazy Layman's Guide to Quantum Physics follows, “The simplest experiment to demonstrate quantum weirdness involves shining a light through two parallel slits and looking at the screen. It can be shown that a single photon (particle of light) can interfere with itself, as if it traveled through both slits at once.” The single photon exists simultaneously, and is so fast, it permeates both slits to illuminate the other side.

   One may say that this proves that time is tangible, as proposed Richard Feynman, which went as such, paraphrased from James Higgo’s A Lazy Layman's Guide to Quantum Physics, Richard Feynman developed a new approach to quantum mechanics, and formalized Quantum Electrodynamics. While an electron is on its way from point A to point B, it can bump into a photon, which would result in sending it backwards in both time and space. It may then bump into another photon, which would send it forward in time again, but in a different direction. In this way, it can be in two, or more, places at once.

   The same outcome occurs in simultaneous time, as all possibilities of the electron exist, and since electrons are unpredictable, they could move in any direction. Thinking about your entire life occurring simultaneously, and stretching past the time you existed physically, is kind of hard to get your head around. Once you fully understand it, for it is not a belief, but an understanding, you will have a feeling of enlightenment. The knowledge will not sit at the front of your mind, but will remain in the back of your thoughts. So take all the time you need, live life, and appreciate the world around you for what it is, because when it comes to time, it’s irrelevant.

Works Cited:
    Atmanspacher, Harald & Ruhnau, Eva. Time, Temporality, Now. München: Springer, 1997.
    Bohm, David. The Special Theory of Relativity. London: Routledge, 1996. Book.
    Kaku, Michio & Thompson, Jennifer. Beyond Einstein. Broadway: Anchor Books, 1995. Book.
    Stenger, Victor J. Timeless Reality. Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2000. Book.
    Higgo, James. “A Lazy Layman's Guide to Quantum Physics” Higgo. n.p. 1999.

 - Ian



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Welcome to BRS! Very interesting essay. I'm not sure how much I understand but I will reread and critique it later.

As for the cat I would argue that it is NEITHER dead or alive...because we simply don't know.



Newborn Baby Bunny

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Ian presents some very intriguing concepts.  Time is one of the dimensions in the existence of life that can only be understood and not empirically discerned.  Time should remind people of our mortality, our limits and our desperate need to show more it more respect.  To the atheist or agnostic, time should help explain why a belief in a supreme being is so critical to so many.  It is humbling to think that over the infinite number of events that could occur when one wakes in the morning, the path we choose or that is chosen for us usually leads us toward a path of positive, constructive and successful outcomes.  Of course, this is not the case all the time for everyone.  The choices seem so much in our control, but in reality they are not.  I know a number of successful drop outs and poor and struggling trained professionals.  In time, our purposes will be reveal, despite the preparation and desires we may have.  Time can be humbling and we should respect it.


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Ian (ipmillar9937) is a Regular who has made 14 posts since joining Creative Burrow on 02:43pm Tue, Apr 9, 2013. ipmillar9937 was invited by no one.

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