Time for a bit of physics for discussing time

In my last entry, I began my attempt to dissect time. If we are going to deeply think about reality, we are just going to have to come to terms with what we think space and time are–we can’t sweep this under the rug. If you’ve followed this journal, you’ve watched me start with the most basic set of assumptions, then form an artifice (collection of connected abstractions) that starts within our brains and reaches out to form conclusions about the only data we have, the personal reality called our sensory input. From that, I have used the most-likely principle to conclude that there is a hypothesized common global reality from which many entities (you and I) are drawing personal realities from. Some fascinating principles emerge when we take this path–but now we are at the point where we are breaking down how to describe this global reality based on what we see/sense of our personal realities. By breaking down a difficult concept into effective abstractions of subunits, sometimes we get a much more accessible view of the whole. I then discussed how difficult it is to get an accurate breakdown of a reality when the machinery that observes and analyzes that reality (our senses and brain) is made of the same machinery. I call that the sampling problem–how do you make an accurate assessment of how something works if your sensing mechanisms are limited (can only sample aspects of the working object under study, global reality in our case). I then show how a mind with sensing, abstracting, and random perturbing capability can possibly achieve that–and then set about to do that.

So here we are. We’ve seen how the only sensory input we have is spatial objects that move. From that, we form abstractions such as those called dimensions and time. Time is an especially difficult object to work with, mostly because of this sampling problem–we must operate in time, conclusions are causally generated, so creating an accurate abstraction of time that is useful is especially hard because we can’t get outside of time to see what it really is. Space actually is just as hard, but mathematics has a set of operands and morphologies that make it easier for our minds to wrap around useful properties of describing it. Even so, that is somewhat of an illusion–we need spatial discrimination to describe spatial description, so the sampling problem is just as big a limiting factor.

How am I going to progress with this? After all, a lot of famous thinkers and physicists have devoted their extremely intelligent minds to studying the concept of space and time, and as far as I can tell have not penetrated very far. I will start by taking two currently established scientific principles, plus one random perturbation of my own mind, and show how they create a possible abstraction of space and time that not only appears to be self-consistent but seems to (at least for me) follow a most-likely path. From there I will leave the scientific world behind and start heading down the question of God and some deep abstractions that will be extremely hard to “wrap our minds around” in a conclusive way.

The two scientific principles that I started with in the last entry are the special relativity formulas for time and spatial dilation called the Lorentz Transforms, and the principle of quantum entanglement. Let me provide a hopefully basic but accurate summary of what those are.

The Lorentz transforms simply are mathematical ways of describing how space and time appear in different frames of reference. If you are an observer, and you happen to be moving relative to an object, these laws describe how the spatial and temporal properties of the object would be distorted compared to if you were not moving. In particular, suppose the object was a circular clock. If you are not moving compared to the clock, you will see a circular clock whose time will match your time. If you are moving relative to the clock (or equivalently, if the clock is moving relative to you), the circle of the clock you see will appear squashed in the direction of movement, and the time that the clock shows you will be slower than your own time. The Lorentz transforms simply describe mathematically what these distortions will be.

The Lorentz transforms have the interesting property that if the relative movement is so fast that it is at the speed of light, the circular clock you observe will be squashed to a flat line and the time you observe will be stopped (it will look to you like, no matter how much time passes for you, that the clock never counts any time). One consequence of this is that a beam of light will appear to have the same speed no matter how fast you are moving relative to the beam of light. Another very important consequence is that no physical object can go faster than the speed of light (in spite of the tripe you read about tachyons or group light wave experiments). Quantum mechanics does allow for small perturbations about the speed of light, but reality under special relativity is shown to be causal–the word meaning that there is no way to somehow do a Star Trek warp speed faster than light of a space ship, a person, or a subatomic particle. Not only that, but only a massless object such as a photon of light can even reach the speed of light. Anything with mass has to go slower. Particle accelerators can take something like an electron and speed it up to very very close to the speed of light, but will never reach it.

There you go–that’s special relativity in a nutshell–there’s a huge amount of other stuff that can be drawn from that theory, but that’s all I need for where we are going. There is a much bigger theory that brings a mathematical analysis of gravity and energy distributions into the picture (general relativity) but for my path I am now taking I will not being going there any time soon.

Next is quantum entanglement. Now we need to review that observed objects have been found to be made of molecules, which are usually small collections of atoms, which are composed of a nucleus of subatomic particles surrounded by a cloud of electrons (or a nucleus of subatomic antiparticles surrounded by positrons). Subatomic particles not only form atoms but also exist in their own right and are grouped in various ways. I won’t go into that here, but just note that subatomic particles include electrons, positrons, quarks, photons (for light) and so on. Quantum mechanics deals with how particles behave, in particular, the wave/particle dualism for all particles exemplified by experiments such as the two-slit experiment that demonstrates the wave/particle duality and Aspect’s experiment that demonstrates the quantum entanglement behavior.

Quantum wave/particle duality can be simplified simply by stating that in our reality, what we call particles that are localize in space is actually a poor way to describe their behavior. They actually have properties both of localized objects and distributed waves, and the mathematics of quantum mechanics details that accurately describes the behavior of those entities we call particles, among other things. In particular, we will use the fact that when we shoot a particle at two holes spaced sufficiently close to each other (the two slit experiment), the particle will act more like a wave and will actually pass through both holes–but if we put a detector at each hole, it will suddenly behave as if it only went through one or the other hole. It is an intrinsic property of particles that if you try look at the particle, it will resolve as a particle and lose its wave properties. This experiment brings out the fundamental principle that when a particle is acting as a wave it can have two states (eg, being “red” and “blue”) at the same time, but as soon as you look at it, it instantly becomes either red or blue, it can’t keep that wave like property of both. There is a paradox here, and we go into that a bit.

The second quantum principle is related, and is demonstrated by the Aspect experiment. It simply states that it is possible to create two entangled particles with wave like properties that are complementary, like the “red” and “blue” I just described. Both particles can then move apart, keeping their simultaneous wavelike “red” and “blue” properties at the same time for both particles (as long as we dont look at either one). Just like the two slit experiment, as long as we don’t look at either particle, they both will retain the “red” and “blue” characteristics simultaneously. As soon as we look at either particle, we will see either a red or blue particle, the simultaneous characteristic of red and blue will resolve to one or the other. Now here’s where it gets really really bizarre, and is the hopeless subject of endless philosophizing.. If you look at one of the two particles that have by now separated by a vast distance, it will (just like in the two slit experiment) look like either a red or blue particle–but now the other particle will resolve *always* to the other state. By observing one resolve to one state, you have forced *instantly* with no time passage, the other particle to resolve to the other state.

Hey, I thought you said that special relativity was causal? That nothing could be done instantly, that no actions could take place over distance faster than the speed of light, and that only massless particles such as photons of light could even travel at that speed? How come we can take two quantum entangled particles separated by a vast distance and instantly (and I really do mean instantly) force the state of one just by looking at the other? Both theories have been proven to be valid beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt, verified by experiment to the point that we know we are accurately abstracting both theories. There you are–the big paradox of physics, time, and space. What’s so cool about this, is anytime you have something that just plain doesn’t make any sense, you have a revolution AND a revelation about to happen. This one is critical for us and for my thinking–we have some powerful clues that will take us much closer to breaking down what global reality is. It is so exciting because we are on the cusp of something incredibly important. It just needs one important event, one important discovery, and the balance will be broken, and humanity will take a step closer to God. Or, alternatively, I have a serious case of megalomania and spouting pointless verbiage. You will have to decide for yourself!

And with that, I bring in my loop idea, and maybe you’ll see a path open up for you…

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