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Is time just an illusion? 
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#109
Dec106, 01:22 PM

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#110
Dec106, 05:15 PM

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#111
Dec206, 12:01 AM

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In another thread about the same problem, pervect provided some great references on the topic:
http://www.physicsforums.com/showpos...89&postcount=6 


#112
Dec306, 11:24 AM

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Talk to me if you find anything there difficult to understand. Have fun  Dick 


#113
Dec306, 01:48 PM

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Please correct any of this analysis, but this is the way I see it: A dimension is a degree of freedom. Thus, we may have not only spatial dimensions with position as the variable, but we may have dimensions of color, or energy density, or other variables. It doesn't seem reasonable to consider change in color or temperature or other nonspatial variable to be motion. So, we could define 'motion' to be a change in position by an entity (the thing that is in motion). The "thing", as you point out, seems to be a stable pattern of some sort. With this definition, we require the "thing" that is in motion, and at least one spatial dimension. So "motion" is the process of the "thing" occupying successively different positions in a spatial dimension. Now, let's ask what that "thing" might be. Can we say, for example, that a graph of the function y = x is in motion? Well, no, it is static. How about considering a short segment of the ink mark on the graph to be a "stable pattern", and we notice that for different positions of x, the "stable pattern" changes to a different position vertically. Is that motion? I think it makes no sense to say so. But what if you observe that graph, and your eyes and your attention follow the ink line from the origin up to the right some distance. Is that motion? Well, yes it is. At least your eyeballs moved. But more importantly, your subjective conscious experience of attending to the successive ink mark segments not only gave you the illusion of motion, but the experience was along the lines of what we usually associate with motion. Thus it seems that, continuing with my suggestion above, if the "rest of reality" were a hierarchical nested set of static spacetime blocks (MWI), and the pointer is pointing at it (into it) "all the time", the "illusion" of motion, and the necessary conditions for QM and GR would be satisfied if the pointer follows world lines within the various blocks. The pointer would serve as the observer and would somehow determine which, or how many, of the optional branches to take at each encountered quantum event. Whether the pointer splits and becomes several, each following a world line in a different one of the MWs, or whether the pointer has the free will to choose one over the others, or whether there is some deterministic random algorithm which makes the choice, would be questions for further investigation, but that wouldn't change the ontological or the physical explanation, it seems to me. For starters, we have the living human brain. You have already explained how the brain builds a worldview just as you described above. Next, we can imagine sophisticated robots that are probably going to be built in the nottoodistant future, which will be set to work exploring heretofore unreachable parts of our universe, such as nano and microscale environments, deep space, deep oceans, etc. And, as you point out, regardless of what they learn about their respective environments, they "can never quite be certain of the ontological nature of [their] own reality." Next, going backward in time, we can consider the most primitive precursors of life on earth as being such "learning systems". Everything you said above applies to them as well, as it does to all their progeny, including us. Finally, going back even further in time, we can ask whether the most primordial, or fundamental ontological entity, whatever it was, might not also have the same characteristic of being a "learning system". It makes sense to me that it might, and it seems to me that it might be fruitful to investigate the consequences of this hypothesis. What do you think? In your post #107 in Quantum Physics>Against "Realism", you wrote, In that same thread, you wrote, This "learning system" exists (by hypothesis). Therefore, something and not nothing exists. Therefore that fact also exists. The "learning system" has the "ability to know", so it is reasonable to conclude that it might know that single fact (i.e. that something exists). (Even at this beginning point, your observation is well taken, that the "system can never quite be certain of the ontological nature of its own reality", so the "learning system" might know that something exists, but it can't know the nature of the "learning system" itself.) The fact that a fact is known is a new fact, which could then be known. Similarly, a large set of facts, or information could be generated and developed. (I'm not exactly sure how, but I think it could be worked out.) This set of information, together with the "learning system" itself, would comprise reality. If the "learning system" could act as a "pointer", by successively attending to various details of that set of information (like stable patterns in it), then "the "illusion of flow of time" could be achieved [even though] nothing is in motion in reality". It should be noticed that in this model, even though nothing in reality is in motion, there is an evolution going on: new information is being added. This is consistent with the part of reality we observe (our universe) in that it already contains a sizeable amount of information and if we consider the present moment of any worldline to be a temporal boundary, it seems that this boundary continues to recede (procede?) into the future. So reality, as you suggested, really is in motion, but the real motion is only in the "pointer" and not the MWI blocks. I suppose you could also say that the growth of the blocks is motion in the same way that the growth of a coral reef could be said to be motion. The reef is static, but the boundaries move. I am eager to hear your thoughts on these ideas. Warm regards, Paul 


#114
Dec306, 03:00 PM

P: 341

Hi Dick,
Now, given the evolutionary coralreeflike nature of the spacetime block(s), there would be discrete ends to each and every worldline. In the event the pointer encounters one of these ends, the quantum outcome, however it is determined, will construct the addition on the overall structure. This raises the question of whether such evolution may proceed in the absence of a visit by the pointer, or not. My guess is that it can be either. In the case the pointer is not involved, then some deterministic algorithm probably decides (in the nonMWI interpretations). In the case the pointer is involved, the choice may be much more complex. These are just some thoughts you stirred up with your comment. That is why I would really like for you to work out solutions to your fundamental equation in 4, 5, 6 and even higher dimensions to see if we can't get a clue as to what the possibilities for structures and dynamics might be in those spaces. I know. I know. You did it for n dimensions, and that should be sufficient. But I think that specific solutions for specific higher dimensions might shed more light than a general solution does. Good talking with you again, Dick. Warm regards to all, Paul 


#115
Dec406, 06:45 AM

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I mean: for every event, you should be able to assign a quantity which is called "doodle" and which, when doodle > 25, is "future" and when <25, is "past". How do you do this ? 


#116
Dec606, 04:27 PM

P: 625

As I said in that article, consider a four dimensional Euclidean space (x,y,z, tau) where free fundamental entities propagate at a fixed velocity (since the conventional concept of mass does not exist exist in my picture, the quantum mechanical solution yielding the probability of finding the entity is simply a traveling wave with a fixed velocity). Now, if mass is defined to be the name assigned to momentum in the tau direction (yielding energy as the magnitude of the total momentum), what will common interactions look like? Remember, all your experiments are done in laboratories constructed of uncountable numbers of fundamental entities all in eigenstates of mass (momentum quantized states relative to the tau direction), presume action at a distance does not occur, and all observed forces are due to virtual exchange of fundamental entities. Work out the mathematics and see what you get! I guarantee your description will be identical to standard modern physics (that is, if you don't make an error in your analysis). And that analysis will also generate all the common general relativistic effects. Have fun  Dick 


#117
Dec606, 04:48 PM

P: 625

Hi Paul,
I am afraid you are just too bound up in your personal beliefs to see the problem objectively. What I am getting at here is the issue embedded in that old question, "how do I know you are experiencing the same phenomena when you say you are seeing 'green' as what I am experiencing when I think I am seeing 'green'?" The correct answer to the question is, "I don't!" We don't worry about the issue because all the related phenomena (any experiment either of us can conceive of related to the issue) end up being in simple accordance with the presumption that we are seeing the same thing. What this really means is that the phenomena and the surrounding aspects you experience are analogs to the phenomena I experience so, if they happen to actually be different, that fact is of utterly no experimental consequence. That is exactly what is so important about my discovery, the nugget of which is given in my paper The Universal Analytical Model of Explanation Itself. The set A constitutes the complete collection of ontological elements a given explanation is to explain. The set C is the actual information upon which that explanation is based (the explanation cannot be based on A because we are not all knowing). The set B(t) constitutes changes in what we know: i.e., changes in C. I define an explanation to be a method of predicting our expectations and from that definition deduce the fact that, if the explanation is internally consistent with itself, the fundamental elements of that explanation must obey my fundamental equation. That fact has utterly nothing to do with what those elements are or what experiences are contained in the explainer's personal knowledge C. What it says is that a logical self consistent explanation of anything must obey that equation. I call the result the "Foundation of Physical Reality" because it provides us with a foundation for communication: i.e., physical reality. What I am getting at here is that it makes utterly no difference as to what kind of universe you live in or what your experiences are, if you come up with an internally consistent explanation of any aspect of that reality, I know that your explanation (that is, what you are able to communicate to me) must obey that equation. The consequence of that fact is that we all agree about the nature of Physical Reality: i.e., it makes no difference what your personal experiences are (the universe you live in could bear no resemblence at all to the one I experience), those explanations which are internally consistent have to be analog representations of my experiences which are internally consistent. The reason we all agree about physical phenomena is that all the fundamental relationships of modern physics (including chemistry, biology and any of the other hard sciences) are actually approximate solutions to my fundamental equation. Thus they constitute phenomena within our varied experiences which have explanations which are analog representations of the same thing even if we are actually talking about totally different phenomena. It follows that, when we get away from physics and mathematics, we have utterly no reason to presume we are even talking about the same things or that a mutual analog to our thoughts even exists. Now, to get to the issue of dimensionality. My fundamental equation is essentially two dimensional. The first dimension is to allow representation of "difference" (if every element of A is identical to every other element, we have only one element to talk about). The second dimension allows us to consider two different elements of C to be the same element of A. These two dimensions are no more than a recording mechanism (a mental note pad so to speak). The actual number of elements in C are presumed to be so large as to be essentially uncountable (I think you like the word "pointers" to refer to this issue). Fundamentally, this is an n body problem and is quite definitely a mathematically insoluble problem; however, if one takes the universe one event at a time (presuming the solution for the rest of the universe is known) I show that there exists a one dimensional solution for that one event and in fact show that Schroedinger's equation is an approximation to that solution (which also allows me to define some of those analog concepts: momentum, energy and mass). I then expand the problem by collecting the elements of C in sets of three. Essentially regarding each of these three different sets as independent of one another (no problem as all of the original elements were independent anyway, as the dependence comes purely out of the explanation and not out of reality). When I do that I get a three dimensional Schroedinger's equation implying the fact that our three dimensional picture of the universe must obey Newtonian mechanics on an anthropomorphic level (Newtonian mechanics is an analog model of that collection of elements going to make up an internally consistent explanation of whatever it is you are explaining). The fundamental point you are missing is the fact that the rest of the universe must be known or we cannot solve the problem (that presumed solution for the rest of the universe provides the boundary conditions for our "one body solution" in three dimensions). My next step, in chapter four, is to use the definitions developed in the deduction of the Schroedinger approximation to essentially set up a one body problem in six dimensions. That effort is my derivation of Dirac's equation. The six dimensions are, for practical purposes three for the electron (momentum in the tau direction being quantized essentially eliminates tau) and three for the photon (since it is massless, the tau dimension is insignificant). The deduction produces both Dirac's equation and Maxwell's equations in a relativistically correct representation. Essentially, relativity is a phenomena which arises in a four dimensional analysis, relativistically correct electromagnetic phenomena arise from that six dimensional representation. If one allows nonzero tau momentum in the second particle, one obtains the nuclear strong force. And finally, under the presumption that our boundary conditions are valid (given to us by the agreement between our solutions and our success at physics) we can examine the consequences of variations in interaction density and, by this means, obtain all the known general relativistic effects including gravity itself. Gravity is a distortion in our above solution created by the radial variation in interaction density. The reason I bring all this up is that the dimensionality of the representation expresses the number of independent variables in the solution space. We can take the number up to eight only because we have a very good idea as to how the boundary conditions are to be represented (the impact of those millions upon billions of other significant events). That result has been achieved by our subconscious through millions of years of evolution and survival. What you want to do requires us to express those boundary conditions correctly for these higher dimensional representations. Before you step off in that direction, you ought to consider carefully exactly what I have done as it is intimately related to dimensional representation. Essentially I have shown that the "individual entities" in that higher dimensional representation (up to around eight dimensions anyway, a two body problem in four dimensions) have to obey the laws of physics; thus the question you have to answer before you can begin to cast the whole universe in a higher dimensional representation is, what are the resultant boundary conditions of such a representation. To put that question in another form, it should be seen as totally equivalent to, "what is or is not possible when we require all the entities in the universe to obey the laws of modern physics. We have trouble conceiving how four dimensions comes to require relativity and electromagnetic effects (though we can show it analytically), how can you expect to conceive of the impact of higher dimensional interactions and what relationships are or are not possible in such a representation? Without the boundary conditions, you cannot even state the problem. By the way, have you ever looked at my posts on Hypography Science Forums? Take a look at "A simple geometric proof with profound consequences". Have fun  Dick 


#118
Dec706, 09:58 PM

P: 192

Sorry to just butt in like this but I have a query concerning Time and it's obvious I've finally found the right place. Looking at the previous posts I see that I'm completely out of my depths in terms of the science  I'm more of an 'accidental philosopher'. Because of my ability to remember the past or make predictions about the future I've always taken for granted the arrow of time from Past to Future through the Present. However, after looking more closely I find my personal experience is of an everchanging NOW  my actions in the past were done NOW as were the memories these actions created. I carry these memories with me NOW and when I observe any physical effects of my past actions (ie: initials carved in a tree when I was 11) I observe them NOW.
I had also assumed that Time is a measurement of change but it appears that Time is more like a byproduct of change and as such can be used to measure it. This is all very philosophical but I would like to ask anyone if there is a mathematical proof for Time, or some kind of scientific proof. Time is a fundamental aspect of physics so I am assuming that it has an objective existence that has been proven. Apologies if this is a completely bonehead question. 


#119
Dec806, 06:06 AM

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Now, same question, but for an observer zipping by me, which crosses me exactly when the nearby firecracker explodes (so that we both see the firecracker explode at the same moment). Your alternative formulation is of course possible. You can do GR "in ether mode", and introduce an arbitary timelike vectorfield: it will be the gradient of a scalar function which you can call "time" and separate past from future that way. But it violates the spirit of GR. You have introduced a preferred foliation of spacetime. There was a guy of the name of Ilya Schmeltzer or something who did something very similar. Of course, once you've introduced "an ether" that way, you can go back to the Newtonian vision of time. 


#120
Dec806, 06:28 AM

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#121
Dec806, 10:34 PM

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Have fun  Dick 


#122
Dec906, 02:28 PM

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Whether there exists such a nested hierarchy or not does not give us any observable effects here. If you suggest there is something like a pointer that is in motion and as such reading the static blocks, you might just as well say there is that one 4dimensional block and the pointers are moving through it. This would be simpler to imagine and being that both flavours are just maps anyway, the latter seems more useful. Either way, the problem remains. It is not particularly elegant to say reality is such a place where nothing is in motion, except for some kind of pointer that is having or providing subjective experience. If it is asserted that time dimension is necessary for what we call motion, it is not elegant to say something is in motion outside of it. So, when I said "once I've tried to reconcile spacetime with the philosophy of the mind, it has become by far the most elegant option to assume that reality really is in motion, and metaphysically so", I meant, to assume that things we observe to be moving really are in motion, in such sense that there is no "past and future in existence all the time". Instead, there is just a present. If this is true, then it naturally follows that where there occurs a process that gives rise to subjective experience, the subjective experience also is in motion, experiencing a present as it is occurring "all the time". This does not need to be in conflict with any observable effects of relativity. It is just a different map of the same terrain. I don't know how well this is recognized today, since people are so used to think in terms of spacetime and lorentztransformation. I guess it is not too well recognized, judging from the lengthy articles of Dr. Dick. His description is basically just a different way to look at the same thing. The topology of events is preserved while the shape of the map is very different, and here the topology is all that physical things can observe. A clock does not measure how time dimension is in motion, but it measures the topology; we compare the motion of two physical things, and say the clock advanced this and this much while some other object advaced this and this much. Here, the different but compatible ways to imagine reality imply different sorts of ontologies, and in fact I have just been arguing elsewhere that because of how we learn, we can always build arbitrary number of different kinds of ontologies. It will always be a matter of faith to choose between the ontologies, as long as they provide the topology that we observe to be true. But just to give credit where credit is due, Einstein was aware of this (I don't think you need to be so harsh to the man Dr. Dick :) The shape of spacetime is not observable property, as long as the topology between things is preserved. The measurement devices do not have a life that is independent of reality: For the construction of the present theory of relativity the following is essential: 1. Physical things are described by continuous functions, field variables of four coordinates. As long as the topological connection is preserved, these latter can be freely chosen. 2. The field variables are tensor components, among the tensors is a symmetrical tensor gik for the description of the gravitational field. 3. There are physical objects, which (in the macroscopic field) measure the invariant ds. If 1 and 2 are accepted, 3 is plausible, but not necessary. The construction of a mathematical theory rests exclusively upon 1 and 2. A complete theory of physics as a totality, in accordance with 1 and 2 does not yet exist. If it did exist, there would be no room for the supposition 3. For the objects used as tools for measurement do not lead an independent existence alongside of the objects implicated by the field equations.  Albert Einstein This can basically be seen as an assertion against the ontological view he favoured himself (subjective simultaneity and static spacetime). We can draw all kinds of simultaneity planes on the spacetime diagram, and assume that they mean this or that, and consequently assert that there must be such a thing as subjective simultaneity, but it need not be that way. Different views, while preserving the topology, can be argued to be less elegant in some geometrical sense, but on the other hand, it is hardly a trivial to show why would the simplest way to draw the map on paper also be the way reality actually is. Lorentztransformation can imply invalid ontology while it can predict the correct observable effects. Spacetime diagrams can imply invalid ontology while they can predict the correct observable effects. I am aware my view cannot solve the Hard Problem, but I would also expect it to be so for a learning system that cannot understand reality directly, but has a subjective experience by having formed a mental model of reality, based on the raw data that is meaningless independently (i.e. the sensory data in its raw form does not carry meaning apart from the learning systems interpreting the data in such or such ways; recognizing such and such objects or sounds or scents from it). There are also some fairly good descriptions of how the cortex might, at a low level, actually be doing all this. For one, look at Jeff Hawkins' "On Intelligence". I do not think it is fruitful to assume that something as complex as the building of a semantical worldview and interpretation of sensory data accordingly, would be a fundamental function. It is not exactly trivial to build such models, and it is not necessary even. Semantical learning can be seen as (complex) mechanical behaviour, as long as the "knowledge base" of the system is all it subjectively knows about reality, and the knowledge base is something that is an artifical expression of "real things". I.e. when you are aware of looking at an apple, it is a case if the apple being expressed by the spatial/temporal patterns in cortex. This expression is all you know about reality. Strictly speaking, you don't know what the apple is like "in reality" apart from your own ideas of it. I'm sorry I cannot be brief. I've tried and usually everything I say gets misinterpreted into some kind of idealistic or solipsistic view :) Anssi 


#123
Dec1006, 02:17 PM

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It is not very difficult to obtain the Dirac equation when you require exactly the right kind of transformation rules. But they seem to really be begging the question. True, any finite state machine can be modelled within the system of real numbers, but usually no calculus technique works on those kinds of very singular objects, let alone series devellopment and derivatives. 


#124
Dec1006, 10:41 PM

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#125
Dec1106, 02:37 AM

P: 249

Now, in the "standard interpretation" of relativity, it is asserted that time is such a thing where it doesn't "pass" in an everyday sense at all. I.e. because relativity says simultaneity is subjective notion, it pretty much follows that in reality the "present moment" cannot be thought to exist, but rather all of time exists at once. This view of course goes counter to our subjective experience, and sure enough, is problematic when you try to actually understand the nature of subjective experience. But here one can choose to interpret spacetime differently, without losing any observable effects of relativity. These would be different ontological views of time, that no one can prove or disprove with an experiement. So is it possible to adopt such a view where there does exist a universal "present moment" and things really are in motion (so to explain why we, as physical beings, consciously experience a single present moment)? Yes! If you imagine a static spacetime block in front of you, it is the topology of things, the way they connect, that gives you the observable relativistic effects. If you imagine the spacetime to bend one way or another, the topology does not change and thus no physical thing can ever detect this bending. Similarly, the simultaneity planes attached to observers are also unobservable imaginary things. They do not change the topology of spacetime. To say that simultaneity is subjective is, strictly speaking, an ontological assertion. (Although it is often not treated as one, mainly because this assumption is what made it possible for Einstein to construct the model, and by assuming relativity of simultaneity, a spacetime diagram is geometrically simple to draw and understand from within one frame) Now you should also be able to see how you could just choose to see this same spacetime as if there exists only one 3Dslice of it at a time, and as if this slice is really moving from "past" towards the "future". Does this change the topology of spacetime? No! This would essentially be such an ontological interpretation of relativity where simultaneity is universal, but the topology of physical connections causes time dilation effects. Bear in mind that the above are just some principles. I would not use these concepts to construct an ontological view (because it doesn't offer any reason as to why the topology is such as it is), but I hope it goes to show that it is the topology of spacetime that is physically important and observable, and assertions about relativity of simultaneity or static spacetime blocks or such assertions about the nature of time are a matter of ontology, not something that can be proven. As a simple exercise about the importance of topology, consider the fact that in any view of time, it cannot be said that time metaphysically and objectively moves at a rate that we observe it to move. Once a person is able to disgard naive realist view of reality, it is easy to see that the subjective experience of the "rate of time" depends on the speed with which the physical processes in the brain proceed. Twice the speed, and the time would seem to slow down to half. Here if course "twice the speed" could only mean "twice the speed as compared to external reality", i.e. it would only change the topology of "spacetime". I could say that "in reality it could take thousand years for one second to proceed and we as physical beings could not notice it", and this confused assertion hopefully reveals how our ideas of time are completely semantical. The "rate of passage of time" is not important, the topology is, and so is the existence of "present moment" for subjective experience. Anssi 


#126
Dec1106, 04:02 PM

P: 625

And, by the way, a lot more than Dirac's equation pops out! As to the issue of the necessity of the concept "time", if you are to hold the opinion that the concept "time" is unnecessary for a description of your experiences, I would ask you how you propose to reference change in your knowledge? Have fun  Dick 


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