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Peter Lynds' paper and his 'theory' of time

  1. Aug 3, 2003 #1
    An article about some Peter Lynds fellow and his mind-blowing theory of time that has "rocked the physics world" appeared on Slashdork. Naturally enough, my combo quack and hoax detector started beeping. Well, here's his paper. I don't have time to deconstruct it, so I ask the community here: What do you folks make of it? Is this for real?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2003 #2
    I went to the 'here's his paper' link, and once on that page clicked the link for the PDF, but nothing showed up.
  4. Aug 3, 2003 #3
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
  5. Aug 3, 2003 #4


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    The linked article is ABOUT the paper and peoples reaction to it. It is impossible to make any judgement on the paper with this information. We need a copy of the paper itself to make knowledable comment.
  6. Aug 3, 2003 #5
  7. Aug 4, 2003 #6
    The idea of Peter Lynds is in no way new, since this idea already was put forward in dialectical materialism, as we can judge from the following text:

    The contradiction of motion

    Motion is a contradiction within itself, since if an object would at a precise moment be at a precise location, it could never move. The very concept of motion necessitates to accept the existence of contradiction in nature. One of the first philosphers to raise the paradox of motion was Zeno of Elea. The following excerpt explains the viewpoint of Dialectical Materialism on this issue.

    Motion and Change

    Those philosophers who reject the dialectical approach also reject the claim that the concept of contradiction is necessary to the understanding of motion. Hegel distinguishes two kinds of change, quantitative and qualitative; and he maintains that dialectic is required to describe both. The main philosophical discussion has centred around the understanding of quantitative change; and I shall focus on this form of change here.
    Quantitative change is change of place, mechanical motion. The understanding of it has posed problems since the very beginnings of Western philosophy. In the 5th Century B.C., the Greek philosopher Zeno presented a celebrated series of paradoxes designed to show that the very concept of motion involves contradictions and is therefore impossible. His arguments have remained controversial throughout the history of western philosophy. Hegel, in effect, accepts Zeno's argument that there are contradictions in the very nature of motion, but instead of concluding that motion is impossible he maintains that `motion is existent contradiction' (Hegel 1969, 440). Engels and other dialectical materialists has followed him in this.
    Many analytical philosophers, however, reject the view that the description of motion requires the use of contradictions. Russell's (1922) arguments have been particularly influential. He maintains that a coherent and non-contradictory account of the motion of any object can be given by saying that at one instant it is in one place, while at another instant it is at another place.
    This account of movement is quite correct as far as it goes. However, defenders of dialectic argue that it does not go far enough to answer the philosophical problems raised by Zeno's arguments or by dialectic. For to say only that motion consists in being in different places at different times is not to describe motion itself, but merely the effects of motion. To say of a moving body only that it is at a particular place at a particular instant, is not to describe it as in motion there. In order to get movement into the picture, according to dialectic, we must recognize both that the body is at that place and that, in the same instant it is ceasing to be so. For the description needs to capture the fact not only that the body is where it is, but also that it is moving ─ hence in a process of change and becoming. For this contradiction is essential (Priest 1985). As Hegel says, `something moves not because at one moment it is here and at another there, but because at one and the same moment it is here and not here' (Hegel 1969, 440).

    Excerpt from: http://www.kent.ac.uk/secl/philosophy/ss/DIALECTIC.rtf" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  8. Aug 4, 2003 #7
    Yeah, I was thinking that Lynds is proposing nothing new. The real question is, does he really have something that will make new physics? Wheeler calls him 'bold' and I'm inclined to think that it's just a polite put-down, unless it's actually a hoax.
  9. Aug 6, 2003 #8
    No, I just came across this article from space.com (reliable source)


    I think there is promise to this, especially if one considers quantum physics. There are no 'instants' of position in space...so why should there be 'instants' of posistion in time?
  10. Aug 7, 2003 #9


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    It's not complete quackery, but he's npot really poposing anything new, the idea of an instant in time is only really a device used by physicists rather than any comment on the nature of reality. Quite frankly you can get the same result by still considering an instant of time as long as you still remember that particles, have, accelartion, momentum, etc, even when you are just considering them at a 'poin' in time.
  11. Aug 7, 2003 #10
    Wheeler had a habit of never saying anything unkind about someone else's ideas. So saying something was "bold" might have meant audacious or ridiculous.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2003
  12. Aug 8, 2003 #11
    I agree with heusdens and jcsd.
    It seems to me that Lynds is playing with words. I expect he'll soon be argueing that a Zebra doesn't have black and white strips but an array of differential gray hairs.

    I believe that any physicist or even us lowly engineers fully understands and accepts the principles he is arguing even though it may not occur to us to even state them. That is the entire reason we utilize such concepts as significant figures, standard deviation, tolerances, calculus and a host of others. It is the reason Heisenburg formally stated his Uncertainty Principle.

    The very concept of motion implies change, or more precisely, continuous change. It should be a very easy deduction to conclude that even in the smallest fraction of time you can measure that an object will still be moving. However when you attempt to describe phenomena it reads much better to say that "at time t=1 second, the object was at position x = 1 meter" rather than say "between the interval time t = 1.000000000000000000 and t = 1.999999999999999999 seconds, the object was at position x = 0.99999999999 meters and 1.49999999999999 meters." or whatever the actual case may be.

    I must wonder, if Lynds needs to blow his nose, does he say, "please pass me a kleenex" or "please pass me a Puffs brand tissue paper"? I would say "please pass me a kleenex" regardless of the brand of tissue paper at hand because I fully expect the owner of the tissue paper to understand what I mean and not drive down to the store to buy Kleenex brand tissue paper.
  13. Aug 8, 2003 #12
    The points is, Peter Lynds says nothing astonighing new. For example the philosopher Hegel already stated a likewise vision on reality and time, and before Hegel there must have been many other philosophers and scientists who had expressed that.
  14. Aug 18, 2003 #13
    its a distance Jim , but not as we know it ...

    hmmm i dont realy see the problem with these zeno paradoxes...

    granted if we have to travel 1 meter we first have to travel 0.5 meters

    but that would take also exactly half the time we need for 1 meter

    the time needed to travers the subdivison and the number of subdivisions you have to travers keep canceling each other out.

    since every subdivision will have a certain size (half of the original) you cannot line up an infinite number of them and expect to end up with only 1 meter.

    and as the subdivisions get smaller so dous the time needed to travers them. This way of calculating however is NOT infinite because all subdivisions will have to have a certain size and you cannot line up an infinit number of objects with a certain size (however small) and expect to end up with only 1 meter.

    As long as you dont want to do something at every subdivision wich takes a certain time that is not in relation with the size of the subdivision (like taking a picture or write down the distance traveled) you will get happely where you want to be.

    So moving is certainly ok because the smaller the subdivision the smaller the time needed to travers.

    maybe in these digital times we are forgetting what an analog value realy means ......
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2003
  15. Aug 18, 2003 #14


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    Actually, Zeno's paradox is more subtle than this. It is cleverly constructed to require an INFINITE number of steps.

    Ignore the fact the steps take different lengths of time, and just look at the infinity.

    With each step taken, the total number of steps taken increases by one. But according to the mathematical definition, it is simply impossible to reach such an infinite number, adding one step at the time. You can tend closer and closer, but you never get there.

    Therefore the paradox.
  16. Aug 19, 2003 #15
    Lol… Well that’s the problem if we keep dividing things we don’t really understand….

    According to “zeno’s theory” the following should also stand

    I have 1 gram of water…
    Now if i throw half of that away I am left with 0.5 gram of water right ?
    Now I repeat this for only about 90 times (so we are still waaaay of getting to infinite),
    I should be left with 0.000000000000000000000000000808 grams of water right ?

    Well no , because even 1 molecule of water weights more than that …so actually I don’t have any water left at all.

    Now for objects to have different distances they have to have different amounts of space between them. Who says we can keep dividing that amount of space and still have space left at all ?

    The fact that you can move from one locations to another across an amount of space suggests to me that you cannot infinitely keep dividing these amounts of space (otherwise you would have to cross an infinite number of those amounts to get somewhere, and since all objects then would have an infinite amount of space divisions between them every object would be at the same ,infinite, distance from every other object.)

    So applying zeno to “1 meter of distance” and “1 second of time” is probably is a silly as applying zeno to 1 gram of water. Just because we don’t understand what space (meaning the distance between two objects) is made from does not give us the right to keep dividing it in half….

    The same for an amount of time, who says we can take “1 second” and keep throwing half away and what remains would still be definable as time … at infinitum …. Lol

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 20, 2003
  17. Aug 24, 2003 #16
    Quantum solution

    Zenos paradox as analysed in the paper comes to the conclusion that it is impossible for a moving particle to ever pass another, as it approaches the distance between them becomes infinitely small but never zero. However, with quantum physics the solution to the paradox is fairly obvious; the particle has no absolute position, its wavefunction occupies an area, so at any time there is a probability, however small, that the particle exists on the other side of the object its chasing. In fact i should imagine this probability tends towards unity as the distance decreases.

    One could apply a similar logic trap to the energy levels in a hydrogen atom given by Bohr's formula, which allows for an infinite number of energy levels which are taken in discreet steps (without the electron occupying the intervening space, note the analogue with the discreet units of position idea). How does an electron ever escape this potential trap? : Tunneling. Part of its wave function exists outside the trap (seeing as the distance is very small).
  18. Aug 24, 2003 #17
    Good point bk227865!

    You are quite right in your post that problems arise from “dividing things we don’t really understand….” You may see my thread Space and Time are Discrete or look for Eugene Savov’s theory of interaction.
  19. Aug 27, 2003 #18
  20. Aug 29, 2003 #19
    It seems to me that Zeno’s paradoxes boil down to something much more simple, which has nothing to do with how we imagine matter to be constituted.
    After all, he simply says that it gets us nowhere if we worry eg. endlessly about little bits of distance when in fact the discussed reality occurs in another category, namely speed (which in this case is distance per time). I think Zeno wanted to get the philosophers of his time out of a narrow view in which words are taken for things. This is a problem even today.
  21. Sep 23, 2003 #20
    I'd suggest that some of you actually read his papers. They're dead on. The ideas in them are also certainly original. He's definately no hoax. Try http://www.peterlynds.net.nz [Broken] (papers, articles and notes)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
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