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Proof of the Future

  1. Jan 10, 2008 #1

    baywax

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    We have a certain amount of proof that the past happened. We have fossils, architecture, artifacts, culturally modified trees - caves and earth. But strangely enough we don't have any evidence that there is a future.

    There are certainly indications that there is a future. We have predictions and calculations that assume there will be activities taking place beyond the present and sometimes the predictions and assumptions do take place. However, they always take place in the present. In fact, fossils and artifacts etc... can only be observed in the present as well and so can only be identified as being from the past by calculations and assumptions made from where they are found in the strata (etc..).

    Can someone present evidence that proves, without a doubt, that there is a future?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 11, 2008 #2
    Something like: today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
     
  4. Jan 11, 2008 #3

    vanesch

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    Nope. In fact, you don't even have a proof of the past. You only have an awareness of a present, that makes you think that there was a past...
     
  5. Jan 11, 2008 #4

    DaveC426913

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    Nope. Impossible. There might not be.

    Robert J. Sawyer wrote a novel called Flash Forward where some sort of particle accelerator malfunction caused a "temporal bridge" causing everyone in the world to Flash Forward and see the world through their own eyes twenty years in the future. Most people got a glimpse of their lives in the future. Some people only saw blackness.
     
  6. Jan 11, 2008 #5

    baywax

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    Or "tomorrow never comes". So that when Hitler said "Today Poland. Tomorrow the world" he basically foretold the out come of that campaign.

    Thank you vanesch and DaveC426913. I didn't think there was going to be much evidence of the future actually being there.

    Does this mean there is no evidence of "potential"? Or is potential a state that can exist even without proof of the future?
     
  7. Jan 11, 2008 #6
    I think that potential would exist as long as there is a probability of its happening. So, potential can exist without a proof of the future.
     
  8. Jan 11, 2008 #7
    But then what would you say a memory is? And further what if you have proof of that memory, like say if you come back now and read the post I am replying to?
    You're obviously not writing the post right now in the present, so you must have written it at some other time. And if you didn't write it, who did? And how did it get there? Did everything in the present just pop into existence by an uncaused event?
    I would say this is fair proof that the past has existed.

    I understand the point that nothing really exists outside of the present, but that doesn't mean it /didn't/ exist in the past.
    Saying that we can't prove the past is kind of like saying that it never happened, which is not the same as everything only existing in the present.

    Also about the future, we can provide evidence that "if everything continues like it has" then the future will exist.
    Of course there is a chance that it might not, maybe the universe just pops out of existence in an instant, but if that was the case then it was either a caused event or an uncaused event, and like I said in another thread, if it is uncaused then it has no scientific, physical, mental or philosophical precursor or otherwise, and as such is impossible to prove.
     
  9. Jan 11, 2008 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    Not proof the of future but perhaps a related thought:

    I am pretty rusty on this stuff, but didn't Feynman show that without the future, we have a certain integral in the present that would be in trouble?
     
  10. Jan 11, 2008 #9

    DaveC426913

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    We like to think our view of the past is an accurate view, but it is not. It is constructed. We also like to think that this construction process cannot be tampered with, but it can. That includes what you are reading reight now. Memories are not proof of the past, though as humans we need to live as if they are.
     
  11. Jan 11, 2008 #10
    Construction process?
    How can there be any process at all if there isn't a past.
    And what is the likelihood that there IS a past, namely this construction process you mention, but we do not see it, rather it is constructed by someone, as if some kind of "god" did it to control us or something.

    I would rather say the more common sense theory of the past is more plausible.
     
  12. Jan 11, 2008 #11

    baywax

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    I'm trying to explain something that's really hard for me to explain. Its about making states and conditions the kind of events that take place only in the present.

    So you would make "the past" a state or condition that is inherent to the present just as the "future" is a state or condition that is inherent with the present. Other states and conditions would number in the gagillions but they all only prove themselves in the present. To tell you the truth, the present is the only proof that there is the future or the past. It is our main trunk of a state that allows for any other state.

    I know there is a huge debate over whether there is a present as well, but I'd like to ignore the solipsistic and other self-centred points of view and really try to unravel how we arrived at a concept like the future and the past when all indications of these conditions are only available in the present... now.

    A lot depends on point of view and scale. (excuse the repeating example)

    If you are next to a river... you can see what's coming toward you... in your event horizon... and you can see whats right with you and you can see where things that were with you have gone... all at the same instant. But there is this coming and going phenomenon going on... next to the river.

    Your next position is 80 miles above the river. The water doesn't seem to be moving and it appears as a line you can follow wtih your eye in about .0023 seconds. Nothing more.

    The feeling of the "past" along the river and the feeling of the future along the river have all but dissappeared. It is a simple condition that is present in the now... with you.

    Is there a parallel here or do I need a nice new condition of beer in my event horizon?
     
  13. Jan 11, 2008 #12
    All I have is a side note. If there is no future then nothing will change. If nothing will change then your quest for a proof is irrelevant, it will not change anything.
     
  14. Jan 11, 2008 #13

    DaveC426913

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    We weren't asked for "likelihoods", we were asked for proof.

    The point is, your memory can be falsified (in principle). What you are convinced is the past, could be wholly fictitious and placed there at the very same moment you are remembering it. You would not be able to distinguish it from a "real" memory.

    Resorting to a sci-fi reference: it is essentially the premise of Blade Runner.
     
  15. Jan 11, 2008 #14

    baywax

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    I tried to find this and there's another gazillion possible entries to read.

    There must be a formula that proves the future. Perhaps it has to do with uncertainty? Uncertainty couldn't survive as a factor in an equation without the future
     
  16. Jan 11, 2008 #15

    DaveC426913

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    "Entropy" and the "arrow of time" might yield more fruitful results.
     
  17. Jan 12, 2008 #16

    Shooting Star

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    This post is meant mainly for the OP, and is mainly a Physicist’s view.

    The initial question, in essence, was, why can we remember the past but not the future?

    The very fact that this has come to somebody’s mind shows that probably he/she is asking a deeper but a not so very old question – why is the Universe not time-symmetric?

    The t-symmetric idea of the Universe came into existence with the development and establishment of what is now called Classical Physics. According to the laws of microphysics, all motion could be reversed and still there wouldn’t be anything wrong with the working of the Universe. The only problem was caused by the “empirical” law that cold things don’t get hot by themselves, which is called the 2nd law of Thermodynamics. This law lends an arrow to the direction of time.

    After that, the CP symmetry of the CPT theorem was found to be experimentally violated, and so t-symmetry must be violated, and everybody expected that this ultimately will explain why the Universe goes forward, and it’ll also tie up with the 2nd law. I don’t know how much has happened in the last decade or more, since there have been so much progress in all kinds of theories of the universe.

    But the CP symmetry is violated and so the t-symmetry has to be violated in order to restore CPT, which means that the time does not go the same way forward as backward. We ALL know that, anyway. The problem is to tie it up with basic Physics, and answer questions like the OP asked.

    As DaveC has just pointed out, entropy and similar stuff like the violation of t-symmetry would be more fruitful ways of thinking.
     
  18. Jan 12, 2008 #17

    DaveC426913

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    There are theories of the universe wherein things do not change - wherein the universe is a fixed, 4 dimensional volume, but that it is our limited perception of one of those dimensions that creates in us an illusion that it happens "over time".
     
  19. Jan 12, 2008 #18

    baywax

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    Yes, limited perception is one of the things I was going to mention. If every event is a state, such as "change" or "gravity", "future", "past" or "entropy" or any event you can think of... and all states (or events) take place in the present (which can be proven) then we have this field of states or events taking place simultaneously.

    We are a state or event ourselves, as well, and we "take place" in this field of states at the same time as everything else. Our limited ability to view the entire "field of events" renders each event to appear as though its in sequence in relation to the other rather than allowing us to see the complete set of states that lead up to and continue from that one event that we can observe.

    For instance, all the stages of a rock being well balanced then falling down a hill are only revealed to us in sequence. This is may be because our brain is programed to perceive events in this way in order to support our rather frail physical body as it is occurring in the "field of states".

    In other words, the state of our living organism must see all events in sequence in order to survive. Similarly, our eyes actually feed our brains the world in reverse (up side down) and our brain reverses that reversal for us so that we can function according to the way we are physically positioned on the planet.

    Shooting star

    You have some great stuff there to work with. Thank you. Although I'm not asking anything about memory here. Memory is what I'd call a "state", one of many that take place in the present. It may be that a limited perception developed memory as a partial clue to the the breadth of what DaveC426913 is calling a "4 dimensional volume".

    I'm not sure that entropy, which is a certainty as far as we know, will work to prove the future exists. I am more convinced that uncertainty or "the unknown" is the face of the future and, for now, that is all we can see of her.
     
  20. Jan 12, 2008 #19
    A point of view that denies change either confirms that finding a proof of the future will not change anything (since change is denied) or, more sensibly, it fails because it does not account for the changing state of the alleged illusion we are experiencing. I think therefore I change.
     
  21. Jan 12, 2008 #20

    Shooting Star

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    Note my phrasing -- in essence.

    Maybe not, but does distinguish between past and future.

    Can you me a reference on 'uncertainty indicating existence of future', or a brief write-up yourself?
     
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