Speed of our reality perception…

I'm really puzzled at our perception of fundamental physical reality…

I’ve got it right or all wrong? (I am no scientist, just a curious person, so please bear with me.)

Some constants first:
- Planck time (PT): 5.4×10−44 s
- Planck length (PL): 1.6×10^-35 m
- Electron radius (EL): 2.4×10^-17 m
- Light speed (LS): 299792458 m/s
- Electron speed (ES1): 299792456 m/s (4 GeV beam)
- Electron speed (ES2): 2200000 m/s (in hydrogen atom)
- Age of Universe (AU): 4.3*10^17 s (13.7 billion years)

Imagine one electron traveling 1 meter at the speed ES1 (almost as the speed of light), and that we record this with a perfect recording system (for this thought experiment let’s dismiss all sorts of technical or physical limitations).

If I am not wrong, main stream science says that space-time is continuous and not discrete, but nonetheless, let’s imagine that space-time is discrete, where the smallest measurable length is Planck length. (In the end, it doesn't really matter if time is continuous or discrete, Plank length is still the smallest theoretical length, while smallest practical measurable length is way larger.)

As I’ve already learned, a fundamental particle, like an electron, is not really a solid particle but it exists as a “wave packet” that is distributed over space-time, so, in truth it would move in steps much smaller than Plank length or Plank time, because it is distributed over many space-time points…

But to make things simpler, let’s say that we count only the steps which are of “full” Plank length.

So, my question is, how many frames per second (FPS) would we record with such a perfect camera?

Well, the way I see it it’s simply 1m / PL, which is about 6x10^34 FPS.

Now, what looks most curious to me, almost incredible, is that if we were to review such a recording in a human time-scale, on our TV, which is 30 FPS in USA, where we’d look just 1 second at every frame (step of that motion) it would take us about as much time as the age of Universe multiplied by itself, to review it!

Which means that our perception of reality is incredibly slow compared to reality itself (if I remember it correctly our awareness “records” few events per second), so, we actually miss out most of the happening in this reality/Universe…

Which makes me consider that if there were some kind of aware beings who operate in a much faster time-scale, it might happen that they already visited us, or might be right here among us, but we weren’t / aren't even aware of them – to them we might appear as if we are frozen in time, and they might pass right besides us and we’d not even notice it…

Is it only me finding this fascinating?

ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
First of all, electron "speeds" are not "constants"! They are certainly not considered to be one of the fundamental constants. And neither is "electron speed in hydrogen".

Secondly, it seems as if you are trying to "look" at the trajectory of an electron with this "perfect camera". Is this true? If it is, then you haven't clearly defined the mechanism of tracking such a thing (are you shooting photons at it to know where it is at any given position? Are you detecting its charge?). Inevitably, you are basing your "observation" on a number of things that you take for granted, the same way you take for granted that you can watch a tennis match and follow the trajectory of a tennis ball, without realizing that what you are doing is observing light that hits the tennis ball and then enters your eyes.

Zz.

Interesting read, one thing which I think may limit the ability for life in 'faster' reality or whatever are maybe:

The constants of nature perhaps will put a limit to what sort of 'life' can actually exist. I believe your suggestion is these lifeforms might see what to us is just a second as what to us feels like a millennium (much greater orders of magnitude in your figures!) so before long by living in that reality, things like the speed of light 'catch up' with the rate of their reality.

By living in a reality where time is effectively 'slower' before long you might actually be able to see light come toward you (Which you wouldn't see, as it's light which hasn't reached you yet) . I can't think of consequences this would have though, but I'm sure you can quickly draw up some other interesting 'scenario's' other constants would imply.

ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
Interesting read, one thing which I think may limit the ability for life in 'faster' reality or whatever are maybe:

The constants of nature perhaps will put a limit to what sort of 'life' can actually exist. I believe your suggestion is these lifeforms might see what to us is just a second as what to us feels like a millennium (much greater orders of magnitude in your figures!) so before long by living in that reality, things like the speed of light 'catch up' with the rate of their reality.

By living in a reality where time is effectively 'slower' before long you might actually be able to see light come toward you (Which you wouldn't see, as it's light which hasn't reached you yet) . I can't think of consequences this would have though, but I'm sure you can quickly draw up some other interesting 'scenario's' other constants would imply.

This post is rife with bad physics. I don't think you've understood the basic postulate of special relativity at all. Light doesn't "catch up" with anything, and the proper time doesn't slow down your own reference frame. Do you see your time slowing down, even though to some other galaxy, you are actually moving utterly fast?

Please do not ignore the PF Rules that you had agreed to, especially our policy on speculative posts. These rules ARE enforced, they are not mere window dressings.

Zz.

Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
I think you are talking about how "fast" your brain can process information. While being able to process and communicate faster could be considered experience reality faster, it is not the same thing as what you are implying.

Let's say that my brain used Light instead of electro-chemical reactions and impulses to operate. I would probably be able to "think" faster than any computer we have today. However, I am still 100% constrained to the rules of physics. If I wanted to move I'd still have to apply the same forces and use the same amount of energy as everyone else. Apply too much force too quickly and SNAP, broken bones. So even if you could think faster than most all that really gets you is more "time" to think. (Having a hard time using accurate terms for all this)

You have a good insight though about experience and time. For example someone living on the surface of a neutron star would experience life at a relatively slower rate and you would be born and dead before they finish their dinner. Of course they would also be thinking slower relative to you, so they would experience a normal life from their reference frame.

First of all, electron "speeds" are not "constants"! They are certainly not considered to be one of the fundamental constants. And neither is "electron speed in hydrogen".

Secondly, it seems as if you are trying to "look" at the trajectory of an electron with this "perfect camera". Is this true? If it is, then you haven't clearly defined the mechanism of tracking such a thing (are you shooting photons at it to know where it is at any given position? Are you detecting its charge?). Inevitably, you are basing your "observation" on a number of things that you take for granted, the same way you take for granted that you can watch a tennis match and follow the trajectory of a tennis ball, without realizing that what you are doing is observing light that hits the tennis ball and then enters your eyes.
I see you focused more on the details than on the idea which fascinates me, all fine of course.

I agree, perhaps instead of an electron I should mention some "less-complex" object, like tennis ball, or a bullet. And sure, I am aware that perfect camera can only be recording light bouncing back from that object. Moreover, as it happens I even know that the resolution of a single visible photon to motion is on the order of about 10^−15 seconds (this is the time period for one oscillation of the photon wave). And that movements shorter in time than this just won't impact the behavior of the photon much. Which means, that we can never make such a perfect camera which would record motion of objects in all the details (steps, frames) as it really happens (that's why I said in beginning let's dismiss physical and technical limitations of such perfect camera).

But in the end, the main point I wanted to present is that any motion has at least (if space-time is discrete) as many steps (frames) as there are Plank's length fitting the distance that object travels (length travelled / Plank length).

Which brings us to the idea, that one second, which for a human perception of time is something “comfortable”, might in reality be something like a century to potential beings that operate on a much faster time-scale in perception…

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I believe your suggestion is these lifeforms might see what to us is just a second as what to us feels like a millennium (much greater orders of magnitude in your figures!)...
Yes, that's the main idea, thanks for catching it that well. I was thinking how to present it, and I am sure I didn't do a very good job… And I am not sure if this idea was already presented by someone else, I guess it had to happen, because it's not hard to think it up, it’s just not something we'd normally consider...

I think you are talking about how "fast" your brain can process information. While being able to process and communicate faster could be considered experience reality faster, it is not the same thing as what you are implying.

Let's say that my brain used Light instead of electro-chemical reactions and impulses to operate. I would probably be able to "think" faster than any computer we have today. However, I am still 100% constrained to the rules of physics. If I wanted to move I'd still have to apply the same forces and use the same amount of energy as everyone else. Apply too much force too quickly and SNAP, broken bones. So even if you could think faster than most all that really gets you is more "time" to think. (Having a hard time using accurate terms for all this)
Ohh yes, that's a good and valid point, and I did consider it as well. But such beings, who might operate on a much faster time-scale, in sense of perceiving existence, would not have to be made of flash and bones like we humans are...

I imagine, that if there are such beings they must be much smaller than us. I relate our physical size to our perception of time, is that wrong? I mean, we humans, being close to 2m tall, are huge compared to fundamental particles, and I imagine that there could be beings still much bigger than fundamental particles, but also much smaller than us, meaning, they could also physically move much faster (not just think/perceive faster) -- the bigger one is the more energy one needs to move own body parts, and the more "fragile" at the same time... Whatchathink?

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Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
Ohh yes, that's a good and valid good point, and I did consider this too. But such beings, who might operate on a much faster time-scale, in sense of perceiving existence, would not have to be made of flash and bones like we humans are...

I imagine, that if there are such beings they must be much smaller than us. I relate our physical size to our perception of time, is that wrong? I mean, we humans, being close to 2m tall, are huge compared to fundamental particles, and I imagine that there could be beings still much bigger than fundamental particles, but also much smaller than us, meaning, they could also physically move much faster (not just think/perceive faster). Whatchathink?

I don't know. Perhaps you can post in the Biology forum. They might know a little more about how the nervous system works.

I don't know. Perhaps you can post in the Biology forum. They might know a little more about how the nervous system works.
But you do agree, if such beings were really small, that the energy they had to spend for own movements would be much lower than ours, thus, this idea of such beings is physically possible? But then, I kinda see your point (even if you didn't imply it), such beings would also have to have very small physical brains, and thus, even if they were aware of reality they would not really have any good capacity of understand it, as we do. (Of course, if we assume, that all brains work in alike manner, well, they could have something like CPUs instead of the brains, but still, we'd come to some physical limit of how big such beings would be, and I guess they wouldn't be really small, in sense, that perception of time for them would really be dramatically different that ours.)

Seems, that we humans, are just of an ideal physical size to experience reality in such (self-aware) "fullness", not too small to be too stupid, and not too big to waste too much energy on own movements.

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ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
I see you focused more on the details than on the idea which fascinates me, all fine of course.

I agree, perhaps instead of an electron I should mention some "less-complex" object, like tennis ball, or a bullet. And sure, I am aware that perfect camera can only be recording light bouncing back from that object. Moreover, as it happens I even know that the resolution of a single visible photon to motion is on the order of about 10^−15 seconds (this is the time period for one oscillation of the photon wave). And that movements shorter in time than this just won't impact the behavior of the photon much. Which means, that we can never make such a perfect camera which would record motion of objects in all the details (steps, frames) as it really happens (that's why I said in beginning let's dismiss physical and technical limitations of such perfect camera).

You have a universal time scale for the period of a photon wave? Whoa! When did you discover this?

But in the end, the main point I wanted to present is that any motion has at least (if space-time is discrete) as many steps (frames) as there are Plank's length fitting the distance that object travels (length travelled / Plank length).

An assumption that has no verification.

Which brings us to the idea, that one second, which for a human perception of time is something “comfortable”, might in reality be something like a century to potential beings that operate on a much faster time-scale in perception…

You made several speculative assumptions here. At what point do you actually use valid physics? Maybe these are the "details" you don't care about? Unfortunately, as Meis Van deRohe used to say, god is in the details!

You might also want to re-read the PF Rules that you had agreed to. That's another "detail" that you should not overlook.

Zz.

In this “thought experiment” I assumed that space-time (ST) is discrete, that there are as many steps (frames) in motion as there are Plank's length fitting that distance (length travelled / Plank length). Well, in truth, even if ST is discrete there are more steps but just not measurable…

But what if ST is continuous, which is a more likely scenario by what current science tells us, then how many steps are there in every motion? And this fascinates me in whole different way, in sense, how's motion even possible? Even if we had a perfect camera (to exaggerate, God’s camera), without any physical and technical limitations, but which still has to record in discrete steps, it could still never record motion of objects the way they really moved, right? Since in continuous ST, if we try to discretize ST with such a perfect camera, there are infinite steps...

I just cannot apply this idea of ST being continuous to how motion happens. Even a simple movement of my own hand, perceived through this idea, looks like a miracle to me ;)

Can anyone help me out with understanding this (motion in our reality)?

You made several speculative assumptions here. At what point do you actually use valid physics? Maybe these are the "details" you don't care about?
Of course I value the details - I am just no expert on this, so, I shouldn't post then?

Also, I did say that your focus on details is fine as well, I just think that those less-than-perfect assumptions are not changing the validity of idea which I proposed. Am I wrong, if so, how?

ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
Of course I value the details, I also did say that your focus on details is fine as well, I just think that those less-than-perfect assumptions are not changing the validity of idea which I proposed. Am I wrong, if so, how?

The problem is that many of your assumptions are Not Even Wrong!

This is neglecting the fact that you think a "photon wave" has only one time scale. Check the period for, say, a radio wave versus a gamma wave.

Zz.

You have a universal time scale for the period of a photon wave? Whoa! When did you discover this?

Your respected memeber (science advisor "Chalnoth") said that to me some time ago, I'll quote him now:

I asked: "What would be the shortest time to get enough photons for generating a sensible image with current technology, if you might know? Actually, I am asking how many frames per second is possible to capture using best current technology."

That really depends on the situation. It depends upon how high-resolution you want your image to be. It depends upon how low you want the noise to be. It depends upon how bright your source is. And it depends upon the collecting area of your camera.

One might be able to consider a theoretical upper limit for a massively-bright source on a camera with a very large collecting area, in which case the minimum time required would be the minimum time to absorb some minimal number of photons, which would be a couple orders of magnitude more time than the period of a single photon. So if you have a bright enough source, perhaps somewhere in the $10^{-12}$ second range for visible light? I don't think you'll get even remotely close to this limit for any realistic scenario, as this would require a tremendously bright light source.

Bear in mind that the Planck time is ~$10^{-44}$ seconds.

The resolution of a single visible photon to motion is on the order of about $10^{-15}$ seconds (this is the time period for one oscillation of the photon wave). Movements shorter in time than this just won't impact the behavior of the photon much.

I think you are just too harsh at people who are not experts, sorry.

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ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
Your respected memeber (science advisor "Chalnoth") said that to me some time ago, I'll quote him now:

You are neglecting (another detail, perhaps?) the fact that VISIBLE light is being discussed in the quote you cited! He is estimating the UPPER LIMIT of the visible light spectrum!

Photons are all electromagnetic wave, and covers the whole known spectrum of EM wave, not just visible light!

I think you are just too harsh at people who are not experts, sorry.

Here's the problem. You need to learn how to crawl first before wanting to run the sprint at the Olympics.

Zz.

An assumption that has no verification.
Again I'll quote your respected memeber:

One way of perhaps thinking of it is this. Imagine a single particle. This particle exists as a "wave packet" that is distributed over space. Since we're considering a discretized space-time, this wave packet can only take "location" values at specific points. That is, instead of being a smooth wave, it is made up of a series of more or less randomly-distributed points. As we move forward in time, the wave packet covers a different random distribution of points.

But to make it all a bit more complicated, the discretization is not just in space, but also in time, so that you can't even sensibly talk about what it's doing at one particular instant, but have to take a chunk of time and count up all of the points that randomly fit within that chunk. So we might imagine our "chunk" of time as being one Planck time in length, and call that "now". We can then slowly move our "chunk" of time forward, and one by one, space-time points will fall behind into the past, while new space-time points will become part of the present.

Thus one can't even talk about the particle itself making steps of a Planck length or Planck time, because it is distributed over many space-time points, and stepping a tiny fraction of a Planck length, or moving forward a tiny fraction of a Planck time, can lead to the particle covering many new points in space-time.

This means that as long as the particle has a wavelength much longer than the Planck length, this discretization really doesn't make any difference. It doesn't even make "steps" of a Planck length in size, but much much smaller steps (and the bigger the particle's wavelength, the smaller those steps).

In just simplified all of this... and later I even extended my explanation to be more correct, by saying (I guess you missed it):

In this “thought experiment” I assumed that space-time (ST) is discrete, that there are as many steps (frames) in motion as there are Plank's length fitting that distance (length travelled / Plank length). Well, in truth, even if ST is discrete there are more steps but just not measurable… And "Chalnoth” above explains this, I think, very well.

ZapperZ, I understand your view, it isn't easy to deal with such ignorant/stupid people (as me) on the daily basis.

But I'd still like to ask you to focus on what was my main idea. Which is, perception of time and motion...

It would be really delicious, if experts here would just take the main idea, and talk among themselves to see, where it can bring us.

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ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
ZapperZ, I understand your view, it isn't easy to deal with such ignorant/stupid people (as me) on the daily basis.

But I'd still like to ask you to focus on what was my main idea. Which is, perception of time and motion.

It would be really delicious, if experts here would just take the main idea, and talk among themselves to see, where it can bring us.

You and I must read the same thing and understand them differently. To me, what you quoted here is exactly the argument on why your question makes very little sense. So I'm not sure why you are using it against me, rather than looking back at your original post and seeing why it really isn't a valid assumption.

BTW, even IF there is such a thing as Planck length scale, it doesn't mean we can detect it.

http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-physics-einstein.html

So yes, experts ARE talking among themselves about this topic. We may not do it here on a public forum, but we ARE talking!

Zz.

My main question for the experts is (Zz, I'll do you a favor and stop posting after asking this):

Is it possible that there might be different kind of beings, quite unlike us humans, who could perceive time and motion in a very different time-scale than we do? Say, what we perceive to be one second would to them be a much longer period of time… is this possibility realistic in physical sense?

P.S. Plank constants was not my question, nor focus, I just put them out for imagining better what I wanted to present.

ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
My main question for the experts is (Zz, I'll do you a favor and stop posting after asking this):

Is it possible that there might be different kind of beings, quite unlike us humans, who could perceive time and motion in a very different time-scale than we do? Say, what we perceive to be one second would to them be a much longer period of time… is this possibility realistic in physical sense?

P.S. Plank constants was not my question, nor focus, I just put them out for imagining better what I wanted to present.

See, this is exactly the point I made in my comment about trying to learn the basic first before applying the faulty knowledge to other areas.

First of all, on what physical basis would you base the existence of such a thing, i.e. different time scales? The ONLY physical basis that we currently have is Relativity. In particular, we don't need another "unlike humans" to achieve that. Any frame of reference moving at a different speed will have its time being perceived to be different when compared to another inertial frame!

But it is unclear if this is what you're after, or if you are asking about different inertial frames having actually different proper time scale! If that's the case, on what physical basis would that based on, and how would one compare it to know there is a difference? The latter is crucial (a detail?) because without the ability to detect, it might as well not happen!

Zz.

See, this is exactly the point I made in my comment about trying to learn the basic first before applying the faulty knowledge to other areas.
You are sure good at taking away my inspiration for such topics (and I guess I am not alone here who experienced this).

I don't have the time to study physic, I am over 40 years old, got a job and family to take care of. Though, I am still curious, very much so, about nature of things, I shouldn't be? I shouldn't ask others for their opinion and understanding, because I am just too ignorant? So, are you telling me: either study or don't post here?

First of all, on what physical basis would you base the existence of such a thing, i.e. different time scales? The ONLY physical basis that we currently have is Relativity. In particular, we don't need another "unlike humans" to achieve that. Any frame of reference moving at a different speed will have its time being perceived to be different when compared to another inertial frame!
ZZ, I let it to you, and other experts, to ponder on this a bit more, if you and other find this idea interesting enough.

Humans are searching for life out there, right? But, did those scientists consider what I mentioned here? Did they implement in their search the possibility, that perhaps we should not only try to reach out by communicating at "human time-scale", meaning, perhaps when we send out our communication that we should also make it "time-compressed" or "time-expanded", perhaps this means we should "compress" frequencies, make the waves narrower (I don't know how to express this properly, but at least I want to let others imagine what I mean). Perhaps science should consider this idea, I don't know. (I do read popular science magazines, but never saw this idea being mentioned.)

But it is unclear if this is what you're after, or if you are asking about different inertial frames having actually different proper time scale! If that's the case, on what physical basis would that based on, and how would one compare it to know there is a difference? The latter is crucial (a detail?) because without the ability to detect, it might as well not happen!
Again, it would be delicious if experts take the "bones" I offered, so to say, and out of them make a fine "construction" (of idea). If my idea is boring, and perhaps even stupid (it’s how you make me feel), well then, just delete this whole thread and accept my apologizes for wasting your time.

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ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
You are sure good at taking away my inspiration for such topics (and I guess I am not alone here who experienced this).

I don't have the time to study physic, I am over 40 years old, got a job and family to take care of. Though, I am still curious, very much so, about nature of things, I shouldn't be? I shouldn't ask others for their opinion and understanding, because I am just too ignorant? So, are you telling me: either study or don't post here?

ZZ, I let it to you, and other experts, to ponder on this a bit more, if you and other find this idea interesting enough.

Humans are searching for life out there, right? But, did those scientists consider what I mentioned here? Did they implement in their search the possibility, that perhaps we should not only try to reach out by communicating at "human time-scale", meaning, perhaps when we send out our communication that we should also make it "time-compressed" or "time-expanded", perhaps this means we should "compress" frequencies, make the waves narrower (I don't know how to express this properly, but at least I want to let others imagine what I mean). Perhaps science should consider this idea, I don't know. (I do read popular science magazines, but never saw this idea being mentioned.)

Again, it would be delicious if experts take the "bones" I offered, so to say, and out of them make a fine "construction" (of idea). If my idea is boring, and perhaps even stupid (it’s how you make me feel), well then, just delete this whole thread and accept my apologizes for wasting your time.

The problem here is that you appear to be here to TEACH us "experts" a lesson, rather than trying to LEARN from where your basic premise is faulty.

Re-read my first response to your original post. When I look at something, I try to (i) figure out the underlying principle involved, or (ii) understand the starting premise, or (iii) discover the impetus for either a question, suggestion, or idea. Notice what I questioned in the very beginning: your concept of what "constants" are, and misconception on how we observed (perceived?) things. If you used these are either the starting point, or impetus for the rest of your query, aren't you in the least bit interested in knowing if they are correct or valid? Because if they aren't, then the rest of what you built on is moot because the foundation is incorrect!

One of the things we try to strive for here in this forum is not only presenting the "material", but also getting people to THINK for themselves in ways in which, even when they don't have the knowledge, they at least have a systematic way of making an analytical evaluation of any ideas that they either hold, or come across. This skill transcends beyond just physics or science. It allows for anyone to examine and discover what assumptions they hold, and to what degree are they certain on the validity of such assumptions. I tried to convey that to you from the very beginning, hoping that you'd have an interest in trying to learn basic ideas with which we can build things on.

It appears that I was mistaken.

Zz.

Drakkith
Staff Emeritus