The past IS real?

  • #1
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,213
176

Main Question or Discussion Point

When pressed for a definition regarding "the past", and whether or not it "does" exist, Brian Greene

http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/catalog/results2.pperl?authorid=11013

made this comment in an interview tonight.

~ I don't know if we can get there, but "the past is as real as the present"

Interesting, I thought.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
3
0
Ivan Seeking said:
When pressed for a definition regarding "the past", and whether or not it "does" exist, Brian Greene

http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/catalog/results2.pperl?authorid=11013

made this comment in an interview tonight.

~ I don't know if we can get there, but "the past is as real as the present"

Interesting, I thought.

Hi Ivan Seeking, and hello all.

I've lurked here often, and found this site very interesting. I'm not a sceintist, though I can claim an enquiring mind.

Regarding your post, I heard a quote once, which I thought interesting ... "The present is the futures past"

What prompted me to register however, were the several quotes in your sig. I found them most refreshing, though unfortunately, often rebuked by scientists, even on these boards.

Cheers
JamesP
 
  • #3
The past is in the future and the future is in the past
 
  • #4
1,482
3
re

Steven Hawkings once asked why can we remeber the past but not the future.
 
  • #5
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,213
176
JP1746 said:
What prompted me to register however, were the several quotes in your sig. I found them most refreshing
What? People actually read those??? :biggrin:
 
  • #6
857
2
waht said:
Steven Hawkings once asked why can we remeber the past but not the future.
And why is this?
 
  • #7
We do not rememebr the future as we only experience the flwo of time in one direction - it is the same reason why we do not see broken tea cups fixing themselves and leaping up back on to tables.
 
  • #8
857
2
But why do we only experience the flow of time in one direction?

Is there something stopping it from going the other way around?
 
  • #9
658
2
PIT2 said:
But why do we only experience the flow of time in one direction?

Is there something stopping it from going the other way around?
its the arrow of time. entropy always increases. so things always go from ordered to disordered. if a broken tea cup suddenly jumped up onto the table and mended itself, that'd be a more ordered state. therefore we never see it happen.
 
  • #10
1
0
Look up and see the night sky .....its the past.
 
  • #11
19
0
PIT2 said:
But why do we only experience the flow of time in one direction?

Is there something stopping it from going the other way around?
To elaborate on Gale's reply, the conclusion Hawking came to was that we will always experience time in the same direction that entropy increases because our brains become more ordered by creating disorder in the universe. He gives the example of a computer because we know how they work much more than brains. In order for a computer to "remember" something it has to write it to its harddrive, which takes energy. The amount of order lost in the universe from the energy needed for a computer to add something to memory is greater than the amount of order gained within the local system of the computer (to get energy for the computer we have to burn fossil fuels, etc)--therefore anytime you want to "order" something you must increase the total "disorder" of the universe as a whole by more. So for us to order our brains with new information, we have to use up energy and decrease the order of the universe as a whole, so we will always experience time in the same direction in which entropy increases.

Hawking goes on to say that if entropy decreased as time moved on, and somehow intelligent beings were here to witness it, although they would hypothetically "see" everything happening in reverse (broken cups jumping back up on tables), they would remember the future and not the past. So when the cup was broken on the floor they would remember when it was on the table, but after it assembled and jumped onto the table, they wouldn't remember it having been on the floor; thus they would still be "experiencing" time in the opposite direction from that in which entropy decreases (ie: they will experience time just like us, as entropy increases, they'll remember more).
 
  • #12
70
0
PIT2 said:
But why do we only experience the flow of time in one direction?

Is there something stopping it from going the other way around?
There is no direction for the flow of time. There is no past, nor is there a future. What you may think of as the past is actually a current event. Whatever you may dwell on as the future is actually a current event. Without a past or future - there can be no flow of time in a particular direction.

In our universe there are only ones, one at a time, where time is the nothing ones are composed of.
 
  • #13
70
0
divag30 said:
Look up and see the night sky .....its the past.
This is not true at all. It should be categorized as your current state.
 
  • #14
91
0
Time moves in every direction. It is non linear. Its more like a bowl of Jello (pig tallow). If you have your wits about you you can look ahead, to the side and behind you, in the bowl of time, simultaneously. But the enormous amount of information about the future and all other directions in the time-jello-bowl requires a substantial amount of processing. The brain tries not to confuse its host organism with the details of how to get to the fridge or to the bar.

Nor does the brain dilly dally the host with the infinite probabilities and actualities that are taking place, will take place or took place...... eventuating their arrival at the pub.

Chain reactions don't just go from link to link, one at a time, all events are linked to one another. These links are also readily observable in what is today called linear time. But even more obvious are the simultaneous chain-reactions seen in quantum studies.
 
  • #15
31
0
You people are crack heads. Atoms move around, particles decay. Thats what creates the passage of time. Your brain only processes the information it recieves through the senses. It can't "see" ahead into the future.
 
  • #16
Is it true that if you make an atom go faster than the speed of light, you will really be going back in time?
 
  • #17
DM
154
0
You people are crack heads. Atoms move around, particles decay. Thats what creates the passage of time. Your brain only processes the information it recieves through the senses. It can't "see" ahead into the future.
That pretty much summarises it with the exception of "totallyclueless" wanting to know about "you will really be going back in time?" opposed to "ahead in the future". Still you're right, it's simply hopeless since we're unable to see, whether if it's in the past or future.

All in all this topic intersperses a lot of time knowledge and an elaborate theory understanding about manipulative atoms fitting a required time space to permit an individual to "travel back and forwards in time. This is really inexorable, whatever you guys do, don't mention John Titor, a complete and total waste of time.
 
  • #18
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,213
176
I don't think Brian Green and John Titor go together very well. :rolleyes:
 
  • #19
193
0
The past is more real than the present. For beings who observe anyway. Every observable moment you live, your every thought is always in the past. We can only exist in the present and predict the possibilities of the future. Time to me is rather a way we define one moment from another without knowing the exact order of every particle in the universe.
 
  • #20
DaveC426913
Gold Member
18,849
2,324
MaxS said:
You people are crack heads. Atoms move around, particles decay. Thats what creates the passage of time. Your brain only processes the information it recieves through the senses. It can't "see" ahead into the future.
You should read more. It's a lot more complex than you think.

For example:
1] "Particles moving around" has no intrinsic direction through time.
2] Particles mazy decay, but they also fuse.
Both of your examples are not dependent on a direction of time.

In fact, it is precious hard (though not impossible) to find a good example of a behaviour that is dependent on a single direction of time.

I highly recommend https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/...0?v=glance&s=books&n=507846&tag=pfamazon01-20.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #21
31
0
I highly recommend that you take an elementary physics course.

Particles don't move in any "direction of time". They simply move, that movement is what your brain sees and understands to be a change from their previous state (fires burn out, people get old...)

This backwards forwards time movement is utter nonsense.
 
  • #22
91
0
MaxS said:
You people are crack heads. Atoms move around, particles decay. Thats what creates the passage of time. Your brain only processes the information it recieves through the senses. It can't "see" ahead into the future.
Speak for yourself. Got any good crack?
 
  • #23
459
7
Here's a colorful speculation.

If the consciousness exists partly in a higher dimension then it might explain why we perceive the past the way we do.

A line is 1 dimensional. When it is bent it is still a 1 dimensional line, but it exists partly in 2 dimensions because it needs two variables to explain its shape. It is like our curved space-time. Our senses interpret matter. Matter exists in 3 dimensional space. Our senses only interpret objects that are at least partially 3 dimensional.

Assuming time is not an object, then how can we perceive it? If our consciousness is partially in the 3rd dimension then it must have some mass. (Anyone seen 21 grams?) If it is completely in the 4th dimension then how can it interact with our bodies? If it is inbetween, such as an electron or photon might be inbetween dimensions, then it would be like the bent line. It would travel on one line in a 4 dimensional plane. Thus we perceive time moment by moment.

We don't directly perceive the past or the future. We have memory of the moments we experienced in the past. The future we have not yet experienced and have no memory of. It appears to us as if it has not yet happened.

Why don't we experience all points on our time line simultaneously? An eye is a 3 dimensional object, but it records 2 dimensional (at least partially) images of the objects it sees. There are two points I could make.
1. A 2 dimensional plane cannot express 3 dimensions accurately. It can see one side or the other. It could also be bent, but then it's perception would be warped like a funhouse mirror. The same might be said for a 3 dimensional perspective of a 4th dimension.
2. We cannot see an object hidden behind another object on a 2 dimensional plane. Again, same for the 4th dimension viewed from a 3 dimensional plane.

Because we exist as matter in 3 dimensions we are limited to our perception of time. We can only experience one direction, the future, and experience each moment individually. The past is a memory of what we have experienced. It is a part of the same plane as the present and the future. If the consciousness were to be removed from the matter, then it wouldn't be limited by these restrictions. Or a consciousness could be attached to the matter, but be warped and it would experience a funhouse version of time.

edit- Any accurate dimensional comparison would need to be done on a logarithmic scale.
 
Last edited:
  • #24
352
1
Here's what I say to this...

The past is not real; It was real.
 
  • #25
41
0
Doesnt relativity suggest that holding a specific point in spacetime (whether it be in the past; right 'now'; or in the future; way, way, way far away; or really, really close) to be more 'real' then the other is a violation of the no prefered reference frame or somesuch?

Or, if that didnt make any sense, which I dont think it did, that according to relativity all points in spacetime are on equal footing, or, equally 'real', if you like.

The present isnt any more or less 'real' then the past or future, all three being a 'persistent illusion' any way.
 

Related Threads on The past IS real?

Replies
23
Views
4K
Replies
61
Views
29K
  • Last Post
Replies
23
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
2K
Replies
1
Views
2K
Replies
49
Views
5K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
4K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
25
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
18
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
8
Views
1K
Top