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  1. May 17, 2004 #1
    Hello, I've just joined this forum, and I hope this is the correct place to ask these questions ...
    Anyone want to talk about time? I love thinking about this notion ...
    Einstein believed in ‘block time’, that the future is already there, that there’s no difference between the past, the present, and the future, it’s just that we are evolved to perceive it as flowing when it’s really not ... it’s really all there already ...
    Is there only one possible future? Is free will an illusion?
    I read somewhere that Einstein said, “we can do what we will, but we cannot will what we will"! Brilliant! Does anyone know WHERE he said this, because I’ve been trying to recall and find in which book I read this, but I’ve had no luck. Anyone know?
    If you instead believe there’s many possible futures (or no future yet), that we choose and affect the future, then what about the past? Are there many possible pasts in existence too (Joke: historians seem to believe so!)? And it’s just that we don’t know how to access them? (I.e., time travel!)

    Personally, I think that even though time is indeed a dimension, and so theoretically it should be possible to move through it, the reason that we’ll never be able to do this is because there seems to be only one time dimension, and so that’s why it’s not possible ... because we can move through space because there’s three spatial dimensions that we have access too ... if we only had access to one spatial dimension, we wouldn’t be able to move through this, either ... you need several dimensions in combination to be able to move through them, as we have with spatial dimensions (ie, width, height, depth). So if there’s only one temporal dimension, we are helpless in its hold, because you need more than one dimension of its type (either spatial or temporal) in order to get any control or mastery of it. I hope I’m explaining my idea well enough for you to understand ... I’d love some intelligent, scientific feedback on this ...

    And this leads to the thought ... what exactly is the difference between a spatial dimension and a temporal dimension? Einstein thought nothing (maybe someone will correct me on this too if I'm wrong!), but there must be some distinction, otherwise the single temporal dimension would not be differentiated from the (three in our perception, or ten in M-theory) spatial dimensions ... why do physicists differentiate between spatial and temporal dimensions if they believe Einstein is right in NOT differentiating between space-time?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 17, 2004 #2
    I think it is interesting that Abraham Pais in his detailed scientific biography of Albert Einstein (Subtle Is The Lord) makes NO effort to discuss four-dimensional spacetime with respect to his subject (the development of Einstein's scientific ideas).

    Hermann Minkowski, Einstein's old math professor, invented four-dimensional spacetime. Einstein ignored it until he got stuck trying to make a relativity theory for gravitation around 1912. Then the usefulness of this representation became apparent and Einstein was hooked- for practical reasons. The formalism of tensor analysis allows one to forget about dimensionality and just work abstractly with the equations and their indices.

    spacetime and the interval: Einstein and Minkowski --->


    While searching for material for my reply to this topic, I found a couple of interesting-looking links, but haven't digested them thoroughly.

    block time --->

    Einstein and the hole argument --->


    About that quote regarding the will-

    Einstein is quoting Arthur Schopenhauer.

    Einstein's "My Credo" 1932 --->
  4. May 17, 2004 #3


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    Yes Relatvity is deterministic and Einstein firmly believed that the universe was deterministic.
    Well we're getting onto philosphy rather than physics here, I suppose in someways David Deutsch's 'shadow particles' interpretation not only suggest that there are diiferent futures, but there are also different pasts.

    Careful! time is a dimesnion of spacetime, but it is not a spatial dimension. Even in spacetime, time is different from space, which menas that we can distinguish spacelike and timelike intervals in spacetime. That said we do move in time.
  5. May 17, 2004 #4
    I have heard of the idea of...wait let me make sure that, since our universe is so "BIG" that the chances of other life forms it pretty damn big. According to the Drake formula we have about 2000 other civilizations in out universe.
    However, the Drake formula basis on our evolvement toward existence, i.e. all the things that plague us like huge asteroids hitting us, global disasters, us killing ourselves. So, based on beings that can traverse in three dimensions, but are hopelessly flowing along with time, like us. What if, and that's a big what if, there were four dimesional beings. First of all they would totally be excluded form the Drake formula. They would seem like "ghosts" wouldn't they, in a way? If we walk through a room, we are moving through three dimensions which is always proportional to our fourth dimension "time". Takes time to move through space. Then we come across a wall that exist in a specific location of coordinates in a specific point of time. we would never be able to go past that wall. However, a four dimensional being could move past that wall, because he can move through time, like we move through the three dimensions. He would move to some point in time where the wall didn't or never existed. Poltergeists, perhaps,... okay I just jumped to pure speculation and fiction. But based on everything else, I'm not saying we have four dimesional beings living among us, but maybe somewhere, sometime else?
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