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Trapped between the flow of time

  1. Aug 21, 2010 #1
    I remember once I was having a discussion with someone where the main point was that humans and almost every other living thing is confined between the flow of time. We cannot go back in past nor can we explore future by moving back and forth in the running train of time. At any moment we are bound to a single point in time. I know what I'm saying sounds weird - perhaps only because we cannot imagine any other possibility. It could be ascribed to the failure of imagination not to the impossibility of another alternative possibility. It's just as saying why humans don't have eight or three fingers instead of five on each hand. What are your views on this? Please let me know. Thanks.
     
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  3. Aug 21, 2010 #2

    Office_Shredder

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    ALMOST every other living thing? Please provide a counterexample of a creature capable of traveling through time
     
  4. Aug 21, 2010 #3
    That was poor choice of words. It would be have better to say 'as far as I know'. But I hope it conveys what I meant to say.

    Regards
    Jack
     
  5. Aug 21, 2010 #4

    lisab

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    We're always time travelling. One speed, one direction.
     
  6. Aug 21, 2010 #5

    Office_Shredder

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    Multiple speeds by relativity
     
  7. Aug 21, 2010 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    One "speed" according to one's personal frame of reference, but don't ask anyone else.
     
  8. Aug 21, 2010 #7
    "The Man from Earth" is a movie about a guy who is stuck in time. But that's sci-fi.
     
  9. Aug 21, 2010 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    I can make time speed up by jumping, according to you.
     
  10. Aug 21, 2010 #9

    lisab

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    My own personal frame of reference is the only one I know :smile:.
     
  11. Aug 21, 2010 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    That is a very frame-centric point of view. :biggrin:
     
  12. Aug 21, 2010 #11
    Time has always been a tricky thing for me. It can stand still, yet it can also fly. We want to have more time in a day and want to pack more things into smaller amounts.

    Physicists can visualize backward running time, at the subatomic level. I just spent time with my native family, who spoke of dead friends and family, as if they just walked outside the door. For them time runs together, like an ever continuing present.

    One of my favorite time quotes, "Time is a great teacher, which kills all its students".
     
  13. Aug 22, 2010 #12
    Personally, I always viewed myself outside of time and yet flowing along it.

    Imagine that time is a river, and your travelling on it in a boat. When you reach your hand into the water you say "this is the present", however, as soon as you say that you've passed the point in which your hand entered the water, so it's become the past.

    You can't really "nail down" the present, even using your internal monologue, because as soon as you say "this is the present", that point has already passed.

    So, in my view, we're travelling along time, but not through time.
     
  14. Aug 22, 2010 #13
    I've always seen time as a consequence of motion. If there was no motion, would there still be time? I guess from the physics point of view it would be yes - but it's redundant. It's even more ludicrus turned around: can you have motion without time? I would say no, because how can something be moving if you can't take a time slice. I've heard it said that without time, everything would happen at once, but this still involves movement. For something to happen, it requires movement - I would say therefore, you can't have any motion without time.

    The strangest thing about time is that it's like a series of frames (or "Now's" according to Julian Barbour) flowing along in succession. You can't go back and you can't go forward (I'm knowingly ignoring relativity for the case of forward time travel btw ;) ).

    Lee Smolin thinks a major breakthrough in physics would be a better understanding of time.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2010
  15. Aug 22, 2010 #14
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2010
  16. Aug 22, 2010 #15
    Because of this thread, I was discussing this very matter with my wife tomorrow. She will say that it won't be a problem yesterday any more than it was next week. So I won't/didn't worry about it.
     
  17. Aug 22, 2010 #16
    If we are talking about the subjective experience of time as opposed to the physical manifestations of time, another interesting thing to think about is this: How much of the "present" do we truly experience? Considering not simply as was stated about "the present" constantly moving and changing, but considering psychological and neurological ideas. The brain is a physical system based entirely around taking repeated information from the past and forming an accurate predictive framework for the future, but the present does not occupy the picture much. We psychologically do the same thing where we use regularities in conscious experience to form a schema that can be used for future living, so the question hits you, how much of simply perceptual experience, or how much of the "present" do you fully experience in your day-to-day lives?
     
  18. Aug 22, 2010 #17

    Ivan Seeking

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    Note that we never experience the present - only the past.

    All that we observe is time delayed by the speed of light. Also, the delay is different for every radius going out from our eyes, to 13 billion years back or so - the limit of observation.

    There is also the delay in our brains for processing sensory information.

    So in a very real sense, whats we perceive as a moment, is really all of history [with time as a function of distance], up to but not including, the present.
     
  19. Aug 24, 2010 #18
    My personal frame is about one second. The pseudo-emission point within in my eye is what I think of as my future because the image retained upon my retina forms the static picture I see as the leading edge of my one second present, my action being the trailing edge. I am not trapped between the flow of time, I am a part of the motion we call the present like everything else.
     
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