Lost in Space and Time

time

“People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

~ Albert Einstein

From a human perspective, physics has a problem with time. We have no difficulty defining a special moment called “now” that is distinct from the past and the future, but our theories cannot capture the essence of the moment. The laws of nature deal only with what happens between certain time intervals.

David Mermin of Cornell University claims to have solved this problem using a principle similar to the one he and others have applied to quantum theory (see main story). We should simply abandon the notion that an objectively determinable space-time exists.

Instead of forming a series of slices or layers that from some viewpoint correspond to a “now” or “then”, Mermin’s space-time is a mesh of intersecting filaments relating to the experiences of different people (arxiv.org/abs/1312.7825). “Why promote space-time from a 4D diagram, which is a useful conceptual device, to a real essence?” he asks. “By identifying my abstract system with an objective reality, I fool myself into regarding it as the arena in which I live my life.”

Things such as an interval of time or the dimensionality of space, after all, are not stamped on nature for us to read off; a newborn baby has no conception of them. They are merely useful abstractions we develop to account for what clocks and rulers do. Some of these high-level abstractions we construct for ourselves as we grow up, others were constructed by geniuses and have been passed on to us in school or in books, says Mermin. “And some of them, like quantum states, most of us never learn at all.”

Matthew Chalmers is a freelance writer based in Bristol, UK, From issue 2968 of New Scientist magazine, page 32-35.

Below is a clip of Brian Greene, Professor of Physics and Mathematics at Columbia University, presents interesting information about the nature of space-time, including an explanation of how past, present, and future all exist in the now.

A brief video with David Eagleman who explains how the human brain understands time, and why it may not always be as it seems.

Total
0
Shares

Magic Died When Art and Science Split

Article by

Renée Bergland’s 3 greatest revelations while writing Natural Magic: Emily Dickinson, Charles Darwin, and the Dawn of Modern Science

Quantum physics reveals the unity of the universe

Article by

Quantum physics revives the ancient idea of universal oneness that Christianity unjustly excluded from our culture

#77 Regenerative Medicine

Podcast with

Exploring the frontiers of alternative medicine and healing modalities with renowned Cerebral Spiral Fluid expert.

Pixels, Patterns & Perspectives

Video with

Physicist and Author Sky Nelson-Isaacs urges us to see the world differently and consider how pixels and patterns converge to evoke a new perspective.

Time to Support Indigenous Science

Article by

Faced with the profound challenges of a rapidly changing environment, society needs other ways of knowing to illuminate a different way forward

Resonantly Perfect Solar System Found

Article by

Researchers have located "the perfect solar system", forged without the violent collisions that made our own a hotchpotch of different-sized planets

Buddhism and Quantum Mechanics

Article by

Excerpt of an article by 'Art of Life' star

Universal pattern of brain wave frequencies unraveled

Article by

Across mammalian species, brain waves are slower in deep cortical layers

Support SAND with a Donation

Science and Nonduality is a nonprofit organization. Your donation goes towards the development of our vision and the growth of our community.
Thank you for your support!