We all experience time every day of our lives — in the rise of the sun or the aging of our faces — but explaining the nature of time is no simple matter.
The very mystery of time leads some “perfectly sane” people to disregard it completely, passing it off as an illusion created by our minds. While others hold up circular definitions of time that resemble a serpent eating its own tail.
In spite of the difficulty in pinning down time, H. Chris Ransford, the author of The Far Horizons of Time recently published by De Gruyter Open, takes up the challenge.
And while you might think that a book about time would focus heavily on mathematics and quantum physics, Ransford’s exploration of time moves well beyond those two disciplines.
“To understand time, it turns out that we have to understand wider reality, of which time is but one component,” he writes in the introduction.
This includes, of course, peering into the fabric of reality itself. But it also involves looking at how time relates to what he calls the “most complex structure in the universe” — the human brain.
First, though, Ransford covers the basics, examining topics such as general relativity and what it means for time, entanglement of objects, and how delayed choice experiments imply that time may not move in a simple linear fashion.
From these beginnings, Ransford concludes that a mathematical exploration of time requires the presence of a consciousness — what he calls “Original Mind” — before our physical reality can be realized. This prerequisite extends back into the far reaches of time itself.
“The Big Bang itself,” writes Ransford, “which created a materiality steered and governed by wave functions, could not have happened without the existence of some prior consciousness — i.e., some sentient being.”
In order to understand what the Original Mind might look like, Ransford examines what “minds” are, in particular looking at the nature of the human mind. Based on this exploration, he posits that several possibilities for the nature of Original Mind exist, including God, a sentient being (or group of them) like us, or a software engineer controlling a simulated universe.
These hypotheses, of course, have not been tested, although Ransford provides ample ways in which we could do so. In the end, though, it all comes back to time, and whether it or something called Original Mind is a more fundamental feature of the universe.
“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” ~ Albert Einstein