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Time: is it "for realz"? A jolly good discussion lies within.

Just Like ThatJust Like That Registered User
edited August 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
180px-Windup_alarm_clock.jpg
Pictured: a clock, one of the most notorious devices used to measure time.

I read this article in Discover magazine a while ago, but forgot about it until it was posted on Digg. I think it's a pretty interesting subject, perhaps worth discussing; but Digg is a terrible place to try and discuss anything. So I came here... aren't you glad? Anyway, here it is: Teh Article.
The trouble with time started a century ago, when Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity demolished the idea of time as a universal constant. One consequence is that the past, present, and future are not absolutes. Einstein’s theories also opened a rift in physics because the rules of general relativity (which describe gravity and the large-scale structure of the cosmos) seem incompatible with those of quantum physics (which govern the realm of the tiny). Some four decades ago, the renowned physicist John Wheeler, then at Princeton, and the late Bryce DeWitt, then at the University of North Carolina, developed an extraordinary equation that provides a possible framework for unifying relativity and quantum mechanics. But the Wheeler-*DeWitt equation has always been controversial, in part because it adds yet another, even more baffling twist to our understanding of time.

“One finds that time just disappears from the Wheeler-DeWitt equation,” says Carlo Rovelli, a physicist at the University of the Mediterranean in Marseille, France. “It is an issue that many theorists have puzzled about. It may be that the best way to think about quantum reality is to give up the notion of time—that the fundamental description of the universe must be timeless.”

No one has yet succeeded in using the Wheeler-DeWitt equation to integrate quantum theory with general relativity. Nevertheless, a sizable minority of physicists, Rovelli included, believe that any successful merger of the two great masterpieces of 20th-century physics will inevitably describe a universe in which, ultimately, there is no time.

First of all, I feel a need to point out the intense irony of the phrase "The trouble with time started a century ago". Moving on, I think this is probably one of the most important parts of the article:
Most of us tend to think of time the way Newton did: “Absolute, true and mathematical time, of itself, and from its own nature, flows equably, without regard to anything external.” But as Einstein proved, time is part of the fabric of the universe. Contrary to what Newton believed, our ordinary clocks don’t measure something that’s independent of the universe. In fact, says Lloyd, clocks don’t really measure time at all.

“I recently went to the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder,” says Lloyd. (NIST is the government lab that houses the atomic clock that standardizes time for the nation.) “I said something like, ‘Your clocks measure time very accurately.’ They told me, ‘Our clocks do not measure time.’ I thought, Wow, that’s very humble of these guys. But they said, ‘No, time is defined to be what our clocks measure.’ Which is true. They define the time standards for the globe: Time is defined by the number of clicks of their clocks.”

I think the guy from NIST may be right in saying that time does not necessarily exist. I'm no expert on physics... come to think of it, I'm not really an expert on anything. But I do think that I can make an understandable argument in favor of a timeless universe regardless, for the sake of debate. So here it goes:

Imagine that all particles of matter contain a set of variables that describe their characteristics as well as positions in space. You can think of these variables as describing the "present". These variables can change, and obviously often do; for example, your position in the universe has certainly changed many times.

Of course, it does nobody any good to speak in present terms all the time. Thus, we assign a value of time to different variables, so that we may establish a mental order of events and properly communicate with others to achieve an ideal set of variables. Ideally, your boss wants your location variable to be "at work" when the location variable of the sun has a certain value, and he/she wants your location to stay the same until the location of the sun has a different value. But that sounds ridiculous, so we define the concept of time with tools (clocks and calendars, days and years) so he/she can say, "I want you to be at work on Monday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM". This concept of time is so useful that we have a hard time not using it. I can't even write this post without it, because it is a necessary part of language (past/future tense, etc.). Time as a concept instead of reality also explains the fact that it always appears to travel forward in a straight line: because the mind orders events in this manner.

doc.jpg
Doc: "Bullshit! I already figured it out."

But, if you can, try to think of reality as being "as is," instead of something that is constantly being pushed through some invisible field of "time". You are sitting down and reading this post, and there is nothing else to it. There is no such thing as a "snapshot" of time that can be revisited with some kind of time machine. For example, say that you have an ice cube and a warm drink. You drop the cube into the drink, which cools it. The position of the ice cube has changed, and the temperature of the drink has changed: this is all that has happened in the objective reality outside of your brain. Inside your brain, however, you perceive these changes, apply the idea of time, and order them, so you can do whatever you want with the knowledge you have gained by comparing these differences (like verify that cold objects placed in a warm drink will cool it, a fact that you can use later on or relate to others).

Thus I arrive at this definition of time: An abstract concept used by the mind to order, relate, and analyze differing variables of matter. Pretty slick, right?

There are a few problems with this definition, though. The theory of relativity relies pretty heavily on the concept of time... i.e., time as we measure it seems to change depending on velocity (the whole "astronaut ages slower than his relative on earth" thing). I sometimes read on the internets about "space time" and the warping thereof. Does this mean that time is a real, fundamental part of the universe? Perhaps. It could mean that an object's velocity is related to how quickly its variables can change, which may explain certain parts of the theory of relativity (faster velocity equals slower rate of change?); but again, I am no expert and don't really know what I'm talking about.

250px-Father_time_7765.jpg
Father Time: "I'm in ur universe, pervading ur existencez."

Agree, disagree? Do you think I'm an idiot? While you spend time thinking about whether or not time is real, check out this video from the 70's of the band Guess Who playing the song "No Time".
Edit log

Edit: added line about time always traveling forward.
Edit 2: added more examples of time 'measurement' tools
Edit 3: added Back to the Future pic

Just Like That on
«134

Posts

  • Che GuevaraChe Guevara __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    rotate.gif

    Che Guevara on
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar Audio Game Developer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Time has always seemed to be rather associated with movement. Stillness is an illusion, after all, since we can't perceive how much motion our electrons are in with the naked eye.

    Kind of like waves, really.

    Incenjucar on
  • Che GuevaraChe Guevara __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Time has always seemed to be rather associated with movement. Stillness is an illusion, after all, since we can't perceive how much motion our electrons are in with the naked eye.

    Kind of like waves, really.

    I prefer clouds, really.

    Che Guevara on
  • Just Like ThatJust Like That Registered User
    edited July 2007
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Time has always seemed to be rather associated with movement. Stillness is an illusion, after all, since we can't perceive how much motion our electrons are in with the naked eye.

    Kind of like waves, really.

    But you could still measure time with a motionless object that constantly changes color (or temperature, or anything for that matter).

    Just Like That on
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar Audio Game Developer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    If it changes, it's not motionless.

    Incenjucar on
  • Che GuevaraChe Guevara __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    Tobasco wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Time has always seemed to be rather associated with movement. Stillness is an illusion, after all, since we can't perceive how much motion our electrons are in with the naked eye.

    Kind of like waves, really.

    But you could still measure time with a motionless object that constantly changes color (or temperature, or anything for that matter).

    Then it wouldn't be motionless.

    Change is just an illusion.

    Che Guevara on
  • Just Like ThatJust Like That Registered User
    edited July 2007
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    If it changes, it's not motionless.

    You're right--- I wasn't thinking in terms of electron movement and such. It's late though, so gimme a break.

    Just Like That on
  • WylderneedshelpWylderneedshelp Registered User
    edited July 2007
    I hope you're right, because its only 4 O'clock and I'd really like to go home. If time doesn't exist then I probably can!

    Wylderneedshelp on
  • CrayonCrayon Sleeps in the wrong bed. TejasRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    But time really isn't a human concept, it's a way of measuring an allotted "movement" of an object, isn't it? I'm not really big into all this stuff these days, but it does interest me quite a bit. Without humanity there would still be a stream of time-as in night and day, position of sun/moon, seasons, etc.

    Crayon on
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  • Che GuevaraChe Guevara __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    Crayon wrote: »
    But time really isn't a human concept, it's a way of measuring an allotted "movement" of an object, isn't it? I'm not really big into all this stuff these days, but it does interest me quite a bit. Without humanity there would still be a stream of time-as in night and day, position of sun/moon, seasons, etc.

    No there wouldn't.

    Those are just names.

    Che Guevara on
  • CrayonCrayon Sleeps in the wrong bed. TejasRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Crayon wrote: »
    But time really isn't a human concept, it's a way of measuring an allotted "movement" of an object, isn't it? I'm not really big into all this stuff these days, but it does interest me quite a bit. Without humanity there would still be a stream of time-as in night and day, position of sun/moon, seasons, etc.

    No there wouldn't.

    Those are just names.

    Ummmm...without the names they would still happen.

    Crayon on
    "I am conscious of my inability to grasp, in all its details and positive developments, any very large portion of human knowledge."
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  • MikestaMikesta Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Crayon wrote: »
    But time really isn't a human concept, it's a way of measuring an allotted "movement" of an object, isn't it? I'm not really big into all this stuff these days, but it does interest me quite a bit. Without humanity there would still be a stream of time-as in night and day, position of sun/moon, seasons, etc.

    No there wouldn't.

    Those are just names.
    But "day", "night" and "season" are not entirely arbitrary. They have discernible characteristics that define them, and no one needs to decide it is night time in order for it to be night time. Now, the name we give it is arbitrary, but the concept isn't.

    Mikesta on
    untitled.jpg

    You mess with the dolphin, you get the nose.
  • Che GuevaraChe Guevara __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    Crayon wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    But time really isn't a human concept, it's a way of measuring an allotted "movement" of an object, isn't it? I'm not really big into all this stuff these days, but it does interest me quite a bit. Without humanity there would still be a stream of time-as in night and day, position of sun/moon, seasons, etc.

    No there wouldn't.

    Those are just names.

    Ummmm...without the names they would still happen.

    They wouldn't be anything.

    It would just be collections of organized stuff doing its own thing for Eternity.

    Che Guevara on
  • Just Like ThatJust Like That Registered User
    edited July 2007
    Crayon wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    But time really isn't a human concept, it's a way of measuring an allotted "movement" of an object, isn't it? I'm not really big into all this stuff these days, but it does interest me quite a bit. Without humanity there would still be a stream of time-as in night and day, position of sun/moon, seasons, etc.

    No there wouldn't.

    Those are just names.

    Ummmm...without the names they would still happen.

    But it doesn't mean that time exists. It means that Earth rotates around the sun, while also rotating itself.

    Just Like That on
  • CrayonCrayon Sleeps in the wrong bed. TejasRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Tobasco wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    But time really isn't a human concept, it's a way of measuring an allotted "movement" of an object, isn't it? I'm not really big into all this stuff these days, but it does interest me quite a bit. Without humanity there would still be a stream of time-as in night and day, position of sun/moon, seasons, etc.

    No there wouldn't.

    Those are just names.

    Ummmm...without the names they would still happen.

    But it doesn't mean that time exists. It means that Earth rotates around the sun, while also rotating itself.

    But things live, and things die-that is probably the most noticeable time frame. The universe had a beginning, and will inevitably have an ending, aren't those the basic forms of measurement that...well, humans don't really have to define? I mean, they just kind of happen. Like he said, the action itself that dictates time isn't arbitrary-just the name is. I mean we can call it cow for all we want, it still encompasses a beginning and an end.

    Crayon on
    "I am conscious of my inability to grasp, in all its details and positive developments, any very large portion of human knowledge."
    X-Box Tag: PrettyGoodCake
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  • Che GuevaraChe Guevara __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    Crayon wrote: »
    Tobasco wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    But time really isn't a human concept, it's a way of measuring an allotted "movement" of an object, isn't it? I'm not really big into all this stuff these days, but it does interest me quite a bit. Without humanity there would still be a stream of time-as in night and day, position of sun/moon, seasons, etc.

    No there wouldn't.

    Those are just names.

    Ummmm...without the names they would still happen.

    But it doesn't mean that time exists. It means that Earth rotates around the sun, while also rotating itself.

    But things live, and things die-that is probably the most noticeable time frame. The universe had a beginning, and will inevitably have an ending, aren't those the basic forms of measurement that...well, humans don't really have to define? I mean, they just kind of happen. Like he said, the action itself that dictates time isn't arbitrary-just the name is. I mean we can call it cow for all we want, it still encompasses a beginning and an end.

    How do you know the Universe had a beginning?

    What if time is circular?

    Why immediately assume we're travelling in a straight line away from the past when it's obvious that nothing else in the Universe is designed that way?

    Che Guevara on
  • CrayonCrayon Sleeps in the wrong bed. TejasRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Crayon wrote: »
    Tobasco wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    But time really isn't a human concept, it's a way of measuring an allotted "movement" of an object, isn't it? I'm not really big into all this stuff these days, but it does interest me quite a bit. Without humanity there would still be a stream of time-as in night and day, position of sun/moon, seasons, etc.

    No there wouldn't.

    Those are just names.

    Ummmm...without the names they would still happen.

    But it doesn't mean that time exists. It means that Earth rotates around the sun, while also rotating itself.

    But things live, and things die-that is probably the most noticeable time frame. The universe had a beginning, and will inevitably have an ending, aren't those the basic forms of measurement that...well, humans don't really have to define? I mean, they just kind of happen. Like he said, the action itself that dictates time isn't arbitrary-just the name is. I mean we can call it cow for all we want, it still encompasses a beginning and an end.

    How do you know the Universe had a beginning?

    What if time is circular?

    Why immediately assume we're travelling in a straight line away from the past when it's obvious that nothing else in the Universe is designed that way?

    Because everything that we have learned thus far has told us that there was nothing-and then there was something, in most circles that is called a beginning, or a cow as I previously mentioned. The name doesn't matter, but the action still exists with or without a name.

    Crayon on
    "I am conscious of my inability to grasp, in all its details and positive developments, any very large portion of human knowledge."
    X-Box Tag: PrettyGoodCake
    PSN: LLatikuf
  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Why immediately assume we're travelling in a straight line away from the past when it's obvious that nothing else in the Universe is designed that way?

    What exactly makes that obvious?

    Al_wat on
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  • Just Like ThatJust Like That Registered User
    edited July 2007
    Crayon wrote: »
    Tobasco wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    But time really isn't a human concept, it's a way of measuring an allotted "movement" of an object, isn't it? I'm not really big into all this stuff these days, but it does interest me quite a bit. Without humanity there would still be a stream of time-as in night and day, position of sun/moon, seasons, etc.

    No there wouldn't.

    Those are just names.

    Ummmm...without the names they would still happen.

    But it doesn't mean that time exists. It means that Earth rotates around the sun, while also rotating itself.

    But things live, and things die-that is probably the most noticeable time frame. The universe had a beginning, and will inevitably have an ending, aren't those the basic forms of measurement that...well, humans don't really have to define? I mean, they just kind of happen. Like he said, the action itself that dictates time isn't arbitrary-just the name is. I mean we can call it cow for all we want, it still encompasses a beginning and an end.

    Things living and dying are just matter changing states. The matter that you are composed of is the result of a long series of chemical reactions. When you die, your body matter will undergo some more chemical reactions (decomposition) and will continue to exist, in a different form. Nothing happened before the beginning of the universe because nothing existed, and the ending of the universe will come as a result of changes to the same matter that existed in the beginning (give or take some energy that transforms into matter or vice versa--- Einstein's equation of e=mc2). In fact, the universe might not ever "end"; it will probably end up in a state of lifeless homogeny due to entropy (thanks alot, entropy), or collapse and re-expand.

    Just Like That on
  • Che GuevaraChe Guevara __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    Crayon wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    Tobasco wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    But time really isn't a human concept, it's a way of measuring an allotted "movement" of an object, isn't it? I'm not really big into all this stuff these days, but it does interest me quite a bit. Without humanity there would still be a stream of time-as in night and day, position of sun/moon, seasons, etc.

    No there wouldn't.

    Those are just names.

    Ummmm...without the names they would still happen.

    But it doesn't mean that time exists. It means that Earth rotates around the sun, while also rotating itself.

    But things live, and things die-that is probably the most noticeable time frame. The universe had a beginning, and will inevitably have an ending, aren't those the basic forms of measurement that...well, humans don't really have to define? I mean, they just kind of happen. Like he said, the action itself that dictates time isn't arbitrary-just the name is. I mean we can call it cow for all we want, it still encompasses a beginning and an end.

    How do you know the Universe had a beginning?

    What if time is circular?

    Why immediately assume we're travelling in a straight line away from the past when it's obvious that nothing else in the Universe is designed that way?

    Because everything that we have learned thus far has told us that there was nothing-and then there was something, in most circles that is called a beginning, or a cow as I previously mentioned. The name doesn't matter, but the action still exists with or without a name.

    Ah grasshopper... I see why you're jailed.

    You can't use circular thinking to justify a defense against circular time... you'll end up stuck in a vicious circle like you are now. You're talking about theory. And the idea of something from nothing contains a logical fallacy that requires a leap of faith bordering on religion. However, where religion would have you leaping towards God, instead you're leaping towards nothing.

    Che Guevara on
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Crayon wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    Tobasco wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    Crayon wrote: »
    But time really isn't a human concept, it's a way of measuring an allotted "movement" of an object, isn't it? I'm not really big into all this stuff these days, but it does interest me quite a bit. Without humanity there would still be a stream of time-as in night and day, position of sun/moon, seasons, etc.

    No there wouldn't.

    Those are just names.

    Ummmm...without the names they would still happen.

    But it doesn't mean that time exists. It means that Earth rotates around the sun, while also rotating itself.

    But things live, and things die-that is probably the most noticeable time frame. The universe had a beginning, and will inevitably have an ending, aren't those the basic forms of measurement that...well, humans don't really have to define? I mean, they just kind of happen. Like he said, the action itself that dictates time isn't arbitrary-just the name is. I mean we can call it cow for all we want, it still encompasses a beginning and an end.

    How do you know the Universe had a beginning?

    What if time is circular?

    Why immediately assume we're travelling in a straight line away from the past when it's obvious that nothing else in the Universe is designed that way?

    Because everything that we have learned thus far has told us that there was nothing-and then there was something, in most circles that is called a beginning, or a cow as I previously mentioned. The name doesn't matter, but the action still exists with or without a name.
    Except that time originated along with everything else in the Big Bang. It has no meaning to try and talk about "before the big bang" unless you're actively proposing a description of everything else that was "before" it.

    electricitylikesme on
  • Che GuevaraChe Guevara __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    Al_wat wrote: »
    Why immediately assume we're travelling in a straight line away from the past when it's obvious that nothing else in the Universe is designed that way?

    What exactly makes that obvious?

    Hmmm... Day and Night?
    Stars?
    Planets?
    The Moon?
    Waves?
    The Tides?
    Birds in Flight?
    Gravity?
    Paper Airplanes?
    Spitballs?
    Nuclear Explosions?
    Galaxies?
    Photons?

    Che Guevara on
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Ah grasshopper... I see why you're jailed.

    So are you.
    You can't use circular thinking to justify a defense against circular time... you'll end up stuck in a vicious circle like you are now. You're talking about theory. And the idea of something from nothing contains a logical fallacy that requires a leap of faith bordering on religion. However, where religion would have you leaping towards God, instead you're leaping towards nothing
    Theory IS fact in scientific terms, and the Big Bang is not said to have originated from nothing it's just a regime where all conventional physical descriptions tend to break down because oh hey, largely they were created there. Their are in fact a number of hypotheses which do attempt to describe the conditions "before" the Big Bang.

    electricitylikesme on
  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Ok, let me get this straight, because I might actually be wrong.

    But you are saying that those things... make it obvious that we are not linearly moving through time?

    Che Guevara wrote:
    Why immediately assume we're travelling in a straight line away from the past when it's obvious that nothing else in the Universe is designed that way?

    Cause, maybe it was just confusing wording, but you are saying that it is obvious that time does not unfold linearly. Please tell me I am misunderstanding you.

    Al_wat on
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  • Che GuevaraChe Guevara __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    Ah grasshopper... I see why you're jailed.

    So are you.

    Nothing gets past you, eh?

    Perhaps I prefer the solitude of the cell.

    The repression of the ego-avatar might be the path towards enlightenment.

    Or maybe I just posted a semi-nude pic in the [chat].
    You can't use circular thinking to justify a defense against circular time... you'll end up stuck in a vicious circle like you are now. You're talking about theory. And the idea of something from nothing contains a logical fallacy that requires a leap of faith bordering on religion. However, where religion would have you leaping towards God, instead you're leaping towards nothing
    Theory IS fact in scientific terms, and the Big Bang is not said to have originated from nothing it's just a regime where all conventional physical descriptions tend to break down because oh hey, largely they were created there. Their are in fact a number of hypotheses which do attempt to describe the conditions "before" the Big Bang.[/QUOTE]

    "Before" is what catches people.

    And the Big Bang is just Theory. It's not Fact.

    Che Guevara on
  • Che GuevaraChe Guevara __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    Al_wat wrote: »
    Ok, let me get this straight, because I might actually be wrong.

    But you are saying that those things... make it obvious that we are not linearly moving through time?

    Yes.

    Che Guevara on
  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Al_wat wrote: »
    Ok, let me get this straight, because I might actually be wrong.

    But you are saying that those things... make it obvious that we are not linearly moving through time?

    Yes.

    O_o

    Al_wat on
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  • CrayonCrayon Sleeps in the wrong bed. TejasRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Ah grasshopper... I see why you're jailed.

    So are you.

    Nothing gets past you, eh?

    Perhaps I prefer the solitude of the cell.

    The repression of the ego-avatar might be the path towards enlightenment.

    Or maybe I just posted a semi-nude pic in the [chat].
    You can't use circular thinking to justify a defense against circular time... you'll end up stuck in a vicious circle like you are now. You're talking about theory. And the idea of something from nothing contains a logical fallacy that requires a leap of faith bordering on religion. However, where religion would have you leaping towards God, instead you're leaping towards nothing
    Theory IS fact in scientific terms, and the Big Bang is not said to have originated from nothing it's just a regime where all conventional physical descriptions tend to break down because oh hey, largely they were created there. Their are in fact a number of hypotheses which do attempt to describe the conditions "before" the Big Bang.

    "Before" is what catches people.

    And the Big Bang is just Theory. It's not Fact.[/QUOTE]

    Wait...you're talking about how Big Bang is just a theory and not a fact, and then going off on a tangent of shit that makes absolutely no sense because of paper airplanes? Riiiiiight.

    Crayon on
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  • Just Like ThatJust Like That Registered User
    edited July 2007
    Theory IS fact in scientific terms, and the Big Bang is not said to have originated from nothing it's just a regime where all conventional physical descriptions tend to break down because oh hey, largely they were created there. Their are in fact a number of hypotheses which do attempt to describe the conditions "before" the Big Bang.

    "Before" is what catches people.

    And the Big Bang is just Theory. It's not Fact.

    There has been overwhelming evidence in support of the Big Bang theory, including observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation that it left behind.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_bang
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_microwave_background_radiation

    Just Like That on
  • MikeManMikeMan Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    And the Big Bang is just Theory. It's not Fact.

    I'm gonna fucking slap you until the stupid falls out.

    ...

    Anyway, to the OP, check this shit out. So, Einstein, right? He knew some stuff. He proposed a couple of theories; you might have heard of them. They involve relativity. They link space and time into an entity called spacetime (duh). But this is where it gets awesome and strange.

    Spacetime is absolute. Contrary to its name, relativity does not say that everything is relative. There is an absolute in the theory, which is spacetime. Think of it as a loaf of bread.
    6963goodbread.JPG

    Now, you can cut this loaf in various ways, but the loaf encompasses the entirety of reality. It is spacetime. At any given moment, we experience a slice of this loaf. What angle the loaf is sliced, however, depends on our movement through spacetime: the faster we move, the more oblique the angle of the "reality slice."

    This analogy might be silly, but it's really the best way I've seen to express the concepts. Anyway, let's return to relativity's postulates for a bit. We're all familiar with the twin paradox, right?

    A couple of twins are chillin. One goes on an interstellar voyage of 10 years, by his reckoning, at near light speed. One stays at home. When twin A gets back to earth, he finds his identical twin much older, and near death. OMG PARADOX! But it just means that there is no absolute time. Both time frames are equally "right."

    But this concept extends to simultaneity. Let's say you have me, Mike, standing on a platform looking at a train that's speeding away from me.

    9383japanese_bullet_train.jpg

    For the sake of argument, this train can approach the speed of light. It's a fucking fast train. Anyway, Bob and James are on one of the train cars. Bob is nearer to me than James, and the train is speeding away from me. They are both holding coins. Bob decides to drop his coin after James drops his. They do so. Now, from their perspective, James' coin lands on the floor of the train car first, followed by Bob's a second later. Makes sense, right?

    But from my perspective, and I'm looking at the incident through powerful binoculars, I clearly see both coins land at the same time. The train speeding away condenses the order of events in such a way that, from my perspective, the coins land at the exact same moment. Two events that from one vantage point do not occur simultaneously, from another do.

    Which is right?

    Both perspectives are equally right. But this demonstrates that, depending on relative speed, the order of events can actually change for the same occurrence, as viewed by different people.

    Got that?

    Alright, we're ready for the really mind-bending part. Einstein's equations, in a similar manner to their conflating space and time, show a distinct relationship between speed and distance. Let's return to the spacetime bread loaf. Remember when we found out the angle at which you slice the bread loaf depends on your relative acceleration? Well, what did I mean by "angle?" I meant that the faster you accelerate, the wider the "slice" through spacetime that you perceive as simultaneous. The faster you move, the more events you see as happening at the same time.

    But if you take a simple angular slice of bread, and extend the spacetime loaf to be as big as a house, by the simple nature of triangles, the outer reaches of that slice will be quite wider than the bottom of it, right? This means that the farther away you are from a particular occurrence, the more exaggerated these relativistic effects will be. And it means that the farther away you are, the less you need to move in order to perceive this simultaneity.

    So whereas on the train platform, I perceived the coins as both landing at the same time, because the train was speeding away from me at light speed, a being or person even further from the train wouldn't need the train to be moving as fast to get the same effect. If we take this to its logical conclusion (with a lot of hidden maths going on), we find that if we had a hypothetical creature at the farthest reaches of the known universe, billions and billions of light years away, the effects would be mind-blowing.

    So, let's imagine this creature. We'll call him Blarble. Blarble is an alien, on a planet that is 16 billion light years away. He's sitting on whatever passes for a chair on that planet, in whatever passes for a room. He's chilling out. Meanwhile, 16 billion light years behind him, we are hanging out on Earth. It's the year 2007. Bush is in office. Live Aid just ended. J. J. Abrams is masturbating over his upcoming movie. Etc. I am typing this incredibly long post that probably no one will read. All is right with the universe. If, 16 billion years from now, Blarble were to receive from us a star-telegram with the current date time stamped, he would see that there is only one 2007, and the events that, to us, occur this year, indeed occurred this year. Hypothetical telegrams sent from 1907, and in the year 2107, would reach Blargle one hundred years before and after our telegram, respectively. Everything would jive, and Blargle would read the telegrams and muse over things contentedly. Blargle would be pretty old (16 billion years old, because that's how long it would take these messages to arrive at his planet), but that's ok.

    But wait. Let's say Blargle decides to get up from his chair and start walking, at a rate of 10 miles an hour, directly away from Earth. He keeps this up for a few minutes. 16 billion years later, when he receives the telegrams, he notices that they do not arrive 100 years apart from each other. The one from 1907 arrives at the same time as the one from 2007 and the one from 2107. What the fuck? The content of those telegrams is the same; they both have messages from our respective times. But they arrive at the exact same time. Why is this? Because he was walking at a rate of 10 miles an hour away from the Earth. His speed, combined with his extreme distance from our planet, made his "spacetime loaf slice" an oblique angle that fanned out at the farthest edges. His reality of "now", because of his distance and speed, encompasses, at once, 100 years ago, our present, and 100 years from now, in our future. They all happen at the same time. 300 years is condensed into a single moment from his perspective.

    *Deep breath*

    Basically, this is mindblowing. These things all follow from Einstein's relativity theory, which has been demonstrated to be an astonishingly accurate account for the macro universe. So basically it's an accepted scientific fact. But what does it mean?

    It means the future already happened, when you get down to it. If this hypothetical Blargle could, just by walking away from us, condense our past and future into one moment, the concept of "future" as being something fundamentally different from the past has no meaning.

    tl;dr: Time. Is. Fucked. Up.

    MikeMan on
    HOW DO YOU FUCK UP BAGELS. YOU BOIL THE WATER. PUT IN THE NOODLES
  • Just Like ThatJust Like That Registered User
    edited July 2007
    MikeMan, your post makes me hungry. For red and blue flashing bread :) (I see you fixed it though).

    And yeah, I mentioned relativity and space-time as things that don't quite jive with the no-time theory, at least not in ways that I am prepared to attempt to figure out right now. I actually understood your bread example, though... it was quite entertaining. I knew about a lot of the stuff involving relativity already (the coin thing) but not the future-and-past-condensation stuff.

    Anyway, I am fucking tired, and going to bed.

    Just Like That on
  • MikeManMikeMan Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Tobasco wrote: »
    MikeMan, your post makes me hungry. For red and blue flashing bread :) (I see you fixed it though).

    And yeah, I mentioned relativity and space-time as things that don't quite jive with the no-time theory, at least not in ways that I am prepared to attempt to figure out right now. I actually understood your bread example, though... it was quite entertaining. I knew about a lot of the stuff involving relativity already (the coin thing) but not the future-and-past-condensation stuff.

    Anyway, I am fucking tired, and going to bed.

    YOU SAW NOTHING

    Hotlinking bans ain't got shit on me!

    Anyway, my tone was light and humorous; it wasn't meant to imply that you were in any way ignorant. I was just addressing the subject of the thread. :)

    MikeMan on
    HOW DO YOU FUCK UP BAGELS. YOU BOIL THE WATER. PUT IN THE NOODLES
  • KetherialKetherial Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    MikeMan wrote: »
    It means the future already happened, when you get down to it. If this hypothetical Blargle could, just by walking away from us, condense our past and future into one moment, the concept of "future" as being something fundamentally different from the past has no meaning.

    tl;dr: Time. Is. Fucked. Up.

    this is wrong. blargle doesnt actually condense anything. blargle's perspective provides him with a condensed viewing of our actions. the actions themselves are not condensed.

    the future is fundamentally different from the past. one might not view them differently when viewing them from billions of light years away, but that's pretty much a meaningless example anyway.

    i dont see why you aren't conceptually separating the perception of events from their actual occurence.

    Ketherial on
  • MikeManMikeMan Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Ketherial wrote: »
    MikeMan wrote: »
    It means the future already happened, when you get down to it. If this hypothetical Blargle could, just by walking away from us, condense our past and future into one moment, the concept of "future" as being something fundamentally different from the past has no meaning.

    tl;dr: Time. Is. Fucked. Up.

    this is wrong. blargle doesnt actually condense anything. blargle perspective provides him with a condensed viewing of our actions. the actions themselves are not condensed.

    The actions themselves are condensed from his perspective. His perspective is just as valid and "true." A + B =...
    the future is fundamentally different from the past. one might not view them differently from billions of light years away, but that's pretty much a meaningless example anyway.

    If you had read my post, you could see that the same effects could be experienced by being right next to an incredibly fast object. The example is not meaningless because it shows just how wrong you are.
    i dont see why you aren't conceptually separating the perception of events from their actual occurence.

    The perception of the events is indicative of the different "nows" that have meaning. You may, just may, want to actually read up on relativity before spouting nonsense. The whole goddamn point is that every observer, and every vantage point is just as "right" and just as "true" as any other. Being closer to the events in question does not lend your perspective more legitimacy, though I can see how you would be tempted to think so. But in thinking so, you betray a complete lack of understanding of relativity, which is the precise thing I am discussing.

    Read up on it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativity_of_simultaneity

    MikeMan on
    HOW DO YOU FUCK UP BAGELS. YOU BOIL THE WATER. PUT IN THE NOODLES
  • DeepQantasDeepQantas Registered User
    edited July 2007
    The way I see it there are two things in this universe that have a direction...

    "Speed of light" - Not light as such, but rather the range of effects. If sun blows up, its effects show up on Mars before showing up on Earth. So the direction here is "outwards".

    Entropy - The direction of which is "towards messier". The result of which is that in normal life causes happen before consequences. In quantum mechanics cause and effect are equal and can happen either way (unless I misunderstood what Feynman's been telling me).


    So hm. Time has to be defined in those terms. Speed of light can be used to determine the precise length of time and entropy can be used to determine whether we're moving to the future or the past.

    DeepQantas on
    m~
  • NexusSixNexusSix Registered User
    edited July 2007
    DeepQantas wrote: »
    entropy can be used to determine whether we're moving to the future or the past.

    Entropy tells me how much damn house cleaning I need to do at any given reference point. Thermodynamics suck on the mundane scale.

    I want Blarble to come clean my house.

    NexusSix on
    REASON - Version 1.0B7 Gatling type 3 mm hypervelocity railgun system
    Ng Security Industries, Inc.
    PRERELEASE VERSION-NOT FOR FIELD USE - DO NOT TEST IN A POPULATED AREA
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  • DeepQantasDeepQantas Registered User
    edited July 2007
    So... Blarble is an external force.

    DeepQantas on
    m~
  • OctoparrotOctoparrot Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    DeepQantas wrote: »
    "Speed of light" - Not light as such, but rather the range of effects. If sun blows up, its effects show up on Mars before showing up on Earth. So the direction here is "outwards".

    I think that's flip-flopped.

    Anyway, Che's cyclical universe, like a piston compressing and expanding, WOULD be a great theory if it wasn't for a little something called dark energy.

    Octoparrot on
    the GOP shouldn't give a rats ass about them since they won't vote for them. If someone won't vote for you they might as well not exist.
  • Che GuevaraChe Guevara __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    MikeMan wrote: »
    And the Big Bang is just Theory. It's not Fact.
    Einstein is God. Abloo abloo abloo. LOLZ.

    Einstein's GR produces an approximation that is an order of magnitude more accurate than Newtonian physics. But it's not perfect. Hence big pieces are missing out of the bigger picture.

    Therefore, GR (and through association the Big Bang) are both still subject to being disproven.

    In fact, it's quite necessary to physics that GR is eventually disproven and replaced with a more accurate theory.

    Octo -> Show me a bottle of dark energy.

    Che Guevara on
  • OctoparrotOctoparrot Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    MikeMan wrote: »
    And the Big Bang is just Theory. It's not Fact.
    Einstein is God. Abloo abloo abloo. LOLZ.

    Einstein's GR produces an approximation that is an order of magnitude more accurate than Newtonian physics. But it's not perfect. Hence big pieces are missing out of the bigger picture.

    Therefore, GR (and through association the Big Bang) are both still subject to being disproven.

    In fact, it's quite necessary to physics that GR is eventually disproven and replaced with a more accurate theory.

    Octo -> Show me a bottle of dark energy.

    Dark energy's aggregate effects are currently only noticeable over light years. If you get me the bottle, I'll get you the dark energy.

    Second, GR and SR have a better approximation than just one order of magnitude over Newton's laws from our observations. In fact, if you knew anything about the subject at all, you'd know great concern is that it and other theories work too well.

    Octoparrot on
    the GOP shouldn't give a rats ass about them since they won't vote for them. If someone won't vote for you they might as well not exist.
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