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Where Is Time Going?

Author, Alan R Graham, in this chapter from the book, Time's Paradigm, argues that time does not flow in a linear fashion, it cycles and therefore has neither a beginning nor an end.

Time's Paradigm: PART TWO - Time

Science asserts that time had a beginning, "The Big Bang", that's where existence in our universe first materialized. Presumably, therefore, they are inferring that time left that point in the past and must now be heading out towards an infinite horizon, possibly even an end. In terms of direction that suggests that time is linear, in other words: progressing in a straight line.

But such a simplistic notion for the 'passage of time' is rooted in our desire to identify, categorize and extrapolate everything for the sake of convenience. It's what science does and it helps tremendously. But is it, in fact, reality?

Existence is not that simple. Life is complicated.

No one knows where we are going, we relate our whereabouts and velocity to other bodies in the universe that are equally confused. Shouldn't time follow the same principle? Pin-pointing a beginning of time is akin to denoting a stationary point in the universe -- not possible.

the Atlas Mountains, Morocco.

We "conscious creatures" create the world around us and imagine this moment we live in. Yes, it is real to us, but what reality actually is may be far from the truth as we know it. Our brains interpret the world around us by means of senses -- eyes, ears, nose, etc -- and make up a scene for us in which to act. We perceive "Now" by means of biological stimulus and associative intuition.

Colour pigments are mixed by proximity to make varying shades that don't really exist; molecules are all stuck together to form clumps of recognizable shape depending on how close or far away we are. Red and white become pink, trees become mountains, and the moon is a dime in our mind's eye. It's all a confabulation -- Isn't everything? Just look through a microscope to discover a whole new universe.

Time has it's own conundrums. Here we are in "The Present", which is our moment of awareness, our sense of time. If conscious living beings such as ourselves were absent from this universe, time would still be going somewhere, would it not? But would the present?

So, What is Time?

Fundamentally, time is about change. There is a difference between the past and the future. From one minute to the next, things are altering their position, their form and their state, be they great celestial bodies or tiny atomic particles. If no change occurs, there is no need for time. In other words, if the past and the future are identical, existence does not occur, because there is no point nor reason for it being, and no place for it to be.

Space, it seems, is a prerequisite for time, because motion needs a playground in which to roam. These three phenomena are the cornerstones of existence; like our three dimensions, one cannot exist without the other two.

This basically means that time is in constant motion. However, in order to conclude as much, first we must agree that there is a past and a future. That might sound like an odd thing to say were it not for the fact that one branch of ontology argues that all of time already happened.

Photo of sun rays in ocean depths with caption, Space: A Giant Ocean.

The last chapter asked: does destiny exist? Philosophers have long argued this subject: whether making choices in life can really alter our future. Quantum Theory offers the Many Worlds Interpretation. Then there are those who consider that time does not exist, or that time is merely another name for motion, that time only seems to exist because we move -- so time is not going anywhere at all.

One view of temporal progression is entropy, or Time's Arrow. Things break but they do not un-break. There is only one direction and that is towards chaos. Quantum Physics might disagree, as it likes to argue that sub-atomic particles may wish to do things in reverse; but on a macro scale we don't seem to be heading for birth. So, entropy is the redistribution of energy in time. It is described by the second law of Thermodynamics as the passing of energy from useful levels to ever less useful levels, in decline.

On the other hand, entropy is said to increase with this redistribution process, from a state of perfection and little chance of change, to a state of more possibilities due to more freedom. This suggests progress, however it is a linear model, where energy flows from a beginning towards an end; not a satisfactory model as far as this chapter is concerned which argues that time is a cyclical progression. It can also be argued that the Universe is not following the rule of entropy; clouds of gasses are induced by gravitational forces to 'clump up' and eventually form celestial objects such as stars, being a process quite the opposite of Time's Arrow.

While Entropy proceeds with time, it is not time. Without entropy, existence might still progress.

Then there is space-time, the bases of Relativity, a theory that most have adopted due to its enormous success at solving so many powerful, physical quandaries over the last century. It insinuates time's irrelevance to some degree. However, it does demand that time vary dependent on velocity -- again a connection between time and motion. Beyond this handful of ideas, not much else has surfaced in the last century.

Recently, however, there has been quite a stir in Science circles, and time has become the topic of much debate. Ideas range from: A Conformal Cosmological Cycle by Sir Roger Penrose, proposing that our universe must have existed before the Big Bang; to a more recent suggestion that two identical universes erupted from the Big Bang, one heading forwards, the other flowing backwards in time, thus providing equilibrium. Indeed, Stephen Hawking questioned the concept of when our Universe began and has spoken of the quirky possibility that it might only have come into existence a few years ago, and that all our memories of before such a time are merely implanted -- though it is likely he was simply making a point.

The Big Bang is understandably thought of as the beginning of time. So, where there is a beginning there is, no doubt, an end. Ending is relative to something that continues. Stopping means the prospect of starting -- forwards or backwards? All these issues need evaluating, if we are to believe in the flow of time.

photograph of an African skimmer in flight.

If time can stop here, then what is to say it cannot stop there, or there, or there..? Or stop for a moment and then proceed? Time could come and go as it pleased. However, it appears to be a continuous, uninterrupted passage, geo/cosmically speaking, with no complicated rules to address all these queries aforementioned.

Moreover, and from a philosophical standpoint, time cannot flow backwards. To use such a word implies an opposite direction to the norm, i.e. "forwards". Time may have a course -- if such a notion can practically apply -- but precisely retracing steps taken is impossible as this would run contrary to causality. Positive momentum occurs, there are no negatives in physical nature. In considering an expanding universe which may eventually collapse in upon itself, contraction would not be an identically opposite phenomenon. Deflating balloons do not collapse in reverse. Time flowing Backwards is thus a misnomer.

If Cyclical Time can adequately reconcile these above quandaries, where does that leave the Big Bang?


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A Cosmological Cycle of Time

To get something started requires purpose, potential and impetus. However, in a state of non-existence, before time, it is unlikely these three players could have operated. Change is energetic, and to suggest that energy magically starts or suddenly stops is far fetched; it goes against the very fundamentals of our Laws of Physics.

Until the disciplines of science unite, we will never fully comprehend time.

So instead, our ancestors end up concluding that the universe must have been around for an infinitely long time and will go on indefinitely. This view was refuted by Emmanuel Kant and other philosophers of the era in favour of Finitism. 20th century physicists, for their part, have added that if the universe has existed forever it would likely have ended an infinite time ago.

Bearing that in mind, what are the possibilities? If we accept that time is continuous, either it wanders off into forever and infinity, or it appears to go on forever by revolution, a cyclical progression. Both scenarios satisfy the notion of forever, but a cycle offers contained stability.

There is, however, one problem with cyclical time and that is its propensity to insinuate that the future is already set in stone. Destiny exists, it will argue, and there is nothing we can do about it. Clearly, many will find this an alarming prospect as most of us would prefer a flexible future that comes about by our own actions. We need to feel in control of our own lives. Unfortunately, if the future returns to the past then everything must be predetermined.

Take heart: As with all things that journey, the beginning and the end are almost invariably one and the same thing. The greatest human invention was, arguably, the wheel; it revolutionised mobility and functionality by later being transformed into gears and motors, pulleys, roundabouts and race tracks -- and that's just the tip of the iceberg in cosmic terms. Consider gyroscopics and magnetic fields, solar systems, nitrogen cycles and atomic energy.

Likewise, time has the same potential, of being a circuit in that it feeds itself rather than having an undefined reason for linear progression. That answers one of the first and most fundamental questions regarding the purpose and potential for time: In cyclical models, time has reason to be.

Time must surely cycle, as do all progressive systems, the consequence of which is that all matter in our universe will eventually return to their state of origin, and the cycle continues. As is the case with our nitrogen cycle on this planet, one need not follow the individual, weaving path of any particular entity to understand the system as a whole. Every component works to perpetuate the whole.

And on completion, no loss of energy in the universe, no catastrophic beginning or apocalyptic end, because there are no ends in a cyclical model. All matter through time already exists, as if a giant, revolving wheel whose parts are all connected and so, able only to flow in one direction. Such systems drive themselves; they are autonomous, contained and independent, lacking infinities and finalities.

If you push one pearl on the end of a string of pearls, they all move. Logically, therefore, if there was a beginning of time progress could not be made.

For those who believe that time is a linear progression, that there is no future ahead and no past behind us, it must be presumed that they have the potential to stop forward flow in time... anytime. There is nothing from before urging them on, they are not bound together in procession, their purpose and trajectory uncertain, whether a minute, an hour or a century from now.

A second resolution has now been reached: In cyclical models, time is consistent.

A cosmological cycle of time might conjure in the minds of some the supernatural idea of reincarnation, of us living our lives over and over again, the world repeating itself every so often. Unlikely. Such thoughts are born of our duty to imagine we are the centre of the universe, that we are somehow important and make a difference. The Universe -- this material existence we experience -- is enormous and we are completely irrelevant to its structure.

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The more likely case is that a reincarnation of matter in the Universe over time (billions of years?) will occur. Growth and nature might be somewhat similar, showing repetitive construction; but never will it repeat itself precisely nor, indeed, produce the likes of you or I ever again.

Alternatively, we can re-consider Stephen Hawking's comment above, and question whether a few billion years is all that realistic. A cyclical progression for time, where the end meets the beginning and renders both void, might be just a few years long. The end could be minutes away, while the beginning might have been yesterday. In terms of designated moments in time nominated by humans, however, these points in cyclical time do not apply and so, we must conclude, neither does the present moment.

Whilst we are conscious and aware of any given moment in time we also carry memories. It would make no difference to our consideration of the present moment if the end of today was connected seamlessly to the beginning of today rather than tomorrow, a one day loop like the movie, Groundhog Day. Our brains would not complain that we missed out on living tomorrow because we would wake up as always with all memories from yesterday intact... and we would live today over and over again with the same enthusiasm unaware of the reality.

A more in-depth look at how cyclical time functions in Chapter Six.

Simply put: Once in motion, time must go on, round and round, like the current in a copper wire that flows from a battery only if it can return. Break the wire -- the current stops flowing -- the light goes out.

Cycles permit progress; they contain continuity. These facts become abundantly clear in the next chapter when awful infinities are tackled head on.

Clocks are repetitive, they cycle through the days. One day does not end abruptly for another to begin. A compass cycles through 360 degrees, and keeps right on going. Our planet is a sphere, upon which we wander, with no apparent end in sight. Solar systems, giant galaxies and so on, all cycles, as are the myriad of infinitesimally small atomic structures, of which we are made.

Time going round and round, like a big, four dimensional wheel means there is no beginning nor end, and no infinite, outstretched vacuum -- it is finite within itself -- though appears infinite from our restricted, three dimensional perspective. This offers purpose and relevance, but though it solves a few puzzling questions, it creates more of its own. If time already exists throughout its entire length, what makes the present moment "now"?

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How We Perceive Time

A circuit is a self contained unit; that is its simplicity. It can exist without interference. And the whole functionality of a circuit is that it is connected, all the way around; it exists in its entirety without beginning or end. However, it is not necessarily time that is whizzing around this circuit like an electric current, it could be us. Time is the measure of physical existence from one moment to the next, which means all matter in the universe from the past and into the future all clumped together in a solid, inflexible lump. And we are in there, too, aware everywhere.

So, you get up and go make yourself a cup of coffee. You come back and sit down with it. Now you must consider that you are still in the kitchen, though not your current consciousness, just as you might also be washing your mug in the sink sometime in the future even before you have drunk the coffee you are staring at. Bizarre!

Realistically, all three events are happening at the same time, one is not relative to another once we leave the confines of our material, three dimensional world.

A coffee cup with the caption: I am here now

The determination must be: We are conscious at all moments throughout time, not just in this moment we call "now"! How can that be so?

Imagine looking at a film strip, but rather than it being comprised of 24 individual frames it has all the moments of change congealed into one long tapestry. If we open and close our eyes for a split second anywhere along it we see a still image, like a single frame. It is well understood that the human eye melds still frames into a single, smooth sequence of movement at around 60 frames per second. Thus, with our eyes open we are constantly registering change at that rate. It's called the 'flicker fusion rate'.

Science has recently worked out that pigeons, on the other hand, may register change at double our rate per second, slowing down life for these fast flying birds, making it easier for them to spot a food source and avoid predators. House flies register an incredible 250 frames in a second, making time crawl by and your chances of swatting them with a newspaper nigh on impossible.

It doesn't matter where we are on our time line, we are aware of change. Everything in time is all happening all at once or 'all happening always' -- whichever phrase you prefer. You could even choose to believe that nothing is happening because everything and nothing are the same statistic (both infinities). Everything in time happening at once would register as nothing happening at all.

Scientists have tested the flicker fusion rates of a number of conscious creatures, including us humans, from super fast flies to rather slow turtles. And, as is so often the case with science, both ends of this scale will no doubt one day surprise us. Geological time is measured in millions of years and often described to us for our encapsulation as if a thousand years were mere seconds in length. What if they were? It is entirely possible that a conscious entity might experience the passage of time super-slow, where a single frame of awareness occurs just once, say, every 250 years -- or a Pluto year.

The suggestion that immobile, inert objects like rocks and crystals could possibly be aware, or in the least bit conscious, will strike most of us as silly. And it is, from our perspective. However, we should be cautious in considering that what we see and believe is the absolute truth (just ask a fly). It is not the realm of fantasy to suggest that a conscious entity might be aware of mountains rising, continents adrift and ice-ages coming and going. Our planet may well be more alive than we give it credit for.

Being aware in a moment, it seems, depends upon how long that moment is, making the definition of "present moment" a little tenuous. It does, however, allow us a certain freedom to assume that consciousness is not necessarily in a specific location on our time lines, theoretically it could be spread out.

Understandably, we can't actually be aware in two places at once -- or two moments in time at once -- simultaneously, that would negate the concept of 'now'. But that moments are not defined means we could be aware anywhere, anytime.

Front book cover, The Other Side of Now.

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When a young man travels a few hours into the future for mischievous purposes he has no idea he will accidentally kill himself.

What we are doing by being aware of time's progress at 60 frames per second is slowing it down to a manageable pace, something we can relate to. Otherwise it would all happen at once. In doing so we register the concept of choices and an opportunity to make decisions, the key to being aware of time.

In the previous chapter, "evolution's carrot" was offered up as a way to explain why we would have the ability to make decisions and choose our future path if destiny already existed and our future was set in stone. It seems contradictory -- pointless, even. Well... Imagine you are a creature, such as a clam, that has receptors around its mantle to detect changes in light, so when a predator swims by and draws a shadow across it, the clam immediately recoils and slams its shell shut. This is a simple, on/off reflex not a decision.

It's when we are confronted with more than one change that the outcome turns complicatingly grey and a decision has to be made that a light-sensing receptor on an invertebrate is not designed to cope with. Enter, memories, and with the advent of recall comes conditioned reflexes, i.e. doing something because I did it before and it worked, which is pretty much how decisions work... only they feel like they are based on choices. So with memory comes the ability to handle a three way switch and: Hey presto! You are a conscious organism.

Choices are a way of distinguishing between multiple changes in order to avoid disaster. We do, however, have to do something with information we receive in order to be classed as conscious, a pair of legs or fins being a good start.

Having a choice makes us feel aware. Making a decision defines consciousness. Read more...

On a physical tangent:

If we demand that things exist all along the time line at once, from the past and on into the future, then why can't we see the 'you' that was doing something just a moment ago in the kitchen? After all, the kitchen is still there!

Safely seated on this planet we can be forgiven for forgetting that we are moving vehemently through space. Our planet is hurtling at a thousand kilometres per second through the universe. So, the thing you did in the kitchen a few minutes ago actually happened a million miles away from where you are now. The light that bounced off you in the kitchen for others to detect your presence is now long gone.

Light travels faster than we do. If we could travel at the same speed as light we would be able to see all of the past all at once. This thought experiment is an elegant way of proving that all of time must already exists and that it is one giant masterpiece.

Light from another moment doesn't bounce off you in the kitchen, there is only one moment. Our creation of an apparent flow of time out of a single moment seems akin to an illusion, but it is not. Existence is very much real and the smart way for conscious minds to interpret the world around us is by expanding three dimensional physicality into a vast, four dimensional arena called time.

Physical movement is the illusion. We do not move about in space, we perceive progress through time and, with each moment, we find ourselves in a slightly different location -- we have apparently moved.

The animated caption in the logo reads: No such thing as motion, everything has already happened.

This presents an enormous challenge for perception. We have always thought we move our physical selves from A to B as time passes, and now we are being asked to consider that, actually, our selves are already there, at point B, that no physical movement is required, we must only move in time to get there. What that does is create an uncomfortable lack of control because, while we think we can adjust our physical flow through space, we are unaware of how to adjust time's flow to our advantage and so create the future.

Of course, the thing is, we don't actually move through time in a physical sense. There is no real flow that can be measured with a yard stick. Time's passage is something else. How it is that we are capable of conjuring momentum and able to consciously move within this static paradox we call time, is as a result of The Kalahari Effect, and is covered in more detail in the following chapter.

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Time's Paradigm book cover.

Demystifying The Present Moment

So, when is now? We say we exist in the present, and yet everything we experience in this so called 'now moment' is actually from the past. It takes time for sound to reach our ears, for light to reach our eyes; even if we were deaf and blind it would take time for our brains to receive and process the feeling of the chair we just sat down in. So what exactly are we experiencing in whose present? Is there such a thing?

A few decades ago we would watch BBC coverage of an event in the Middle East, and the journalist on the scene was often having difficulty with the lag time between questions and answers. So were we. It would take a few infuriating seconds before she was able to comprehend what the Anchor was asking, and for us another nail-biting few seconds before we began to get the answer.

Imagine just how frustrating it must be for scientists controlling a rover on the surface of Mars!

Information received classifies the present moment in our minds, regardless of its origin. Many sensory deprivation experiments have found that our sense of now becomes dramatically distorted, even with just one or two inputs denied.

Sensory deprivation would render us completely unaware of time's flow. If we could not smell, hear, move, feel or see, we would have no sense of now. We would be in a coma. We would be a living entity with no conscious consideration, not unlike the vast majority of creatures inhabiting this planet including the aforementioned clam. We might still have our memory, our inner voice being the only cognitive operating process with the ability to flow through time, but even that would be in doubt.

Sleep is a form of sensory deprivation. A dreaming mind has no use for time; though you might wake up and consider the dream you were in, it is difficult to be sure you or anyone else in that dream were actually moving, that time was actually flowing. The sub-conscious is also without time. Test subjects on awaking during scientific experiments have sworn they were in a dream sequence lasting up to half an hour, whereas the monitors could see that the dreams they were having were just a few seconds long.

Close your eyes. You can probably project a purple light out in the distant darkness ahead of you -- most people can -- which may grow as you concentrate. But can you make a white rectangle appear?

Now visualize a car on a road and demand it run forwards like a video. It won't... at least not smoothly, it will progress in blocks which you may find end up altogether as one single, stretched out frame. Time, it seems, does not flow in our closeted minds, only with a stream of external input can we visualize fluid progress. That said, there is much still to learn from chronosthesia and its potential locked up in our minds. Stay tuned.

Silver Land Rover Defender on dirt road at night.
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There is no "Now".

Today, we are witness to past moments from many millions of years ago, thanks to the telescope. In fact, we can see the history of the entire Universe unfold before our eyes, almost back to the Big Bang itself. But oddly, not our own history.

Peering out into the Cosmos, we watch as if a video or film recording of a bygone 'now', whether a huge supernova event or the tiny variance of light from a distant star announcing the existence of an exo-planet in orbit! Light has guarded that moment on stream, conserved it while it travels, for whomever might come across it at some time somewhere else in the Universe. It is not hugely different to imagine that we could film an event here on Earth and beam it out into space, on a curved trajectory that would have it return to Earth many centuries from now. Or, we could just stick it on a flash drive and carry it with us into the next century.

Consciousness creates now for an individual, but not necessarily for the collective. It explains how we experience a moment by continuous input, but it does not explain how we all feel as if we are in the present moment together. Why don't we all experience 'now' out of sync'? Or, perhaps we do...

The BBC journalist continued to experience her now, long after she transmitted and presumably at the same time as our now, even though we are not by her side to verify as much. Is there a Universal Clock that keeps us all in line? Like a laser beam, we might imagine it, running through everyone's time line, making us all aware simultaneously, even though we receive sensations from different origins. There is no reason to assume otherwise, is the hasty conclusion. Some process does seem to act so, as we do not appear to be wandering off and experiencing life at different rates.

There are two answers that help satisfy this curiosity: First, the concept that time is a solid, tenseless block where everything happens all at once; secondly, we are glued together in time because we are all stuck on this planet and our velocities in space are therefore comparable. In consequence our clock speeds, too, as discussed below. But neither explains why we must all adhere to the same 'now moment' as science and mathematics demand.

In following chapters it is posited that "now" for a conscious being on a far away planet may be thousands of centuries out of sync with ours. Closer to home and in the future we may find that time dilation is only a local phenomenon and astronauts on returning from long voyages will drop out of sync and shift on their time lines -- in effect, force superluminal velocities by inducing time travel, as opposed to the other way around.

The Conundrum of Variable Clocks.

In the 1970s work with atomic clocks proved the predictions made years earlier by Special Relativity: that all our time pieces -- clocks, watches, etc. -- tick along at different speeds, dependent on our velocities.

If a space traveller sets off at a great speed from this planet, her on-board clock will slow down the faster she goes. This does not affect her ability to function; for her everything appears to be just fine. To some extent, we know this because people travel by jet airlines all the time; indeed, some atomic clock experiments were conducted on-board passenger planes.

The common consensus is this: While our clocks at home continue as normal and a few years pass, in that time the speedy space traveller's clock has only registered a few months going by (an exaggeration in order to appreciate the difference). When she returns to Earth we will all be much older than she. From her younger perspective, she has somehow returned in our future. But, would she have? 'Now' is a conscious creation, a sub-conscious non-entity.

It is expressed by the majority of academics, that our metabolism slows down as we accelerate. Just as the mechanisms in our clocks will function slower. Regardless, both we and those speedy space travellers would all be aware in the same moment (had we the means to communicate), demanding that there be a present moment by which we all abide regardless of conscious consideration. A constant universal clock? What have we missed?

An analogy of clock variances might be this: A vehicle's tachometer doesn't quite measure distance as accurately as one might hope if the tyres are worn -- but the distance is still the distance. Clocks give us the impression they are reading the speed at which the present moment is moving toward the future, but this is considered a fallacy. If the battery in your watch is nearly dead, the arms move slower; we say your watch is losing time -- but 'now', we maintain, is still now.

So back to the speedy space traveller: Would she have returned as if in our future without aging as much? Her now and our now seem locked together in progress, even though our measuring devices are not. The question never asked is: Why should she be bound to the 'now' of those with faster ticking clocks? If someone walks slower, they do not necessarily live longer nor are they somehow travelling into the past.

universal clocks relating to astronauts during space travel

If 'now' is not a unilateral occurrence for everyone, it could be argued that her 'now' is just as relevant. But, as far as we are concerned, she must arrive home having completed her mission in the time we say, and the distance we calculate, in our present moment. What makes us right? She might just as easily return to Earth when her present moment dictates, and we have to abide by it. Projecting our own views on where 'now' is and how time flows for others is subjective, relative and quite uninformative. It is, simply, bending reality to conform with our self-influenced observations and self-induced calculations. (See Prologue under the heading "Let's Give that a Try" for a fun illustrative analogy of this exact process).

To truly consider time and any moment or event therein, we must disengage from it. Observing the universe from afar and being devoid of procession, with no beginning or end of time, we see that there is no present moment we have imposed. We see all of time, not just the bit we choose. Think of it like this:

Two marbles rolled across the table at different speeds. One ends up ahead of the other; it is common sense that the slow one does not keep up with the fast one and is tangent to a prior moment in the life of the faster moving marble.

Because we are conscious throughout our timelines, and she is in sync' with Earth in her own time, we in earlier states of awareness will witness her home-coming at a concurrent age.

This conundrum exploits the illusion that we are aware not only of time but also space, i.e. distance (more on this in pt6. Travel). It all boils down to one, plain fact: The present does not exist. In Cyclical Time it cannot. We think it does because we are all stuck together on this planet, travelling at the same speed through the cosmos. We presume that it therefore must elsewhere, and at the same time -- some kind of Universal Clock.

A similar scenario to the speedy traveller was beautifully illustrated in the H. G. Wells fictional classic, The Time Machine. The machine was a pod situated in the time traveller's living room. He was then somehow able to slow down the on-board clocks, while he could look out from the machine and watch the world around him fast-forwarding through time. The beauty of this concept is that he and his surroundings were in visual contact with one another, whereas we on the planet can never visually determine that a speeding astronaut traversing our galaxy and a few light years away, is in fact, living in slow motion from our point of view.

The way this clock variance is often looked at is as if we have two rulers laid out on a table, side by side. The ruler depicting the slower clock of the astronaut being twice as long as ours on Earth, for example. When she passes through 30 minutes, we have reached one hour. That is not a problem, from our perspective, on Earth. But for her, after a journey of many months, there is a big problem: She will say she must have travelled at twice the speed we say she was going, in that time. Meanwhile, we are all shocked to see that she is so much younger than us when she returns.

She is a scientist well aware of relativistic physics and she knows that, while travelling at near light speed, Lorentz Factors would have bent time and space so she would not have noticed any spurious velocity. However, back on Earth she can look in the mirror and then examine her charts and say, without a doubt, she has travelled to a distant star and returned in less than a year -- not ten years as prescribed by us.

"In that case, what is the true distance between two stars?" she mutters to herself. (Neither distance nor time is true, she has to uphold; only the speed of light is constant and invariant).

"However," she doubles down, adamantly, "What if 'now' was not a shared commodity. I mean, a photon of light still takes time to travel from one star to another, even though its clock must have stopped. Speed is distance divided by time and 100d/0t = (as we all know) Zero... which means as far as a photon is concerned there is no distance between Alpha Centauri and Planet Earth. In other words, it should take no time to get here -- not four light years. So we are the ones imposing distances between bodies in the Universe by simply being conscious of time. This is scary stuff. What's going on? Jeez, pass me an Aspirin, honey."

There cannot be a universal clock

A Constant Universal Clock governing all has to assert that there is only one conscious, present moment for everyone, and that neither the past nor the future exist through which we can individually meander.

Doing away with a Universal Clock governing 'now' implies that fundamentally we move in time, not space; so when we rush off into the cosmos at speed, we are shifting on our time line and no peculiar illusions surface regarding time travellers or variable speeds, as common consensus expresses above; there is only the apparent conclusion that superluminal velocities are possible. Of course, at first glance this appears at odds with Special Relativity, a debate which is addressed in later chapters, though actually there is no argument. Mathematical formulas are correct in cosmological terms -- but in conscious terms marbles apply.

Different inertial frames of reference provide observers with differing views on when an event occurs. According to Special Relativity, simultaneity is unfounded. It is clear that relativistic physics makes things appear different to different observers: lengths, clocks, gravity, speeds, events and so on. However, awareness of 'now' has its roots somewhere else. As explained earlier, the present moment is a creation of conscious beings, it does not exist outside of awareness. On a planet with no lifeforms capable of reason, there would be no 'now'. There would certainly be potential: geological; gravitational; atmospheric and so on -- but no experience of such things.

Once again we discover the intricate web holding physics and psychology together, as Einstein and Jung did all those years ago. Acausal existence, a solid, tenseless block.

At relativistic speeds realities are unknown, only the physics. We don't know how astronauts might respond at such speeds, whether they would be lucid, whether they might be conscious, at all. And consciousness is key to our experience of now. 'Now' is the realm of psychology (and cats), not really physics. In this respect, physics can tell us what our clocks are doing, what our measuring devices are doing, what a robot is doing, but not what our human minds might be experiencing.

Physics says the impossibility of simultaneity is absolute, but then by contrast demands that our consideration of 'now' be the same for everyone. Physics has been having difficulties lately with concepts approaching the edge of knowledge and reason. Physics places limits on existence (such as light speed, zero Kelvin, the Universe and the Big Bang), and then says that if we approach those limits things start to get a bit strange. Perhaps known physical laws are having difficulty with such limits, rather than reality.

In cyclical time and space there are no limits, there are no beginnings and ends. And, for that reason there is no universal 'now'! Later chapters reveal more on this subject.

Returning to Cycles:

Of death we can say this: When we eventually lose our state of mental awareness, our molecules continue to exist. They join the myriad cycles of atomic arrangement that will eventually make up other entities, like gasses, liquids, rocks, plants and, perhaps, at some time in the future, parts of another creature that may become aware of time.

Cycles are everywhere. They are a sign of progress and the affirmation that time cannot flow backwards.

There are many loops in the passage of time, from the very smallest to the biggest and most complex of them all: this universe. Every morning we set off for work, or drive the kids to school, or walk down to the mall. What do you know? Every day we return home, we recharge our batteries and the next day we're off again. Sometimes we pick our noses -- usually the same way and at the same traffic lights -- we tie our shoe laces or check our mail, call our partners and often at almost the same time as the day before. One day is pretty much the same as the next, even if it may seem a little different.

What we experience is a progression through time that is in itself, one giant cycle; no end nor beginning of time, nothing to screw it up. We are creatures of habit, we do not decide our fate, we are already connected to our future, so we can't screw it up, either. We sense the passing of time in a moment we call now, apparently all together, however this is just because we are firmly stuck to our planet. In reality we are sub-conscious throughout time and can consciously meander within it dependent on our velocities.

Part 3. Infinity, discusses the peculiar conditions for progress and temporal perception, and part 4. Dimensions, defines time as being a structure intimately related to our three spatial dimension.

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Everything you ever wanted to know about time.

TIME'S PARADIGM

Philosophy of Science Proposal
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