Is time an illusion?

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Offline neilep

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Is time an illusion?
« on: 09/05/2006 03:10:25 »
I wonder if there should be a philosophy thread ?..is philosophy a science ?....anyway…

I just caught the last few minutes  of a program about Time.

Time is great. There never seems to be enough time but there is lots of it !!

The prog concentrated on time travel and one of the conclusions was that time travel may be possible in theory but one of the flaws is that the time machine itself can not go back beyond it’s construction date. Has anyone else heard of this ?..If so could you please elaborate why this is so ?

…and so, the final part of the program speculated that in the future, computers will be so powerful that they will be able to create virtual realities of the past with perfect accuracy, so precisely in fact  that you would not be able to distinguish between the computers virtual reality and the real reality. People living inside this virtual reality would appear to us to be just like you and me, but their entire existence would be a simulation.

It also speculated that the people in this simulation would never be able to find the answers to the Universe and Science because they are constrained by the limits of the simulation they are in………..because,  although their reality is as real and indistinguishable from <b> real</b>  reality, the fundamental most paramount limitation is that they are not real and exist inside a computer !

This could be us, we will never know……. perhaps God is a computer programmer !

…this also,  then leads on to the question about the nature of  free will.

…any comments ?


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another_someone

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #1 on: 09/05/2006 03:31:03 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep
I wonder if there should be a philosophy thread ?



I'm up for it.

quote:

..is philosophy a science ?....anyway…



No – science is a philosophy – philosophy is the superset, and science the subset.

quote:

The prog concentrated on time travel and one of the conclusions was that time travel may be possible in theory but one of the flaws is that the time machine itself can not go back beyond it’s construction date. Has anyone else heard of this ?..If so could you please elaborate why this is so ?



Not sure what the technology they were suggesting was, but it sounds like they were looking at some sort of transmitter/receiver mechanism, that could only send something through time if there was something there to receive it, and therefore if you have not built the receiver, you cannot send anything to it.


quote:

…and so, the final part of the program speculated that in the future, computers will be so powerful that they will be able to create virtual realities of the past with perfect accuracy, so precisely in fact  that you would not be able to distinguish the computers virtual reality to the real reality. People living inside this virtual reality would appear to us to be just like you and me, but their entire existence would be a simulation.



The issue is not really the creation of the complex image, but the peripherals to create the sensation.  Would the VR directly hook up to the nerves going into your brain (the 'brain in a vat' scenario), or will it be creating olfactory and tactile stimuli external to your body?

quote:

This could be us, we will never know……. perhaps God is a computer programmer !



This was a scenario I have speculated upon at various times (if not specifically that God was a computer programmer, but rather that the universe might be some giant information processing engine that behaved like a computer, whether or not it was deliberately programmed by some sentient being, or just accidentally happened to be as it is – we could not distinguish the difference).

quote:

…this also,  then leads on to the question about the nature of  free will.



That is a problem, no matter what we are.  So long as humans are subject to the same determistic laws as everything else in the universe, and so long as we cannot say that humans are made of some other matter than everything else in the universe, then you have the problem that you must either ascribe free will to everything (which rather undermines the premise of modern science), or to nothing (which rather undermines the independence of modern scientists).




George

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Offline neilep

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #2 on: 09/05/2006 04:01:34 »
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone

quote:
Originally posted by neilep
I wonder if there should be a philosophy thread ?


I'm up for it.
 So am I.

quote:

..is philosophy a science ?....anyway…


No – science is a philosophy – philosophy is the superset, and science the subset.
Thanks for clearing that up.

quote:

The prog concentrated on time travel and one of the conclusions was that time travel may be possible in theory but one of the flaws is that the time machine itself can not go back beyond it’s construction date. Has anyone else heard of this ?..If so could you please elaborate why this is so ?


Not sure what the technology they were suggesting was, but it sounds like they were looking at some sort of transmitter/receiver mechanism, that could only send something through time if there was something there to receive it, and therefore if you have not built the receiver, you cannot send anything to it.
 I think it was more fundamental than that George, more a question of physics laws, after all...they'd be really silly to build a time machine which requires there to be a receptor in the target time zone !!...[:D]...it would make for an almighty faux pas in the extreme ! [:D]


quote:

…and so, the final part of the program speculated that in the future, computers will be so powerful that they will be able to create virtual realities of the past with perfect accuracy, so precisely in fact  that you would not be able to distinguish the computers virtual reality to the real reality. People living inside this virtual reality would appear to us to be just like you and me, but their entire existence would be a simulation.


The issue is not really the creation of the complex image, but the peripherals to create the sensation.  Would the VR directly hook up to the nerves going into your brain (the 'brain in a vat' scenario), or will it be creating olfactory and tactile stimuli external to your body?
...well yes that is also a a very good point, but the point was directed at the 'reality' from the virtual persons perspective, not how you or I would interact with it.
quote:

This could be us, we will never know……. perhaps God is a computer programmer !


This was a scenario I have speculated upon at various times (if not specifically that God was a computer programmer, but rather that the universe might be some giant information processing engine that behaved like a computer, whether or not it was deliberately programmed by some sentient being, or just accidentally happened to be as it is – we could not distinguish the difference).


Quote
…this also,  then leads on to the question about the nature of  free will.


That is a problem, no matter what we are.  So long as humans are subject to the same determistic laws as everything else in the universe, and so long as we cannot say that humans are made of some other matter than everything else in the universe, then you have the problem that you must either ascribe free will to everything (which rather undermines the premise of modern science), or to nothing (which rather undermines the independence of modern scientists).

I would have thought the opposite to be true, that the lack of freewill denies the premise of modern science as we would then be restricted by the range of our ' free will'!...perhaps I misunderstood ?







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another_someone

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #3 on: 09/05/2006 11:45:54 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone
Not sure what the technology they were suggesting was, but it sounds like they were looking at some sort of transmitter/receiver mechanism, that could only send something through time if there was something there to receive it, and therefore if you have not built the receiver, you cannot send anything to it.

I think it was more fundamental than that George, more a question of physics laws, after all...they'd be really silly to build a time machine which requires there to be a receptor in the target time zone !!



But if the physics required it, then silly or not, there would not be an alternative (rather like saying that it is silly to build a radio transmitter that requires a radio receiver to receive it, but that is all you are allowed to do with radio transmissions).

quote:

well yes that is also a a very good point, but the point was directed at the 'reality' from the virtual persons perspective, not how you or I would interact with it



Yes, but reality is all about sensation (or perceived sensation), so without interaction there is no reality.

quote:

quote:

So long as humans are subject to the same determistic laws as everything else in the universe, and so long as we cannot say that humans are made of some other matter than everything else in the universe, then you have the problem that you must either ascribe free will to everything (which rather undermines the premise of modern science), or to nothing (which rather undermines the independence of modern scientists).


I would have thought the opposite to be true, that the lack of freewill denies the premise of modern science as we would then be restricted by the range of our ' free will'!...perhaps I misunderstood ?



I think you have misunderstood.

I did say that the lack of free will would undermine science, since it would undermine the independence of the scientist from his observation.

But, what I also said was that science requires everything in the universe (including human beings) to behave in a predictable way (if it is not predictable, then it cannot be studied by science), and thus denies the possibility of free will.

These two contradictory requirements are the paradox of science.



George
« Last Edit: 09/05/2006 11:48:29 by another_someone »

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Offline Hadrian

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #4 on: 09/05/2006 14:43:20 »

Personally I believe that time is a product of the mind. It does not exist out of our perception of it. Everything else in the universe only concerns itself with the moment it is in.

(Please George don’t blow a gasket it is only my way of understanding it.)


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another_someone

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #5 on: 09/05/2006 15:59:53 »
quote:
Originally posted by Hadrian
(Please George don’t blow a gasket it is only my way of understanding it.)



Blow a gasket – me?  I'll have you know that my gaskets are better made than that [:D]

quote:

Personally I believe that time is a product of the mind. It does not exist out of our perception of it. Everything else in the universe only concerns itself with the moment it is in.



In one sense, anything only exists insofar as we perceive it to exist.  Any existence that exists outside of our perception of it, whether it is there or not, in unknowable to us.

Beyond that, things exist, not by virtue of any physical reality, but by virtue of their relationship to other things that exist.  These relationships must be as true over time as they are over space.

Clearly, this does not answer what time is, and whether our perception of time distorts the reality of time (in some way, it must inevitably be true that perception is always a highly distorted lens – as any police officer will tell you, there is nothing more unreliable than an eye witness, and we are but eye witnesses to the universe).



George

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Offline Laith

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #6 on: 09/05/2006 17:01:00 »
If you think about time it looks like it consists of:
Past Time - which no longer exists
Future Time - does not yet exist
Present time - takes no time at all

correct me if I’m wrong but I think its theoretically easier to travel to the future than travel to the past, 2 possible ways are to orbit a giant star, or travel really fast, lets say you orbited a giant star for 1 year then MAYBE 10 years have passed on earth and same for traveling fast (depending on how fast you are of course)
as for past time travel its trickier and harder, one way (and I don’t know if there are other ways) is to enter a 'spinning' black hole, avoid singularity (which looks like a ring here) and exit the black hole from the other side, in theory you will be in a different space-time and possibly in the past, but I don’t think you can control when and where you will end up after.

As for free will..
I know relativity implies that all past, present and future co exist, so it doesn’t matter if we make decisions or not, but quantum physics implies that the future is not determined and thus free will exists.


Laith
« Last Edit: 22/05/2006 20:40:24 by Laith »
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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #7 on: 09/05/2006 17:17:47 »
Neil, do you remember the name of the program? i'd like to watch it

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Offline DocN

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #8 on: 09/05/2006 17:29:24 »
Perhaps, God is not just a computer programmer but the "cosmic computer", too
 

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another_someone

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #9 on: 09/05/2006 18:12:28 »
quote:
Originally posted by Laith
Time consists of:
Past Time - which no longer exists
Future Time - does not yet exist
Present time - takes no time at all




What exists is dependent upon that which we perceive to exist.  We cannot know of any absolute existence, only of our perception of existence.

The past exists because we perceive of its existence (i.e. we remember it existing).  In fact, it is the present that cannot exist, because we cannot know of anything until some small fraction of a second after it has happened.

Ofcourse, there are degrees of past, some closer than others.

quote:

correct me if I’m wrong but I think its theoretically easier to travel to the future than travel to the past, 2 possible ways are to orbit a giant star, or travel really fast, lets say you orbited a giant star for 1 year then MAYBE 10 years have passed on earth and same for traveling fast (depending on how fats you are of course)
as for past time travel its trickier and harder, one way (and I don’t know if there are other ways) is to enter a 'spinning' black hole, avoid singularity (which looks like a ring here) and exit the black hole from the other side, in theory you will be in a different space-time and possibly in the past, but I don’t think you can control when and where you will end up after.



The question is not whether we can travel into the future, it is only the speed with which we travel into the future.  So long as tomorrow will come, and so long as we will exist in the tomorrow, we will have travelled into the future.  All that relativity describes (at subluminal speeds) are ways to accelerate this process, so that tomorrow comes sooner than it might otherwise (or, in other words, our own time slows down, as our internal clock sees one day passing, as the external clock sees two or more days passing).

What happens at superluminal speeds (which is effectively the situation inside a black hole) is another matter.

Ofcourse, one key aspect of all of this is whether we are actually dealing with changes in time, or changes in our perception of time.  Our perception of time is based upon our memory, and upon processes that synchronise with our memory.  It is self evident that we cannot remember the future, but is this proof that we cannot travel backwards in time, or only that we would lose our memory of the future if we were to travel backwards in time?

Ofcourse, the real issue is not whether you can travel backwards in time, but whether the universe can be divided up into some parts that are moving backward and some parts that are moving forward, and if we can then step between the two portions.  This is where the issue of superluminal speeds and black holes prove the potential opportunity, because of the hypothesis that space inside an event horizon may have strange time properties, and thus by stepping between these spaces, we can step into and out of space that is moving in opposite directions, and thus we continue in each case to travel with the flow of time, and hence continue to accumulate memories rather than lose them.

quote:

As for free will..
I know relativity implies that all past, present and future co exist, so it doesn’t matter if we make decisions or not, but quantum physics implies that the future is not determined and thus free will exists.



Quantum physics may assume that the future does not yet exist, but how does it imply so?



George
« Last Edit: 09/05/2006 18:23:42 by another_someone »

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Offline Laith

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #10 on: 09/05/2006 18:39:56 »
When I said before "time consists of future, past, present, etc...” I should've said that I meant this is how we or our brains perceive it when we think of it now, sorry if it sounded like I’m stating facts, I just said it because the topic is “time is an illusion”

How does quantum physics imply so?
I’m not a physicist and this is really out of my field, but I’m also interested in this subject a lot, so please keep correcting me if I was wrong, I know that quantum physics was born out of a series of experiments with results that had no satisfactory explanation, when physicists started looking at the atomic and sub-atomic levels, the familiar laws failed, there were no certainties, so the question was how can the future of the entire universe be out there, if the future of a single particle is so unpredictable, and not following a set of laws like relativity?
This implies that the future is not out there or does not yet exist so our decisions could change the outcome in the future, right?


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Offline neilep

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #11 on: 09/05/2006 18:53:33 »
quote:
Originally posted by Laith

Neil, do you remember the name of the program? i'd like to watch it

Laith



It was a great program Laith (well, the last ten minutes were)..it was broadcast on one of the UK satellite channels and it's from the series called HORIZON.....very repectable makers of science orientated documentaries...unfortunately (hang on...goes to look at last night's tv schedule....sod it !!..it's not listed !)...because I missed the beginning I never caught the title of the program. *le sigh*[:(]

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Offline Laith

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #12 on: 09/05/2006 18:58:44 »
Haha thanks Neil, ya I know horizon, its great I saw most of the old episodes you can find them at UKnova if you want, is this a new one?

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #13 on: 09/05/2006 19:02:51 »
quote:
Originally posted by Laith
there were no certainties, so the question was how can the future of the entire universe be out there, if the future of a single particle is so unpredictable, and not following a set of laws like relativity?
This implies that the future is not out there or does not yet exist so our decisions could change the outcome in the future, right?



That there are no certainties is merely to state that we cannot be certain of a thing (I know there are various interpretations of what 'we' means, and more correctly, that any observer cannot be certain of the future).

This does not give us control over the future.  On the contrary, it denies us control over the future, since it makes the future all the more unpredictable.  For us to have absolute control over the future, it implies that the consequence of our actions be absolutely known, and thus that the future is deterministic.

This does not alter my statement that either everything has free will, or nothing has free will; but you could argue that this lack of determinism within quantum physics might indicate that in some way, everything does have free will, even a single electron.  In some way, this might be both an unorthodox view, and an unscientific view, but it is the only view by which I could presume that a human being could have true free will (as distinct from the mere illusion of free will).



George

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Offline Laith

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #14 on: 09/05/2006 19:11:37 »
there are no certainties but there are probabilities, maybe we do not have absolute control of our future  because other people's actions (in quantum physics other particles actions) affect ours.. and so

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Offline science_guy

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #15 on: 09/05/2006 19:28:33 »
Free will does not really mean control.  We can choose to take a step, but we don't have total control of wether we land the step, or trip on a root.  Likewise, we can choose to breathe, but we have no control over whether oxygen is gaurenteed to enter our lungs.

edit: typo

E=MC2... m=deg/360 X C... C= PiD

therefore E=deg/360 X 2(PiD)
« Last Edit: 09/05/2006 19:30:44 by science_guy »
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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #16 on: 09/05/2006 19:41:38 »
quote:
Originally posted by science_guy

Free will does not really mean control.  We can choose to take a step, but we don't have total control of wether we land the step, or trip on a root.  Likewise, we can choose to breathe, but we have no control over whether oxygen is gaurenteed to enter our lungs.



Free will does not mean control (although the expression of it requires some degree of control), but it does mean non-determinism.

If someone can look at you, and predict with absolute certainty what your actions will be, then clearly you do not have free will, but are merely a mechanical component within the universe.

This is why one may yet be able to argue that the non-deterministic elements of quantum physics might be used to argue that everything, including human beings, have an element of free will.

The underlying question still remains as to whether the universe is truly non-deterministic, or merely that we are inherently unable to determine outcomes beyond some degree of precision.



George

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Offline JimBob

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #17 on: 10/05/2006 23:42:21 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep



{b]…and so, the final part of the program speculated that in the future, computers will be so powerful that they will be able to create virtual realities of the past with perfect accuracy, so precisely in fact  that you would not be able to distinguish between the computers virtual reality and the real reality. People living inside this virtual reality would appear to us to be just like you and me, but their entire existence would be a simulation.

It also speculated that the people in this simulation would never be able to find the answers to the Universe and Science because they are constrained by the limits of the simulation they are in………..because,  although their reality is as real and indistinguishable from real  reality, the fundamental most paramount limitation is that they are not real and exist inside a computer !

This could be us, we will never know……. perhaps God is a computer programmer !

…this also,  then leads on to the question about the nature of  free will.

…any comments ?


Men are the same as women, just inside out !



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The mind is like a parachute. It works best when open.  -- A. Einstein
The mind is like a parachute. It works best when open.  -- A. Einstein

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Offline Roy P

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #18 on: 12/05/2006 22:43:49 »
Is time infinitely divisible? If so, a stationary vehicle just about to accelerate forward will never attain a forward movement.

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #19 on: 12/05/2006 22:57:38 »
Good post Roy ...it's well heavy for me !

Is that akin to why can I never clap my hands ?...cos I start off a foot apart, then 6 inches then 3 then 1.5...etc etc ad infinitum !!...so how can I clap my hands then , If my hands are always going half the next distance ?



How about this program about time folks http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/time.shtml I hope it makes it over to mainstream BBC too

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #20 on: 12/05/2006 23:22:32 »
quote:
Originally posted by Roy P
Is time infinitely divisible? If so, a stationary vehicle just about to accelerate forward will never attain a forward movement.



The whole discipline of calculus is based upon an infinite number of infinitely divided segments creating a finite answer.



George

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #21 on: 12/05/2006 23:34:37 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep


Is that akin to why can I never clap my hands ?...cos I start off a foot apart, then 6 inches then 3 then 1.5...etc etc ad infinitum !!...so how can I clap my hands then , If my hands are always going half the next distance ?
NO COMMENT[:)]



 
quote:
How about this program about time folks http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/time.shtml I hope it makes it over to mainstream BBC too
I saw the series a while back, it was ok, not to heavy and quite enjoyable.

Michael

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Offline Laith

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #22 on: 22/05/2006 20:11:45 »
I can hit the submit button to put this post, or I can just close the page and discard the post, I can choose to drink tea or drink coffee, isn’t that free will?
if we live in a 4d universe, would that mean that I already thought about having tea or coffee and chose tea for example and I’m just reliving it now??
How do you define free will?


Laith
« Last Edit: 22/05/2006 20:21:43 by Laith »
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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #23 on: 30/05/2006 06:34:14 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep

Good post Roy ...it's well heavy for me !

Is that akin to why can I never clap my hands ?...cos I start off a foot apart, then 6 inches then 3 then 1.5...etc etc ad infinitum !!...so how can I clap my hands then , If my hands are always going half the next distance ?



There are a few of these little "paradoxes", based on the infinite division model supplied by calculus-based mathematics. Another one is that you can, supposedly, never close a door, for ostensibly the same reason.

Here is a "different" way of looking at the problem, based on that eternally open door. (You can apply it to other examples, but the door-closing one is easier to describe and understand - somewhat less abstract!)

I submit, IMO, that the problems arise due to an inaccuracy of language, rather than a failure of Physics or Mathematics. In other words, what do we mean by the term "the door is closed"?

The ordinary lay-person's definition is regulated solely by the necessity of having "the wood in the hole". They are describing a situation where the elements, thieves, strangers, even family members in the next room, etc. are kept out, and they are thus "inside" (another ambiguous term!) and protected. The scientific definition, however, would require that the door & jam were completely joined at the molecular level, which, of course, given the fact that they were probably manufactured from several different pieces of wood (even if they weren't, you would need the sawdust from the original cut, and an absence of Chaos Theory!), is physically, and therefore scientifically, impossible. Hence, on that basis, the Calculus model is correct, and we can never close that blinkin' door! The same logic extends to your hand-clap. Even when you clap REALLY loud, at the point of contact there will still be a microscopic air-gap between your hands. If there was not, your hands would be joined at the molecular level, and you would probably be typing with your toes... unless you apply the same logic to the process of touching your toe to the keyboard! [;)]

So you see, there is no real discrepancy, merely an ambiguity of language. If you allow for the ever-present air-gap, however small it may be, the number of steps to door-closure, hand-clapping, etc, becomes finite, and the problem is solved!

And for my next trick... [:)]

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #24 on: 30/05/2006 10:54:34 »
quote:
Originally posted by Laith
I can hit the submit button to put this post, or I can just close the page and discard the post, I can choose to drink tea or drink coffee, isn’t that free will?
if we live in a 4d universe, would that mean that I already thought about having tea or coffee and chose tea for example and I’m just reliving it now??
How do you define free will?



If we live in a 4D universe, where time is already predetermined, then thought is merely an illusion.

Thought is the process where by a contents of your mind change over time.  If time is an illusion, then the contents of your mind is already predetermined, it is merely your awareness of that contents that is different (i.e. 10 minutes ago the mind that existed in that environment did not yet contain the memories that it has 10 minutes later, but those memories already existed in the 4D extrapolation of your mind, an extrapolation that would no more see those memories as accumulating over time as it might see them dissipate in forgetfulness if time were to move in the opposite direction).



George

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #25 on: 26/12/2009 15:29:39 »
This one was actually more brain feeding than most of the links I've seen recently.

So?

What do you think.

Is God one of those nerdy guys with big glasses, running around mumbling untellable things?

Was he mobbed at school?

---
Sorry missed that I had wrote 'unintelligent' when meaning 'untellable'. There is a difference you know. :) I'll blame it on me using 'software' when I couldn't remember the correct spelling. I will punish it (the software:) They won't succeed taking over my world at least.

Wha...@€£{[ !!!! Dieeee. . .
« Last Edit: 30/12/2009 22:45:07 by yor_on »
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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #26 on: 28/12/2009 20:04:35 »
---Originally posted by Laith---
Time consists of:
Past Time - which no longer exists
Future Time - does not yet exist
Present time - takes no time at all
-------------------------------------------


What exists is dependent upon that which we perceive to exist.  We cannot know of any absolute existence, only of our perception of existence.

The past exists because we perceive of its existence (i.e. we remember it existing).  In fact, it is the present that cannot exist, because we cannot know of anything until some small fraction of a second after it has happened.

Ofcourse, there are degrees of past, some closer than others.


Well reading you I think that time do exist even though we are pretty bad 'eyewitnesses' as you state. Life is all about times arrow, if we stop trusting in it makes no difference. it will still move us 'forward'.

As for 'past', 'present' and the 'future' I agree on that the 'present' alway will be an 'after construction' made after the facts. So in a way no biological system can be 'there'. Not while obeying physical processes.

But we have this strange idea about consciousness and meditation. when you stop your 'thinking' sort of, it seems that this is a state needed for 'enlightenment', although there might be other ways too?

Why I drag it up :) is because consciousness is a little like those smallest constituents in physics, nowhere to be found, no matter how good we will become on seeing its effects and the predispositions craved for it to exist. Maybe I'm wrong but I expect consciousness to be very like those constituents? There but not 'there' at all.

As for the future it can only be said to exist as long as we don't know it. If we by some fluke, would be able to know it, predetermination would have won and we would no longer have that 'free will', as I see it that is. To me you can't have both a knowledge of 'all things to come' and your free will. Not as long as we are talking about only one SpaceTime at least.

This is a very interesting thread to me in fact :)
« Last Edit: 28/12/2009 20:08:18 by yor_on »
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« Reply #27 on: 28/12/2009 21:50:42 »
Regarding this issue of time:

It's common to hear comments about the past, the present, and the future. I'd like to stir the pot just a tad by offering the following thought experiment.

The concept of, "the past" is comfortable for us because we talk about history and how it has influenced "the present". We construct plans regarding "the future" to insure that our common goals are met. Now, I'd like to think for a moment about "the present". The moment we speak about "the present", it's already become "the past".

"The past" lies 13.7 billion years behind us, according to cosmologists, and "the future" lies a possible infinity before us. Where does that leave "the present"? I submit that there is no such thing as "the present". Only "the past and the future".
« Last Edit: 28/12/2009 21:52:13 by Ethos »

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« Reply #28 on: 28/12/2009 23:06:30 »
Aren't we all time travelers the past is our memories, our present is as we perceive it and the future is in our imagination.

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« Reply #29 on: 29/12/2009 01:53:22 »
Nicely put.

Almost poetic in fact.
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« Reply #30 on: 30/12/2009 14:18:23 »
Yup, this is one of the more interesting old threads to resurrect.

The question, as posed in the thread title, cannot be answered definitively, although I think it's fair to say we've got quite a lot of insight relating to it.

First of all, we can show that clear relationships exist between space and time, hence the emergence of the concept of a unified space-time.  However, while we these relationships indicate that space and time are essentially the same, our personal perspective indicates that they are fundamentally different, and I think this is where and why the entire issue arises.

The most obvious difference seems to be that we can move in any direction through space but can only move forward through time.

One way that this can be explained is to look at the phenomenon of time dilation due to spatial movement i.e. the way that time appears to slow down as one moves faster.  Now the Lorentz solution that describes time dilation due to spatial movement is a simple adaptation of Pythagoras's right-angle triangle solution, where Lorentz uses it to sum the movement vectors through space and time.  The solution indicates that the sum of the two vectors is always equal to the speed of light 'c', so that the rate of movement through time reduces as the rate of movement through space increases, and visa-versa (when you normalise the rates of movement along both axis to the range 0 - 1 and then plot the curve you end up with a quadrant of a circle  [;)]).

It also seems that, in accordance with Relativity, it is not possible for anything with a non-zero rest mass to be accelerated to 'c'.

The consequence of this is that anything with non-zero rest mass must always exist on the circular arc between the two axis but can never actually reach either axis and just as nothing can be accelerated to 'c', so that the rate of movement along the time axis reaches zero, the implication is that the same holds true at the other end of the arc and nothing can ever be absolutely stationary and move at the temporal equivalent of 'c' through time.

In short then, to change our direction in time would need us to cross the axis, which we can't because we can only ever approach it.

Just going back to that circular plot is also instructive; we seem to only exist along that arc in the quadrant between the two +ve value axis, but the implication of a complete circle is clear.

Also consider how what we view as three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension may well be transformed into, let's say two spatial axis and two temporal axis.

Imagine a cylinder: we perceive it as a three spatial-dimensional object that exists in a single temporal dimension but we could just as easily define it as being a two dimensional disk that exists for a period of time where the length of the cylinder represents its temporal duration i.e. its life time, but because it has two temporal dimensions we can see its entire life time all at once instead of serially.

So no definitive answer, but I don't think we're entirely devoid of ideas and insights.
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« Reply #31 on: 30/12/2009 22:36:20 »
Weirdly nice LeeE :)
That one take some time assimilating.

I've seen you present that idea before but here you made it clearer to me. I will reread it when I slept.
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« Reply #32 on: 31/12/2009 17:23:36 »
"Just going back to that circular plot is also instructive; we seem to only exist along that arc in the quadrant between the two +ve value axis, but the implication of a complete circle is clear."

So, do you have any diagram showing this possible circle?
With some examples of how you see that it could be used, ordinary and more 'imaginative' like your example with the cylinder?

(Well I slept a little so I should be able to understand something?:)
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« Reply #33 on: 31/12/2009 17:34:34 »
If time is an illusion, how comes David Copperfield, Paul Daniels or David Blain never use it as part of their act?

I find it interesting that we have no linear time memories before the age of about 4 years old so the perception of time is obviously a learnt thing.
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« Reply #34 on: 31/12/2009 18:28:12 »
"Just going back to that circular plot is also instructive; we seem to only exist along that arc in the quadrant between the two +ve value axis, but the implication of a complete circle is clear."

So, do you have any diagram showing this possible circle?
With some examples of how you see that it could be used, ordinary and more 'imaginative' like your example with the cylinder?

(Well I slept a little so I should be able to understand something?:)

Heh - I've been meaning to make a diagram to explain it more easily as the time dilation thing comes up quite often - just haven't got around to it yet.  In short though, you just need to extend the axis to cover both +ve and -ve ranges to see where the full circular plot is implied.

However, although the implication of a full circle is there, I'm not sure that it means anything because what we're talking about here is spatial speed, which is directionless, so negative values of speed don't really make much sense.

Then on top of that, you have the problem of trying to find the square root of negative numbers when you're working in the adjacent quadrants.
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« Reply #35 on: 31/12/2009 18:45:02 »
We won't know LeeE but it sure fires the imagination, and from there might a experiment come :)

"I find it interesting that we have no linear time memories before the age of about 4 years old so the perception of time is obviously a learnt thing."

Well, can't that be due to the time our brain needs to make all the synapses fire in the right order to place it in our 'long time storage'?
« Last Edit: 31/12/2009 18:49:18 by yor_on »
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« Reply #36 on: 31/12/2009 18:55:50 »
You see, there is this experiment involving gravity and babies.

you have a screen, two magnets, on behind and one before the screen f ex. connected...

And then you film the babies eye movements.

You will find that if you change the magnets trajectory from following a 'normal' path of gravity to one 'impossible' for following gravity that the baby's eye movement still will track the path it should have followed.

If it didn't have any feeling for 'times arrow', that is ordered sequences in time, then that shouldn't happen.
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« Reply #37 on: 31/12/2009 19:55:08 »
Wow, that's interesting. Put that aside and personally try to order events in your past. You can do it down to just before you start school. Before that events seem to be on a confused plain with no order. Maybe it has more to do with how our brains process memories but I feel that to a certain extent appreciation of time passing is a learnt thing.
If you do an activity that puts you in the zone time seems to pass faster than if you are bored or waiting for a train. Your appreciation of time can be altered in this way. 
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« Reply #38 on: 31/12/2009 21:34:59 »
Here's an attempt at a diagram:



This shows the relationship arc (in pink) between spatial speed and time dilation.  The red plot shows how the degree of time dilation is 0.5 when you're travelling at 0.866 'c', the green plot shows that the time dilation is 0.707 when you're travelling at 0.707 'c' and the blue plot shows that time is running at 0.866 when you're travelling at 0.5 'c'.
« Last Edit: 31/12/2009 21:36:54 by LeeE »
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« Reply #39 on: 31/12/2009 22:32:15 »
You made it LeeE?
Very nicely done.

And now :)

The 'whole circle' please, that's the one I want to see..

(Don't mind if it's not 'proof able', I would just like to see how you visualize it)
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« Reply #40 on: 01/01/2010 12:03:14 »
Yeah, just knocked it up using my 3D software.  I've actually included the entire circle and you can see it extending through and past the axis (it was actually easier to do so) but just not bothered to show it all.  The origin of the axis is at the center of the circle, obviously, and all you need to do is extend them to cover the -ve ranges, but like I said, trying to work with -ve values doesn't make much sense.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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« Reply #41 on: 02/01/2010 19:31:39 »
Maybe not, but it might help me see your ideas.
And ideas are always welcome.

I've seen the idea of time taking out 'C' a couple of times but I've never really seen it visualized. As for what kind of 'universe' that might lead too I don't know. It's the other side of the mirror sort of :)

My own idea of it has always been that 'c' is the 'wall'. But maybe there is something on that 'other side' even though I'm having problem seeing it?

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« Reply #42 on: 08/01/2010 17:52:02 »
niel - You Wrote: "...perhaps God is a computer programmer!"  If so, then I will become an atheist. Back in the days of the pre-historic Intell 8088 we paraphrased shakespeare: "First, you kill all the programmers."  For instance, you might encounter a menu choice: Activate the Flux Capacitor [yes] [no]. Click on the help button and you get: "This turns the Flux Capacitor On or Off." Nothing much seems to have changed but the number of such choices presented. They seem to increase exponentially with every passing year.

Torquemada: where is he when you really need him. 

PS: The continuous flow of time IS an illusion in very much the same way a motion picture at 36 frames per second seems to show continuous motion. At the Quantum level, I believe, just about everything seems to move in vastly small increments.

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« Reply #43 on: 08/01/2010 23:46:56 »

 At the Quantum level, I believe, just about everything seems to move in vastly small increments.
Exactly litespeed, and that's the very reason the "Present" is so elusive. The "Past" is history and the "Future" is that next increment. Never will we be able to capture the "Present" because those increments you speak of are limited to those from the "Past" and those from the "Future" ones to come.


There is no "Present"................................Ethos