This site is supported by Nobility Studios.

Time to begin and think.

38 posts in this topic

Posted

Of course, all we ever experience is the now, the present; but that’s the same as space as well. All we ever experience is being “here.” The difference between space and time is that with space, we can see that there are other existent “heres”, but since we are not in those locations, we label them “theres.” We can’t see so clearly that there exist other “nows” which, from our vantage point, we label as “later” or “earlier.” But they do exist, on the eternalist account, which is very well supported by the special and general theories of relativity.

More later.

I imagine this would be difficult to comprehend for the average person, for whom the notion of a dimension beyond the third would be, understandably, inconceivable. After all, being able to see or knowingly experience the fourth dimension would be like a sentient 2-D being being able to recognise the third dimension in which they unknowingly exist.

I think to better understand the concept of dimensions, or to be able to perceive of the possibility of existing dimensions higher than our own -our own being the dimension of which we ourselves happen to be, so as we happen to be 3-D beings, we can only perceive of three dimensions- it would be helpful for the reader to read Edwin Abbot's Flatland. Just as, in Flatland, the 2-D being cannot even imagine what a 3-D world would look like, nor could he even draw or describe in the smallest detail such a thing, so it is impossible for us to do the same for a 4-D universe.

All of this makes discussing the nature of spacetime intellectually challenging to the extreme, but is the purpose of TGL not to engage in such a way as to challenge our intellects, thereby improving them?

Here is a link to Flatland, with pictures.

http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?pageno=1&fk_files=3273681

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I've just read 8.6 of the Swartz chapter David linked to earlier, and within it he discusses things which relate to Flatland, even going so far as to mantion the book itself at one point. It might be a good idea for people following this topic to read Flatland in conjunction with 8.6 from the Swartz chapter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

One thing that must be kept in mind is that when scientists speak of "curved space," this is, as Swartz explains, misleading. It implies that space is some reified "substance" that physically curves. But on the relational theory of space, all this means is that in certain regions of space, the shortest distance between two lines is a curve, and not a straight line. From this it follows that even if all of space is curved and closed on itself (finite but unbounded, such that if you traveled in a "straight" line, you would eventually circumnavigate the universe and return to where you started) it does NOT follow that 3D space "curves" into a higher dimension. OTOH, other theories, like brane theory, posit that our universe is embedded in higher dimensional space. And string theory posits that space consists of eleven dimensions, all but three of which are rolled up, or "compactified" into regions so tiny that we can not access them.

Edited by davidm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Another interesting thing about the dimensionality of space, due to the physicist Max Tegmark, is that three dimensions appears to be "fine tuned" for life, or at least for life as we know it or can conceivably imagine it. For instance, if there were four dimensions of space and one of time, gravity would obey the inverse cube law, and stable orbits could not form, so there would be no solar systems. Whether any kind of life could survive under those conditions iis problematic. In general he claimed to show that in any spatial dimensionality beyond 3, things would be too chaotic and unstable for any stable structures to form, and on the theory that life is, at least, a stable structure, it could not exist in higher dimensional space. Fewer than 3 dimensions, he says, and things would be stable but too simple to allow for the complexity of life. As I recall, the only other region that could theoretically support life, on his account, would be a universe of one spatial dimension and three time dimensions. I have no idea what that even means, but according to Tegmark it would be a universe consisting entirely of tachyons but potentially life supporting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Just a point of confusion regarding the Swartz chapter.

In the example to show why an object can move back and forth in time, Swartz uses a V-shaped object moving directly away from where the bottom of the V is pointing.

figure84.jpg

In the example, Weston is P1, Centralia is P2, and Eastwich is P3. So, when the object is at P1, it is T1. At P2 it is T2. At P3, it is T1 again. So, in a way, the object has moved back and forth in time.

But does this not depend on which positions are 1, 2, and 3? Why not say Weston is P1, Eastwich is P2, and Centralia is P3? In that case, the object is at P1 and P2 at T1, and at P3 at T2, which means it is in two places at the same time (which is explained earlier in that section of the chapter), and then at P2 at T2. IOW, it only moves forward in time.

I'd be grateful if somebody could explain to me why the positions in this case must be arranged in a certain way, thereby allowing the object to move back and forth in time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

We need more contribution in the thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

This is a mind bending subject :boink: So, I will throw out some ideas and see what my friends here do with them. Sorry if some parts feel like I am making claims instead of offering ideas.

What if existence or the multi-verse is made of consciousness. IOW, consciousness is not something that appears later in the universe, as some like to assert, instead, consciousness is the very substance that fills (manifests) existence itself. The universal consciousness of existence then is the source for the appearance of all. Sort of like in a video game when you roam around the environment manifests as the point of view turns to view different areas. Meaning consciousness is required to make the environment appear or it does not appear. However, on a grand scale of existence as a whole, the universal consciousness, transcendent of point of view consciousness (which only exists because there is a universal form of consciousness), is the universal viewer (viewing itself) that enables spacetime to appear simultaneously everywhere (without the need of a point of view - thus independent of point of view) because the universal consciousness is already everywhere. Meaning that all that seems to appear is actually of one consciousness (being), and therefore, it is not us (individuals) that exists (and it seems it is quite audacious to think we exist - in this context), but simply existence itself is the one existing every where. Existence is simply one being, and it is the one existing As existence. Individuals do not exist, and there aren't any 'other' consciousnesses separate or independent of the one consciousness. IOW, God Only Is.

Existence is consciousness

Consciousness is existence

There is only one existence: God

There is no space or time if there is only one consciousness in existence. There is no space in consciousness, thus, no time. The illusion/difficulty is that we imagine that individuals exist with their own consciousness that is separate from 'other' bodily consciousnesses. However, there is only God (consciousness) and it is the only thing that exists anywhere. We are simply made of consciousness, modifications of the one consciousness, and space/time does not exist in a grand description of reality. I think this is an alternative to the traditional idea of imagining the universe/existence and space/time from a point of view. This way transcends point of view and eliminates the ideas of cause, space, and time. Those ideas do not accurately describe existence if one considers the universe is made of consciousness.

Just a few ideas for ya'll to ponder or do whatever it is ya'll do. I am going to post something I worked up, but because I don't spend enough time studying philosophy to really tear it to shreds I offer it up to ya'll to rip up. So, I will post it in a new thread for the brains of TGL to wrestle with. Nice thread.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

When I first joined TGL I wrote in my profile that I was interested in spending time with my wife, the science and religion interface, mathematics, the sky at night and chess. Mathematics and the sky at night are practically off my list, my wife remains at the top, then chess, and now I will say something about my interest in the science and religion interface, as I preferred to call it then.

My choice of the word interface for this discussion was quite deliberate, based on my developing Christian theism , my scientific background, and my anathema to antagonism. As a school science teacher, I was always impressed by Michael Poole and his work for teachers. With a Google search now on the issue, it goes beyond my ability to keep pace, let alone to comprehend! I have given up on the arguments between intelligent design advocates and mainstream science proponents, but still hold a strong allegiance to Paul Feyerabend, even his alleged support for alternative science (anarchist science).

This thread has attracted my interest, not because of its title (I think we have been thinking ever since we were able to think!) but because it seems to be addressing the so-called science/religion interface. My contribution now is going to suggest that we abandon such an attempt - to reconcile science with religion - which seems to only lead to perpetual, and often circular, arguments. Such arguments are intractable, a word often used to describe the Middle East relations, and used to be used to describe Northern Ireland - amongst many others, I guess. As human beings, however, we live in hope that these human intractabilities will one day be resolved.

Which now brings me to the present discussion. I think that DaveT has opened up an intractable argument, but one which is beyond human resolution, unlike the political examples to which I have already hinted! But please do not get me wrong and think that I am one of those Christian theists who believe that because we have our God then there is little more to be said, and what we have to do is to convince our non-Christians that if they accept Jesus then all of our concerns will be solved!

As a Christian I see science as a gift from God to help us explore the world which He has created, and to draw us closer to Him. Even if the gulf between reality as we know it, and the reality that is God, is insurmountable, intractable and hopelessly beyond our understanding, this in no way diminishes my interest in the scientific endeavours outlined in the OP. If I want to pursue my interest in them I will do so (I might even renew my interest in astronomy and particle physics and spend less time trying to learn some chess!), but I am reaching the conclusion that there is little point in bringing God into such perusals.

To pursue such interest in the OP's scientific content I have a lot of reading to do, beginning with davidm's link to Norman Swartz. In the meantime, I am still struggling with the problem of evil (DeadCanDance's thread), and I think the last post here by Da Fire brings us face-to-face with the difficulties of trying to discuss the origins of the universe from a scientific point of view, and an understanding of God, in the same thread!

Some time ago in TGL when I referred to Teilhard de Chardin (who regrettably never had the opportunity to really look at the problem of evil), it was then suggested to me that the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo might also interest me, and now Da Fire has led me to look at Enbrightenment - the picture in Da Fire's website looks very like Sri Aurobindo's picture in Wicki! Pursuing these areas of interest may leave me little time for science (or chess!).

Realistically, can we talk about God in the same conversation as scientific origins of the universe. I think not, if we are oriented towards a conflict model between science and religion (Michael Poole). If we are not thus oriented, then the sort of scientific endeavour introduced here in the OP concerning origins of the universe, and any other merely human explorations, can certainly bring us to a closer relationship with, but never a full understanding of, the reality of God. I think!

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Just to be clear, what is being done here is setting up direct analogies between space and time, and seeing how far they can be pushed. These are formal analogies. Formally, the condition for traveling "back and forth" in space amounts to the following:

An Object O at T1 (time 1) is at P1 (place 1). At t2, it is at p2, but at t3, it is back at p1.

The question becomes, can some object, in just this formalized way, travel back and forth in time?

To do that would require that:

An Object O at p1 is at t1. At p2, it is at t2. But at p3, it is back at t1.

The V-shaped object fulfills this formal requirement exactly. At p1 it is at t1, at p2 it is at t2 and at p3 it is at t1. So the analogy holds.

You ask about switching p2 and p3. But obviously this can't be done. The sequential relation is simply defined, as successive ticks of a clock in time, or successive mile posts in space. Suppose, for instance, on a west/east axis, we specified San Francisco, Lincoln, Nebraska, and New York City. This is an east/west relation, analogous to a temporal earlier/later relation. You are asking, how about if we simply stipulate that New York is in the middle and Lincoln, Nebraska, is on the east coast? Well, first of all, obviously, they aren't. But even if it were possible to tear up the cities and make them swap places, the formal spatial relation would remain successive: p1 (San Francisco) p2 (New York, which has moved to where Lincoln was) and p3 (Lincoln, which has swapped places with New York) So there is no possibility of what you are proposing, happening.

It may be thought that this is all a bit of a cheat, since while the analogy between "moving back and forth in space" and "moving back and forth in time is formally valid, it does not hold in actuality, since in space we REALLY can travel back and forth, whereas in time we can't; as Swartz notes, no one is arguing you can go back in time and shake hands with your grandfather.

There are two counter-objections to this objection.

The first is that, as Swartz noted from the outset, there is at least one crucial disanalogy between space and time: Space has three dimensions, whereas time has only one. If space were one-dimensional, it might behave exactly like time; indeed it might be indistinguishable from time. You might find yourself always physically moving forward in space (and time!), never backward (how would you turn around?) and of course you couldn't move from side to side or up or down, since those dimensions would not exist.

But, more interestingly, and I'm somewhat surprised Swartz didn't go into this, it really is not true that you can travel back and forth in space in the absolute sense that people assume. Certainly, you can never return to the same location in space twice, any more than you can return to the same moment in time twice. Indeed, it turns out that to return to the same location in space, means exactly the same thing as returning to the same moment in time! This is perhaps the most fundamental analogy between space and time of all: you can't separate them. There isn't just space here and time there, what we have is spacetime. More on this in the next post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Just to clarify, in the last bit are you saying that I could go to a certain point in space, but then when I tried to return there, it'd be a different point, because even though the space coordinates of the location might remain the same, the fourth coordinate (representing the time dimension) has changed (so I go to 5363,6363,2652,8727, then to 5363,6363,2652,8842)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

It means that when you return home at might from work, the home you left in the morning, your home is not in the same location. The earth has turned, it has moved around the sun, the sun and the earth have moved some distance around the galaxy, the galaxy has moved through expanding space, etc. To return not just to your home but to the actual physical location your home was at when you left it in the morning, you'd have to return to the same place and time that it was when you left in the morning, presumably meeting yourself going out the door. Every location in spacetime has to be specified by four coordinates, three of space and one of time, and each location has unique coordinates.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Ah, so it's what I said, and the fact that the universe is moving all around us. Cheers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

This is an interesting thread. On rather more mundane grounds, I wonder if the distinction between this relational and substantial conceptions of time, as I think the matter is conceptional, has to do with rather different modes of rationality embodied in the logic of terms and the logic of relatives (what today is called predicate logic). For Aristotle, for example, substance and relation were different categories, and in his logic of terms subject and predicate had very different roles. A predicate is always about one thing, the subject, and all propositions are to be analyzed in terms of subject and predicate. If this is the form of your rationality, then the concept of substance would preoccupy your thoughts, because substance is the one subject that can't, in turn, be used as a subject.

Aristotle, of course, was no feeble intellect, and every time we believe we have surpassed him, we see some note in his works that indicate that he understood, in some ways, the difficulties that we have with his work. By construing relations as a category on par with substance, it suggests that he understood very well the difficulties of a simplistic subject/predicate form of thought. Before our modern logic was called predicate logic, or first order logic, Peirce and others called it a logic of relatives, inspired by De Morgon who suggested that the subject-predicate division was just one kind of relation, and perhaps the whole of logic could be founded on relations rather than subjects and predicates. Of course, this is exactly what has come about.

So when I read about this spatial substansivism, this is what I'm thinking. The Leibniz idea of spatial relativism sounds correct to me. Compare this with Leibniz's contemporary, Newton, whom I've been reading lately who understood very well the difference between relative and absolute space, but he felt he had no choice but to reduce relative space to absolute space. His concept of relative space, I believe, was influenced by Galileo who was propogating the idea that the earth was moving, and he had to argue against the idea that if the Earth was moving, that falling object would have to move sideways as the earth moved. The counterargument was about falling objects in a sea vessel, let's say in the interior where you would have no way of knowing whether the vessel was moving or not. No matter how fast the ship was moving, objects would continue to fall directly downward, as long as the ship was moving at a constant velocity.

So for Newton, this was an example of a relative space, and the sea vessel is an analogy with the earth itself as if moves about in its orbit. As much as we associate Newton with science, and science with empiricism, it strikes me how much Newton argues against appearances. In his discussion on the difference between absolute and relative space and time, he calls absolute space and time at the same time mathematical and true, whereas relative space and time are sensible and apparent. His triumph was against the senses of the body that thought itself fixed. But the body felt that it was fixed both in a sea vessel as well as on the shore, but the physical force was applying to the sea vessel and not to the shore. This was the difference between absolute and relative motion: Only absolute motion is changed by physical forces.

Newton writes in the Principia, "Absolute space, in its own nature, without regard to anything external, remains always similar and immovable. Relative space is some movable dimension or measure of the absolute spaces..." Relative space is defined in terms of absolute space, and can be formalized as "All R is A" in the logic of terms.

The following passage did strike me:

All things are placed in time as to order of succession; and in space as to order of situation. It is from their essence or nature that they are places; and that the primary places of things should be moveable is absurd. There are therefore the absolute places; and translations out of those places, are the only absolute motions.

Every relative place is relative to some other place, either relative or absolute. If your rationality is constrained to the logic of terms, there must be some absolute place at which all the relative places must be relative to, to avoid an infinite regress. But with a logic of relatives, which really had to wait two generations after Isaac Newton, you could say the following: A is in motion relative to B, and A is in a different motion relative to C. The idea that "the primary places of things should be moveable" is not absurd in the logic of relatives.

I'll be reading Einstein next, and I'm more than a little curious if the centuries between the two men have molded a new form of rationality based on the logic of relatives, a 19th century invention. Afterall, Einstein did call his theory the theory of relativity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now