Page Created: 8/29/2014   Last Modified: 3/17/2016   Last Generated: 1/16/2018
When I was younger, I used to build time capsules, containers into which I inserted my writings and buried. Some of them were buried in the ground, some of them were placed inside the substructure of objects. Most of these have since been destroyed and never made it this far into the future.
I also keep fragments of the world of the past, tiny fragments of matter. I have a carpet thread from the 1970's blue shag carpet that I played on as a child. I even have a signed autograph of Peter Davison, the 5th doctor of Dr. Who, a fictional time traveler. In 1985 at a convention in Bridgeton, Missouri, the city in which I grew up, I asked Mr. Davison to sign a poster of Tom Baker, the 4th doctor, and he seemed irritated but complied. I was only 15 years of age so he was being nice and excused my ignorance.
The poster never survived time and was mostly destroyed, but I saved that tiny fragment of his autograph, the writing of a time traveler. I asked him to dedicate the signature to my brother since he was not there to see him.
Time fascinated me more than any physical phenomena, and Time caused me to see that my world must be illusory. There is a set time that we begin and we end, a line of unknown but finite length, but this never made sense to me, something arising from nothingness and then disappearing into nothingness again. If I exist, I thought, then I must forever exist in some form and have always existed, but I just don't have the ability to see this. Perhaps it is like how Mankind once did not realize that it had been swirling inside the arms of a spiral galaxy during its entire existence.
When I focus on something intensely, I force myself to temporarily "forget" my surroundings, to apply all of my concentration to the task at hand. Otherwise, I am not trying my best. Our forgetfulness in life is similar, but it is many years longer, as our higher selves are perhaps focusing on our life, temporarily ignoring their surroundings. They are putting their best effort into us.
I read and wrote about Time and incorporated it into my films and games. I simply cannot accept that objects that once existed "pop" out of existence for eternity. Every time you eat a cookie, that cookie ceases to exist and can never exist again. You can make new cookies, but never that cookie. You cannot go back in time to revisit that cookie. I do not believe that information can be destroyed. I believe that information remains forever, but we simply move away from it. When someone dies, they didn't leave us, but it was we who left them as we traveled into the future. They waved to us through the rear window as we drove away. They live within a length of Time.
The idea of a time machine therefore fascinated me. I began looking for ways to construct them, and surprisingly, many are easy to build.
My time capsules↗ were forms of time machines. Anything placed inside of one will travel into the future as long as it isn't disturbed and is fairly static. The objects placed inside the capsule must ideally have low levels of chemical or molecular activity and be fairly stable, otherwise entropy will destroy them by the time they arrive at their destination. Writings are ideal, for books have survived for over a thousand years. Writings in clay or stone are better. But writing something in a Temporal medium, a medium that is forever replicated and regenerated like DNA or an electronic, digital medium is even better. Over the years, I have thought about building a new form of time capsule. The golden plaque↗ of the Pioneer spacecraft was inspiring to me when I was young.
An automobile, like that Pioneer spacecraft, is another form of time machine. When people enter an automobile and drive away, when they return to the same place, they arrive at a time in the future. You can never leave and come back at the moment you left. We don't normally consider them time machines since the relativistic reference frames of the occupants do not vary appreciably from their surroundings. In other words, the people in the car age at almost the same rate as the people standing on the ground.
But instead of imagining that a car is a vehicle that traverses space, I like to imagine it as a vehicle that remains stationary, like the Foucault pendulum, and space moves past it. In fact, if we were to accelerate the car (far past Dr. Brown's famous 88 miles per hour) to near relativistic speeds, Time would slow enough within the car to allow the occupants to walk out into the distant future, perhaps one hundred years into the future...
But we unfortunately, after we make the trip, we cannot go back.
There is no way that we know of to go in the opposite direction, to reverse entropy and return to a past point in Time. It is my opinion that this is indeed possible, but this direction is being hidden from us, part of that forgetfulness that I mentioned earlier.
Imagine if you were born and lived your life in a moving vehicle on its way to a distant location, sitting in the front seat. You would see objects come toward you and pass you by, but you would never again see the objects that already passed you. The car could indeed drive in reverse, but the driver will not do that, as he is taking you to a destination. You might get motion confused with existence, like we do when we are under 2 years of age↗.
Time is really just space. If something in space doesn't change, doesn't move or have molecular action, then it barely exists in Space. Like a flat piece of paper, only its thickness lies in Space. The rest lies in Time.
It is easy to think that Time doesn't exist. It is also easy to think that depth doesn't exist. If we close one eye and look at our surroundings, they are like the images in a painting. We need motion (a concept created by Time) to discover the 3rd dimension of objects.
Matter consumes space such as the height and width of a statue in a museum. If we are blind, we have to feel the statue to obtain these measurements, but because of vision, most of us can see these measurements directly due to the angles of the light that reach our eye, neurons connected to our brain's visual cortex via the optic nerve.
Many sighted people use vision to help them think. We manipulate those shapes in our memory, like a picture, a 2-dimensional plane.
But as we move up a dimension (depth), our vision starts to break down. We cannot see what is behind the statue and need to either rotate it or walk around it to see the whole structure, storing the details in our memory. Our two forward-facing eyes try to help us with some of it (depth perception), but it is only a rough estimate of the front of the statue. Depth perception still cannot see the back of the statue. And no form of visible light can show us what is inside the statue.
But we think that we are at least 3-dimensional creatures ourselves, that we also have depth, a backside, and an inside. So even though we exist in the same dimensions as the object at which we are looking, we still cannot perceive its entirety without a little help from our brain storing the structure in memory. We can rotate it around in our mind using Time, we can memorize MRI's or CT scans, but we still cannot perceive the entity at once. We can perhaps store a fuzzy idea of the concept, an abstraction, but perceiving the entirety simultaneously is fuzzier and more difficult than a 2-dimensional object.
It makes me wonder if such an object is "real" in the way we think it is.
If we continue upwards another dimension (temporal), it becomes even harder to visualize the statue. The statue in 4 dimensions is a helical, snake-like object as it moves through space, called the world line↗. We cannot see the parts of the snake in the past or the future, as they are hidden from us. We only see the present form, a tiny blip, a moment in Time. We do not see its degradation in the future as entropy destroys it, like the disintegrating tail of a comet. If we could see this 4-dimensional world from a higher dimension, we would see all kinds of snakes twisting and criss-crossing over one another, like helices. Only the briefest of particles would appear as particles, everything else would be snakes.
But we can perceive Time in a different way. Time is trickier to perceive than depth. We are still part of it, but we are contained within a fractal shell so it is hard for us to visualize our position. At some point, our 2-dimensional vision, our diagrams, must be replicated and abstracted two more times to understand Time, the 4th dimension. But Time is no different than Space. Time is Space.
Time allows motion to exist. And if motion exists, then we can measure it (speed and direction). But motion is an illusion, a projection, just like how a projected film is an illusion, since the film itself is just a sequence of frames on film stock.
Like a filmstrip, there is only length and direction. Direction and length are already concepts that we know exist within that statue (up/down, left/right, to/fro), as they are inherent to dimension, but "speed" is something new. We don't have the concept of speed until we add Time. Speed, the magnitude component of velocity, is simply a length across both Space and Time, like a line drawn on graph paper. A moving car is simply a statue drawn in Time, like still frames on a flipbook or cylindrical zoetrope↗. Both cars and statues move through space, taking a helical path as the earth orbits, although their relative speeds may vary.
In the United States, we are familiar with the phrase miles per hour (distance/time) to denote Speed, which is really just the ratio of Space/Time. But we could also think of it as hours per mile, the ratio of Time/Space, a "speed" in the Time dimension. The problem is that, unless we are a physicist, we don't usually combine Time and Space into spacetime, a single 4D spatial continuum. Speed is simply lengths with directions across spacetime, tiny little arrows, or vectors, at every point in spacetime, like super-pixels on a higher-order television screen.
As you are reading the words on this page, you are probably reading them at a fairly constant speed, from left to right. We can measure this speed in words per minute, for example. You don't have to read that way, and you can look off the page, if you so desire. But you continue to read until you reach your "destination". Your eyes, your lower-order sensory organs do not know your destination, but they simply comply with the higher-order being. They have a direction that they cannot reverse unless you direct them in this way.
A film projector is the same way, moving at a constant speed of 24 frames per second.
There is also a constant speed to the Universe, which we call the speed of light, at 186,000 miles per second. Everything moves at this speed, not just light. But light is the only thing that can move at this speed through Space alone. But it really isn't a speed, like I mentioned before, it is a length, the Planck length.
The distance light travels in the shortest time possible, Planck time↗, is the Planck length↗. Perhaps there really are little tiny "arrows", 4-vectors, of Planck lengths at various angles in those 4-dimensions, and they are not just imaginary, problem-solving constructs. Vectors have direction and length only.
If you tilt the arrow into Time and slow down your speed in space to 1 mile per second, for example, you are moving through Time at 185,000 seconds per mile. That worldline snake will have a short length in Space but a long length in Time. If you tilt the arrow into Space and increase your speed in space to 185,000 miles per second, you are moving through Time at 1 second per mile. That snake will have a long length in Space, but a short length in Time.
On earth, we are masters of Time far more than masters of Space, our own version of "timelords". We don't travel fast or far within the Space around us, but like Hermes, we run fleet of foot through Time. Like darting hummingbirds, we are moving through Time faster than the center of the Sun↗.
But since matter and energy (which are really just the same thing) can both bend space, those tiny arrows need to be more complex, higher-dimensional arrows.
And as creatures of Time, we are reading those tiny tilted arrows at different points in spacetime↗. But you would not normally be able to see these arrows unless you were an outside observer. This would at first seem like a bizarre concept, if it wasn't for the fact that right now you are reading words made up with short lines and semicircles at different points on this page. And older alphabets, like cuneiform↗, actually look like arrows pointing in cardinal directions. Vector space could be read like a language by a sufficiently advanced being.
As we know from history, there are two major branches in physics, general relativity and quantum mechanics, both created in large part by Albert Einstein. Einstein was not comfortable with quantum mechanics, a result from his 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect where he found that Max Planck's "quanta" existed in light, which led to the theory that all energy and matter in the Universe is quantized, like the discrete pixels on a television screen.
But these two branches are so different that physicists have been spending decades trying to unify them, such as Edward Witten's M-theory attempt.
A relativistic Universe can be expressed using multidimensional vectors and tensors of Planck length, and string theory assumes tiny vibrating, 1-dimensional strings, which also have orientation, and are also of Planck length.
So I like to imagine the fabric of the Universe to be written in an alphabet of some sort of tiny arrows and to think of the Universe as a cuneiform tablet written in an advanced language, a large book that some higher intelligence is reading, an epic Choose Your Own Adventure↗ book, and that we are a fractal expression of this intelligence, like how an eye or a photoreceptor cell is a component of our fractal body.
Or if our higher self is a great pattern matching machine↗ like ourselves, perhaps it is simply watching a television display, a television made up of spacetime stress-energy tensors or strings. In modern society, we use 2-dimensional RGB LCD pixels↗ on flatscreen televisions to watch films about people's lives, such as the adventures of Dr. Who. Perhaps we are seeing the pixels of the film of our life, a film measured in years instead of minutes.
But there is a third form of the time machine that we use daily: Consciousness. When we go unconscious, for us, we skip segments in Time. Unless we dream, we awaken the moment after we went unconscious. Where were we during this Time? Our body was still there traversing that segment of time, but where was our consciousness?
It jumped Time.
That advanced reader of that book of arrows that I mentioned earlier came across the page of spacetime that said you were unconscious, and simply skipped that page and resumed reading after you had awoken. In books, we don't frequently read "Joe is sleeping. Joe is still sleeping. Five minutes have passed and Joe is still sleeping, etc." The author leaves out those portions for good reason, as we would simply skip over them.
We jump in and out of 2-dimensional space all the time. Anytime we lift up a pencil and then put it down again, we have jumped 2-dimensional space. Time is no different for a being that has mastery over even higher dimensions.
But those angular ratios, those arrow directions, are not in flat space, Euclidean space, they are in curved space. Einstein showed us that when the angle is directed mostly into Space, close to the speed of light, Time slows way down and Space shortens for the outside observer, which follows the graph of the Lorenz factor↗, a curve which hugs the lines asymptotically. But since we exist on earth with our arrows pointed mostly in the Time dimension and only a small part in Space, we are not at an angle, or perspective, where we can see this curvature in everyday life.
This slowing of Time and shortening of Space that we think is impossible is exactly what we perceive every day in the lower 3 dimensions of Space. When we move in two different dimensions that are perpendicular to each other, both of the "observers" see objects in different ways depending on the angles that their position creates, like the views from two cars driving apart at different angles. It is no different with Time, except that we must take into consideration the curvature of spacetime. The cars are driving on a curved surface of Space and Time. These strange distortions are simply due to perspective. It similarly gives us the "feeling" of gravity, which is just our path through this curved space bent by massive objects.
So when Einstein discovered time dilation and spacetime curvature, in my opinion, he saw the first evidence of the 5th dimension. I cannot comprehend that 4-dimensional space can curve if there is nothing for it to curve into. While the "information" for this curvature can be accounted for within 4 dimensions, as many suggest, Occam's razor tells me that this is the more complex approach, and we need the 5th dimension to allow for the simpler hypothesis, not the other way around. If you place a heavy ball on a sheet of 2-dimensional fabric, for example, that fabric needs the 3rd dimension to bend. Similarly, if you place the Sun in the 4-dimensional fabric of the spacetime continuum, it needs the 5th dimension in order to bend.
Now enter quantum mechanics and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle... We know that light and even matter behave as both a wave and particle↗, but that the existence and location of particles depends on the observer...
In this case, our outcome depends on our action, the so called many-worlds interpretation. But in order for those many worlds to exist, we need more than 4-dimensional spacetime, since the Universe is 4-dimensional spacetime.
The 5th dimension, the one that I believe allows curvature, would also allow every possible variation of Universes and their curvatures, just like a giant art museum in the 3rd dimension could display thousands of variations of paintings with thick brushstrokes that protrude into the 3rd dimension, paintings perhaps like Van Gogh's The Starry Night↗ with its snakelike swirls and lines of broken color.
But I think that there is only one exhibit in the museum gallery, a giant tree↗ of paintings.
At every moment in Time, we branch from one universe to the next. We only see the linear path, that snakelike worldline, of our particular branching. In my opinion, the illusion is not that other Universes exist, the illusion is that we don't realize that we are continuously jumping Universes, each millisecond, each nanosecond, each Planck second, the same way a car continuously passes over the atoms of the road underneath it.
The "Multiverse", in my opinion, based on these thought experiments, must be at least a 5-dimensional, a stretchy continuum of multiple Universes.
M-theory predicts six more dimensions (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11), but it also predicts that six dimensions are tiny curled up dimensions, a Calabi-Yau manifold. This may be why we do not notice them.
But within these lower 5-dimensions, we haven't accounted for "free will", any sort of outside observer than provides "choice", the observer that collapses the wave-particle duality, the observer that allows our consciousness to jump time.
Perhaps most of these dimensions are simply an illusion to begin with, like the higher levels of abstraction in a binary computer simulation.
If the holographic principle↗ is correct, then the highest dimension we can perceive is an illusion, and that reality is nothing more than a fancy painting, like a hologram, perhaps dropping back to 4-dimensions again.
But again, I like thinking that the 5th dimension is just as real as the others, but that all of the dimensions that we perceive are simply higher abstractions of a 1-dimensional "binary" world, like the tape in a Turing Machine↗ that generates our fractal world, plus the 1-dimension of Time needed to move that tape back and forth. If we're going to go Occam, then lets take it all the way...
The fractal space it generates would have fractal dimensions, perhaps being that of the Feigenbaum first constant (4.669...) or even Pi, (3.14159...), a number curiously found inside the Mandlebrot set. This would explain how singularities like black holes are scattered throughout the Universe, being those voids↗ found inside the fractal.
Perhaps the "end user" of this gigantic fractal generation program is the one who makes the decision to choose a path through the curved many-worlds, like a computer user zooming into that fractal. The end user may be just a parent process↗ of a higher-order fractal, analogous to how both ourselves and the computers we use are still inside the same physical world.
But note that we always move forward in Time, the "arrow of time", entropy. We cannot reverse Time. Why is this so? I believe this is governed by that parent process, the observer or end user, directing us to always choose the Universe that branches in this forward direction. Some current theories on entropy are related to dynamical systems and fractals.
While spacetime curvature does explain the force of gravity as being a simple consequence of this curvature, there is still the problem of quantum gravity, and there has never been a good explanation to me of why gravity and inertia are the same in Einstein's equivalence principle↗. Erik Verlinde's entropic gravity↗ may be the answer to this and could explain dark energy as well.
I once created a game on the TI-99/4A computer in Extended BASIC↗ when I was around 14, and I used sprites↗ for the first time. I created a field of asteroids and created a spaceship on the left side of the screen that rocketed into the moving asteroid field on the right. You could only move the joystick up or down, but each time you moved, the ship would thrust forward into the asteroids. So you could only move in diagonals. When the ship hit an asteroid, I also created interesting explosions, blowing particles outward using multiple sprites.
That game was kind of like how entropy works--we have choice, but each choice takes us forward into disorder.
I could have reprogrammed the game to allow the ship to go in reverse, but the player, even myself, was not given the controls to do so during the game.
Entropy seems to be spatial orientation. In an art museum, we can orient paintings in different ways, but only one way is the most meaningful, provides us with the information we want, as we derive information from order. Most words are not palindromes, for example, and do not mean the same thing when read in the opposite direction. But like how the painting itself determines its orientation, causes us to orient it in a particular way, perhaps information is creating the order, not the other way around. If the many-worlds, or Everett-Wheeler model, is correct, then this order could be reversed and replayed at different points in spacetime, like a VCR, or even turned in into a random access↗ device by a higher-order fractal parent. Since causality implies Time, information and order are inseparable. They are the same thing but are only subjectively different concepts, depending on whether you view the Universe as a purely physical system or an "intelligent" being, which I believe is a result of fractal geometry.
Information requires some level of intelligence to exist. The word is meaningless without it.
This fractal parent may not exist in a Euclidean or geometric dimension at all, similar to information passed within the abstractions in computer software, but has oriented the painting in such a way that it is meaningful to itself. The holographic principle is supported by the fact↗ that thermodynamic entropy (of energy) is equal to Shannon's entropy (of information), with the only difference being that information does not have a unit, like energy, but is dimensionless.
It appears that we are staring at the face of the mysterious mind-body boundary. It is just a matter of our interpretation, where physics and metaphysics meet.
I find it curious that light is the only thing that can "move" 186,000 miles per second in space alone, and 0 seconds per mile in Time. For light, Time and Space do not exist. But matter requires both Time and Space to exist. Light does not experience Time, and light does not take up Space. Actually, light does not "move" at all, for motion requires Time. But light can carry energy and information.
Light is a massless form of energy that just kind of "exists". Light is the oldest thing in the known Universe that we have ever detected↗. What may have existed before this light lies only within the imagination and theories of human minds.
It seems, to me, that light is like a mathematical line or asymptote drawn in the universe. What if these lines of light were pre-drawn when the Universe was created, like a spirograph↗? When we encounter light, we bump up against it, like the light cycles↗ in Tron that I played at the arcades in the 1980's. Perhaps it was already there, was forever there, and forever will be there. Light bends in space because it is "drawn" on top of it. Instead of imagining that the matter generated light, perhaps we should imagine that the light was like a wire scaffolding↗, and matter simply formed around it, like a painting that was filled in after the pencil lines were sketched. Perhaps these are sketches on a holographic canvas.
If light exists outside of Time, and yet we see it and encounter it, then I have to believe that our world must be a static, pre-generated world in spacetime, already curved around the matter and energy within it. For if the world I see everyday with my eyes (light) is timeless, then the matter around it must be as well, for how can you have a causal interaction with something that doesn't exist in Time? At the quantum level, stuff gets really weird↗. My choice today can decide the "choices" of people in the past. Causality holds, but not in the way we normally perceive it, since we have the ability to jump in and out of different causal Universes.
As each day passes, I am becoming more certain that we are living inside a computer, a real Matrix.
I remember the day in Kindergarten when I first found out that Time existed, when our teacher told us how to read the hands of a clock during nap time. Time for me was simply expressed as the spatial movement of the minute hand, which I watched closely, as I could never take a nap in the presence of other children. If I would have looked even more closely↗, I might have seen through the illusion. But when I found out that time itself was as quantized as those markings on the clock face (Planck time), I knew it had to be an illusion in the way we perceived it.
In 2008, a fascinating theory called "Causal Dynamical Triangulation" was published in a Scientific American article called "The Self-Organizing Quantum Universe", a theory about how spacetime may have been generated like a computer from higher-dimensional triangles. This theory contains a lot of elements that I personally find interesting:
- A geometry of Platonic solids↗ underlies the Universe.
- The Universe is fractal, which is compatible with my fractal theory.
- The Universe is 2-dimensional, but the higher dimensions emerge at macro-scales.
- It seems to be compatible with entropic gravity.
- It is modeled or generated using a probablistic computer simulation↗. The random universe itself is generating the model.
- Buckminster Fuller would have probably thought it was cool↗ :)
- Those tiny "arrows" are simply triangles oriented in certain directions. It reminds me of tesselations↗ used in polygon modeling to create virtual worlds in modern videogames.
Those higher-dimensional triangles are called "simplexes". What fascinates me about them is that they are Platonic solids that we cannot fully see since they are in higher dimensions. The Platonic solids have some very interesting properties, and there are only 5 that exist within 3 dimensions. If you extend the triangle into 3-dimensions, it is the tetrahedron, and into 4-dimensions, it is the pentachoron, for example. Why is this interesting?
Platonic solids have a beautiful property of symmetry where every dual is another Platonic solid, with the vertex of one becoming the face of another. Also, all vertexes touch the edges of a sphere. They seem to underlie natural phenomena and can even form from interference patterns↗ of musical harmonics. Some of them are related to Phi, which we already know is expressed in nature.
There is currently a scientific experiment↗ going on in Fermilab to determine if we are indeed living inside some sort of digital ("quantized") computer. They are using a new device called a Holometer↗ to look for something like pixelated artifacts like you would see on a digital television, like seeing the polygonal artifacts of early first-person shooters, a type of spacetime "jitter".
It will be very interesting to see what they discover, and what it tells us about the Universe. But any such theory of the Universe could be, of course, another illusion...
The day before I finished the first draft of this essay on 8/29/2014, I had a dream that I discovered the theory of Everything, and wrote it down on several pieces of paper. I was so excited. And then I woke up, and it was all meaningless.
Our best theories about the world in which we reside will most likely be meaningless after we leave it.
But it is a way to pass the Time.Comments