One Clock, Two Measurements, One Duration

Copyright 2010, John Manimas Medeiros

We are going to take a trip, with a clock on board our vehicle, and we are going to measure the duration of the trip, with our clock of course. But this trip is not going to be an ordinary trip. If you go on this trip, you are going to view a special performance, a valuable experience: I will prove to you that relativity is wrong and that time is a fiction of consciousness.

Here are the tools for the trip: A space ship that travels at the velocity of light. A clock. The same clock on planet Earth and the same clock on the space ship. Of course, it is not really exactly the same clock because one clock cannot be in two places at once. It is the same clock in that it is the same mechanism that measures time. It is like a wrist watch. If a factory makes wrist watches, they don't make just one watch that has the same design and structure. They make thousands of watches that are all the same. That's what people want, watches that all measure time the same way and in accordance with the same escapement or "ticking" off of time. Naturally, our clock could be of a different type. It could be electric, or electronic. In any case, the same type of clock is measuring time for us on Earth and on the space ship.

We also have another tool for our trip, a bowl clock, or water clock. This I will describe in detail. It is actually a kind of clock that has been used in the past. And, another item we are going to use for our experiment, is another planet. It is an imaginary planet, but our imaginary planet will operate in accordance with all the physical laws that we know and the physicists have agreed upon. It is imaginary only in that we do not have precisely this planet in our solar system at this time. It is like Mars because it is smaller than Earth, but it is not exactly the same as Mars. It is warmer than Mars.

So, what we are going to do is carefully examine the various parts of our experimental trip, and describe them in detail, so that we can draw logical and scientific conclusions as to what actually happened. Keep in mind that we are going on one trip, from Earth out into space to a distant star and then back to Earth. Our experiment is supposed to answer a question for us, which is what experiments are for. A question could be "Are we there yet?" But that is not our question. When our experiment is finished, we will have been there and back. Here is the question that our experiment is supposed to answer: What was the duration of the trip? The same question asked with more common or colloquial language, would be "How long did the trip take?" Of course, what both questions mean is the same thing: What was the elapsed time of the trip?

So here is what we have to examine:

1) The clocks that we use on the trip;

2) The bowl clocks;

3) The other planet, which is smaller than Earth and has less gravitational force;

4) The trip itself, and how the duration of the trip was measured;

5) What the theory of relativity and "time travel" says about the experience of time;

6) The measurements made by the bowl clocks;

7) The conclusion that is the answer to our question: "What was the elapsed time or duration of the trip?"

Important notes:

Definition (of time) #1: Relativity and the current position of the physicists is that physical reality is a "space-time continuum" or a "fabric of space time." This current position or doctrine implies that time, similar to the older "mechanical" view of Newtonian physics, is a physical reality that has a form of independent physical existence. In other words, time exists whether we are around to clock it or measure it. Let's call this time definition #1 and keep in mind that this "relativistic" definition still claims to be a definition of objective time. The physicists do not argue that time, in accordance with the current relativistic viewpoint, is personally subjective. They do not argue that the traveler on the space ship experiences time differently simply because time is a subjective perception, meaning the perception of one person that can be different from the perception of another person. That would not make sense because each person is using a physical clock to measure time. The different persons, in different places, are not using some mechanism in their own brains or minds to measure the time elapsed. They are using clocks, and each clock operating under different conditions renders a different result in terms of the duration of time measured. The current viewpoint supported by the physicists is that the time really is 10 years for the space travelers and 70 years for the Earth travelers. According to this current doctrine, the space trip has at least two different durations or two different "elapsed times" for the completion of the trip. This view of the "fabric of space-time" also implies that one could travel through time.

Definition (of time) #2 is that time is subjective, and one person simply experiences time differently from another. This viewpoint or definition implies that even though we use clocks and refer to them as our guide for measurements of duration or of "time," we each experience time internally, as a process that occurs in each of our individual brains or minds and which is therefore not the same real, physical experience for each separate person. This is what is meant by subjective time. The meaning of subjective time is made more clear when we think of subjective time as psychological time. This is the sense of time that is familiar to parents traveling on a vacation trip who repeatedly hear their children asking "Are we there yet?" or "How much longer?"

Although the description of the space trip, as I have described it, and compared the different measurements of time according to "relativity" to the different measurements of the bowl clocks, could be deemed to be subjective time, the physicists do not call it subjective time or describe it as subjective or psychological time. They describe it as a real, physical fabric of space-time or the space time continuum.

My thesis is that there is a third definition of time, and this definition #3 is that time is a fiction of consciousness. We possess the ability to measure time because this skill enables an advantage to a species with a brain. The ability to measure time is necessary in order for a brain to process the concept of cause and effect. In fact, the time sequence of cause and effect is so intrinsic or perfectly natural to the concept of cause and effect that philosophers have offered the bizarrely logical but confusing idea that there may be no cause and effect, but instead our perception of reality is simply that one event occurs before another, and in reality (the philosopher says) we do not have any certainty that a first event that occurs approximately before a second event is really the cause of the second event. According to this viewpoint events simply occur in a particular sequence and our brains have invented the concept of cause. In any case, it is overwhelmingly obvious that a creature that can deduce cause and effect from observations of Nature is enabled by this skill to become a technological animal who can then produce desired results by creating the required or sufficient causes. This is the very definition of technology and it is clear that if we did not possess the mental ability to conceive of cause and effect we could not be technological animals. Therefore, this trait of perceiving cause and effect is a powerful survival trait, and that is why we have it. And having this trait means that we measure duration, before and after, or past, present and future, by comparing one cyclical event with another, such as by comparing the number of full moons to the "time" it takes a newborn female to become sexually mature, or the number of earthly revolutions it takes a newborn child of either gender to become an old prune and die, or the number of days it takes for a corn seed to become three new ears of corn on a tall stalk.

Definition (of time) #3: According to my third definition of time, there is no objective time, and there is only a subjective reality for time because Nature is process and only process. There is no physical "fabric of space time." There is no time that people can travel through, or that anything can travel through. Nature has no past or future, but only the present instant in the ongoing process that is reality. I like to call my concept of time "a non-anthropomorphic theory of time." In order for the human species to continue making intellectual and spiritual progress, physicists must elevate this third definition of time to the level of a serious "competitor" with relativity. My third definition of time must be tested against the instrumental clock measurements and all of physical knowledge. What is probably the best defense of my position would most likely be deemed oddly bland to most physicists. I believe my best defense is the simple question "What is time for?" Why does Nature require time? What purpose does time serve that enables Nature to be what it is and do what it does? The physicists will not find any truly convincing answer to this question, because time serves no purpose. Nature does not require time to do anything. Nature simply is what it is and does what it does. Nature is matter or matter and energy interacting. There is no clear and convincing reason why "time" is required. And the most powerful observation that we humans have ever made about Nature or the real, physical universe is that Nature does not invent anything that is not required. If physical interactions and process is sufficient for Nature to exist and act, then there is no need for time. Time is something that we measure only by comparing one cyclical event with another cyclical event, or with an event that is not cyclical, if there is such a thing as an event that occurs only once. Since we cannot make any meaningful separation between time and cyclical events, or, since we cannot "extract" time from cyclical events, it is logical to conclude that time is inseparable from cyclical events used as a human measurement of duration. We make use of the measurement, internally, mentally, consciously, but Nature does not need to measure the duration of its events. The events of Nature occur because of the laws that govern the interactions of matter and that is all there is. There is a "fabric of space" or a "fabric of matter," and we can conceivably travel through that, but we cannot travel through time because there is no fabric of time, no real thing that is external to our mental measurements of duration.

Examination #1: Our first item in our experimental apparatus is the two mechanically identical, or electronically identical, clocks that we use for measuring the time elapsed during the trip. This can be any clock one prefers. It can be an "atomic" clock using cesium or whatever. It can be the most precise and stable clock available. We have at least two of these clocks. One is going to calculate the time elapsed on Earth from the moment that the space ship leaves to the moment that it returns and lands back on Earth. The other will be on the space ship and will measure the duration of the same event: the elapsed time from when the space ship leaves to when it returns.

Examination #2: The bowl clocks. One set on Earth and a physically equivalent set on the other planet. This clock was used in certain Mediterranean cultures in ancient times, or at least it was observed that this mechanism functions as a means to measure intervals of time. A bowl clock is essentially a bowl with a hole in its bottom. The bowl is placed in a volume of water that is several times the volume that could be included in the bowl. The bowl is made of material that is heavier than the water. As the water flows upward through the hole into the bowl, the bowl gradually sinks. The time that elapses from the instant the bowl is placed upon the surface of the water to the instant that it sinks beneath the surface of the water is a time interval of "one bowl."

Although this sounds like a rather crude and imprecise clock, it could be made with additional apparatus to be nearly as accurate as a spring and escapement clock. First, we can manufacture the bowls with high precision, making them of hammered copper, formed over a hardened steel mold or die, cut precisely to circular size, diameter and depth, and with the hole precisely centered and drilled by a hardened metal drill that can drill holes of the same diameter in many bowls before wear makes the holes slightly bigger. Further, we would increase the precision of the bowl clock simply by making two or more cubical water containers that are the same size and volume. We can arrange to have the bowl clocks or water clocks enclosed in a room that maintains a steady temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. We can use pure distilled water. All of these conditions will add to the precision of the clocks and the precision of the "one bowl" interval of one water clock as compared to "one bowl" of another water clock.

There is the problem of how the exact instant of touching the surface and resting in the water, and the exact instant of the bowl rim arriving precisely at the water surface. What we could do to improve that instant of "bowl 1" ending and "bowl 2" beginning varies. Instead of using human hands, we could construct an apparatus that drops bowl #2 at the moment that the rim of bowl #1 arrives at the water surface. In any case, we know that this aspect of the bowl clock is a problem, but since we know that we can construct an atomic clock, and a space ship, and an inertial guidance system, and a laser printer that can write one's name on a human hair, we know that we could, if called upon, construct a mechanism that eliminated the arbitrary or estimated time interval between the end of one bowl and the beginning of the next.

Therefore, using our imagination, we have two bowl clocks, comprised of at least two sets of two bowls and two cubical water containers, each water cubical filled with exactly the same quantity of distilled water, maintained at the same temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and each of the four bowls being precisely the same in material, thickness, shape, and weight, including the hole in the bottom center. These two bowl clocks are similar to two old-fashioned spring-escapement watches. The measurement of twenty bowls of time made by the first clock should be exactly equal, or almost exactly equal, to the measurement of twenty bowls of time made by the second clock. There could be some slight variation due to the unavoidable imperfection in our technology. However, there is something more we are going to do with our two water clocks.

We are going to place one water clock on Earth, and the other on the "other planet," which is Mars or similar to Mars in size, and where gravitational force is less than the gravitational force on Earth. That means, the astute observer will know already, that the interval of "one bowl" on the other planet will be longer than the interval of "one bowl" on Earth, because the lesser gravity on the other planet will "draw down" the copper bowl at a slower rate through the same body of water. The "atmospheric pressure" for both water clocks on each planet will be the same, by means of our experimental apparatus.

Examination #3: The other planet, which is smaller than Earth and has less gravitational force. This could be Mars, but with a special place on the surface that is warmer than we expect temperatures to be on Mars, about 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and we have enough water to operate the bowl clocks, and breathable air or oxygen of course. Or, this could be an imaginary planet that is the same size as Mars and it has a gaseous atmosphere that produces warm temperatures at the solid surface, about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In either case, we are probably going to need a kind of space station or special structure to provide for the long period of measuring time using the bowl clocks in liquid water. Either the atmospheric pressure is the same as on Earth, or we have constructed an apparatus to assure that each of the two bowl clocks operate with the same atmospheric pressure. Our purpose is to make the conditions of the two water clocks equal for all factors except for gravitational force.

Examination #4: The trip itself, and how the duration of the trip was measured. We have a space ship. It launches, escapes into space, travels away from Earth to a star that is ten light years from Earth, then turns around and comes back. The physicists know with greater certainty than I do what the velocity of the space ship should be. It is for our purposes the speed of light. In any case, the velocity of the space ship is great enough to cause the clock on the ship to slow down. The clock measures time seven times slower than the same clock on Earth. Therefore, according to the current view of time of the physicists, the clock on the space ship measures out ten years of time from the beginning to the end of the trip, and the same type of clock on Earth measures out seventy years of time.

Examination #5: What the theory of relativity and "time travel" says about the experience of time for the trip. Essentially, we are continuing examination #4 here, to note that according to the currently accepted theory of relativity, the clock on the space ship that is traveling at the velocity of light will measure intervals of time more slowly than the same clock on Earth, AND the reason for this difference is because of the different conditions under which each of the clocks is functioning. The clock in the space ship that is traveling very fast will "slow down" and each interval of time that it measures will be seven times shorter than the same interval of time measured on Earth. For the same "duration" that the Earth clock measures out seven seconds, the space ship clock will measure out one second. Seven years by the clock on Earth will be one year by the same type of clock on the space ship. This doctrine, which I challenge, tells us that the humans traveling on the space ship will experience ten years of life during the trip, because they have traveled ten light years at the velocity of light. But, when they return to Earth, seventy years of time will have elapsed on Earth. The way that the physicists state this result, which is allegedly confirmed by certain experiments, is that: Moving clocks are measured to tick [cyclical event] more slowly than an observer's "stationary" clock. Physicists are also fond of making the "Alice in Wonderland" statement that if one of the space travelers began the trip at age twenty and left behind a spouse who was age twenty, when they return to Earth, they will be age thirty and their spouse -- if not divorced and still living -- will be age eighty. It is very important to keep in mind that this accepted theory tells us that time is actually experienced physically differently, and not just "psychologically," when an object (including a living human being) is traveling at the velocity of light. Of course, we do not know yet with certainty if a human being can stay alive while traveling at the velocity of light, or even a lesser velocity. Since an interval of time is invariably based on a cyclical event, we can legitimately consider a heartbeat to be a cyclical event -- and therefore a clock -- even though the precise duration of a heartbeat does vary somewhat from person to person. This suggests the startling question as to whether a person's heart beats more slowly when they are traveling at the velocity of light. The theory of relativity may not determine the correct answer to this question, because we know that when a person on a roller coaster is traveling about sixty miles per hour, enormously slower than the speed of light, their heart rate speeds up instead of slowing down. Again, according to the current accepted doctrine about light and time, the returning space traveler really is thirty years old and the homebody who stayed on Earth really is eighty years old, and that is a physical result of the physical condition that the space ship -- and its occupants -- traveled at the velocity of light.

Examination # 6: The measurements made by the bowl clocks. Let's call our "other planet" Other. Let's say the gravity on Other, similar to Mars, is approximately 38% (0.38) times the gravity of Earth. Or, the gravity on Earth is 2.63 times the gravity on Other. Having measured time using the two sets of bowl clocks on Earth and on Other, we find that the number of bowls that sank into the water on Earth during the space trip is 21,024,000, and the number of bowls that sank into the water on Other during the space trip is 7,884,000. One Earth bowl = 15 seconds; one Other bowl = 40 seconds. [Note: Using a typical Earth clock, 10 years = 3,650 days = 87,600 hours = 5,256,000 minutes = 315,360,000 seconds. ]

Examination #7: The conclusion that is the answer to our question: "What was the elapsed time or duration of the trip?" Hopefully we all see that this is a profoundly important question, because according to the theory of relativity (I believe this means the "general" theory of relativity) the time that has elapsed on Earth is seventy (70) years and the time that has elapsed on the space ship is ten (10) years. This means, inescapably, that our space ship does not "possess" a single elapsed time. It has two elapsed times, 10 years and 70 years. But this creates a profoundly troubling problem. It is like saying that on our vacation trip, if we have two children, one child aged 10 years while asking "Are we there yet?" and the other child aged 70 years while asking "Are we there yet?" This cannot be possible, because both participated, or were present, for the duration of the same trip. This is not about one child being more patient than another -- not about psychological time. The relativity theory tells us that because of a difference in physical conditions, one clock being "stationary" (approximately stationary) and the other traveling at very high velocity (the speed of light), the duration or time elapsed is actually different for each clock.

Now with our experiment, which is actually unlike any conducted before, we have some additional data. We have the data from our water bowl clocks. They two measured two different elapsed times, one about 21 million bowls and the other about 8 million bowls (rounded numbers). And they also measured different times due to each clock operating under different physical conditions: a difference in gravitational force that determined the "speed" of the clock. There is something different, however, about our two separate water bowl measurements. We seem to have a more clear understanding of how and why the two water clocks each measured out a different number of "bowls" of time for what was actually the same period of duration of the space trip. It is easier for us, in the case of the bowl clocks, to conclude that the space trip really had only one duration, ten years according to our "tick-tock" clock, but 21 million bowls of time according to the bowl clock on Earth and 8 million bowls according to the bowl clock on Other. Because we have a clear concept of why one bowl clock had the bowls sink faster than the other bowl clock on a smaller planet, our brains tell us that the space trip did in fact possess a single duration or single elapsed time, and the two water clock measurements were due simply, simply, to the difference in gravitational forces operating on the two clocks.

Now we need to ask does this new data give a new shape to our understanding of how and why the clock on the space ship would measure out ten years and the clock on Earth would measure out seventy years? This is the "prediction" of relativity theory. But the situation involving these two clocks is similar to the two water clocks in that the space clock and the Earth clock were each subjected to different physical conditions. The additional velocity of the space clock, being far greater than the relative velocity of the Earth clock, caused it to measure time more slowly. But that reality does not mean that the space trip has two different durations or elapsed times. It simply means, simply, that the two clocks were operating differently due to the different physical conditions within which each of them operated. There is good reason to conclude that our space trip must have one duration or one elapsed time, and that concept, if adopted as a doctrine of physics, would determine the definition of time to be my definition of time: a fiction of consciousness.

Let us consider this apparently logical concept: Every natural process possesses one and only one elapsed time. Our space trip is a natural process, just as a waterfall and the growth of a tree and the decay of a grape is a natural process. The movements of celestial bodies are natural processes. Trips are a natural process. Something travels from A to B at an average velocity, time -- duration -- equals distance divided by rate (speed) in the formula [T = D/R] from elementary school. If the two other factors (D and R) are equal for two separate trips, it is not possible for one trip to have two different elapsed times. This simply means that D divided by R is always the same if D and R are always equal. Therefore, if we have a theory -- the theory of relativity -- that causes physicist to seriously make the claim that a single trip has two separate elapsed times, or durations, something is seriously wrong. The correct solution, I claim, is that time is a fiction of consciousness, which is explained further below.

I claim that the data outcomes of the relativity experiments that physicists refer to and that they claim supports relativity theory is being interpreted according to doctrine, but can be just as soundly interpreted as supporting my opposing thesis that time is a fiction of consciousness. The key to understanding my "non-anthropomorphic theory of time" is to focus on the inescapable reality that we cannot extract time from the act of counting the repeated occurrences of a cyclical event. Try as one may, time is invariably defined or described as a number of repetitions of a cyclical event. Whatever cyclical event is used, our reliance on that event is based on the conviction that each occurrence of the event possesses exactly the same duration as the previous occurrence. Take the year for example. We equate the year with 365 days. But ever since we started getting more precise in our measurements of time, or duration, we discovered that the year -- the revolution of the Earth around the Sun -- is closer to 365 and days. Some ancient cultures, being less precise, deemed the year to be 360 days. But when they used this year, they found that over the passage of years they got out of synchronization with the seasons. They then learned the cost of their estimating the length of the year at 360 days, and many cultures came to realize that if they wanted to know when spring was coming with greater certainty and it was time to plant, they needed to have a more precise measurements of time. And a more precise measurement of time means, and always means, more precise measurement of the duration of a cyclical event. Or, one could say that the duration is not the duration of a process, but the elapsed time between the beginning of one occurrence of a cyclical event (sunrise, beginning of a day) and the next beginning of a day. For people who lived on the equator, every one of the 365 and days was exactly the same. But most people lived north of the equator, and for them, the length of the day varied from season to season. My apologies for the review of grade school math and geography, but if one seriously studies the history of time, one reviews this history, all of which establishes beyond any doubt what time is: time is the counting of cyclical events. What is of cosmic importance is that time is nothing more than this! We cannot -- I cannot emphasize enough -- extract time (or "take it out and look at it") from this practice of counting cyclical events. Just try it. Say to yourself: Time is something more or something other than counting cyclical events. Then try to come up with some description or definition that makes time something tangible, other than the counting of cyclical events. It cannot be done, because that is all that time is. Anything else is intangible fantasy. Time travel is fantasy, total fantasy. We cannot travel through time because there is nothing to travel through.

Therefore, I conclude with my answer to the question: "What was the elapsed time or duration of the trip?" Based on T = D/R, the elapsed time of the trip was and is 10 years. The homebody spouse has not aged 70 years. She, or he, has aged the same number of years as her space-traveling spouse, 10 years. So how do we resolve the problem that the clock on Earth measured out time faster than the space traveling clock? We can find our solution with reference to the two water clocks, which measured time differently due to different conditions of operation. The clock on the space ship "slowed down" or measured time more slowly, according to relativity. The true outcome on the clocks, after this trip has been completed, is that the clock on Earth does indicate the measurement of ten years, which is the mathematical description of the trip: T = D/R, but the clock on the space ship, having operated more slowly due to the physical condition of its high velocity (the speed of light), has measured out one-seventh of 10 years, or approximately 1.43 years, also approximately equivalent to 521.8 days, or 1 year and 156.5 days, or 1 year, 5 months, 7 days. If the space travelers accepted the measurements of their space traveling clock, the trip would have taken only this 521.8 days for them. But they know that their clock is measuring out only one second for each seven seconds measured on the Earth clock. Using a computer program, they can regularly convert their space clock time to the "real time" on Earth, and then they will know how much longer they have to travel to complete the trip and be home again. To wrap this up: There are many clocks, but only one duration.

Possibly the main reason we have persisted in treating time as real is because of the power of language. We refer to time either exclusively or almost exclusively as though it is the equivalent of measuring the length of a line or a rod. We talk about the length of time and time lines, and the length of a trip and about a process by discussing how long it will take. Because our brains treat time like length, we think that it is as tangible as a pole that has length. But time is duration, not length, and it cannot be held in one's hand, and it is not a road that we can travel upon. Time is not the road less traveled. Time is the road that cannot be traveled, but events that have occurred can be recorded and remembered. There are many clocks, but only one duration.

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