A Timely Conclusion
Time and a Reconciliation of Theories
A Comprehensive Reconciliation in Theoretical Physics
For those of us who are bothered by such as the conflicts among theories of physics, we know there is something that makes Einstein's space-time relativity theories conflict with quantum mechanics and other conceptions such as string theory or plasma theory. As a scientist I predict that my viewpoint, or theory, that time is a fiction of consciousness, will diminish or eliminate the conflict between relativity and quantum theory and even with classical Newtonian physics. The macro-world and the micro-world may be observed to operate differently, but the logic of the universe requires that there be natural processes that perform or comprise the transition from micro to macro and vice versa.
Thus, I predict that revising our understanding of Einstein's "space-time continuum" with time having no physically objective existence (it is a mental construct that enables the observation and recording of process in a brain), it will follow that the conflict with quantum theory is diminished or erased: for example, in quantum physics "a particle can be in two places at the same time." Well, thank you, sounds magical. But in my universe, where time is a fiction of consciousness, there are two particles each being observed with the operation of two different "clocks." Therefore, we have a difference in the two different clocks' operations, but it is just a "coincidence" (literally) that each of the two different clocks are registering the "same time," at the moment, and therefore what we really have is two particles appearing to be in different locations because they are in two locations, at what is observed to be the same time. However, there are two particles, not one, which appear to be the same particle, but they are not. Each exists in its own location, but it is only the clocks that register the same time, but it is NOT the "time" because in the real physical universe there is no objective "time" that can be separated from a clock that measures it. This is different from our ability to separate "length" from "ten yards" and "weight" from "25 pounds" or "apples" from "six." We can have "six" of anything, because six is a numerical count that can be separated from or attached to anything. But, in order to prove that time is real, a scientist, or group of, would have to physically demonstrate a morsel of time that is distinctly separate from any and all clocks. Cannot be done. So why?
Here is the story. Time does seem to present us with a puzzle and interesting problem. We remember the past, recall the past, record the past, symbolize the past in written symbols, language, two-dimensional and three-dimensional art. The past seems real. We have dreams. We appear to run our personal lives on personal history (learning from experience) and we appear to run our social and political lives on world history (looks more like not learning from experience). What is the thing about time that causes us to make up stories about traveling back in time or forward in time or living in "parallel" universes or other worlds? This is my explanation, which is based on biology and evolution. As animals evolve, there appears the type of tissue that we call nerves or neurons. Some neurons sense the outer world, then other neurons start to do something new: they make records of events that occur, records of the "experience" of the individual animal organism, such as a smell, a taste, or heat, or a sound. Then, somewhere on this path of "remembering," events or sensory feelings, the neurons form a "brain" that not only creates records of the animals experience but makes a cosmic leap in function by separating categories of memories. The new brain labels some memories as extremely important or old. Other memories are labeled as newer, but possibly extremely important because they are new and were not recorded in the more distant past. Now the new brain has sorted memories into past, present or current, and can even create fake memories as "imagination" memories or stories of events in the "memory-brain" that did not really occur in the outer experience of the animal. In other words, the animal can dream, or imagine, or pretend, or make-up events that exist only as a mental creation, but which did not really occur. For example, I could have a dream where I fall off a horse, but that never really happened. I could write a story where I become a great horse trainer and rider but that never really happened. While all of this process is going on with memories, the ability of an animal (or human) brain to create and maintain a concept of time, and label events or processes as "past" "present" or "future" emerges to become an absolutely priceless survival trait. This is especially so when we think of an imagined concept of a "future" as a predictable or "expected" outcome of the "past" and "present" processes. Now, if you have not fallen asleep you can see that the ability to "remember" and keep records and sort records into many different categories means what has evolved is an animal that possesses an entirely new and invaluable survival trait: the ability to observe and remember cause and effect. Process A produces outcome B, or another process, process C. Nature is process, the unfolding of events, but Nature does not need time to do what it does. There is no need for a volcano or a hurricane to keep time, nor does a plant or animal need to have a memory that tells them "my birthday is March 23, 1943." Nature does not need a clock. However, Nature makes clocks, because there are many processes that are comprised of events (or processes) that have duration. And, some processes are repetitive. Time is a measure of duration performed by counting intervals. There is no such thing as time that exists outside of the count. That is, a certain type of event repeats again and again and the duration of the repeated events, and the fixed interval between the repetitions, is a clock, and a clock is our mental construct of "time," and the most important thing in the world is that the clock is "time" and there is no time that exists separately from a clock. Further, much of our effusion of theories of physics arises out of our difficulty accepting that the present moment is the only moment. The past exists only as memory. Nature never goes back in time, but Nature does experience the past because the universe is comprised of a seemingly infinite number of processes that repeat themselves in different locations, and that is why one location looks like the past of another location. This is why we tell ourselves that our telescopes, which enable a view of light from a great distance, enables us to "see the past." But the past that our brains see in the light that is detected by the telescope does not exist today. What we see is the light that we detect today, and our conviction that we are looking at the past is based on our memories of processes that we have observed – we are always brought back to our habit of converting everything we observe into a pattern of cause and effect. This is what we are doing when we "learn" and this is why we have survived even though we cannot take care of ourselves for the first five years of our lives and we are vulnerable to a million diseases, poisons and biological organisms of all sizes and shapes.
Conclusion: Our ability to formulate and remember cause and effect is probably far more valuable as a survival trait than even hands, eyes and ears. This was taught to us by Helen Keller, who was born without hearing or vision, but she not only survived but she lived a productive life in human society because she had the ability to learn – to understand cause and effect. How do we possess this ability? This capacity to remember that in the processes of Nature there are patterns of cause and effect? The answer is clear. We perceive and remember cause and effect – we learn – because our brains include a mental or intellectual process (neurons, axions, etc) that count "time," and label events with time signatures. That is how we have brains filled with encyclopedias of what happens next, how B follows A and 57 follows 56, and Friday follows Thursday, and sadness follows death of a friend. The reason we have "time" in our brains and it seems so absolutely real to us is because we must have "time" in order to possess the ability to learn and keep elaborate records of "how things work." That is what time is, a mental ability in a human brain. You will not find time anywhere else, except in the other brains of other intelligent species or technological animals. Still not convinced? Complete this assignment: build a birdhouse. But you must do it without remembering what a "bird" is or what a "house" is. Take your time. There is no time limit within which you must complete the assignment and hand in your result. You have forever.
Make a list of theories of physics, does not matter if they are from Copenhagen, New York, London, Moscow, or Shanghai, or Lagos. Wherever there appears in an equation a symbol "t" for "time," or wherever the experiment, such as with Schrodinger's Cat, there is a device that is detecting a natural event, replace the "t" for "time" with "cl" for "clock" or "count length of duration." Then, make a short or long list of clocks. Here is an example. We have used the same clock for our physics studies for centuries, the clock that is set up to count intervals that are keyed to our successive measurements or detections of the revolution of the Earth around the Sun: year, day, hour, minute, second. Using this clock, vehicle A travels at its maximum velocity of 30 miles per hour for one hour, and vehicle B travels at its maximum velocity of 50 miles per hour for one hour. They each started from the same point. The two stopped vehicles are now "resting" at two different locations point X (A) and point Y(B) separated by 20 miles. Next, we conduct the same experiment but with a change in our measuring instrument. Sam the scientist has discovered a new clock (clock 2) that counts one interval (one second) five-thirds longer than the interval in our Sun-Earth clock 1. Therefore, Sam uses clock 2 to measure the distance traveled by vehicle A, which therefore means vehicle A traveling for one hour equals traveling for five-thirds of an hour as counted by clock 1. Thus, for vehicle A, 30 mph times 5/3 = 50 miles. Now, after our second experiment, vehicle A and vehicle B have each traveled the same distance after one hour and are resting more or less in the same location, Stupid? Silly? Obviously "cheating?" No, not cheating. This is what happens when we imagine traveling as fast as the velocity of light, or faster, and this is what happens when we try to measure events that are as small as an atom or smaller. The instruments making the measurements change the clock. And this is the reality that physics must cope with in order to move forward: if we change the clock, we change the "t" for "time" because there is no "t" independent of "clock."
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