As I’ve alluded countless times on this blog, I’m fascinated by Time; as a physical, elemental construct of existence. I postulate endlessly about the nature of Time, and thus, whenever I read anything touching on Time from the scientific perspective (not the romantic or musical perspective), I pay heed. So it’s no surprise that, upon stumbling across this article entitled, vaguely hyperbolic, “Scientists May Have Just Figured Out Why Time Moves Forward, Not Backwards,” I stopped and read, and re-read, and re-read. Higher concept physics, something I have no training in, requires assiduous concentration, especially for a fly-by-night layman such as I.
Griffith University Associate Professor Joan Vaccaro has put forward a suggestion on why there’s a difference between the future and the past. According to her calculations, the laws of physics don’t have to distinguish between time and space, but since we don’t experience time in the same way as space, something must make time different. And she thinks the answer is in a special class of quantum phenomena.
Certain quantum phenomena don’t behave in the same way if you’re going forward or backward in time, and she suggested that these are the key to understanding the arrow of time – the “asymmetry”, or one-way direction, of time. And she said that in particular, subatomic particles known as K and B mesons could provide some interesting information. Her research is published in the Proceedings of The Royal Society A.
The multitudinous effects and revelations of quantum physics on the essence of Time are generally unexplored. The possibilities of disentangling the nature of the temporal at its smallest units of comprehension are mind-boggling.
If, in fact, there is anything to be found innate to Time itself, which I sometimes question.
[According to Vaccaro] “Experiments on subatomic particles over the past 50 years show that nature doesn’t treat both directions of time equally. In particular, subatomic particles called K and B mesons behave slightly differently depending on the direction of time.”
“In the connection between time and space, space is easier to understand because it’s simply there,” she added. “But time is forever forcing us towards the future.
“Yet while we are indeed moving forward in time, there is also always some movement backwards, a kind of jiggling effect, and it is this movement I want to measure using these K and B mesons.”
Professor Vaccaro reworked the equations of quantum mechanics in a way that the conservation of mass wasn’t a given condition of the universe. She thus discovered that time and space did truly behave identically in that scenario. Even more interestingly, once violations of symmetries are allowed, the equations evolved into the ones that describe our universe and the law of conservation of mass arises organically from this theory.
I’ve added italics for the observation I found most provocative.
The wonders of theoretical physics is that you can bravely hypothesize alternative realities (within pragmatic, substantiated boundaries), and thus, control for certain laws which allows you to arrive at a theoretical foundation in which those laws, the bedrocks of our current theoretical reality, are either subtracted or mutated according to what the physicist deigns to measure. In this case, Vaccaro removed the law of conservation of mass (a biggie, to say the least) from several equations describing the quantum world and observed the effect upon Time in relation to Space. In this manner, her initial postulation, that the conservation of matter somewhat shapes the asymmetrical forward arrow of time, finds suggestions of proof in Vaccaro’s mathematical manipulation.
Here, and in other quantum manifestations and interpretations of time, Time is never an elemental stratum of the physical world. It is an extension, a nebulous abstraction of the physical world’s interrelationships. Time does not exist independently of the physical props that structure existence.
Red is my conjecture.
Time is the absolute form of explication of the interwoven nature of physical laws, but Time does not exert a force of its own. Time is a manifestation of the deepest physical laws our minds are capable of conjuring. As quantum physics describe the smallest fragments of our physical world, the bizarre and counter-intuitive laws that we uncover are thus mimicked by the quirky reflective nature of Time. The rate of Time has been demonstrated to change; it is not a fixed rate that can be measured, and in fact, can appear to move at different paces for different people depending on their physical state of rest.
It’s because Time is not fixed; it’s because there is no such thing as Time.
Time, we instinctively define by experiential progression, but it is an oblique measure of relationships and interactions between fixed physical laws.
Hence, the finer we are able to define and deconstruct physical reality, through enhanced physical understandings urged on by refined measurements (ie, technology), the finer we are able to narrow the parameters of Time’s mystical enslavement to physical reality. Time is that master proxy of a physical reality that spews a framework against which it engulfs space.
Time, even as we understand it, is defined purely in terms of cosmological cycles. The passage of the sun, the moon, the stars, carved into arbitrary chunks of 12’s and 60’s. What is an “hour” in the absence of man to measure it?
Time does not move, forward or backward. Time is only a reflection that bounces into our sensory aura as a fragment, but is a ghost of reality, a mirror. This world we live in and witness is composed of that which our 5 primary senses have groomed us to interact with in terms of survival; time is not one of them. Reality shapes our senses, but we don’t have a sense tailored to the direct conception of Time as an element. Instead, our senses triangulate realities and extract an instinctive concept of Time that we apply as a means of distributing reality into cognitive series that map out, space out, a clash of events that threaten to form into a singular coalescing crescendo of circumstance.
Everything that we define as our past, our present, our future, has occurred!
In a moment as briefly cosmological and incomprehensible as the Big Bang, all that we are, has been done and will give rise to, has “happened.” Past is present; present is future, and future is past. Our perception of Time’s delineations, is in fact this thread of continuity we call Time, but it is a human guidance, a human sensory shortcoming, that defines for us, and only us, this arrangement of the physical world. The presence of human onlookers conjures conception of past, present and future. Articles of temporal definition that lack objective existence. We are in the forest and we bring with us a clock.