Intelligent Design Physics

Sabine Hossenfelder asks: Is time real?

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Here.

Sabine Hossenfelder also has a blog at which she provides transcripts:

First things first, what is time? “Time is what keeps everything from happening at once,” as Ray Cummings put it. Funny, but not very useful. If you ask Wikipedia, time is what clocks measure. Which brings up the question, what is a clock. According to Wikipedia, a clock is what measures time. Huh. That seems a little circular.

Luckily, Albert Einstein gets us out of this conundrum. Yes, this guy again. According to Einstein, time is a dimension. This idea goes back originally to Minkowski, but it was Einstein who used it in his theories of special and general relativity to arrive at testable predictions that have since been confirmed countless times.

Time is a dimension, similar to the three dimensions of space, but with a very important difference that I’m sure you have noticed. We can stand still in space, but we cannot stand still in time. So time is not the same as space. But that time is a dimension means you can rotate into the time-direction, like you can rotate into a direction of space. In space, if you are moving in, say, the forward direction, you can turn forty-five degrees and then you’ll instead move into a direction that’s a mixture of forward and sideways.

You can do the same with a time and a space direction. And it’s not even all that difficult. The only thing you need to do is change your velocity. If you are standing still and then begin to walk, that does not only change your position in space, it also changes which direction you are going in space-time. You are now moving into a direction that is a combination of both time and space.

Sabine Hossenfelder, “Is Time Real?” at BackRe(Action) (January 2, 2021)

We think time is real but that it has never been convenient.

10 Replies to “Sabine Hossenfelder asks: Is time real?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Seems to be a bit confused. Turning 45 degrees is a move in both space and time. Changing your acceleration is a move in both space and time. Every change of position, or change of speed, or change of direction, involves both space and time.

    The Cummings definition is actually more useful in judging valid measurement vs invalid measurement. Statistics are often deceptive and invalid because they leave out the time axis and falsely represent things as “all happening at the same time.”

    http://polistrasmill.blogspot......ation.html

    http://polistrasmill.blogspot......stats.html

  2. 2
    Jack says:

    Yes.

    Your consciousness is experiencing a sequence of state changes.

    Isn’t yours?

    Mine is.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    As to:

    According to Einstein, time is a dimension. This idea goes back originally to Minkowski, but it was Einstein who used it in his theories of special and general relativity to arrive at testable predictions that have since been confirmed countless times.
    Time is a dimension, similar to the three dimensions of space,,,,

    Well, actually, Einstein view that ‘time is a dimension’, as was shown by Godel, (i.e. via time travel), has some fairly profound difficulties with it.

    But before we get into that, first it is important to note that Einstein himself got is a heated debate with leading philosophers of his day about what the proper definition of time should be.

    Specifically Einstein had a heated disagreement with the famous philosopher Henri Bergson over what the proper definition of time should be (Bergson was very well versed in the specific mental attribute of the ‘experience of the now’, and/or the ‘persistence of self-identity’ through time).

    In fact, that heated disagreement with Henri Bergson over what the proper definition of time should be was one of the primary reasons that Einstein failed to ever receive a Nobel prize for his work on relativity: (Thus, obviously, it was not a minor disagreement)

    Einstein, Bergson, and the Experiment that Failed: Intellectual Cooperation at the League of Nations! – Jimena Canales
    page 1177
    Excerpt: Bergson temporarily had the last word during their meeting at Société française de philosophie. His intervention negatively affected Einstein’s Nobel Prize, which was given “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect” and not for relativity. The reasons behind this decision, as stated in the prize’s presentation speech, were related to Bergson’s intervention: “Most discussion [of Einstein’s work] centers on his Theory of Relativity. This pertains to epistemology and has therefore been the subject of lively debate in philosophical circles. It will be no secret that the famous philosopher Bergson in Paris has challenged this theory, while other philosophers have acclaimed it wholeheartedly.”51 For a moment, their debate dragged matters of time out of the solid terrain of “matters of fact” and into the shaky ground of “matters of concern.”52
    https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/3210598/canales-Einstein,%20Bergson%20and%20the%20Experiment%20that%20Failed%282%29.pdf?sequence=2

    Here is another article that goes into a bit more detail about the particular confrontation between Einstein and Henri Bergson over what the proper definition of time should be.:

    Einstein vs Bergson, science vs philosophy and the meaning of time – Wednesday 24 June 2015
    Excerpt: The meeting of April 6 was supposed to be a cordial affair, though it ended up being anything but.
    ‘I have to say that day exploded and it was referenced over and over again in the 20th century,’ says Canales. ‘The key sentence was something that Einstein said: “The time of the philosophers did not exist.”’
    It’s hard to know whether Bergson was expecting such a sharp jab. In just one sentence, Bergson’s notion of duration—a major part of his thesis on time—was dealt a mortal blow.
    As Canales reads it, the line was carefully crafted for maximum impact.
    ‘What he meant was that philosophers frequently based their stories on a psychological approach and [new] physical knowledge showed that these philosophical approaches were nothing more than errors of the mind.’
    The night would only get worse.
    ‘This was extremely scandalous,’ says Canales. ‘Einstein had been invited by philosophers to speak at their society, and you had this physicist say very clearly that their time did not exist.’
    Bergson was outraged, but the philosopher did not take it lying down. A few months later Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the law of photoelectric effect, an area of science that Canales noted, ‘hardly jolted the public’s imagination’. In truth, Einstein coveted recognition for his work on relativity.
    Bergson inflicted some return humiliation of his own. By casting doubt on Einstein’s theoretical trajectory, Bergson dissuaded the committee from awarding the prize for relativity. In 1922, the jury was still out on the correct interpretation of time.
    So began a dispute that festered for years and played into the larger rift between physics and philosophy, science and the humanities.
    Bergson was fond of saying that time was the experience of waiting for a lump of sugar to dissolve in a glass of water. It was a declaration that one could not talk about time without reference to human consciousness and human perception. Einstein would say that time is what clocks measure. Bergson would no doubt ask why we build clocks in the first place.
    ‘He argued that if we didn’t have a prior sense of time we wouldn’t have been led to build clocks and we wouldn’t even use them … unless we wanted to go places and to events that mattered,’ says Canales. ‘You can see that their points of view were very different.’
    In a theoretical nutshell this expressed perfectly the division between lived time and spacetime: subjective experience versus objective reality.,,,
    Just when Einstein thought he had it worked out, along came the discovery of quantum theory and with it the possibility of a Bergsonian universe of indeterminacy and change. God did, it seems, play dice with the universe, contra to Einstein’s famous aphorism.
    Some supporters went as far as to say that Bergson’s earlier work anticipated the quantum revolution of Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg by four decades or more.
    Canales quotes the literary critic Andre Rousseaux, writing at the time of Bergson’s death.
    ‘The Bergson revolution will be doubled by a scientific revolution that, on its own, would have demanded the philosophical revolution that Bergson led, even if he had not done it.’
    Was Bergson right after all? Time will tell.
    http://www.abc.net.au/radionat.....me/6539568

    And then, around 1935, Einstein was directly asked by Rudolf Carnap (who was also a fairly well respected philosopher of his day):

    “Can physics demonstrate the existence of ‘the now’ in order to make the notion of ‘now’ into a scientifically valid term?”
    Rudolf Carnap – Philosopher

    Einstein’s answer was ‘categorical’, he said:

    “The experience of ‘the now’ cannot be turned into an object of physical measurement, it can never be a part of physics.”
    Einstein

    Carnap and Einstein’s quotes were both taken from the last few minutes of this following Stanley Jaki video.

    Stanley L. Jaki: “The Mind and Its Now”
    https://vimeo.com/10588094

    The specific statement that Einstein made to Carnap on the train, “The experience of ‘the now’ cannot be turned into an object of physical measurement, it can never be a part of physics.” was a very interesting statement for Einstein to make to the philosopher since “The experience of ‘the now’ has, from many recent experiments in quantum mechanics, established itself as very much being a defining part of our physical measurements in quantum mechanics.

    For instance, the following delayed choice experiment with atoms demonstrated that, “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,”

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: Some particles, such as photons or electrons, can behave both as particles and as waves. Here comes a question of what exactly makes a photon or an electron act either as a particle or a wave. This is what Wheeler’s experiment asks: at what point does an object ‘decide’?
    The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
    http://themindunleashed.org/20.....at-it.html

    Likewise, the following violation of Leggett’s inequality stressed the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it.

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640

    Moreover, in recent experiments in quantum mechanics, it is now found that “quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    As the following 2017 article states, “a decision made in the present can influence something in the past.”

    Physicists provide support for retrocausal quantum theory, in which the future influences the past
    July 5, 2017 by Lisa Zyga
    Excerpt: retrocausality means that, when an experimenter chooses the measurement setting with which to measure a particle, that decision can influence the properties of that particle (or another particle) in the past, even before the experimenter made their choice. In other words, a decision made in the present can influence something in the past.
    https://phys.org/news/2017-07-physicists-retrocausal-quantum-theory-future.html

    Moreover, besides our decisions in the present influencing something in the past, in quantum mechanics, our decisions in the present also influence what we will see in the future.

    As leading experimentalist Anton Zeilinger states in the following video, “what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”

    “The Kochen-Speckter Theorem talks about properties of one system only. So we know that we cannot assume – to put it precisely, we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement. Not always. I mean in certain cases. So in a sense, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
    Anton Zeilinger –
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video (7:17 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4C5pq7W5yRM#t=437

    Thus, (directly contrary to what Einstein himself thought was possible for experimental physics), experiments in quantum physics have now shown, in overwhelming fashion, that ‘the experience of the now’ is very much a part of experimental physics. In fact, due to these recent advances in quantum mechanics, it would now be much more appropriate to rephrase Einstein’s answer to the philosopher Rudolph Carnap in this way:

    “It is impossible for “the experience of ‘the now’” to ever be divorced from physical measurement, it will always be a part of physics.”

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    It is also interesting to note that Godel himself, Einstein’s close friend and confidant at Princeton, directly opposed Einstein’s view that ‘time was a dimension’.

    The God of the Mathematicians – The religious beliefs that guided Kurt Gödel’s revolutionary Ideas – by David P. Goldman – August 2010
    Excerpt: In a Festschrift for Einstein’s seventieth birthday in 1949, Gödel demonstrated the possibility of a special case in which, as Palle Yourgrau described the result, “the large-scale geometry of the world is so warped that there exist space-time curves that bend back on themselves so far that they close; that is, they return to their starting point.” This means that “a highly accelerated spaceship journey along such a closed path, or world line, could only be described as time travel.” In fact, “Gödel worked out the length and time for the journey, as well as the exact speed and fuel requirements.”
    Gödel, of course, did not actually believe in time travel, but he understood his paper to undermine the Einsteinian worldview from within.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    Also of note, the following study, (in a fairly ingenious thought experiment that looked at the differences between ‘photon clocks’ and ‘atomic clocks’), challenged the assumption of length contraction as being valid for ‘photon clocks’. In doing so, they cleared up some loose ends in relativity concerning time’s relation to space. Loose ends that had been ample fodder for much of the speculation that time travel is possible in relativity:

    Physicists continue work to abolish time as fourth dimension of space – April 2012
    Excerpt: “The rate of photon clocks in faster inertial systems will not slow down with regard to the photon clocks in a rest inertial system because the speed of light is constant in all inertial systems,” he said. “The rate of atom clocks will slow down because the ‘relativity’ of physical phenomena starts at the scale of pi mesons.”?He also explained that, without length contraction, time dilation exists but in a different way than usually thought. “Time dilatation exists not in the sense that time as a fourth dimension of space dilates and as a result the clock rate is slower,” he explained. “Time dilatation simply means that, in a faster inertial system, the velocity of change slows down and this is valid for all observers.,, Our research confirms Gödel’s vision: time is not a physical dimension of space through which one could travel into the past or future.”
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-p.....space.html

    Thus, Hossenfelder’s reliance, (solely), on Einstein to “get us out of this conundrum’, in regards to ascertaining the proper definition of time, has a pretty big defect within it. Namely, it is fairly obvious that Einstein did not get himself out of his own conundrum with time, thus it is also fairly obvious that Hossenfelder cannot rely solely on Einstein to resolve the issue.

  5. 5
    William J Murray says:

    From the quantum evidence, it is clear time is not a “dimension,” something we are “moving through” as we move through space. However, what this also reveals is that there is no such thing as space. Our concept that we are beings moving among other spatially moving objects through spatial co-ordinates through universal linear time requires that time is a 4th-dimensional environment that provides for the capacity for physical things in space to change states. “Changing states” is proposed as the time equivalent of changing physical location in 3D space. Without time as a dimension, you cannot (so the old idea goes) even change location. You’re “frozen in time.”

    But, just as we know this concept of time is false, we also know our concept of 3D space has long been proven false by quantum physics. This was shown when we discovered entanglement and the capacity of consciousness to instantaneously determine/change states/characteristics regardless of “distance” in space.

    All of this has very clear ramifications: space and time are experiences, not things in and of themselves. This is why consciousness affects those experiences the way it does, not limited by supposed “external” distances in space or time or by lack of causal, local physical connections. Physicists keep trying to “materialize” what is clearly mental phenomena into something else by using materialist and physicalist language and concepts to express what is clearly not those kinds of things.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, time has a major thermodynamic aspect which is linked to the causal flow in say cosmology. It is a reasonable analytical step to treat it as a dimension, recognising relativistic effects. KF

  7. 7
    Querius says:

    Thank you, Kairosfocus @6,

    It’s stupid to deal with unsupported assertions that time and space don’t exist without at least some explanation or references. Hawking used imaginary time for his calculations, but such assertions without some references leave us with nothing sane to discuss, and the thread degrades into a bizarre list of unfounded statements . . .

    I can hardly wait to read what else “doesn’t exist” without a modicum of explanation.

    -Q

  8. 8
    EDTA says:

    Well, time is money. And _money_ is real. So follow the logic…

  9. 9
    Jack says:

    Does anybody really know what time it is?
    Does anyone really care?
    If so I can’t imagine why.
    We’ve all got time enough to cry.

  10. 10
    Jack says:

    EDTA,

    Time is money.
    Nothing is better than money.
    Therefore surely nothing is better than time.

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