First, this blog post is partly inspired by Tiramit at Dhamma Footsteps’s blog post, “Without beginning and without end”. In Tiramit’s post he writes about the now-moment, the present moment–and how its really all there is. Concepts of Past, Present and Future are descriptors and constructs. He writes of personal synchronicities with naming one of his blog categories, “now-moment,” as it aligns with some of some of Meister Eckhart’s 14th century thinking and writing. He quotes David Loy in Insight Journal to express the points that time could be a construct.
“We are not in time because we are time. Our nature is temporal which means we are not things; we are bundles of physical and mental processes. And when we become nondual with those processes, the past is not something that falls away, and the future is not something that’s coming. Then we live “in” what is sometimes called the eternal present. Etymologically the word “eternity” means without beginning and without end. What is without beginning and without end? It’s always now.” [David Loy, qtd. in Dhamma Footsteps]
It is here where I depart and examine instead the concept of time in terms of General Relativity, Quantum Physics, Loop Quantum Gravity, and String Theory.
For Einstein, the father of General Relativity: “the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion” (Einstein, 1955, Letter). This is not inconsistent with the idea of mathematical intuitionism.
Introduced by the 20th-century, by the L.E.J. Brouwer, a Dutch mathematician, Mathematical Intuitionism is a school of thought that posits that the main objects of mathematical discourse are mental constructions governed by self-evident laws. However, as a physicist, I doubt that Einstein was a mathematical intuitionist. He was busy using mathematics to describe and understand physics and develop General Relativity.
For Einstein, Time is relative to the frame of reference. The rate at which time passes is based on your speed and acceleration at any moment. With Einstein’s General Relativity, the faster you travel, the slower time appears to pass. I tend to think of aging as ‘time’ defined as a succession of events. The “amount” of time that’s gone by, therefore, would not be measured by a clock, but by the number of events that happened in a time frame. With social media, and information exchange happening faster than we can imagine, I think of how we experience this dual process of aging and increased technology use delivering event information faster, as all leading to a very fast pace of life. We are also ‘producing’ more during these times.
Look at how when we are young children, we have biological clocks that are going absurdly fast compared to adult standards. A child’s brain is 80% grown in size by age 3 and by age 5, 90% in size. This biological clock is going so quickly that the child’s perception of time is likely to be extremely slow in comparison to the adults’. It was also Einstein who said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” From here, we can extrapolate that even in the pace of our own lives, the greater world is moving at an even faster pace, for we are only witnessing and participating in tiny “snap shots” of the whole events that could exist, as we imagine really are existing without our witnessing or participating in them.
Wait, put on the breaks! I’m feeling like I’m in a black hole. This is where General Relativity (GR) doesn’t work very well. What Quantum Physics (QP) does is introduce uncertainty. In complete irony for the uncertainty appreciation that Quantum Physics releases is that “time in quantum mechanics is rigid, not bendy and intertwined with the dimensions of space as in relativity” (Wolchover, 2020). Apparently, quantum physics isn’t resolutely deterministic or indeterministic. There is still so much that is unknown about the overall definition of time. This is one of the challenges of merging the theory of GR with the QP.
Loop Quantum Gravity
Holy smokes, in Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG), apparently time does not exist at all! According to Sam Baron who writes for ScienceAlert.com, “while physics might eliminate time, it seems to leave causation intact: the sense in which one thing can bring about another.” Now doesn’t that make us scratch our heads? The best that I can understand LQG is that space-time is woven together as network with hubs. In this type of theory, gravity might exist as quanta or packets. Apparently these loops are connected by nods forming spin networks which create spin foam.
This is the best video I found on the above topics, but I didn’t get any closer to understanding time! It really lays out all of these theories about understanding the nature of everything. The main issue is why are there two separate laws and rules for the very large and the very small. Therefore, it is clear that general relativity is not the explanation of everything! Quantum theories arose because classical physics didn’t explain the nature of physics fully, under all circumstances. The smallest unit of time is the Planck time. It is the time it takes light to traverse one Planck length, the smallest duration of time that has physical meaning.
LQG does not try to form a unified theory of everything as does String Theory (ST). ST requires that space-time have 10 spacial dimensions for it to exist as it has been hypothesized. However, so far there is no evidence for these extra dimensions. Here is a short, non-comprehensive list of things that we need to have evidence for in order for ST to be true/accurate and not just theoretically attractive:
1). 10 space-time dimensions (Super-string theory)
- Bosonic 26 dimensions
- M-theory 11 dimensions
2). That time did not have a beginning and will not have an end (existence before the big-bang)
3). Super-symmetry (a partner particle for each standard particle)
- (mini black holes have not been created in labs)
4). There are questions about whether or not String Theory can even be put to the experimental test.
Does it matter that Time does or does not exist?
For as long as there is a practical application for space-time, such as planning a family outing or vacation, agreeing with a friend on where to meet for tea or coffee, and deciding when to hold a wedding, I think that time will always be needed. What theoretical physics says about time with regard to the nature of reality, well, that’s still undecided by the physicists–for the most part. Also, we still don’t have a theory of everything that would make us feel confident for how time fits in neatly with all the things. How our understanding of time affects god/goddess and beingness? I’m not so sure. In moments of meditation, I don’t need time, because I already put that ‘time aside’ for either another investigation or an open process to experience energy without any constructs but potentially being in my body. Time is not needed then.
I like that I can have a ‘take it or leave it’ idea about time–use it when it’s necessary, and ditch it when it gets in the way of connecting within my imagination and potentially other dimensions. I feel like science backs my approach to time with our lack of understanding as species towards the nature of the universe. The theories exist, unsupported, but I am delighted that we still have so much to discover! I wonder if I would get so tired at night if it weren’t for the biological processes related to events taking place throughout the day, the use of ATP by my cells, the melatonin response to the calendar of the sky’s lights, and the biological clock-work of my cells measuring my movements, and lulling me into the end of my day. Or maybe my body wisens to the non-existence of time, and rests in it–in dream space, freed from it for a while.
I hope you enjoyed this exploration! Please leave a comment in the box below and let me know that you were here. Let me know if you read the whole thing, or only parts. Let me know if you visited any of the links below, or the video above. I know that i am enriched due to my exercise and exploration through time and physics, taking a small foray into a big, endless subject (finite or infinite, who knows?!).
Until next time we shall meet here… I wish you a wonderful day full of wonder 🙂 I might tackle microtubules for another time.
Further Reading material:
5 thoughts on “The lull of time is in its non-existence…”
For me Time has not existed this week, for I blinked and another week has flown.. So much we Don’t know… and So much yet to learn.. ❤
Sue, you brought a delightful smile to my face and a happy grin 🙂 Love it, and love you xo
❤ ❤ ❤
This is a fascinating piece; I loved reading about your journey in pursuit of the meaning and existence of time, but also your conclusion and what it means to you. Lately time has been flying for me, yet in memory it has often passed so slowly. ❤
Thank you so much, Jaya! Once again, your comment has pretty much made my day. Wishing you a very fulfilling time, as it goes by 🙂 Thanks again for leaving me a note letting me know about your experience of reading!! Wishing you so much enjoyment now, and always.