It’s About Time

On 10/08/2003 7:49 pm, “Paul Sellars” wrote:

> “Importantly, Lynds claims his theory solves Zeno’s paradoxes, which have
> frustrated creative brains for millennia…”
Yahoo Article
> Any offers?
> Paul Sellars

Ahem! Leaving Tralfamadorians aside….

One implication of Lynds’ work is a really hard to wrap a mind around. If he’s right that there are no instants in time related to physical processes, then there is no such thing as a flow of time, because such a flow inherently requires progression through definite instants — exactly what Lynds forbids.

So… Quite a bit like Julian Barbour’s concept of time as expounded here?:

The End Of Time


The End of Time is a fascinating contribution to physics by a scholar and thinker who is taken seriously by physicists of the calibre of Wheeler and Smolin. But he has pursued a career outside the mainstream, living on a farm and refusing to get involved in traditional teaching and research. He argues that time is a purely local phenomenon, a way of seeing things, rather than something that actually meaningfully exists at the core of the Universe. This consists of a vast agglomeration of Nows, single moments whose relationship with each other is intimate, but not intrinsically one of causation.

“If time is removed from the foundations of physics, we shall not all suddenly feel that the flow of time has ceased. On the contrary, new timeless principles will explain why we do feel that time flows. The pattern of the first great revolution will be repeated. Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler taught us that the Earth moves and rotates while the heavens stand still, but this did not change by one iota our direct perception that the heavens do move and that the Earth does not budge.”

The many worlds hypothesis is also true and the worlds that derive from alternate possibility exist alongside each other moment-by-moment. Seeing things in this way solves the more recondite problems of quantum physics–Schrodinger’s Cat is both dead, and alive, and never in the box in the first place and at a time before the box was thought of, and long dead all in a set of Nows that sit alongside each other in the Platonic realm which is underlying reality. There are no paradoxes because Sequence is an illusion: this is philosophical physics for those of you who like to have your brains hurt – Roz Kaveney

It’s a great book and it hurt my brain very much the first time I read it. The big leap is of course abandoning a priori notions of causality. Once you’ve done that, Barbour’s schema seems to be patently logical. It also dovetails beautifully with Everett’s Many Worlds model of quantum theory because it is based on the illusion of continuity of consciousness: I assemble myself from Planck time to Planck time not through any continuing “flow” of time but simply because I am, in that shard, that being which remembers other shards of time *in a certain order.* There is no unique, prime “I”, I exist as a foam, smeared across the universes.

Thus, consciousness is nothing more than a stochastic assemblage, self is a collage stitched out of all the time moments (which, of course, have no intrinsic “natural” order in and of themselves) in which appropriate selves exist.

Two things leap to my mind, both of them notions by “fiction” authors. The first is Billy Pilgrim, unstuck in time. But perhaps he isn’t unstuck – he’s actually just abandoned the consensual illusion of causality, the comfy narrative we need to weave in order to escape the men with the large nets. Billy Pilgrim sees the truth about time: it’s all out there, there’s no flow.

The second is Greg Egan’s notion of entire universes, teeming with sentient beings found inside the noise of a de-tuned TV screen (also a Rudy Rucker fave).

If Barbour or Lynds is right, and one could view our universe from “outside”, it would appear to be noise, pure and simple. All times, all places, all coexisting. The only structure being those tiny worms winding through it which we call consciousness.

Anyway, I’m knackered so I must drag the cloud of atoms I call a body and the questionable fabrication I call myself off for some kip,
love and kisses,