Of Time and Physics

Physics and Timepath are compatible views – the past is real; the future – messy probability; the Now separates them.

Well-trained, reputable physicists have published claims that the past is fixed, the future is just like the past but stretches in the other direction, and that the present Now is the point that joins the two. Some even publish that it is possible to travel through time.  Are such positions sensible, or, as we believe, are they ideological beliefs supported by wishful thinking?

This is our concluding post in the 4 part series that introduces our Timepath picture of reality.  Timepath is not yet a model with new predictions ready for physics testing. It is a pre-hypothesis; a suggestion of how to view world processes to remove the feelings of strangeness generated by (for example) quantum ideas. We begin by discussing the three physics worldviews (paradigms) and compare how they mutually interact. The Timepath description follows, along with a discussion of how the quantum paradigm and Timepath views can work together.   Click any image for full resolution 

Overview:  The Three Paradigms of Physics 

This section is a quick summary of the three distinct physics worldviews.

  • The Newtonian view of the classically famous 3 laws of motion.
  • The Relativistic view with its ‘Special’ description and its cosmological ‘General’ extension.
  • The Quantum view that accounts well for the atomic world of the ultra small.

A more complete description for non-technical general audiences can be found in our Physics In 3 Paradigms.pdf.

Newtonian Paradigm (NP)

Isaac Newton’s Laws form the oldest paradigm in physics that that actually works.  NP was developed in the mid 1660s. It was released several decades later as the 3 famous laws that students learn in their first classes in physics. NP is deductive and causal in that current interactions cause subsequent motion.  NP is also called deterministic.  It described and explained activities in ways not possible before.

Sydney Harbor - Newton's Laws

Fig 1  Australia’s Sydney Harbor.

Nearly every object in the Sidney Harbor view (Fig 1) owes its existence to the success of NP analysis.  All the constructed things we use today – bridges, complex buildings, vehicles, lighting, aircraft, etc.  show Newton’s success.

They connect the beginnings of NP (accurate descriptions of planetary orbits) to modern explorations of our local environments (underseas, ground-to-atmosphere, and near-Earth space).

NP is our foundation paradigm to understand the world. For this reason it is called Classical Physics.

Relativistic Paradigm (RP)

Relativistic Inertial FrameSpecial Relativity (SR), the initial form of RP, was released in 1905 and extended NP to high velocities, and accelerations in inertial reference frames only. SR is the attempt to find the form of physics ‘laws’ that can be expressed exactly the same way in all inertial frames, independent of any relative velocity (valid laws must be covariant).  It assumes that the speed of light has the same numeric value in each reference.  These two requirements – covariant laws and invariant light speed – led to startling predictions.

  • Relativistic Proper ValueThe length of a moving object is always less than its proper length.
  • The duration of a time interval (like the time between successive clock ticks) is always longer than the proper duration.
  • If there is in inertial frame where two events are detected to occurring simultaneously, they will not occur simultaneously in any other moving frame.

SR has been strenuously examined through extremely detailed tests.   Because it has passed every one of these test, SR now is generally accepted.  But to the old NP physicists, it did not “feel like” physics – sure, it made new predictions, but it seemed closer to a philosophical discussion.

General Relativity (GR) is the upgrade to SR and is its natural successor.  GR combines the speed of light and simultaneity with gravitational mass to describe the universe as a whole. GR predicted that accumulations of mass will warp straight lines through space and was immediately used to explain the classical anomaly in the precession of Mercury’s orbit as well as the bending of star light around our sun.  In its GR form, RP has passed the myriad tests of its predictions.

Physicist John Wheeler (1911-2008) is often quoted to have said

Mass tells space-time how to curve, and
space-time tells mass how to move

Andromeda galaxy and general relativity

Fig 2 The Andromeda galaxy, M31

About 20 years ago, the structure and behavior of the Andromeda galaxy (Fig 2) was found to differ a bit from GR calculations, a fact that led to the proposal of dark matter.

So far, no one has observed “dark matter” – does this invalidate GR?

Think about this – neutrinos started as a math tool to let quantum relations work. But. If neutrinos were only a math contrivance, Quantum mechanics would be as acceptable as epicycles or phlogiston.  Twenty six years after being proposed, Cowen and Reins (link) detected their very real existence.

Frankly, I am not worried about dark matter – our understanding of galactic dynamics and the universe as a whole is based on the success of GR theory.

Although the SR subset of the RP is accepted by nearly everyone, its GR generalization still makes some physicists squirm, even though it has passed every challenge during the past 100 years. It is in continuous daily use: the GPS location devices use GR calculations in every measurement. Without GR, GPS could not work.

As with its NP predecessor, RP provides accurate deductive predictions from causal relationships. Both are deterministic world views – If you can specify something’s initial state and keep it fully isolated from everything else, you can know with perfect precision what will be happening at any time after the starting point.

Quantum Paradigm (QP)

The physics discipline that underlies the QP is Quantum Mechanics (QM), which describes an atom as a tiny positive central nucleus surrounded by a definitely shaped though diffuse cloud of negative electrons.  Since you cannot distinguish between identical electrons, no prediction can be made for any particular one.  This means that QP can not provide deterministically predictive descriptions – only most likely ones.

Orbital dz2 probability distribution

Fig 3 Artist’s image of the calculated dz2 atomic orbital

QM‘s “diffuse but definite” cloud is the density of the probability in which the various states that the collection of electrons could exist. The gaseously diffuse  probability is called the state’s wave function, and has required decades to understand (assuming we actually do so, now).

Wave function calculations proved precise explanations for what we observe, and accurate predictions about what we should expect.  We can picture these as in Fig 3, our artistic conception of the dz2 wave function for the orbital electron distribution in an atom. It shows a distinct though blurry solid against a background of all the general probabilities in the atom’s environment.

Continue reading

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Obama Decides On Keystone XL

Obama announced at 11:00 Nov 6 in 2015 that the contentious Keystone XL program has been rejected.

This is written minutes after President Obama publicly announced his administration’s rejection of the Keystone upgrade project. LastTechAge has been following this since the original Keystone pipeline was approved, built and immediately called obsolete.

The President gave 3 justifications for his rejection of the project

  • Obama rejected the hype from both the far right, far left and shadings in between.

He rejected Right-wing claim that KXL would generate huge job opportunities for the foreseeable future. He is right.  There would be construction jobs, but no long range possibilities of new jobs. The 2010 Keystone line generated few long term jobs, the KXL would probably have generated fewer yet. Obama has already have achieved 5% unemployment in the face of congressional opposition and Congress appears unwilling to pass his legislation to generate job increases as much as 30 times higher than KXL would have.
No worry about true job loss.

He rejected the Left-wing claim that KXL would by itself cause devastating climate catastrophe by encouraging more raping of the Alberta wildlife.  He is right.  The U.S. does not have the power over the Canadian Athabasca fields. We would not even influence the Canadian population, always suspicious of U.S. motives.  Canadians must take care of the Alberta ecological disaster, themselves.  It will be really interesting to watch Trudeau with his new policies.
There will be no test of the climate disaster hypothesis – thank goodness. Continue reading

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Time Path – Probability Begins It

The probables in the Potential Future use Bayesian hooks into the events of Now to continuously form Reality

We continue discussing the Time Path, with a closer look at what must be happening when potential events become real events. We examine the natural flow of probable uncertainties that seem to be at play.   In a sense, we try to “clarify” by emphasizing probability, a topic most people find hard to visualize.

Future Now int Past

Fig 1  Time Path visualization. Dots indicate events,

Fig 1 is a visualization image meant to focus the discussion on the structure of time.  Activity flows like this  from right to left in the image.   Click any image for full resolution

  • the Future  is an undetermined swirl of potential actions converging toward events.  Probability is the only reality.
  • the Now  is the focus of where things happen.  Now is the coalescence of probabilities into actualized events or vanished alternatives, the occurrence point where things possible become things actual.
  • the Past  is the record of actual events that have happened.  Happening events push realized ones out of the becoming Now and into the actualized past.
click for a list of our discussions about the Time-path

The Time Path is a  speculative view, developed from my own and many other viewpoints. This is a  post in the Time Path Ontology chain.  I suspect that you should read the previous Time Path posts to get the full visualization.  I am solely responsible for any errors or misstatements.

Is time really like the flight of an arrow?

It certainly feels like we are rushing forwards toward something in the future. Really? Why not backwards into the past, instead?  This is a reasonable question if events truly are “flowing toward the future,” because basic physics allows actions to work equally well forwards or backwards.  We grew up with the imagery of flowing time that it is hard to discard. Continue reading

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Time Path – Exploring the past

How can we know that this Which caused that What?  It depends on how we use the timepath.

We continue where we stopped our discussion in  Time Path – The Flow of Time. and discuss how we identify what happened in the past. The timepath visualization of Fig 1 helps us understand the past.    (Click any figure for full resolution.)

Time path Slice

Fig 1 A vertical slice across the timepath establishes an instant for examination

Our timepath is formed out of the the Past (the unchanging record of events that have occurred) the Now (where possible actions are actualized to the events that form reality), and the Future (the open possibilities for potential actions that could become realized in the Now).

The horizontal direction ( ) is time direction leading from the Now, when such things started, into the Past.   A vertical slice ( | ) separates the timepath into left and right regions.  The perfectly thin slice is an instantaneous 3 dimensional  image of the entire universe.  The moment Now is an example of such a slice.

We start with a quick summary of what the timepath means, then examine how use slices and look at our Past to discover activity patterns.  We will reach 3 conclusions:

  1.  A timepath slice should be an instantaneous view of the universe, but – because every event loses contrast as it moves deeper into the fog of the past – the width along the timepath must increase as we move into the deeper past. Such a 3D separator marks an interval about a specific time in the past so we can label events as before and after.  Our choice of a boundary will effect our judgement of cause and effect.
  1. We cannot identify every last thing that happened on any chosen boundary, so differences in interpretations are inevitable.
  1. Since Now is the beginning of the timepath, it is NOT a “boundary” – it does not divide realized events into before and afterNow is one-sided, having only the entire Past before.

Continue reading

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Time path – the flow of time

What are the Past and Future? What is Now? The time path is interesting

Our experience of time is focused around what we describe as Now.  Before Now, there is no time containing any realized structure, just interconnected potential actions each with variably possible chances that coalesce into becoming the actualized events that are finalized Now.  After Now there are no probabilities for new things to occur.  There is just the past, as a record of events that have already happened.

I hope you are still with me after the twisted language in that paragraph, I have been working on the concept of time for many years.  Human words were not designed to discuss the structure of time, itself, so we will begin exploring what words imply.
Click any image for full resolution.

The path of time

Fig 1:  The time path. Activity flows from future probabilities to realization Now and into the past

Fig 1 is our picture to help focus the discussion.  The flow of an activity is from right to left in the picture, with Now being the focus of where things happen.

3 states of reality

  • Future (or potential), the assembly of all the possible ways potential events could happen. Reality happens when the amorphous ensemble of possibilities converge into actual events.  So the future is the potential for all that could happen,not a tangible, real condition.
  • Now (or becoming), the location where all the myriad possibilities solidify into real and unchangeable events.  This coalescing of all possible actions into real events has been called the ‘glowing,’ or ‘burning’ edge of time. It is where new actions form and our awareness happens. The flow of time does not stop because there is no firm paved path to walk along.  Time flow occurs because there newly crystallized events that becomes the new Now.
  • Past (or being), the location of fixed reality. The newly forming events push the ones that have firmly happened out of Now. This action generates the sequence we call the time path and forms the “past.”

This picture means that the future is not predestined, that it is the myriad formless ways that things could happen. Continue reading

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Obama, Overtime and Saez-Piketty

Obama’s new overtime rules will change business practice. What does they speak to: injustice, inequality or something else?

The July 1, 2015 New York Times Business section carried an analysis by Noam Scheiber on proposed new Overtime rules, Obama Overtime Rule Scratches the Surface in Helping the Middle Class.

Noam Scheiber, New York Times

Fig 1  Noam Scheiber, New York Times

Obama proposes new Overtime (OT) rules to help to push back the income inequality that has been growing in our country for decades. The Rule raises the threshold for people who may be exempted from additional compensation for more the 40 hours work in any week. These exempt workers are paid by salary, not by time clock records, and are not compensated for any additional work hours beyond the those 40.

Mr. Scheiber’s first comment is very accurate – Obama’s new Rules will have almost no affect on Middle Class income.

This is because it changes how to improve compensation for job related work hours beyond the standard 40  hr/wk. OT pay is not part of a contract, it is fortuitous money that occasionally arrives but cannot be included in a budget.  This rule will do little to nothing to offset the social income pump that shifts money from the lower wage workers into the accounts of the ultra wealthy.

Noam Scheiber ties the lack of effectiveness to the income inequality studies published by Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty. The analysis ends with a solid discussion of what really is needed to begin addressing our ongoing income shift.   We examine his points with observations to underline his basic conclusions. Click any image for full resolution.

Overtime (OT) Pay

click for our discussions on economic inequality

Currently, a salaried worker who makes above $23,660 may be classified by the company as an exempt employee (not eligible for OT pay).  Let’s examine whether a change would make a difference. Continue reading

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TPP to Piketty – The Slow War

Trans  Pacific Partnership, Retirement Security, and Piketty income inequality are backdrop to slow but very real warfare.

The TPP issue is not an isolated topic but part of deep background to an unspoken but real efforts to change the structure of the American republic.  We discuss it with 2 other issues. Our Outline:  TPPRetirement SecuritySaez Piketty inequality trends

The TPP negotiations are connected to the economic security now and in the future for retirees which is also tied to Thomas Piketty’s results on inequality. Click any image to see full resolution form.

TPP  Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement

The TPP is desperately wanted by Obama and top Republicans.  There has been strong behind-the-scene maneuvering to give Obama fast track negotiation authority.

Barack Obama 2009-2016Barack Obama‘s fast-track negotiation authority has past through the House and Senate. He can now do with it as he wants.  He claims it will boost our trade, increase our net wealth, and be very good for the other signatories.

He may be right about that last point. You might agree with his other points, if you are one of the leaders of our largest corporations, or are the scion of one of our “old wealth” families.

Our Slow Revolution   It is bad for the rest of us, though.  The TPP is the current battle ground in our 35 year (and counting) struggle to convert our populist democracy into an hereditary oligarchy.  There has been much written about the trap TPP represents.

James Surowiecki

Fig 2 James Surowiecki, Columnist, New Yorker

Dean Baker

FIg 3  Dean Baker, Co-director, CEPR

James Surowiecki, Columnist for the New Yorker Financial Page, highlights  the frightening  issue of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), posted his analysis of TPP implications.

Our opposition follows both arguments. Continue reading

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