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Time as the 4th Dimension (As Explained by Fitz)


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#1 QueenTiye

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 10:37 AM

I wish I had a YouTube clip of the fantastic explanation Fitz gave of time as the 4th dimension.  It was really awesome.

My questions for any who dare to venture:  From what we saw on-screen, did anything actually change, or was everything actually locked in place as seen?  Also - does the act of seeing it cause it to be fixed, or is life entirely predetermined by this theory (and if it's entirely predetermined, why precisely would anyone kill the guy who could show you the future?)

Finally - does this fixed dimension theory permit time travel of any sort?

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#2 G-man

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 11:55 AM

I'd argue that things were fixed/predetermined ... it's just that even with the glimpse and photographic memory, we still cannot fully understand what is going to happen.

But, I think Time Travel is possible, once one figure out not only how to perceive the 4th Dimension, but also how to build and travel along that Dimension.

/s/

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#3 Sci-Fi Girl

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 06:06 PM

View PostQueenTiye, on 06 April 2016 - 10:37 AM, said:

I wish I had a YouTube clip of the fantastic explanation Fitz gave of time as the 4th dimension.  It was really awesome.

I don't have a clip, but there is a transcript!  :cool:

This transcript is from foreverdreaming.org, and they don't usually put character names in the dialog, so it can get confusing.  But here is the relevant quote:

Quote

If Daisy can remember details about the location and we get there in time, we ...

Guys, there is no time.

Fitz: She glimpsed the fourth dimension. Time is an illusion.

It's how we perceive the fourth dimension.

Simmons.

It's mathematics.

He's talking about space-time.

How do you ... How can I explain this?

Right.

We're 3-D, yeah? Okay, but imagine ... imagine we lived in a 2-dimensional existence ... flat, just like a piece of paper.

We wouldn't be able to conceive of three dimensions, of ... of ... of a ... a cube or anything that's not 2-dimensional, okay?

Yeah.

Right, so, we flat paper people would perceive this 3-dimensional cube as many separate 2-dimensional moments. As time passing ... the point on the line traveling through space and time.

But, in fact, the cube, the line is fixed.

Yeah, it's just sitting there.

There's no future. There's no past.

It just ... It just is.

And nothing you can do will change that. [Marker thumps]

You're hurting my brain.

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#4 RJDiogenes

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 06:32 PM

Well, the bottom line is that we don't really know what time is.  There's barely proof that there's an arrow of time.  But....

We live in a quantum universe, so we can make a good guess that time is governed by the same principles. Therefore, the future is not fixed-- or all futures exist, if you believe in the Multiple Worlds hypothesis. However, if one were to glimpse the future, that may collapse the wave function. So the future is not fixed unless you see it, and then it is.

But how can one see the future if it hasn't happened yet?  Not to mention the actual mechanics of it. When you see the future, what is it that you're seeing?  From what perspective?  What information are you tapping into?  Something that you will see with your own eyes?  Something that someone else will see with their own eyes (therefore involving some sort of telepathy along with the time travel)?  Or just pictures from a convenient quantum TV camera that is taking pictures and beaming them through time?  All of it seems highly unlikely.  But, I suppose, that if time has the same quantum fuzziness as matter and energy, especially if it is mediated by some sort of vector boson, might have a virtual future component, like virtual particles in the vacuum, that sort of feel out possible futures before evaporating-- therefore some people might be able to glimpse a possible future through some kind of quantum entanglement, especially if there's a quantum computing aspect to consciousness within individual neurons, as some theorize. Again, it all seems highly unlikely.

Is time travel possible?  Well, yes, since it happens all the time. But is time travel possible like in stories where you can go back and kill Hitler or your grandfather (or both, if your grandfather is Hitler)?  Probably not.  Again, we live in a quantum universe, so there is probably some kind of exclusion principle preventing the violation of causality-- so you might be able to travel into the past through a Black Hole, but it would also take you to another part of the universe. Or causality could be protected by a closed curve in a four-dimensional Lorentzian manifold.

Or maybe you can just change the past without affecting the present, the same way that you can change the future without affecting the past.  I've always wondered why stories depict changes in the past as instantly changing the present-- why would the changes move faster than the normal speed of time?
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#5 G-man

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 11:41 AM

Well, changing the past doesn't "instantly" change the present, per se.  That's only the time traveler's perspective.

In "reality," if one went back 40 years and changed a key point, from that point 40 years of history occurs. Some events still occurring when they did because other factors played a role in how things would occur; OTOH, if a key event was changed, a key influential decision maker removed, then it is some else faced with the problem, and makes different decisions, which in turn affects what decisions others make in response, and all of a sudden we find history beginning to stray from it's previous course, thereby resulting in a present that is different.   

What a lot of time-travel tales do is have the traveler skip the intervening years, and "instantly" come to face the world that he inadvertently created.  Relatively few of them actually keep the traveler in the past to experience the events as they unfold, and he finds himself 40 years older now living in the present.

/s/

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#6 RJDiogenes

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 06:35 PM

Yeah, but it's that skipping ahead that I'm talking about.  The Time Traveler goes back forty years and makes his changes and that new world unfolds, as you say, one day at a time.  But the Time Traveler then gets in his time machine and jumps ahead forty years to his present. But the changed timeline is still back there, plodding along, overwriting the existing timeline day by day.  When the Time Traveler jumps to the present, he should find things unchanged, because the changes haven't caught up yet.  It will take forty years. And by that time, he'll be forty years farther ahead.  His changed timeline will never catch up to him.
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#7 Cybersnark

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Posted 08 April 2016 - 11:28 AM

Except that he's not jumping forty years into his present, he's jumping forty years ahead --into the newly-altered timeline.

View PostRJDiogenes, on 06 April 2016 - 06:32 PM, said:

But how can one see the future if it hasn't happened yet?  Not to mention the actual mechanics of it. When you see the future, what is it that you're seeing?  From what perspective?  What information are you tapping into?  Something that you will see with your own eyes?  Something that someone else will see with their own eyes (therefore involving some sort of telepathy along with the time travel)?  
Well, in this case, Daisy was seeing through her own eyes --what she was experiencing could more accurately be called "pre-memories" (and we all know how reliable memories can be). She was simply remembering things that hadn't happened yet, much like Merlin.

For that matter, given our media-filled world, it's possible that this same mechanism could apply for more impersonal "visions" of the future as well --consider how we all "remember" things that we weren't actually present for (we saw/heard/read about them).
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#8 RJDiogenes

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Posted 10 April 2016 - 05:26 PM

^^  Well, it's true that all the premonitions we saw were of events that the person was present for. It may have been better if all the premonitions had been POV shots, but I suppose it doesn't matter.

View PostCybersnark, on 08 April 2016 - 11:28 AM, said:

Except that he's not jumping forty years into his present, he's jumping forty years ahead --into the newly-altered timeline.  
But it's the jumping that's the point.  When he goes from forty years in the past to the present, he's moving faster than the speed of time.  So why are the alterations already here when he arrives?  The alterations should be overwriting the past one day at a time.
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#9 G-man

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Posted 10 April 2016 - 08:17 PM

I would argue that he is not moving faster than time, he has stepped out of the time stream for forty years, yet from his perspective it was only a moment.

The effect would be the same if the traveller went into stasis/suspended animation for those years.  He would be unaware of time passing, but time is still flowing at its usual pace.  Thus, he knows how the world was, and he knows how it is when he awakes, but he remains ignorant of what happened between then and now.

/s/

Gloriosus
the G-man Himself
Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, so that all may profit by it.
Let me think of the right and lend my assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage.
Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
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#10 RJDiogenes

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Posted 11 April 2016 - 06:01 PM

Well, that's true. It depends on how you envision the mechanism of time travel working in a particular story.  I don't know if the stasis comparison works, because he can move both forward and backward through time.

In The Time Machine, the Traveler sort of plows through time and you can see it passing at an accelerated rate, so it's not surprising that he'd see the effects of any changes that he made. But that raises a whole host of other questions, since he is moving so slowly compared to everything else.

But if you've got a character taking a shortcut through a wormhole or some kind of warp space-- basically jumping out of the river of time and running up and down the banks-- he'd always be outpacing any changes that he made.
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#11 JudasRimmer

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 06:50 PM

^Something that that film [or the book,either] never explained was how gravity would affect things. The time machine manages to stay in exactly the same place on Earth no matter how fast through time it goes...but surely as soon as you start to time travel,the Earth [or anything else] would no longer be in the same place relative to you,and so wouldn't you see it either going backwards or forwards along its orbit as soon as your rate of time travel exceeded the ability of the Earth's gravity well to effectively snap you back into place?

Going at twice the normal rate of time would be ok,but if you did six months in a second,the Earth would be on the other side of the Sun,and you'd be floating in space. Oops,don't forget your space-suit. Also,you'd better not stop/materialize in exactly the same place as something else,like another atom. Surprise nuclear *fusion. At least the remake got around that problem,if not the gravity one. Luckily shows like DW do their time travel in a way that avoids all that.

*Things the goobment doesn't want you to know - a lot of stars are born out of failed experiments in time travel.

[Amusingly,one of the characters in the current comic strip in DWM says the line "faster than the speed of time",which this thread reminded me of. (nothing to do with Clara,who's gotten on the bad side of Matthew Hopkins,the infamous Witchfinder General!)]

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#12 RJDiogenes

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 07:03 PM

Ah, you've brought up one of my favorite difficulties with time travel-- why does the Earth never move out from under you?  I like your thought about the gravity well keeping you in place, though-- an interesting twist for a story would be the conversion of time travel speed to escape velocity. A pain point for time travelers, but a boon for NASA.

I wonder what the real effect of materializing "inside" another object would be, though. Nuclear fusion is one thought, but wouldn't the Pauli Exclusion Principle prevent that from happening?  Maybe the objects would just squoosh together, like milk and coffee. Time travel may be possible, but unworkable because there's no vacuum pure enough where you can use it without killing yourself.
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#13 sierraleone

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Posted 17 April 2016 - 09:18 AM

View PostQueenTiye, on 06 April 2016 - 10:37 AM, said:

I wish I had a YouTube clip of the fantastic explanation Fitz gave of time as the 4th dimension.  It was really awesome.

My questions for any who dare to venture:  From what we saw on-screen, did anything actually change, or was everything actually locked in place as seen?  Also - does the act of seeing it cause it to be fixed, or is life entirely predetermined by this theory (and if it's entirely predetermined, why precisely would anyone kill the guy who could show you the future?)

Finally - does this fixed dimension theory permit time travel of any sort?

QT

Nothing changed from Skye's vision that I could see. Perhaps only fixed points are actually communicated in these flashes? Fluid/flexible points are not, if there are any? And I could think of one reason to kill the guy if the future is entirely predetermined... So you don't loose hope in the event of a negative future ;) Though that would require knowing what his power was, that is was entirely unchangeable, and deciding it is better off just to kill him to avoid the chance of ever touching him, once or again. Or of your team/colleges touching him once/further, if you need them to stay on task.

Edited by sierraleone, 17 April 2016 - 09:18 AM.

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#14 sierraleone

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Posted 17 April 2016 - 09:30 AM

For some reason I just started to imaging a two dimension cartoon (in a 2 dimensional universe/plane of existence) being able to see into the third dimension. Their friends communicate, why you acting all weird? Doing flips and such? (possibly thru some sort of sign-language? How would sound waves be experienced in 2-D? Only perceived when it's wave passes thru the 2-D plane someone exists in? And even then how could they have organs designed to perceive them?). And then suddenly a 3-D object (car, ball, fist, whatevs) goes thru that space the person voided. And then their friends are like "woaah dude".

Though, to be honest, it isn't that different from such scenes happening in our stories when someone other very observant and/or pre-cognitive does something (or does nothing, like stopping) just before something happens.

I guess maybe this just means I sorta got Fitz's explanation? :)

Edited by sierraleone, 17 April 2016 - 11:10 AM.

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Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
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#15 Cybersnark

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Posted 17 April 2016 - 02:55 PM

In Flatland, a 3D object moving through Flatland seems to spontaneously appear and shapeshift.

To flatlanders, it would probably look a lot like Ramiel does when moving through 3D space.


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#16 Orpheus

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Posted 18 April 2016 - 11:13 PM

I don't care for the kind of theory Fitz presents. I've heard it many times from physicists, and especially from physics students, but I feel that it is a "simplistic over-objectification" that attempts to dodge a messy mud puddle, and ends up falling in an even messier latrine pit.

Having said that, I can see how it may well be VERY applicable to "precognitions", even if it completely fails as a description of the physics of time.

I call it a "simplistic over objectification" because... well, scientists generally like to be able to build their conceptions of the universe from what they know, with maybe a few small extensions into the hypothetical that they feel they can justify; they don't like to speculate wildly on messy timey-wimey nonsense. A static four dimensional universe, where the fourth dimension is identical to the three spatial dimensions we readily perceive except for our own "motion" through it ("time" being the direction of our motion, which may not be the same as the "time direction" of another observer) seems to avoid a lot of the messiness.

But here's where it falls into the latrine pit. As Fitz says "It just sits there. There is no Future. There is no Past". Nothing CAN move. The Universe as we know it is just a 4D fracture that radiates out from the Big Bang in a starlike (or radial tree) shape. We can't know what caused the Big Bang, the ding in the windshield or even understand the substrate (the windshield glass) that existed before it/outside it/whatever. We only know/exist in the fracture. We are creatures of the Fracture; we can't perceive uniform unfractured spacetime any more than a fish perceives water -- no, worse: any more than a single atom in an empty universe could perceive the infinite vacuum that surrounds it. Spacetime is something "objects/events" exist IN, but may be beyond existence.

Now the problem is: by definition, WE can't  move through that 4D fracture. Everything is fixed, including us and our perceptions. This theory not only fails to explain our experience of time, but it creates a monster that suddenly dominates every other question: Consciousness. "The Observer Problem" has been a quandary in physics for over a century. What collapses the waveform of Schroedinger's Cat? Observation -- but only conscious observation: if you had a camera in the box, and took a picture of the cat, the waveform wouldn't collapse when you took it, only when you looked at the picture. Quantum Entanglement, split-beam particle experiments, etc. etc. still pose that issue today: what IS a [sufficiently] Conscious Observer? We have no math for that!

In the 80s, there were major invitation-only conferences in Palo Alto and Santa Fe on "the Dragon", as those top physicists termed the brain-busting issue of the nature/role of consciousness/observers in their quantum experiments. They decided it was too messy and silently dropped it. Few (if any) journal papers were published (because they didn't get anywhere), but you can read articles about the conferences in 80s pop/sci mags like "Discovery" which innocently assumed that conclusions would at least begin to emerge from such grand meetings of the Giant Heads.

I'm not mocking anyone. Here's a simpler question to give you a feel for their outlook. I used to ask physicists "We know matter and energy are equivalent and interconvertable -- but what is the difference between them?" The difference had been so intuitively "obvious" that this question was largely unexplored.  I thought hearing many physicists shine their own lights on the question might yield some insight, but by far the most common response, after they'd tried to squirm out, was: "That's really a philosophical question, not physics." And indeed it was--but I also had a degree in philosophy, so I didn't take "That's philosophy" as the scornful dismissal they intended. I'd ask: "But there is a difference, right? And when we know what it is, then it'll suddenly be science, right?" They didn't like that. But though they didn't have the words to express abstract epistemology, they were absolutely correct: without a testable hypothesis, this question can currently only be speculation, not a suitable topic for the Scientific Method.

But here's where Fitz may be right:
Even though his definition of "Time" as "a fourth dimension of space in a static Universe-object" may be meaningless, both in terms of explaining time AND in terms of fitting the known laws/equations of energy, momentum and physical forces (that's why modern physics ends up resorting to up to 22 dimensions and still unprovable constructs like superstrings), but it MAY well explain why if you "see" a future you may not be able to change it.

In the first place: what is "seeing the future"? I'd argue that it is "some [correct] information that you can't otherwise explain having" -- not seeing an event. If "the future" were easily changed, it wouldn't be "the future", would it? It'd be imagination. If what you "saw" didn't gain you some information which remained true even if the event itself were forestalled, you wouldn't say you'd seen the Future, you'd say "Boy, was I wrong. I dunno what I was thinking."

I'll assume Fitz was just drawing an analogy. He MUST know about 22-dimension theories, superstrings, etc. (He --and the aliens he's dealt with-- have used higher dimensions many times.) I'll assume he knows all about Schroedinger waves and probabilities. He knows that there is a remote but real possibility that Coulson will turn into a giant toad [Oddly, in the Marvel Universe, that'd actually be more likely than in our own, especially if Colson were an Inhuman]. I also assume that he takes the strength of Daisy's experience fairly seriously, so he believes that the infinite overlapping probabilities must overlap pretty strongly in that particular direction (vs. Coulson turning into a giant toad that eventually eats Grant Ward) He's saying "if we believe this 'vision' at all, we have to accept that it will happen, or else it'll be a false vision -- the universe will collapse into a different probability, and she will have seen... nothing real."

In other words: he's not trying to explain the structure of the SpaceTime of the universe as a whole. He's saying "If we assign any validity to Daisy's experience, it can only apply if we come darn close to the conditions she experienced, amid a universe of weaker alternatives." He's just summarizing it without all the math.

#17 RJDiogenes

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Posted 19 April 2016 - 06:26 PM

An endless succession of static universes combining to create the illusion of a dynamic universe is too inelegant to be true. But no theory of time has really worked.  We really need an entirely new way of looking at time.

Time is usually referred to as the 4th dimension, but there's a couple of ways of looking at dimensions-- as the context in which things exist, i.e. space, but also as attributes of objects, i.e. height, width, and depth.  So perhaps time exists as an intrinsic component of matter and energy.  Or maybe it is a quality of matter, similar to charge or spin-- which could explain why it is affected by gravity and acceleration. Or perhaps it is a force, like the Strong Force or the Weak Force. Or perhaps time is what happens when the Superforce is not there to stop it-- after all, time started with the Big Bang, which coincided with the fragmentation of the Unified Field.
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#18 FarscapeOne

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Posted 19 April 2016 - 08:43 PM

Ancient:  "Time..."
John Crichton:  "Rosemary and..."
Ancient:  "Time..."
John Crichton:  "Ends."

#19 Orpheus

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Posted 19 April 2016 - 09:37 PM

[It's okay folks -- y'all can come back in! I'll take the heavy science to the other thread]

We can rule out time as a force, particle property, etc. -- for, er, "reasons" -- but it could be intrinsic to our conception of particles/etc. in existence as we know it, which may be akin to what you're saying. I definitely agree that the fragmentation around the Big Bang changed/defined every element we can know as Reality.

In fact, I've long had a theory [coming up on 30 years, this summer] that what we call "time" is not one single "thing", but rather two or more "things" that are so well-correlated (but still completely independent, in their essence) that we think all the effects come from one thing. This might explain why we have such difficulty working out its essential nature: we can't tell that "partly it's the dog, and partly it's the fleas". The history of science is full of examples of that.

It's hard to believe that in 100 yrs ago, much of the physics community rejected atoms (electrons orbiting a nucleus) for very good reasons! Until quantum theory, there were straightforward scientific arguments that such an atom couldn't be stable. One of my many gripes with standard education is that it tries to legitimize atoms as "common sense" by tracing the idea back to Democritus, around 460-490 BCE. Modern "culturally aware" texts only make it worse by noting that similar beliefs existed in India and elsewhere around that time, as well. The thing is: what they called "atoms" only had one trait in common with what we call "atoms". The Greek ἄτομον, atomon ["unable to be cut"] was a tiny, indivisible particle with a consistent set of physical properties; the modern "atom" is indeed the tiniest bit of matter that will have some of those kinds of physical properties -- but even by the most generous interpretation, 99.99% of what he attributed to "atoms" are now understood as resulting from molecules or nanostructures or emulsions or many other things with very different meanings. And "uncuttable"? "Atoms" as we know them don't make any sense unless you understand their parts.

An atom of diamond is the same as an atom of graphite, soot or charcoal and is responsible for most of the properties the Greeks used to define "wood". If you'd tried to tell Democritus that, you'd have been lucky if he merely had you banished. Socrates (a contemporary of Democritus) was sentenced to death for "misleading the young" with his reasoning. [There's a lesson for every geek who ever wished our society took academics as seriously as it takes Football (either kind) or Mixed Martial Arts. There HAVE BEEN times when intellectual pursuits could be the equivalent of a popular cage match (complete with WWF-style poseurs). Whether Ancient Greece, the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, or the Inquisitions, it's never been pretty.]

Dmitri Mendeleev won the Nobel Prize for his Periodic Table of Elements, but when he died, the leading theory of atoms was the "Raisin Bread" model of JJ Thomson [Ironically, JJ Thomson proved the electron was a particle and won a Nobel Prize; his son GP Thomson proved the electron was a wave, and also won a Nobel Prize. Worse: they were both right] Despite all our experiments in Atom Science and Chemistry by 1916, our analogies were all wrong. 2016  physics actually has pillars that are as distinctly different as the "orbiting electron" and "raisin bread" theories. We HOPE they can be unified, as particles/waves were, but any unification might actually require one or another of these pillars to be completely built. The 2020s may be as interesting as the 1920s were.

[Extended pun involving Greek temples with Ionic pillars deleted for the sake of sanity]

#20 RJDiogenes

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Posted 20 April 2016 - 05:29 PM

View PostOrpheus, on 19 April 2016 - 09:37 PM, said:

We can rule out time as a force, particle property, etc. -- for, er, "reasons" --
You'll see!  YOU'LL ALL SEE!  :mad:

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but it could be intrinsic to our conception of particles/etc. in existence as we know it, which may be akin to what you're saying. I definitely agree that the fragmentation around the Big Bang changed/defined every element we can know as Reality.  
If time started with the Big Bang, how could there be a before the Big Bang?  Or was that just local time?  Or maybe time is he context that Big Bangs happen in.  Or maybe what we call time is the effect of that larger context leaking in to our local context (like some theories of gravity would have it).

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In fact, I've long had a theory [coming up on 30 years, this summer] that what we call "time" is not one single "thing", but rather two or more "things" that are so well-correlated (but still completely independent, in their essence) that we think all the effects come from one thing. This might explain why we have such difficulty working out its essential nature: we can't tell that "partly it's the dog, and partly it's the fleas". The history of science is full of examples of that.  
That reminds  me of something else I meant to put in my last post:  Why three dimensions of space and only one of time?  For the sake of symmetry, shouldn't there be three (or whatever) of each?  Maybe each dimension of space has a corresponding dimension of time, like each particle has an anti-particle (or possibly sparticle).

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Dmitri Mendeleev won the Nobel Prize for his Periodic Table of Elements, but when he died, the leading theory of atoms was the "Raisin Bread" model of JJ Thomson [Ironically, JJ Thomson proved the electron was a particle and won a Nobel Prize; his son GP Thomson proved the electron was a wave, and also won a Nobel Prize. Worse: they were both right] Despite all our experiments in Atom Science and Chemistry by 1916, our analogies were all wrong. 2016  physics actually has pillars that are as distinctly different as the "orbiting electron" and "raisin bread" theories. We HOPE they can be unified, as particles/waves were, but any unification might actually require one or another of these pillars to be completely built. The 2020s may be as interesting as the 1920s were.  
Well, that's it.  Particles were never really particles, or waves, or wavicles, or strings, or points, or anything else. They are something that is completely outside the scope of human experience, even hypothetical human experience. They are things we can only define with mathematics and describe with poetry.
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