Try to focus on this moment right now. Fix it in your mind. You can’t, can you? Because even as you think about a moment that moment has passed. What we consider to be the present is actually the recent past. Our mind makes sense of the data it’s being sent and paints us a picture of the world around us but it takes time to process that data and in that time the world moves on. We live milliseconds in the past never quite catching up to the present. Trippy to think about right? And we haven’t even gotten started yet. In this edition of Mind Blown we talk about one of the most mind bending concepts we know of and one that we live with all of our lives. Today we talk about Time itself.
And that’s really the crux of the discussion. What are we talking about when we talk about time? Throw out concepts like seconds, hours, days, years, millennia. These are human constructs based upon observable repetitions of natural phenomenon creating a circuitous definition. They help us mark the passage of time but they are of little help in understanding what time actually is.
To even begin to get a handle on the concept of time and its role in how we experience reality you must first understand the relationship between time and space. In our common everyday lives we think of time as being a universal constant that passes by for all of us, for the entire universe. This is not the case. In fact each of us has our own personal time zone that exists independent of how others experience time. That is because time is relative to motion and our position in space. To prove this scientists used synchronized atomic clocks, taking one on a plane and leaving one on the ground. After spending a day up in the air the clock on the plane was a few billionths of a second slower than the clock on the ground. Not much but still definitive proof that motion through space effects motion through time.
So if we are all experiencing time at a different rate how come no one ever noticed until now? Well the truth is our movements are so insignificant on the grand scale of the universe that the differences between how we experience time are so minuscule that to call those differences negligible would be an understatement exponential magnitude. Even so they do exist, meaning that our conception of “now” is fundamentally flawed.
You see while billionths of a second may not make much of a difference here on Earth when extrapolated outward across vast distances in the universe the deviations between perceived “now”s become significant. Imagine a future in which we have mastered interstellar travel. If I’m 90 billion light-years from Earth and traveling in the opposite direction my movement through space affects how I experience time to the point so that what I consider to be my personal “now” actually consists of moments that people on earth would consider to have already occurred or the “past”. By the same token if I traveled back towards earth what I consider to be my “now” would angle and include moments that had yet to occur or the “future”. This points theoretical physicists towards the belief that the past, present, and future exist simultaneously in reality and are merely points along a spectrum of time in the same manner that the earth and the sun exist as points in space.
Mind Blown yet? Yes? No? Maybe so. Well check back because in Part 2 of Time I delve into what you’re really after. Time Travel.