Search FQXi

If you have an idea for a blog post or a new forum thread, then please contact us at, with a summary of the topic and its source (e.g., an academic paper, conference talk, external blog post or news item).
Current Essay Contest

Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, SubMeta, and Scientific American

Previous Contests

It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013

Contest closed to Entries. Submit Community Votes by August 7, 2013; Public Votes by October 31, 2013.


Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, SubMeta, and Scientific American

Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American

What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008

Forum Home
Terms of Use

Order posts by:
 chronological order
 most recent first

Posts by the author are highlighted in orange; posts by FQXi Members are highlighted in blue.

By using the FQXi Forum, you acknowledge reading and agree to abide by the Terms of Use

 RSS feed | RSS help
April 17, 2014

CATEGORY: FQXi Essay Contest - Spring, 2012 [back]
TOPIC: The Problem: We See Time Backward by John Brodix Merryman [refresh]
Bookmark and Share

Author John Brodix Merryman wrote on Jul. 2, 2012 @ 10:42 GMT
Essay Abstract

Time is experienced as a series of events and with its philosophy of measurement as reality, physics treats time as a measurement from one event to the next. I argue that time is the changing configuration of the extant, turning future potentialities into current events and replacing them. It is not the present moving from past to future, but action turning future into past. While this may seem a fairly basic observation, it means time is an effect of action, similar to temperature, not the basis for it. This would mean the geometry of spacetime is correlation of measurements, not causation of actions. One of the more significant effects of this understanding of time would be eliminate the conceptual basis for an expanding universe.

Author Bio

John Merryman is a horseman by profession and a regular participant in FQXi forums.

Download Essay PDF File

John Merryman wrote on Jul. 2, 2012 @ 19:32 GMT
I thought I would add this as a recent example of cosmological findings which push up against the envelope of what's possible within Big Bang Theory;

"The giant arc is the stretched shape of a more distant galaxy whose light is distorted by the monster cluster's powerful gravity, an effect called gravitational lensing. The trouble is, the arc shouldn't exist."

"The chance of finding such a gigantic cluster so early in the universe was less than one percent in the small area we surveyed," said team member Mark Brodwin of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. "It shares an evolutionary path with some of the most massive clusters we see today, including the Coma cluster and the recently discovered El Gordo cluster."

An analysis of the arc revealed that the lensed object is a star-forming galaxy that existed 10 billion to 13 billion years ago. The team hopes to use Hubble again to obtain a more accurate distance to the lensed galaxy."

Peter Jackson replied on Jul. 28, 2012 @ 18:36 GMT

Loved these quotes. The findings are not unpredicted (see my last years essay) but are certainly unpredicted by current theory. My essay this year describes the quantum mechanism in detail.

Your own essay looks your best to date at a first scan, I'm off sailing and will read, absorb and score (certainly higher that present score!) on my return.

Best of luck.


John Merryman replied on Jul. 29, 2012 @ 02:39 GMT

Thank you for the compliments. I've gone back and am trying to reread your essay, but it takes a bit more concentration to unravel than I am able to muster.

I've taken a bit of perverse pleasure in my low public score. It keeps me from getting at all confident. Not that I want more low scores added!

Considering how these contests unfold, the FQXi members and other established entries will start dribbling in now that there is only a month left. It will be interesting how those reasonably confident of current models are going to address this topic.

J. C. N. Smith wrote on Jul. 2, 2012 @ 22:05 GMT
Hi John,

"It is as though the thread of time is being woven from strands frayed off from what had previously been woven and the past ultimately becomes as unknowable as the future."

That is poetry, John, in the finest sense of the word, and also an accurate description of reality, in my opinion. Well written. Your ideas are always interesting and wide-ranging, but I've never previously known them to be so beautifully poetic. Thank you for that. With your permission, I might like to quote that line sometime, crediting you as the author, of course. May I have your permission to do so?

"It is not the present moving from the past to future, but action turning future into past."

On this point, I would suggest a somewhat different formulation. For what it's worth, I believe it would be a more accurate description of reality to say "it is not the present moving from the past to future, but action turning present into different present."

Regardless, thanks for the essay, and good luck in the competition.


Georgina Parry replied on Jul. 3, 2012 @ 01:00 GMT
Hi John,

I am glad you wrote this essay. It is good to have your personal perspective and so many of your good ideas- and beautiful expression of them, in one piece of writing. I hope you get lots of appreciative readers. Good luck in the competition.

Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jul. 3, 2012 @ 00:13 GMT
Hi John,

You've written an enjoyable essay. I found one of your statements quite insightful: "the two forms, energy and structure, represent opposite directions of time."

You also "venture to consider the wave function" and seem to conclude that the standard use of time leads to multi-worlds and also that "collapse of probabilities yields actualities."

For a somewhat different approach I hope you will find time to read my essay on the Nature of the Wave Function.

I'm glad you submitted an essay and hope you enjoy this contest which looks to be producing some interesting ideas.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

John Merryman wrote on Jul. 3, 2012 @ 03:12 GMT
Thanks all! I've been trying to read some of the other essays, but am having to work two jobs currently and haven't had the time and mental capacity to absorb much beyond current events.


I read your comment earlier on my phone and it set some wheels turning. You are correct that it is a series of presents, or rather the changing configuration of what is present, but the gist of my essay was not so much just a description of time as effect, but why we understand it the way we do and how what seems so evidently obvious, isn't so clear on further reflection. The basic understanding of time is that progression from past to future; For example, Sean Carroll's book was about how entropy caused the direction to emerge from action and Julian Barbour's winning essay in the first contest was about how an accurate measure of units of time could be deduced from the theory of least action. So my efforts are to counteract this presumption of linear progression from past to future as fundamental and to do that means to emphasize the nature of the events as particular configurations that are being created and replaced. Many people do spend much of their present fixated on events other than the present, to the extent the real present can be quite nebulous. In order to deconstruct that mindset, I have to use the tools in the toolbox.

You are certainly welcome to use any of my ideas, attributed or otherwise. I certainly take others and mix and match them. That particular comment might be considered a rephrasing of the uncertainty principle, in that a present "measurement" requires affecting some prior piece of information. The past being used in order to inform the present and being altered in the process. I would say the line I liked the most was the closing one, that neither academic or religious authority could turn an ideal into an absolute. As I was writing the essay, I realized I was getting further away from the specific point about time, but knew I needed to explore the psychology more than the physical logic. Thus the points about epicycles and how something so evidently factually obvious, such as the sun moving across the sky, might still be an effect of some equally simple cause, but be overlooked because there is no way to be completely objective and then why objectivity can be a fallacy. So, in that final sentence, I was trying to express how our desire for ultimate truth becomes one more chimera.


Thank you. It can be a bit of an obstacle course in trying to got something cogent written, with all the distractions and often fragmented ideas. It probably would have been a bit different, given more time, but I didn't want it to be too rambling.


I did start to read your paper, but as J.C.N. observed, I'm good with the poetic. The problem is my nuts and bolts are more organic than scientific. Will try again.

Alan Lowey wrote on Jul. 3, 2012 @ 09:47 GMT
Hi John,

You make some very good points in your essay. It's a welcome addition to the competition.

Joe Fisher wrote on Jul. 3, 2012 @ 14:05 GMT
Dear Mr. Merryman,

I was fascinated by the subject of your essay and the masterful skill it was written with. I just wish to make two points. I do not believe that natural visible light as from the sun moves at all. Judging from photographs taken in outer space I have seen, the sun seems to be a large dull spherical glowing red cinder that is probably emitting huge amounts of radiation. It is only after waves of this radiation hit the surfaces of the molecules that comprise earth's atmosphere that visible light might appear. Secondly, as I have thoughtfully pointed out in my essay, Sequence Consequence, everybody lives for a different duration. Everything seemingly can only exist for a duration that is different from that of everything else. I maintain that just as the Universe stays in one place because all of its integral parts are in motion, the Universe must be eternal because all of its integral parts exhaust all known aspects of duration.

Joe Fisher

John Merryman wrote on Jul. 3, 2012 @ 16:08 GMT
Thanks Alan. The topic of the contest was just too compelling to pass up.

Joe, While I haven't read your essay, I'm not in agreement with your first point, but generally agree to the second. Any photo of the sun has been extremely filtered, as the bright light/radiation that would wash out any detail would be filtered out and is just as real as the red end of the spectrum which the photo focuses on. I do think there is an analog nature to light that is difficult to measure and quantify, because of the particulate, physical structure that emerges and turns into matter at less than lightspeed. Since any device necessarily consists of such structure, it can only measure discrete properties that emerge on contact, either wave effects or bound up as quantum particles. Knowledge is a function of distinctions, yet reality is a consequence of connections. We see the details, not what holds them all together.

I do think the universe is not a singular entity which came into being and will eventually disperse, but is an ecosystem, in which entities interact and exchange energy. Matter contracts into galaxies over hundreds of millions of light years and radiates energy back out over billions of light years. I think we will eventually realize that trying to explain what we see as having come into existence in a mere 13.7 billion years is about as logical as trying to explain all the earth as only being 6000 years old. Currently we are seeing large galaxies and galaxy clusters out to 13 billion years. Assuming they coalesced and ignited out of the cosmic background radiation created by inflation, in only 700 million years, or less, stretches the imagination far beyond the breaking point, but those able to influence the consideration of this are already fully invested in current theory.

Joe Fisher wrote on Jul. 4, 2012 @ 15:12 GMT

Please excuse my ignorance, but every televised launch of manned rockets into space seems to show the rockets quickly ascending into darkness even if they are flirted up there in broad daylight. I also seem to recall that the electric lights on the space station are powered by solar radiation and not by emitted solar light. I fail to understand the concept of believing that the farther away an object is, the older it must be. When the first atomic clock was introduced, it was claimed that it was incapable of losing or gaining a second for 300 years. It is modestly claimed for the most recent atomic clock that it cannot lose or gain a second for a billion years. I guess we now only need to build an atomic clock that cannot gain or lose a second for 13 and three quarters of a billion years and we will get to know more about the Big Bang than we have so far ever suspected.

John Merryman replied on Jul. 5, 2012 @ 03:58 GMT

Both the solar radiation and the visible light are moving from the sun. If you were out in space and staring at the sun, it would be far brighter and radioactively intense than it appears from earth, because the atmosphere and magnetosphere filter out a lot of the energy. Yet your backside would be much colder, because there is no atmosphere to distribute the energy around you, as both the light and the radiation would be hitting from the direction of the sun. And yes, it would appear very dark in other directions, because there is little energy coming from those other directions.

Paul Reed replied on Jul. 5, 2012 @ 06:55 GMT

“I fail to understand the concept of believing that the farther away an object is, the older it must be”

That is because nothing is ‘older’, wherever it is. Nothing, except elementary particles by definition, persists in existence. There is re-occurrence of existence, ie it is always ‘new’. The present is that which was in existence as at any given point in time. But we pick on selected superficial characteristics, ie conceptualise reality at a higher level, and thereby invoke the incorrect illusion that things continue to exist, albeit change, which they do not.

Another approach to this point is to recognise that we receive physically existent phenomena (eg light, vibration, noise, etc). So if proven that they has been in existence for some duration, what that proves is that the reality with which there was an interaction, which resulted in those physical phenomena, was in that physical state of existence (as represented by the received phenomena) some duration before the point in time at which receipt occurred.


Paul Reed wrote on Jul. 5, 2012 @ 06:37 GMT

What is physically happening is that any given physically existent state in any given sequence, alters. That is, it is superseded by another and ceases to exist. There can only be one such state at a time in existence (ie a present), because otherwise the successor could not occur, and there would be no physical existence. In other words, there can be no form of change within a physically existent state (a physical reality). Change relates to difference, which is only identifiable when more than one is compared, so it is a characteristic relating to the difference between more than one, not of one. Change has substance (ie what altered) and frequency (ie how quickly it did so when compared to other changes). Timing is the measuring system which compares the rate of change (ie the number of changes in one circumstance against the number in another) irrespective of the substance of the change. Time does not physically exist.


John Merryman replied on Jul. 5, 2012 @ 10:33 GMT

Our difference on this is that you are focused on the distinction between one state and the next, while I'm focused on the connection between them. To me the reality is the dynamic process of what is occurring and while we mentally assess differences, they are effects of the dynamic, not the basis for it.

"Nothing, except elementary particles by definition, persists in existence."

To me, the dynamic is the elementary particles and energy being manifested by them. They don't exist in a series of frozen states, but are in constant motion.

J. C. N. Smith replied on Jul. 5, 2012 @ 10:55 GMT
"They don't exist in a series of frozen states, but are in constant motion."

For whatever it's worth, I side with John on this one. I've never been enamored with the series of frozen states concept. The universe is dynamic and ever evolving. That evolution is governed by rules which we strive to understand and which we refer to as the laws of physics.


Paul Reed replied on Jul. 5, 2012 @ 13:05 GMT

Let me address your points jointly.

Yes it is a “dynamic” process, obviously, otherwise nothing would happen! But the dynamics is in the difference between, not of. “Frozen” sounds all wrong, static is better, involving no form of change whatsoever is perhaps better still. The point being that, within any given sequence (which is not a trick caveat, just an inherent condition reflecting physical reality) there can only be ‘one at a time’. For the successor to occur, its predecessor must cease. It’s that simple. Within either of those, or indeed others in the sequence, there can be no change. [Note: within, or of, not between]. Because change is about more than one, it is about the difference between two (or more) ‘ones’.

So John, it is perfectly OK for you to focus on the difference between them, ie a comparison of them, and then why did one become another one. So long as ‘them’ constitutes a set of ‘ones’. Or, you consciously ramp the analysis up some levels, maintain the sequence, and consider conceptual ‘ones’, which you know really involve many in each. Which is what we do all the time, and indeed must do. It would probably take an eternity, was it even possible, to define this entity-monitor-in front of me, in its true physical form as at a given point in time that was of such a short duration that only one physically existent state is being considered. We would all go mad. But our ‘uselessness’ does not mean that this is not how reality physically exists. It can only occur this way, given that something occurs, not least because we receive input to our senses from a physical interaction (a point you picked up JCN in Karl’s blog). I am of course not interested in any beliefs, philosophies, etc.

One occurs. Then another one, which when compared with the previous one has difference(s), but the previous one has ceased, otherwise this one could not have subsequently occurred. Then another one, ditto. The speed of this is probably beyond our comprehension, which is why we instinctively jar at the concept and like a more fuzzy sort of sequence.

And yes, there is some innate property (or properties) causing this alteration, whether it be what is conceived of as energy or whatever. But they cannot be in any form of “motion”, albeit “constant”, ie alteration in spatial position, unless they have one specific state which then becomes another (ie one spatial position is different to another. It only looks ‘constant’ because of the turnover rate. A simple turn of phrase is: a difference is a difference is a difference. It’s yes/no, not ‘well only a little bit’ or ‘infintesimally small’. I often used to wonder why pigeons left it until the last moment to get out of the way and avoid being run over. Then a TV programme pointed out that their rate of sight processing was much more rapid then ours. So to them there is nothing ‘last moment’ about it. we are operating at a very slow film speed.


Steve Dufourny wrote on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 09:42 GMT
Hello John,

It is cool that you make this essays contest. I wish you all the best.You merit it.


John Merryman replied on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 10:34 GMT
Thanks Steve. It's a wall I seem to keep bumping my head into.

Steve Dufourny replied on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 10:35 GMT

Paul Reed replied on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 06:15 GMT

Ah, but what was the physically existent state of that wall, and indeed your head, as at that point in time when this interaction occurred!


Georgina Parry wrote on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 07:07 GMT

what I like about your writing and our conversations is that you do make me think. That is enjoyable and we usually either end up agreeing or having to think in new ways. You are right, while trying (not always succeeding) to keep an open mind, I am particularly interested in ideas that will fit the explanatory framework I have been working on. It is still work in progress.

Rather than just continually trying to explain it or seeking acclaim for what it is now I do need to keep improving what I have. One way is to show how other people's work fits with it. That has only just become really apparent to me by writing the essay for the competition. Having got into that frame of mind I can already see how at least 5 different new approaches, as I am interpreting them, work together with it. I would like to explain how in another essay.

Perhaps my sub conscious mind, inspired by you writing, will work out something else in the meantime. Sometimes the ideas have to sit in my sub conscious for a while and find their place before anything happens.

John Merryman replied on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 10:24 GMT

I know that feeling exactly. The mind is a bit of a stew to which we keep adding all sorts of stuff and there is no telling what comes out. I like to consul patience, but since I have none, I learn to just let the mind loose and spin its gears in whatever direction it feels like. My version of zen thinking.

Author Frank Martin DiMeglio wrote on Aug. 5, 2012 @ 03:25 GMT
Hi John. Interesting essay. Gravity is the requirement of time, as it is key to intelligible and meaningful/purposeful distance in/of space. Time requires inertial and gravitational equivalency and balancing. Extensiveness and balance/integration go together. Gravity is additive as time and memory are additive. Time involves instantaneity and a balance of past, present, and future for/involving the extensiveness of opposites.

Vision alone cannot make sense of gravity, since gravity enjoins and balances visible, invisible, and not visible space that is both seen and felt. That gravity cannot be shielded is hugely important in physics. Gravity is seen, felt, and touched. Gravity is key to distance in/of space.

John Merryman replied on Aug. 6, 2012 @ 03:12 GMT

You are wrapping too many thoughts up together, that they get too tangled for me to unwrap.

Eckard Blumschein wrote on Aug. 10, 2012 @ 16:24 GMT
Dear John,

Honestly speaking, I am disappointed because I feel unable to follow your reasoning. Since you are obviously short of time, I do not expect you reading my essay although I dealt with similar questions.

I still consider you someone knowable and honest who questions the Big Bang and the expansion of universe. I recall you on a list of many belonging opponents on the web. Did it disappear?

Best wishes,


John Merryman replied on Aug. 11, 2012 @ 01:21 GMT

The essay wasn't specifically about problems in cosmology, though I did mention it in the last sentence of the abstract and covered it around the bottom of the second page and into the third.

The reason I really haven't conversed with many of the regular participants on the FQXi boards is because they pretty much have heard this point about time and expressed their opinions. As well as I know what their favorite topics are. The problem I have is that I think this very basic observation, whether time is the present moving from past to future, or if it is the changing configuration of what is, turning future into past, is the root cause of most of the current problems in physics. There would be no concept of an expanding universe, if Einstein hadn't tried to commingle time as a measure of duration with coordinate measures of space. Schrodinger wouldn't be worried whether the cat is dead or alive, if he wasn't pushing a determined past into a probabilistic future, but understood events move the other way, from future to past. Ideas such as Planck units and the discretion of space and time become meaningless, because mass and action cannot be separated, since the physical basis is dynamic process, not static structure. Not to mention all the extensions and patches emerging from this miasma of speculation.

Even those who do agree with many of my observations, such as you and Georgina, still don't seem to see this as the key to really unlocking these issues, so I have little support when people like Tom use every debating device in the book to avoid addressing the point.

That's why much of the essay is about dissecting the psyche.

John Merryman replied on Aug. 11, 2012 @ 03:14 GMT

I happened to reread your post and realized I misinterpreted the last line. Here is that link:

John Merryman wrote on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 02:38 GMT
I'm carrying this debate with T.H. Ray over from Julian Barbour's blog entry:

"John, I regret that you cannot see your contradiction. To say that "Prior and subsequent configurations do not physically exist, but the present one is constantly changing" is equivalent to saying that time does not exist. Which is what in fact Julian claims (i.e., time exists only as an abstraction). But then...

view entire post

Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 06:03 GMT

Tom is being pedantic, you will have to say heat and not temperature for him to accept that you are not talking about the measurement but the physical activity of molecules. By your many descriptions you have made it very clear that you are talking about heat energy (kinetic energy of atoms or molecules) and not points on a thermometer line (temperature).

Georgina Parry wrote on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 06:21 GMT

My other post was just a reply to your question about why the images I had tried to describe would not have gaps between. Now that I think I've got it figured out I'm going to make a/or some 3D model(s) which I hope will clearly demonstrate what is going on. Which will be fun. They will then be an interactive 'concrete' tool box. As I'm imagining it, it will be able to demonstrate the answers to some other questions too. Which will be easier than many long verbal descriptions that might still end up being puzzling.Will take some time to put together though.I might be able to post some photos or videos of how it works eventually. It was too off topic for the other thread,

John Merryman wrote on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 10:51 GMT

Tom will never agree, no matter how I state it. The reason I keep using temperature is to compare it to time. If I only referred to heat energy, then the comparable term would be rate of change and that takes the focus off the issue of treating time as only a measure. Temperature and thermostatic responses have a far deeper conceptual foundation than Tom gives credence, which you, being trained in biology, are sure to appreciate. They are actually more fundamental to biology and physics than the sequencing of time. Time really does emerge from the gradients of temperature, because that is the basis of change and comparison of change.

Models are tough to construct, especially when the intended audience has a vested interest in ignoring.

Georgina Parry replied on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 13:40 GMT
Hi John,

thanks for explaining you reason for sticking with temperature.Its a good one. Also temperature and heat are often used interchangeably in everyday language. Turn up the temperature or turn up the heat, not a lot of difference because they go hand in hand. You are right temperature is very significant for biological organisms. As you know, the enzymes that control metabolism are...

view entire post

John Merryman replied on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 15:24 GMT

"However if rate of change was giving passage of time then hot things would be disappearing into the future as time is passing quicker for them and cold things would be being left in the past."

This is what you are missing. Hot things disappear into the past much quicker. They age/burn faster and thus cease to exist quicker. The twin that ages quicker simply has a faster metabolic rate because atomic activity is faster in her frame. Mountains are really just waves in land, but because the molecular structure of soil and rock is much less dynamic than that of water, they tend to hang around longer than waves in water.

This is my whole point about it's what exists changing, causing future potential to become past circumstance and different conditions act at different rates. What is present moves into the past, while the present changes to the next configuration.

Got to run.

John Merryman replied on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 20:44 GMT

When you consider the reason for time dilation in relativity it is about faster or slower rates of atomic activity within the frame affected by gravity or velocity. Those gps satellites are notmoving into the future faster. Their clocks simply function in frame without as much gravitational drag, so the level of atomic activity is higher.

Writing on phone slowly...

Thomas Garcia wrote on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 00:33 GMT
Dear Mr. Merryman,

I find your statements about time quite interesting and I like the support you provide for the relevant points you make in your paper, which has much that I agree with. For example, I agree that “physics treats time as a measurement from one event to the next,” and that our measurements are limited as reality [only to the extent they are confirmed by others as they re-measure from the same frames of reference.] There are, though, other issues with which I disagree or which I am unsure of your meaning.

Your posit that “time is the changing configuration of…[that which (presently) exists]….” seems to include space, fields, and other transparent or invisible quantum particles which, IMHO, are not subject to the force of time, aka aging. Please read my article, On the Nature of Time, posted Aug. 10th for this contest, so that you may see that to which I refer. I will appreciate your comments.

Your position that time is the effect of action and not necessarily the cause of it, would IMO require that action, e.g., motion, cause things to age. I read long ago (in so many words) that when or where no event occurs in space-time, those times and places are not relevant to relativity. It is not difficult to think then there is no time if there is no action. Yet, I do not disagree.

For something to be the cause of time would require action to occur and be or contain the force that causes time to flow. In fact, I agree time cannot pass unless an object is in motion, and since all observable objects are in motion, you are correct in wondering, as I have, “What came first, etc.?”

In my article, you will see I chose the motion of observable objects (that have mass) as that which causes time to become a property of such objects. Time, then, is a property of massive objects and passes inversely proportional to an object’s speed. Time as a force can be proposed, just like gravitation is proposed as a field and as a local force only, accruing under specific situations where a mass is in motion. I propose, in fact, that time is a fifth fundamental force.

In another essay I propose to post here soon, I show the correlation between Dark Matter and objects such as antiparticles which modern physics claims appear randomly and apparently just so they can conveniently cause annihilations. That essay will further support my contest entry.

John Merryman replied on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 03:16 GMT

I will read and comment on your thread, though there are many aspects of current physics which I consider to be patches to a flawed model.

To the extent time is a function of mass, it is form coalescing out of energy and eventually dispersing back into energy and other forms. The unit of time of the object, going from future potential to past circumstance. Much as any unit of time goes from future to past, tomorrow to yesterday.

Anonymous wrote on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 05:45 GMT
Thank you, John,for your quick response.

And again, we agree modern physics needs help. Your comment about time being a function of mass is so, but the rest can also be said of any thing else as well, because te secret to the holy grail is energy, I think. How do you reconcile time units going from the future to the past, when a race, e.g., is measured from start, i.e., zero, to its end, which must be a 0+ result.

I understand you are saying time units wuld move from the potential of the future to the past. Do you mean to say, from the future to the present and then to the past? What about the claims that time moves in one direction to the future, as in the concept of entropy?

John Merryman replied on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 10:36 GMT

Energy, being conserved, moves from one form to another. Since energy is conserved, in order for new forms to come into being, old forms have to dissolve. The past to future is energy moving on. The future to past is the forms being created and dissolved. Time is what a clock measures. We think of a clock as hands and face. Hands represent the present and the face is the events/units. To the events, the present seems to move, but to the present, it is the events which move the other way. To the hands, the face goes counterclockwise. This is much as we see the sun going east to west and finally realized it was the earth moving west to east.

Yes, it is future to present to past. That's the problem with the Schrodinger's cat paradox.It isn't movement along a time vector from past to future, but the actual events happening, deciding what the fate of the cat is. Think in terms of a race. Prior to the race, there are many potential winners, but then the race is run and there is only one actual winner.

The situation with entropy is that energy naturally expands, while mass contracts, so when released from mass, energy expands out in all directions very rapidly, but mass only consolidates out of energy very slowly, so the opposite effects do not mirror each other. The teacup doesn't reassemble itself. I think we will eventually realize mass is not so much a property of mass, but an effect of energy turning into mass and creating a vacuum. Much as when mass turns into energy, it creates pressure, like an explosion. They can't find dark energy, but galaxies are surrounded by fields of cosmic rays. If this energy is condensing into interstellar gasses, it would contract, creating a vacuum effect. Stars and large planets are constantly turning lighter forms of mass into denser forms of mass and these would explain their gravity fields.

Late for work....

John Merryman replied on Aug. 18, 2012 @ 10:39 GMT

"I think we will eventually realize gravity is not so much a property of mass, but an effect of energy turning into mass and creating a vacuum."

Anthony DiCarlo wrote on Sep. 3, 2012 @ 15:11 GMT

I really liked your article, it was quite refreshing. As is the case w/ most who respond, I had attempted to match (correlate) many of your implications to that which I have written and submitted. I am in agreement on much of what you state, but, when you stated:

"We cannot see both sides of the coin at once and blending them together wouldn't give a more accurate description of the coin" I have to disagree. This is where the contrast to what you stated goes opposite to what I had stated. Information is what you see, and, if this information lays itself out in time in the fashion (model) I described ... we do see both sides of the coin (nested images of the front and back spaces). You could argue that the front side information would be the most dynamic (Quantum Mechanic side w/ blue shift), but, the backside images become just as loaded w/ information (ie., the red shifted backside images provide all the information astronomers try to come to grips with)... maybe front and back act as ADS duels. We may be capable of using duel relations to "see" "information" from both sides of the coin at once since BOTH front and back side images are reflecting from the same physical, single coin, from each face.

Best Regards,


John Merryman replied on Sep. 3, 2012 @ 15:37 GMT

I don't argue that both sides of the coin can't be considered in all their detail and present complimentary sides of one larger reality, but when you truly try to combine them, details are lost. It is no longer black and white, but grey. I'm not trying to argue against the expansion of knowledge and information, but trying to understand how it functions. The duality gives depth that is lost when we combine them. Much like we can see three dimensionally by combining information from two eyes, which is still not a single image, so our eyes switch back and forth. We can either consider generalities, which is what maps and laws do, or we can focus on specific details and then find the amount of detail in the detail is practically infinite. So knowledge is a function of focusing on what is important and applying the lessons to other situations.

Anthony DiCarlo replied on Sep. 3, 2012 @ 16:19 GMT

In the Semiconductor industry, when imaging through a chrome pattern plated glass mask, image details are lost when we fail to include the high order light scatter to reform the scaled image on a wafer. We can continually improve our ability to reform the image by doing many things, one is to increase the numerical aperature to collect the light orders that escape our collection optics. There is a cost to this however, with including the higher orders we reduce our process margin w.r.t the depth of focus - we become more prone to make a fuzzy image for the surface of in focus image becomes becomes thinner and thinner . Each and every optic/photo sensitivity film/phase shifting mask, Opticla Proximity Correction, etc., method that we employ to get a perfect scaled image to print wafers comes with a cost. Apparently, a cost comes in attempting to exactify and this may be a general rule, however, this does not rule out that a method exists that can be free of cost. We have to look, right?

Again, this has been a very refreshing forum.


John Merryman replied on Sep. 3, 2012 @ 16:58 GMT

I certainly don't say there is not a way to expand knowledge cost free, but I'm looking at what knowledge is and how it functions. Primarily it requires context, which is time and place, so if you expand on either, multiple perspectives, or long duration shutter speed, the result is blurring. We assume there must be some God's eye view, or TOE, to describe everything, but the problem with monotheism is that absolute is basis, not apex, so a spiritual absolute would be the essence from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell. A TOE would be the ultimate reductionism. Knowledge, on the other hand, is a function of perspective and detail. The accumulation of knowledge is a process of building and collapsing complexity, which creates folding of information together, which is distillation, thus reducing detail to essential information/lessons.

The fact seems to be that all knowledge must be paid for.

Israel Perez wrote on Sep. 3, 2012 @ 22:37 GMT
Hi John

Just to let you know that I have read your essay which I enjoyed a lot and found it clear and well written. In my previous essay I discuss my notion of time (points 6 to 9) which I think agrees with you. The notion of time is nothing but change/motion, the problem is that nobody understand what change/motion is. Something that is certain is that change appears to be continuous and in this sense resembles a flow in the Newtonian sense. In operational terms this flow is measured with a clock and is mathematically represented in physics as an "independent" variable. Certainly, it has to be independent because, as most people believe, change is an intrinsic quality of the universe. According to the theoretical framework this variable is considered as a parameter (i.e. classical mechanics) or as a coordinate (special relativity). Since I do not understand what change is, I prefer not to try to modify the concept of time.

Right now, I am having a discussion in my entry about this topic with Daniel Wagner since he also discusses the notion of space and time in his essay. I recommend you to read his essay as well. I am also putting some comments in his entry, perhaps you may be interested in seeing.

Good luck in the contest


John Merryman replied on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 01:15 GMT

I'll have a look over there. I haven't read his entry, so it might be a little while.

As I see, it, in simple terms, is that change is an effect of action. Much as hot and cold are relative effects/degrees of thermal action. Now if we keep peeling away the layers and start asking what is/what is the cause of action, then it might start getting murky.

As I see it though, time is no more or less comprehensible than temperature. It's just that rationality is a serial function, ie. arising from perceptions of change, cause and effect, as well as narrative, so separating it from our perception of it is tricky. What we don't quite appreciate is that emotion and intuition arise from thermodynamic activity, in the interaction of environment and hormones.

Israel Perez replied on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 02:39 GMT

You: Now if we keep peeling away the layers and start asking what is/what is the cause of action, then it might start getting murky.

I reached the murky point and I did not find anything useful hahaha!! So, I left it aside.

I also read your entry about the aether and the centrifugal force. But I do not understand why you say the aether does not explain centrifugal force. I told you that vacuum, ZPF and aether are synonyms for me. So if it works in vacuum why not in aether (perhaps you may have another notion of the aether). Indeed we can say that the aether has a minute effect on the matter that it cannot be detected. In the Newtoninan case in which space is totally empty, the inertia of the object spinning will keep it rotating forever and if a particle flies out from this object it will keep in motion in a straight line indefinitely. But if we assume a non-empty space (no matter how fine and subtle this vacuum is) in a finite amount of time the object will have to stop spinning (as you say) and the particle flying out will stop moving. It seems to me that this is quite natural due to frictional forces between the vacuum and the object.

It has been shown that the vacuum causes an increase of temperature to accelerated objects, so, it is clear that physical objects interacts with the vacuum. See the Casimir effect and the Unruh effect.


John Merryman replied on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 03:07 GMT

I don't doubt that space is full of energy, from quantum fluctuations on up. What I have a problem with is when space is demoted to nothing more than the relationships and measures of its contents. While it may simply be just inertial and infinite, those are the conceptual parameters of zero to infinity. When we distill away that foundation, then all sorts of questionable characters start slipping through the door, from inflation to multiworlds and now onto multiverses.

Chris Kennedy wrote on Sep. 3, 2012 @ 23:49 GMT

Great work! I didn't read the above thread so if someone else said this already sorry but could this be summed up by saying that: we can be viewed as moving forward through time so it would be equally valid to isolate time as moving backward past us? If so - even our view of time could be "relative" to the frame it is viewed from! It makes sense that you reference quantum physics. Anyone interested in the many universes theory would probably appreciate this work.

Your camera analogy is right on. Kind of reminds me of some of Julian Barbour's work even though you two have differences to your theories too.

In short - I feel sorry for any participant that doesn't take the time to read your work. They are truly missing something.

John Merryman replied on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 00:58 GMT

As it first occurred to me, I did see it as two directions, ie. the present moving past to future, as the events move future to past.

The reason I modified the original impression is that upon examination it is that the changing configuration of what physically exists, is foundational cause to the effect of the series.

I clarified this further in my own mind recently, in one of my periodic debates with Tom Ray, that cause and effect is not sequence, but energy exchange. Consider that one day doesn't cause the next, any more than one rung on a ladder causes the next. Yet my tapping on these keys causes letters to appear on the screen. That's because there is an energy transfer. Just as it is the sun shining(radiant energy) on a rotating planet(inertial energy), which causes these sequences of events called days. I think this is part of why physics occasionally argues that reality is acausal, as Phil Gibbs does in his entry.

Remember that we still very much see the sun as moving across the sky, since from our position, that is exactly what is happening, since we are the center of our own perspective. Epicycles is a very good mathematical modeling of this, but it was the physical mechanics of it that had people stumped. Just as the mechanics of how we move from past to future has people stumped. We are moving. We go from past to future. Time is an effect of motion. What are we missing?

Chris Kennedy replied on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 16:40 GMT

I think your 2008 essay referred to time as a consequence of motion – which you now have replaced with “energy.” In Nov 2007 I wrote a very long article (that didn’t post until March 2008) referring to the underlying mechanism of time as possibly nothing more than fundamental behaviors in the universe. With fundamental behaviors being energy driven – it looks like we are on...

view entire post

John Merryman replied on Sep. 5, 2012 @ 02:44 GMT

The relationship of motion and time goes back to the ancient Greeks. Galileo observed we are only comparing one regular action to another. Relativity is a mathematically accurate patchjob that proposes some rather bizarre physical assumptions, from the blocktime of spacetime, to the expanding universe and all the other speculative results arising from it. The question is why it...

view entire post

Yuri Danoyan wrote on Sep. 9, 2012 @ 16:55 GMT
John Merryman

You can read about "time backward" idea in my discussion with Reeve Armstrong

John Merryman replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 02:29 GMT

I wouldn't confuse past with future. A measure of time is necessarily cyclical, but the emergent effect of the arrow of time is the irregular actions external to the measure. Otherwise there would be no sense of past, or future, only of cyclical activity.

Yuri Danoyan replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 02:42 GMT
No sense of past, or future,

This is Parmenides approach.Some time it have sense.

See my essay

Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 02:32 GMT
Hello John,

On a quick read through, I find your essay was very enjoyable, both clear and detailed - except it ended too soon. I very much like the notion that action turns possible future events into a present moment, and that this creates the flow of time. It makes more sense than a notion of time totally disconnected from process, as time is process-like by nature. I'll have to read it again for details, but I wanted you to know I enjoyed your essay.

I played around with some of the same ideas you explore in a paper on brain hemispheres "Does Lateral Specialization in the Brain Arise from the Directionality of Processes and Time?" where I assert that the two halves function identically, except that they are backwards in time respectively. That is; while the left brain sees time in the way it is conventionally understood, the right brain sees it as you suggest we should, as an accumulative process.

As a consequence; its perception is more holistic than fragmented, and fixates on the energetic or wave-like aspect of things. I've lots more to say on this, but I'll have to come back to say it. You may enjoy my essay Cherished Assumptions and the Progress of Physics.



Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 02:51 GMT
I wanted to mention, John,

You may find Jill Bolte Taylor's book "My Stroke of Insight" interesting and relevant, in regards to the perception of time question, and issues of dominance by the left brain awareness. Dr. Taylor is a brain expert who suffered a stroke, and completely lost left brain functionality for a time. She characterizes the right brain awareness as perceiving the world being fluid and connected, rather than being centered on objects and distinctions.

It would seem a lot of aspects of our perception are caught up in our awareness of the flow of time, and its directionality. More later.



John Merryman replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 03:39 GMT

Thank you for the considerate reflections. Your description of the right brain is probably more accurate, given it is a dynamic process and thermodynamic responses might be considered more reactive and emotionally static. The primary reason I started thinking in terms of the thermostat was due to E.O. Wilson's description of the insect brain as a thermostat, alongside those...

view entire post

Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 14:56 GMT

Viewed from outside time and space, the path a sentient being takes through spacetime is decidedly tree-like. And pathways open to us at one point are later subject to the 'road not taken' effect, as it's hard for humans to jump from branch to branch. But time in the aggregate is more like temperature, as you suggested, and I think Alain Connes explored this angle in detail.

In any case, I see it as more fruitful to view time as a representation of dynamic process evolution, rather than a static curve or fixed line to which we must adhere. On the other hand; moving along with a large body like the Earth, its motion through space is a relative constant - that defines a timeframe of reference within the local space.

So perhaps both views are essential, if we really want to understand time. In some measure; the right brain is fixated on the eternal where the left brain is focused on the ephemeral. And if you believe the adage from Plato via Diogenes "Time is the image of eternity" - then the eternal is what gives meaning or substance to duration, which is an essential attribute for objects to exist in spacetime at all.

all the best,


John Merryman replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 16:54 GMT

One of the consequences is a different view of determinism, vs. free will. If the present is just a point on a timeline from past to future, then the past cannot be changed, or the future affected, but if time emerges from action, our input is part of that action and we affect our situation, as much as our situation affects us. Even a puppet pulls on its own strings, giving focus...

view entire post

Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Sep. 11, 2012 @ 01:54 GMT
Thanks for those insights!

I appreciate your perspective John. It adds a lot to have someone on board who sees the other side of things. A very interesting and eclectic group this time. I already read through and commented on Ian's excellent essay, but though I cited Julian Barbour's work, I have not read his entry yet.

I suppose I'll have to amble on over, read through his essay, and see what you wrote there.

All the Best,


John Merryman replied on Sep. 11, 2012 @ 03:37 GMT

You're welcome. Life is a multitude of perspectives. It's nice to converse with people who are not focused entirely on horses.

Peter Warwick Morgan wrote on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 18:16 GMT
John, kind of you to leave a note on my essay. Although I can be tempted by potentiality in what someone else writes, mostly I'm not clear-sighted enough to see beyond what I might do with something more immediately. Sometimes there's too much detail for me to see what to do with an idea, sometimes too much detail even to see what the idea is, sometimes there's too little detail. My own essay is...

view entire post

John Merryman replied on Sep. 25, 2012 @ 02:53 GMT

Thank you for the reply. I would first have to agree we are on opposite sides of a significant fence and I can understand why you might see my side as lacking necessary detail to be informative. My position is that while your side of the fence might be finely structured, it is still emergent from the underlaying dynamic. Which is to say I don't see the need for a platonic realm of...

view entire post

Peter Jackson wrote on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 19:08 GMT

I did read it again as promised, and agree it's as sensible a view on time as I've read anywhere, though ants counting their footsteps is just as shocking! I can't recall if you looked at my recycling model, which suggests 'time' is just a word some creatures living with the ants made up, and they and the ants have equal clue what it means. It goes on forever so perhaps is...

view entire post

John Merryman replied on Sep. 27, 2012 @ 04:01 GMT

I have read your essay, though admit I haven't commented. I must say I haven't engaged many of the regulars. Part of it is a time issue and part of it is similar to your situation, in that I'm focused on my particular observation and everyone who has been around here for any length of time has probably heard me make the point.

First off I have to admit I'm not an expert in...

view entire post

Peter Jackson replied on Sep. 28, 2012 @ 22:01 GMT

Well I think you've cracked gravity, but pulling legs off ants! Astonishing what things we research when a bit of applied brainpower could save us billions!

Did you ever see my scientific 'proof' of re-incarnation? It emerges straight from the unification of SR and QM in my essay. We're broken down in accretion to an AGN (SMBH) re-ionized and blasted back out to mix with new stuff. So the oscillations our brain cells just keep on going, reincarnated forever. of course we may be 1,00 billion suns and rocks before we come back as another sentient being, but eternity is quite a long time! All good fun, but dead serious physics and cosmolgy. The paper's here;

Best wishes.


John Merryman replied on Sep. 29, 2012 @ 03:32 GMT

I have to say I get similar inclinations as to re-incarnation, or rather how consciousness takes different forms as though they were separate thoughts of the same mind. Essentially we are all brain cells in a hive mind anyway and the fact we have distinct points of view and narrative histories is more an issue of the filters, not what shines through them. The problem with monotheism is that absolute is basis, not apex, so a spiritual absolute would be the essence from which we rise, not an ideal form from which we fell. I find with the horses and people I work with, it's often like different fingers on the same hand. I just wish the reset button didn't get pushed so often.

Member Benjamin F. Dribus wrote on Sep. 28, 2012 @ 19:14 GMT
Dear John,

I am writing in response to the comment you made to Lawrence Crowell on my thread. I also wrote a response there, but I thought you might see it more readily if I also posted on your thread.

I will have to read your essay to better understand what you are proposing. You seem to reject the existence of an independent time dimension, which is also one of the assumptions I reject in my essay. In particular, you seem to reject the idea of block time. Jonathan Kerr has written an interesting essay on this that you may enjoy reading.

The general idea of time being a way of describing actual change sounds like Mach's view; I don't know if you encountered this idea by reading about Mach, or if you thought of it independently. I would like to think of time as a way of talking about cause and effect, which is similar but not identical. In any case, I will hopefully have more to say after I have read your essay. Take care,


Member Benjamin F. Dribus wrote on Sep. 29, 2012 @ 05:48 GMT
Dear John,

I just finished reading your essay, and I think we agree on some important conceptual issues, although perhaps we have different views on what conclusions should be drawn as a consequence. Let me venture a few questions and remarks.

1. In one of your comments on my thread, you say, “The difference between cause and effect and time is that sequence isn't cause and...

view entire post

John Merryman replied on Sep. 29, 2012 @ 16:18 GMT

I wouldn't describe time and sequence as purely mathematical, but as features of action. If I may use an analogy, it would be that time is frequency and temperature is amplitude. While one wave/cycle/step doesn't cause the next in the series, it does lead to it from the perspective of the dynamic manifesting the series. Cause is wholistic and the sum total cause of any event cannot be...

view entire post

Member Benjamin F. Dribus replied on Sep. 30, 2012 @ 18:47 GMT

Thanks for the followup! I agree that "time" isn't purely mathematical; as for "sequence," mathematicians are used to thinking of it in this way, but the most important thing is probably just to be clear about one's definition and stick with it.

There is always a lot of confusion about entropy. Besides the "closed system" aspect you point out, there are many different definitions in thermodynamics, information theory, and quantum information theory. It's so confused that some people define entropy as "disorder" and others as "order." Probably it's again a situation in which the most important thing is to say exactly what one means by entropy to avoid purely semantic disputes.

Regarding energy, I suppose something at the bottom of the logical system has to be undefined, and if so, it should be an entity of universal importance, which energy certainly is. Take care,


John Merryman replied on Sep. 30, 2012 @ 20:39 GMT

That distilling out a particular definition and sticking to it is where one steps over the line from reason to dogma, no matter how effective the description. I like to think I would alter my view of time, if someone were to show its fallacies, but once they see it is not easy to dismiss, the discussion is dropped. It's been observed that rationality, as a survival mechanism, evolved to win arguments, not discover truths.

As for entropy being order or disorder, depending on the model, goes to the heart of the subjectivity of knowledge.

Energy and space are both down at the bottom of that stack of turtles.

Good luck in the contest. Looks like you will make the cut.

Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Sep. 29, 2012 @ 09:10 GMT
Dear John,

This is group message to you and the writers of some 80 contest essays that I have already read, rated and probably commented on.

This year I feel proud that the following old and new online friends have accepted my suggestion that they submit their ideas to this contest. Please feel free to read, comment on and rate these essays (including mine) if you have not already done so, thanks:

Why We Still Don't Have Quantum Nucleodynamics by Norman D. Cook a summary of his Springer book on the subject.

A Challenge to Quantized Absorption by Experiment and Theory by Eric Stanley Reiter Very important experiments based on Planck's loading theory, proving that Einstein's idea that the photon is a particle is wrong.

An Artist's Modest Proposal by Kenneth Snelson The world-famous inventor of Tensegrity applies his ideas of structure to de Broglie's atom.

Notes on Relativity by Edward Hoerdt Questioning how the Michelson-Morely experiment is analyzed in the context of Special Relativity

Vladimir Tamari's essay Fix Physics! Is Physics like a badly-designed building? A humorous illustrate take. Plus: Seven foundational questions suggest a new beginning.

Thank you and good luck.


John Merryman replied on Sep. 29, 2012 @ 16:56 GMT

Thank you for the recommendations, some of which I've read, especially the entry by Eric Reiter. I have read your entry, but haven't commented, mostly for time reasons. It is very well written and informative, but being rather broad, I didn't find a particular point to focus on. Whatever time I have to read is often when I'm also tired, so there is not a lot of broad attention in my engagement with this contest.

Don Limuti wrote on Oct. 1, 2012 @ 18:20 GMT
Hi John,

Glad to see you in the contest.

A very good essay, I am giving it a high mark.

Don L.

John Merryman replied on Oct. 2, 2012 @ 02:00 GMT
Thanks Don.

I have to get around to reading yours as well. Maybe one of the reasons I think about time is because I don't have much free time.

Jonathan Kerr wrote on Oct. 1, 2012 @ 22:06 GMT
Hi John,

I put this post on Ben's page, below a post of yours, but wanted to put it here as well in case you didn't find it. JK


Hello John,

I didn't think or say that you're out to lunch, and I'm sorry you felt that way. If I wasn't in England, I'd like to take you out to lunch to make up for it. I'm sure we'd talk about time, and there might be less misunderstanding that way. I just tried to focus on an idea of yours, and felt I'd shown it to be wrong, and it seemed you kept changing the subject. But if it seemed different to you, then I'm sorry.

Best wishes, Jonathan

John Merryman replied on Oct. 2, 2012 @ 02:03 GMT

Presumably, if I'm wrong, then I'm out to lunch, given that I don't see it.

Jonathan Kerr wrote on Oct. 2, 2012 @ 15:42 GMT

I'll bring this to your page, and try to explain, for the nth and last time, what - to be fair - you genuinely don't seem to understand. No-one else will tell you that your ideas simply don't fit the evidence or the physics, they'll all go on letting you think the ideas could be right. Only I am boring enough to try explain it to you.

Time dilation is a single effect, described by a set of equations, and if only the observed time rate is needed, then it's just one equation. That equation works for many situations, it's very general. To explain the effect, you have to come up with a conceptual picture that works for all those situations. You can't have it fading evenly and steadily into a different explanation in some situations, and then fading back again into your original explanation on the other side. The equation shifts by degrees you see, from one situation into another. So any explanation needs to cover all situations. That's why I made the point about the two observers passing each other in the street, going in opposite directions. Each sees the other in slightly slow motion, and your explanation fails there.

Each is in fact observed with a slower metabolism than the other, because every process is observed slowed down - this may be an illusion, or each may somehow actually be slowed down from the other point of view. But citing changes to metabolism as the CAUSE of time dilation simply doesn't work.

If that was the cause, we wouldn't have pondered this for a century, it would have been very much simpler to deal with. The reason is that the mathematics would be different! And it would allow a whole range of possible explanations of that kind, but no-one even considers them, because they don't fit. Being a good mystery, it rules out a lot of intuitive explanations.

Your last post was full of errors, no-one will point them out, not even me.

Please leave this now, thanks, and good luck.

Best wishes, Jonathan

John Merryman replied on Oct. 2, 2012 @ 17:31 GMT

First off, my point is not about relativistic measures of duration. It is about whether time emerges from action, ie, the changing configuration of what exists/the present, such that it is events going future to past, or whether it is simply a measure of duration from one event to the next, past to future, resulting in such concepts as blocktime.

If you can figure that out, then maybe we can consider what causes duration to vary in different situations and from different points of observation. Is it because of the geometry of spacetime, or because duration is subject to context, whether actual, such as with gps satellites, or perceptual, as with those observers you are fixated on.

That you don't seem able to understand it is a different issue might go towards explaining why those schooled in the established paradigm haven't considered this. I think Edward Anderson[:link] provides a very vivid example of this disconnect, as he first explains time as manifestly Machian, then delves into how it is best measured. The issue is not measurement, the issue is cause!!!!!!

Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 09:18 GMT
If you do not understand why your rating dropped down. As I found ratings in the contest are calculated in the next way. Suppose your rating is
was the quantity of people which gave you ratings. Then you have
of points. After it anyone give you
of points so you have
of points and
is the common quantity of the people which gave you ratings. At the same time you will have
of points. From here, if you want to be R2 > R1 there must be:
In other words if you want to increase rating of anyone you must give him more points
then the participant`s rating
was at the moment you rated him. From here it is seen that in the contest are special rules for ratings. And from here there are misunderstanding of some participants what is happened with their ratings. Moreover since community ratings are hided some participants do not sure how increase ratings of others and gives them maximum 10 points. But in the case the scale from 1 to 10 of points do not work, and some essays are overestimated and some essays are drop down. In my opinion it is a bad problem with this Contest rating process. I hope the FQXI community will change the rating process.

Sergey Fedosin

Anonymous wrote on Oct. 8, 2012 @ 15:24 GMT
Your work is mentioned here

John Merryman replied on Oct. 8, 2012 @ 16:28 GMT
Not in a particularly positive light of course. Lawrence doesn't appreciate my input, but I've been needling him on occasion for several years, in the FQXi blogs.

S Halayka wrote on Nov. 11, 2012 @ 12:13 GMT
While I'm hesitant to use the word singularity, I obviously agree with your essay.

I hope that you will be applying for the Physics of Information grant, because you're one of a very small number of people who see academia for what it could be -- that is, if they could get over themselves and truly cooperate for once.

I put forth the Shannon / holographic principle paper with no serious expectations, and the first reactions from the blogosphere are non-fatal critiques about data types. Point proven: we are practically dealing with cavemen, and it doesn't take a whole lot to make them stomp about and beat their clubs on the ground. It's like we're direct witnesses to ancient history! It's a little sad, although I do ultimately feel privileged for being able to see such a rare, once in a species series of events. I wonder if this is at all similar to how Neanderthal went down?

S Halayka replied on Nov. 11, 2012 @ 12:19 GMT
Of course, my babbling about Shannon doesn't actually need to be right for the main point to stick. I just wanted them to see their banality for themselves. Let's not hold our breath though. ;)

Chris Kennedy replied on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 19:23 GMT
I second the motion of getting John some grant money. It would be well spent. Give him about $300,000 - he could hire a team of researchers and mathematicians and publish a report nine months from now that would turn the physics world upside down.

John - Since you and I have both relied on the temperature analogy when discussing the emergent phenomenon of time, I figured you might get a kick out of this: I was listening to an archived NPR radio debate between Lee Smolin and Brian Greene yesterday that was recorded in 2006 and Greene, when discussing time said that it could be an emergent property with an underlying cause similar to how our perception of temperature can be traced to the actual velocity (Kinetic energy) of the atoms/molecules.

I almost fell out of my chair! We have something in common with a string theorist! There may be hope for him yet.

John Merryman replied on Nov. 14, 2012 @ 02:59 GMT

There is another interesting reference in the fqxi video article: Embracing Complexity.

"D’Souza’s background in statistical physics introduced her to the prototypical phase transition. It considers a collection of atoms, each with a magnetic moment, that could either line-up with each other—so that the overall system becomes magnetized—or remain in a disordered mess. There is a tension in this case: on the one hand, the atoms want to line-up, lowering the system’s energy; on the other hand, the laws of thermodynamics tell us that systems prefer to move to a state of increasing disorder, mathematically expressed as having a higher entropy. It was first discovered experimentally that the outcome depends on temperature. At high temperatures entropy rules, the atoms remain disordered and the system does not become magnetized. But below some critical temperature, the system undergoes a phase transition and the atoms align."

One analogy I've been using lately is to relate time to frequency and temperature to amplitude. It has been irritating to some. I won't name names, but did explore the concept in Lawrence Crowell's thread.

I don't think I'll hold my breath for Brian Greene to explore that thought too deeply, as it would detract from time/energy spent studying multiverses.

John Merryman wrote on Nov. 16, 2012 @ 02:54 GMT
More on temperature as amplitude:

Thermodynamics of quantum entanglement

In recent years, physicists have amused themselves by calculating the properties of quantum machines, such as engines and refrigerators.

The essential question is how well these devices work when they exploit the rules of quantum mechanics rather than classical mechanics. The answers have given...

view entire post

Please enter your e-mail address:
Note: Joining the FQXi mailing list does not give you a login account or constitute membership in the organization.