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John Merryman: on 12/28/08 at 15:48pm UTC, wrote Damn! I am going away for a few days and went to vote, but discovered I...

Buck: on 12/28/08 at 15:15pm UTC, wrote [cross-posted from] Hi John, ...

John Merryman: on 12/25/08 at 16:50pm UTC, wrote Brian, Thanks for the conceptual support. You are right that I'm not...

Brian Beverly: on 12/25/08 at 5:48am UTC, wrote John, I do not know if you have ever studied entropy but if you came up...

John Merryman: on 12/17/08 at 18:05pm UTC, wrote amrit, I wouldn't say time is a mental construct, any more than I'd say...

amrit: on 12/17/08 at 15:22pm UTC, wrote hi john you say: If two atoms collide, it creates an event in time. i...

Buck: on 12/16/08 at 20:45pm UTC, wrote Hi John, Thanks for the repetition, I think reading the reply to Ken was...

Chris Kennedy: on 12/15/08 at 18:51pm UTC, wrote John, I just posted this on Buck's thread: Hi Buck (and John), The best...


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May 28, 2022

CATEGORY: The Nature of Time Essay Contest (2008) [back]
TOPIC: Explaining Time by John Brodix Merryman [refresh]
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John Brodix Merryman wrote on Aug. 25, 2008 @ 18:38 GMT
Essay Abstract

If two atoms collide, it creates an event in time. While the atoms proceed through this event and on to others, the event goes the other way. First it is in the future, then in the past. So which is the real direction? If time is a fundamental dimension, then physical reality proceeds along it, from past events to future ones. On the other hand, if time is a consequence of motion, then physical reality is simply energy in space and the events created go from being in the future to being in the past.

Author Bio

Farmer, father, philosopher

Download Essay PDF File

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John Merryman wrote on Oct. 12, 2008 @ 00:58 GMT
This is from an article from NewScientist;

Why nature can't be reduced to mathematical laws

ONE of the grand aims of science is to explain every aspect of nature in terms of simple, fundamental laws - but is this possible? A team of physicists claims to have found a hint that...

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John Merryman wrote on Oct. 12, 2008 @ 02:00 GMT
I didn't quite connect the argument made in the NewScientist article with my own point. What they are essentially saying is that emergent properties cannot be understood in terms of the components on which they rest. Yes, top down order isn't defined by the bottom up processes contained within it. That is because order is inherently reductionistc. It has been distilled from a larger context then what it still contains. The original input cannot reverse engineered. Information is lost.

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matthew kolasinski wrote on Oct. 21, 2008 @ 21:59 GMT
Hi John,

slowly working my way through the essay entries here. i enjoyed reading yours (made a note about it to self: 'crisp and clean and no caffeine, like a shot of stoli).

ya, clearly our common conception of measurement of time is more a matter of motion compared with a cyclical motion of which we have some memory and can then be used as a standard of comparison.

yes. observed patterns have no data in them about from where they arise. we can look at and describe all the lovely patterns and how they all blend into one another all we want. lovely movie on a screen. we can't see the screen. can't see the projector. the patterns - it's all we get.

ya. limits to 'knowable'. started way back with Heisenberg's indeterminacy principle. its full implications are only just starting to make themselves 'known'.

we would appear to be thinking along very similar lines. you might enjoy reading my entry, some thoughts on time ( ).

and thanks for the new scientist article; that interests me. i always liked Buckey Fuller. synergy... ya. you couldn't see what makes a car run just looking at all the parts; only in how they work together as a dynamic whole. very intuitive process. this has just brought back to my consciousness an invented word from an old novel, 'Stranger in a Strange Land', 'grock' - intuitive apprehension of the dynamic whole. yes. if we want any theory of the whole, we have to quit thinking in terms of 'bits and pieces'.

seems to be a 'reality by concensus' going on, derived largely from a subjectively pragmatic criteria. we appear to be fundamentally hardwired for this. that in itself, in that we are a product of this mystery, may suggest a 'best course of action'.



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John Merryman wrote on Oct. 22, 2008 @ 02:13 GMT

Thanks for the feedback. It is short because I didn't what to really get into the larger physics discussion, as I'm not in full agreement with some assumptions being drawn and that tends to complicate the basic point, but I've been in various conversations with others where I have developed some ideas further. If you read through those discussions you'll see some of how I put nature together as a convective cycle of expanding energy and collapsing structure, powered by the instability of equilibrium. (As a form of structure, it stagnates, thus collapses.)

The two directions of time I discuss here are based on this dichotomy, with expanding energy going past to future, while the informational structure goes future to past.

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Chris Kennedy wrote on Nov. 21, 2008 @ 01:34 GMT

I posted a reply to your comments on my thread.



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matthew kolasinski wrote on Nov. 24, 2008 @ 05:47 GMT
Hi John,

not to take up space on Chris' page,



There is the vacuum and there are fluctuations. Dimensions and volume describe the vacuum. Time and temperature describe the fluctuations.


thanks for that. interesting. out of a vacuum eh?

so the whole universe... i want to make a pun here but discretion...

i see from the comments that the notion is meeting with a little public resistance. if they don't like that, they're going to really hate finding out that gravity actually accelerates outward, in backward time.

from my vantage point, the report actually made sense to me.

that has me a little concerned.

good chatting with you again,


matt kolasinski

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Chris Kennedy wrote on Nov. 29, 2008 @ 16:47 GMT

My sense of humor gets a little crazy sometimes. But anyway, if you enjoy investigating the philosophical nature of time as much the physical nature, you may enjoy Krishnamurti. He has a few books out there that are discussions about time with David Bohm. I don't agree with all of it, and some of it is hard to follow, but there is some value there and it certainly provokes other interesting questions.


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Buck wrote on Dec. 4, 2008 @ 12:44 GMT
Hello John,

I’m always interested in paradigm shifts - and I appreciate your consideration of my essay.

[It is accepted that physical reality travels from past events to future ones.]

That is the common conception, yes.

[proposal: view time as consequence of motion, temp a consequence of motion.]

I see no internal inconsistencies with that view.

[time cannot be represented as a point, unless the motion has stopped]

True, but I’d like to be sure we clearly distinguish instantaneous time-point snapshots from a moving system. Also, what would you say about an instantaneous measure of position or a rate of change in motion…are they meaningless?

[We might argue temperature is another parameter of volume, since the temperature of a given amount of energy

can be proportionally affected by changing its volume.]

This appears possible – although highly speculative since the underlying mechanisms for our perception of a given volume, distance, and time is unknown. Could it be that for us to perceive “volume” requires a particular energy level, frequency, and movement (via that energy fluctuation) component? I don’t think this has been answered. In my essay, I argue that in order to avoid investing piles of money and lifetimes of effort in repairing broken paradigms, it is absolutely critical to acknowledge observations for what they are, distinguish them from rules, relationships and/or transformations, and document our assumptions. This is of primary concern to managers, policymakers, and administrators, but it is vitally important for researchers and experimentalists to gain understanding basic assessment criteria, which comes from unambiguous definition and communication of a (preferably practical) goal.

For that reason, until there’s sufficient justification to consider them real, I consider my best contribution will be developing model assessment systems to improve the quality of information available within the research enterprise, focusing on the qualitative attributes of proposed models based on criteria for revolutionary models.

Your essay has a nice lyrical ending on the circle of life that was enjoyable also.

Thanks again!

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John Merryman wrote on Dec. 4, 2008 @ 19:33 GMT

Mostly copied from your thread;

"True, but I’d like to be sure we clearly distinguish instantaneous time-point snapshots from a moving system. Also, what would you say about an instantaneous measure of position or a rate of change in motion…are they meaningless?"

How far down into the system do you freeze those snapshots. A nice Nikon can produce an amazingly clear...

view entire post

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Buck wrote on Dec. 6, 2008 @ 12:35 GMT
Hello John,

Thanks for your reply.

[How do we measure the sub-atomic level?]

This is a good question. You answer this by pointing out we measure energy content in relation to the measuring device. I’m unclear on the argument that “meaning is inherently static” – Most of my paper is devoted to changes in meaning, at least for observations and measurements.

You make a good point that meaning is relational – and the relational nature of cognitive frameworks should be better emphasized in my future work – certainly my main source for such frameworks comes from “The Cognitive Structures of Scientific Revolutions”, and they do a better job than I did in this essay.

[From the inside, we can see the complexity of particular detail, but not the whole.] This is a real problem! I think we can simply keep making our best guesses at “fundamental” relationships and throw out the less useful one by one.

[Those of us on the outside can look at the situation and see little no effort to step back and see if the initial assumptions are correct.]

True, although we share this weakness.

[Does reality travel along a meta-dimension from past to future, or does the rotation of the earth turn tomorrow into yesterday?] As you say: One is theory, the other is observation; I would say that depending on one’s point of view, both could be correct. For me, a more useful question is: what are we trying to accomplish with a theory of a flat/round earth? Stable or roatating? Meta-dimensional/dimensional/illusory time?

[Are these people with all the PhD's questioning my logic, or just ignoring it?] I have to admit: I’m pleasantly surprised whenever anyone reads my material & finds it interesting. I would guess that it is a question of time and priorities – I’ve got one huge paper to complete and another small one due in less than 2 weeks…so I barely get to read these essays & comments!

Thanks again for your feedback.

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John Merryman wrote on Dec. 7, 2008 @ 00:15 GMT

Meaning can be relative. We can distill out some basic function out of any situation, but that very process of distillation means it can't be absolute, as what might be meaningless and distilled from one perspective isn't meaningless from other perspectives, or it couldn't exist. This inherent tension of reality is what we are constantly trying to solve, yet it's the very basis of reality. The opposites balancing. The instability that keeps reality from flatlining.

That's why I'm taking the time to make what is a very basic point, as opposed to a dense and complex exposition with the masters of dense and complex exposition, since all perspective has some thread of logic to those who have followed it.

As the physicists would put it though, you have to view it in terms of probabilities. Occam's razor. What makes the most sense. Oh I forgot. Physics doesn't make sense, just the equations have to work.

If you don't have logic, then you have faith. In the math.

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Buck wrote on Dec. 9, 2008 @ 23:31 GMT
Do you think physicists develop consistent mathematics for some reason other than to make sense of reality?

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John Merryman wrote on Dec. 10, 2008 @ 11:40 GMT
No. Everyone is trying to make sense of reality, not just scientists. It's a matter of examining the preconceptions you start with. It is our intuitive nature to think of time as some dimension going from past to future. It's the narrative description of life. So we have many brilliant people trying to explain this "dimension" of time. As an abstraction and consequence of motion, it is that series of events going from future to past which is all time really is.

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Chris Kennedy wrote on Dec. 12, 2008 @ 01:11 GMT

I read and enjoyed Buck's essay and see that you have been communicating with him. Since you and I share such a similar view, can you recommend any other "newer" essays? I am a little behind in my reading and want to make sure I don't miss any good ones before the deadline.



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John Merryman wrote on Dec. 12, 2008 @ 12:09 GMT

Hmm. There are a variety of interesting ideas presented. One I would recommend is James Stanfield;

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Buck wrote on Dec. 13, 2008 @ 15:27 GMT
Hello John, I apologize for the delay in responding, I’ve been swamped. Your claim that standard model assumptions have not been adequately analyzed is well-supported. A problem I have understanding “motion giving rise to time” is how that occurs without time in which changes of relative position can occur. In other words, I seem trapped in the block time paradigm. As you recognize, a vague hand wave of “modern physics isn't intuitive" is a fallacious defense unless the criticism it addresses is equally vague. As you point out, a (the?) major fallacy with that hand wave is the lack of consistency in asserting this to defend the intuitive block time model. If we have a scientific hypothesis to replace the block time model, its value remains unrecognized for the time being. Imposition of strong scientific assessment criteria for proposed models and methods rules out some well-accepted, foundational principles in physics, such as superposition.

As for your question of “which is more logical?” I think the motion option needs a better description, like “change of macroscopic material spatial relationships” to be more precise and more easily generalized than the more lyrical “earth roatates” example.

What observational or theoretical changes would we expect if time were merely an abstraction rather than a dimension?

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John Merryman wrote on Dec. 13, 2008 @ 21:23 GMT

Since I'm being somewhat repetitive, I'll go all the way and simply repost this reply to a response from Ken Wharton, who is a strong proponent of block time;


Humor me for a moment and reconsider a reality in which change and motion are acceptable. The arrow of time goes from what comes first, to what comes second. For the observer, past events proceed future ones, so we observe time as going from the past to future. On the other hand, these events are first in the future, then in the past, so their arrow goes the opposite direction. Throughout history, in fact the very description of the narrative construct we call history, the understanding of time is of the first arrow. That events proceed along this universal path, whether Newton's absolute time, or Einstein's relative time, from past to future.

Yet the only reality ever experienced is of the present. So lets examine the consequence of viewing reality as a fixed present consisting of energy in motion, thus causing change and as each arrangement described by this energy is replaced by the next, these events go from future potential to past circumstance. Therefore past and future do not physically exist because the energy to manifest all such events is only manifesting one moment at a time.

So rather than a fundamental dimension, time becomes an emergent description and consequence of motion, similar to temperature. Temperature, as a scalar average of motion, doesn't exist if we only consider singular motion, but only emerges when measuring a mass of activity. So time, as a sequencing of units of motion, doesn't effectively exist if we cannot define a progression. It is just quantum fuzziness. The present can't be a dimensionless point either, since it is a description of motion and would only be dimensionless if all motion has stopped, so, like temperature, the measurement becomes fuzzy when examined closely.

Whether time proceeds along some dimension from past to future, or is caused by the progression of events from future to past, might seem semantic, yet consider the consequences; If time is that dimension moving toward the future, we need to explain how it deals with potentialities. Either we go with multi-worlds, in which all potentials are taken, or block time, where the potentials are illusionary and it is fundamentally deterministic. Now if we view it from the other direction, where time is the events moving from future potential to past circumstance, the collapsing wave of probabilities makes sense, since it is only energy in motion and time is simply an emergent description of the process, not some fundamental dimension.

What is primitive is the narrative assumption that time is a linear projection from the past into the future.

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Chris Kennedy wrote on Dec. 15, 2008 @ 18:51 GMT

I just posted this on Buck's thread:

Hi Buck (and John),

The best way I can convey how my view of time compares to other theories is to show you what I recently wrote to Carlo Rovelli on his thread:


You argue that the origin of time variable features are not mechanical, rather – emergent at the thermodynamical level. Do you have any...

view entire post

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Buck wrote on Dec. 16, 2008 @ 20:45 GMT
Hi John,

Thanks for the repetition, I think reading the reply to Ken was helpful to helping lift the fog a bit and making it easier for me to conceptually grasp your model.

I'm still curious about the observational consequences we might expect from the "Emergent Description Model".

Does your model/view have a proper name I should use?

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amrit wrote on Dec. 17, 2008 @ 15:22 GMT
hi john

you say: If two atoms collide, it creates an event in time.

i would say: Two atoms collide into atemporal space. This event we experience into time that is a mind model.

yours amrit

attachments: Physics_Without_Time_as_a_Fundamental_Physical_Reality__sorli_2008.pdf

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John Merryman wrote on Dec. 17, 2008 @ 18:05 GMT

I wouldn't say time is a mental construct, any more than I'd say temperature is a mental construct. Actually I'd say time and temperature, as linear projection of activity and scalar averaging of activity, are definitive to the process of consciousness. That we function as linearly mobile organisms makes time seem more fundamental to us, but if we considered the situation of life forms which are not memory intensive, such as planets, insects, etc, temperature, the fluctuation of energy in space would seem more fundamental than the projection of series of events. In fact, E.O. Wilson described insect brains as essentially a thermostat.

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Brian Beverly wrote on Dec. 25, 2008 @ 05:48 GMT
John, I do not know if you have ever studied entropy but if you came up with this idea on your own I would be stunned. Your descriptions are unique, at times a little confusing, and that indicates you have not studied the subject in depth, simply amazing. Our back and forth discussions have helped me understand some of the laymen descriptions you use to describe physics. I believe our ideas are...

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John Merryman wrote on Dec. 25, 2008 @ 16:50 GMT

Thanks for the conceptual support. You are right that I'm not speaking the language required to be taken seriously, but than if I'd followed all the rules, I'd be standing out on the same precipice, staring into the void and wondering what the next step is, like everyone else. It's a problem with all institutional thought, in that the further up the ladder you are, the more restricted by and dependent on that ladder you are.

I really do have a problem with the concept of entropy. It leaves the very large question of where the initial low entropy state came from. I think there is a cyclical pattern which our current reductionist proof driven methods cannot distill. The idea which first led me to question the current model is that gravity causes our measure of space to contract. In fact, Einstein thought gravity would cause the entire universe to collapse to a point and added the Cosmological Constant to keep the equations stable. Now our measures of space, according to redshift of distant galaxies, show that space between gravity wells is expanding. These two effects seem only to be considered as separate, yet I think they are two sides of a larger cycle of expanding energy and collapsing mass. I've covered this in other discussions and not really wanting to get off topic I won't go into detail, at least on Christmas, but it is the basis for my observation about time having two directions, of activity/energy going past events to future ones, while the events/information go future to past. Essentially this cycle of collapsing mass, expanding energy and the two directions of time are both aspects of the same process. Mass is the structural form/information which starts as future potential, condenses out of the energy/activity, grows as long as it consumes energy, then dissipates as it radiates/loses the energy and then is in the past. Energy, on the other hand, is constantly creating new forms, just as the hands of the clock move on to new units of time, causing them to expand and grow, until they can't absorb anymore energy and start to break down as the energy continues to expand by radiating away from these older forms, to be absorbed into new forms.

So if you have followed my thinking so far, this is where I think entropy is only limited to closed forms which are not absorbing more energy and losing what they have. Like Einstein's collapsing space, it only sees one side of the process.

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Buck wrote on Dec. 28, 2008 @ 15:15 GMT
[cross-posted from]

Hi John,

Thanks for your clarifications, and I think I've got the jist of your theory and I tend to agree. The many-worlds solutions violate one of the basic premises of science: that there is "a" reality to investigate.

It seems like a good idea to point out that there really is no evidence to support the existence of past as a traversable, extant dimension... I appreciate that you have done so.

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John Merryman wrote on Dec. 28, 2008 @ 15:48 GMT
Damn! I am going away for a few days and went to vote, but discovered I must have erased the code email in a past house cleaning.

At least it saves me having to pick out only three.

Back the second, or there about.

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