Search FQXi

If you are aware of an interesting new academic paper (that has been published in a peer-reviewed journal or has appeared on the arXiv), a conference talk (at an official professional scientific meeting), an external blog post (by a professional scientist) or a news item (in the mainstream news media), which you think might make an interesting topic for an FQXi blog post, then please contact us at with a link to the original source and a sentence about why you think that the work is worthy of discussion. Please note that we receive many such suggestions and while we endeavour to respond to them, we may not be able to reply to all suggestions.

Please also note that we do not accept unsolicited posts and we cannot review, or open new threads for, unsolicited articles or papers. Requests to review or post such materials will not be answered. If you have your own novel physics theory or model, which you would like to post for further discussion among then FQXi community, then please add them directly to the "Alternative Models of Reality" thread, or to the "Alternative Models of Cosmology" thread. Thank you.

Contests Home

Current Essay Contest

Previous Contests

Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020
Contest Partners: Fetzer Franklin Fund, and The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation

What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
Sponsored by the Fetzer Franklin Fund and The Peter & Patricia Gruber Foundation

Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fund.

Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
Contest Partners: Nanotronics Imaging, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The John Templeton Foundation
Media Partner: Scientific American


How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

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

Eckard Blumschein: on 12/29/08 at 0:24am UTC, wrote Dear Dimi Chakalov, Thank you for pointing me to Conway-Kochen. They are...

Dimi Chakalov: on 12/28/08 at 21:18pm UTC, wrote Eckard Blumschein wrote (Dec. 25, 2008 @ 01:22 GMT): "...any observable...

Eckard Blumschein: on 12/25/08 at 1:22am UTC, wrote This is a question to all those who understood the notions pime and time: ...

Hrvoje Nikolic: on 12/3/08 at 9:53am UTC, wrote Dear J. Smith, In my essay, I argue that the distinction between time and...

J. Smith: on 12/2/08 at 19:52pm UTC, wrote Dear Hrvoje, if understand, the distinction between pime and time you...

Narendra: on 12/1/08 at 13:43pm UTC, wrote Pime and time distinction appears fine but it still leaves the physical...

Hrvoje Nikolic: on 12/1/08 at 9:40am UTC, wrote T H Ray, I already had a private discussion with Ken on my arXiv paper. I...

Hrvoje Nikolic: on 12/1/08 at 9:33am UTC, wrote Ken, I do NOT think that the quantum potential is "unmatter". (Although, I...


Steve Dufourny: "How to formalise these couplings of scalar fields of the DE and DM in our..." in The Noise of Gravitons

Steve Dufourny: "even I d say that the numbers and the spheres are under specific partitions..." in The Noise of Gravitons

Steve Dufourny: "stop this please, FQXi is well moderated , so don t insist" in George Ellis - How can...

Martin Gray: "What are the different skin conditions that people often face? Every skin..." in George Ellis - How can...

Ulla Mattfolk: "In a statement posted on its website on 27 June, SNRIU said that "due to..." in Global Collaboration

Ulla Mattfolk: "Cont. Of the nuclear countries Sweden and Germany has said no thanks, they..." in Global Collaboration

Steve Dufourny: "Jonathan Dickau ,hope you are well, always cool to have your points of vue,..." in 16th Marcel Grossmann...

Steve Dufourny: "This platform is about theoretical physics, it is irritating to have these..." in 16th Marcel Grossmann...

click titles to read articles

The Math of Consciousness: Q&A with Kobi Kremnitzer
A meditating mathematician is developing a theory of conscious experience to help understand the boundary between the quantum and classical world.

Can We Feel What It’s Like to Be Quantum?
Underground experiments in the heart of the Italian mountains are testing the links between consciousness and collapse theories of quantum physics.

The Thermodynamic Limits of Intelligence: Q&A with David Wolpert
Calculating the energy needed to acquire and compute information could help explain the (in)efficiency of human brains and guide the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.

Gambling Against the Second Law
Using precision thermometry to make mini heat engines, that might, momentarily, bust through the thermodynamic limit.

Mind and Machine: What Does It Mean to Be Sentient?
Using neural networks to test definitions of 'autonomy.'

July 3, 2022

CATEGORY: The Nature of Time Essay Contest (2008) [back]
TOPIC: Block time: Why many physicists still don't accept it? by Hrvoje Nikolic [refresh]
Bookmark and Share
Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Sep. 24, 2008 @ 13:06 GMT
Essay Abstract

The concept of time as defined in physics is the most naturally interpreted as a block time. According to this interpretation, time is like any other parameter in physics, without any intrinsic flow and without any fundamental difference between past and future. Yet, such a view of time is in a sharp contrast with our intuitive subjective experience of time. Where this discrepancy comes from? I argue that this discrepancy is an artefact of the linguistic inconvenience that we use a single word "time" to describe two very different things, one described by physics, the other being related to consciousness. To clearly distinguish between them, I refer the former to as pime, abbreviating the expression "physical time" or "parameter time". As the phenomenon of consciousness is not truly understood by our current understanding of physics, current physics has little to say about time. Physics is only about pime, which is a block pime without a flow and without a fundamental difference between past and future. The relation between pime and time remains a challenge for the future research as a part of the hard problem of the relation between matter and mind.

Author Bio

Hrvoje Nikolic, born in 1970 in Zagreb, Croatia, is a theoretical physicist working at the Theoretical Physics Division of Rudjer Boskovic Institute in Zagreb, Croatia. His research interests cover various foundational aspects of theoretical physics, including foundations of quantum mechanics, general relativity, cosmology, particle physics, quantum field theory and string theory.

Download Essay PDF File

Bookmark and Share

Dr. E wrote on Sep. 24, 2008 @ 19:46 GMT
Hello Hrvoje,

Thanks for the great paper which I very much enjoyed reading. I basically agree with your conclusion, where you write:

"The physical measure of time, represented by a numerical parameter t and referred to as pime, is not the same thing as time itself. While time is a subjectively experienced flow, pime, as a numerical parameter, does not have a flow. Instead, pime...

view entire post

Bookmark and Share

Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Sep. 25, 2008 @ 08:19 GMT
Hi Dr. E,

Thank you for your interest in my paper and your comments.

I have a technical question concerning your approach. In your equation


how quantities dx4, dt, and c transform under Lorentz transformations? Or more generally, how they transform under general coordinate transformations? It seems to me that you tacitly assume that dt and c transform as scalars, but if I am right then it is not consistent with the fact that dx4 transform as a component of a vector. If, on the other hand, dt also transforms as a component of a vector, then what are the other components of that vector?

In other words, it seems to me that your basic equation is not covariant, so I would like to know how do you interpret this.

Bookmark and Share

Dr. E wrote on Sep. 25, 2008 @ 16:17 GMT
Hello Hrvoje--thanks for the response,

c is the velocity of light, which is constant in all frames.

x4 is the fourth dimension in Einstein's and Minkowski's spacetime (x1, x2, x3, x4).

i is the imaginary number.

And t is time.

You write "it seems to me that your basic equation is not covariant, so I would like to know how do you interpret this."

dx4/dt =...

view entire post

Bookmark and Share

Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Sep. 26, 2008 @ 08:24 GMT
Thank you Dr. E for your long reply.

Unfortunately, you have not answered my question, so I will reformulate it such that your answer requires ONLY ONE LETTER:

How t transforms under Lorentz transformations?

a) As a scalar

b) As a component of a vector

c) Neither a) nor b)

d) I don't know

To repeat, I need only one letter, a, b, c, or d.

Bookmark and Share

Dr. E wrote on Sep. 26, 2008 @ 16:17 GMT
Thanks Hrvoje,

I thought I did answer your question which you summarized with, "In other words, it seems to me that your basic equation is not covariant, so I would like to know how do you interpret this."

MDT presents a physical reality that underlies quantum mechanics and relativity and thus relativity's covariance. That is how to interpret it.

Einstein's Relativity is...

view entire post

Bookmark and Share

John Merryman wrote on Sep. 26, 2008 @ 16:44 GMT

The problem is that the scale, being relative, is moving the opposite direction of the measurement. Just as physical activity goes from past events to future ones, these events go from being in the future to being in the past. So the motion is relational, thus not a vector.

As I pointed out to Dr. E previously, if he looks at his theory from the opposite perspective, if his fourth dimensional wave, which is light, is standing, than the three spatial dimensions are shrinking. Which was one of Einstein's original conclusions, as in his model, the photon is timeless. This required adding the cosmological constant to balance the contraction of space and maintain a stable universe.

Bookmark and Share

Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Sep. 29, 2008 @ 08:52 GMT
Dr. E, my answer to your question is d), because I have not been reading the original Einstein 1912 paper. Fortunately, the development of the theory of relativity has not stopped with that paper, and now physicists understand relativity much better than Einstein did.

Unfortunately, you have still not explicitly answered my question. I insist on this question, because I want to discuss your paper in modern terminology, not in terminology of 1912. When you answer this question, I would like to ask you other questions as well, but we cannot make any further progress before that.

Bookmark and Share

Dr. E wrote on Sep. 29, 2008 @ 17:03 GMT
Thanks for the response Hrvoje,

How does "modern terminology" differ from "terminology of 1912?" I believe that Minkowski's spacetime is still Minkowski's spacetime, Einstein's relativity is yet Einstein's relativity, and the Lorentz Transformation yet transforms as Lorentz supposed it should. Even Newton's Calculus, from the 1600's, yet works.

Please take a look...

view entire post

Bookmark and Share

Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Sep. 30, 2008 @ 09:28 GMT
1) In 1912 general relativity has not yet been discovered.

2) It seems to me (correct me if a am wrong) that the tensor terminology has not been widely used in 1912. At least, YOU do not use this terminology in your paper.

Bookmark and Share

Dr. E wrote on Sep. 30, 2008 @ 16:12 GMT
Thanks Hrvoje,

I am fully aware that General Relativity was not yet discovered in 1912. states, "General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916."

Einstein's 1912 Manuscript concerns itself with Special Relativity.

On manuscript page 46...

view entire post

Bookmark and Share

Narendra Nath wrote on Oct. 4, 2008 @ 12:00 GMT
Dear Dr.E,

You have raised several issues of fundamental nature. But i notice a problem that all such is issues are interwoven. If fundamental constants are not constants, problems arise. Let me say that that the velocity of light,c has seen a downward trend eversince the birth of the Universe. Expts show that it has decreased minutely in the last 12 billion years.In fact if one can do cosmological expts., closer to 13 -14 billion years of the life of the Universe, one may even discover a much larger change. The same holds for other 'constants too! Next, there are similar doubts about the relative strengths of the four force-fields that may have emerged out at different stages of the very early universe. Thus, Physics as we know today or for that matter in the last 1000 years may well be quite different inn the early stages of the Universe. Kindly have a look at my Essay posted as ' Mysteries of the Universe - a perspective'. Uniformity of time as a conceptual parameter is tied to the velocity of light, the fastest means of observation that we apparently have. Here comes another factor from the non-physical side that controls our mind/brain activities. What are the time scales involved in the thought processes of different variety, e.g.,normal( routine),intuitive and may i add ' inspirational'. The latter is not a part of one's individual consciousness only but it depends on the individual's interactions with others! Even past, present and future can get intermixed if we consider such complexities! Your response will be surely illuminating for me in this regard. NN

Bookmark and Share

Dr. E wrote on Oct. 5, 2008 @ 17:31 GMT
Thanks for the words, Narendra!

Yes--you write, "Let me say that that the velocity of light, c has seen a downward trend eversince the birth of the Universe. Expts show that it has decreased minutely in the last 12 billion years.In fact if one can do cosmological expts., closer to 13 -14 billion years of the life of the Universe, one may even discover a much larger change."

On page 9 of my paper, I write, "The Cosmological Arrow of Time: As all motion derives from the fundamental motion dx4/dt=ic, the universe’s general motion is expansion. If the absolute rate of c changes, the rate of expansion of the universe will appear to change. Hence an accelerating/decelerating universe." --

dx4/dt = ic implies that the fourth dimension is expanding relative to the three spatial dimensions. What happens if the rate of expansion of the fourth dimension changes? The velocity of light will change, but as the velocity of light is measures with respect to time, and as the measurement of time is wed to change which is wed to the propagation of light, c will yet be c. MDT provides a *physical* reason as to why light and time are so interconnected on a fundamental level. Light, by which we meausre time, is but matter caught upon the fourth expanding dimension. Thus time inherits properties of the fourth dimension, but it is not the fourth dimension. x4 = ict. And if the rate of the expansion of the fourth dimension changes, then c changes.

And if c is changing, it may appear that the universe's expansion is accelerating, or that some sort of dark energy is accelerating the pioneer spacecraft/universe.


So it is that MDT could be used to perhaps explain dark energy and/or a faster velocity of light in the early universe. I will have to develop this more!

I will read your essay tonight!

Thanks for the words & Best,

Dr. E

Bookmark and Share

Narendra Nath wrote on Oct. 6, 2008 @ 05:36 GMT
Thanks very much for your elaborations, as i could understand you better. Being an experimentalist through and through, i am in a territory that is being dominated by the theorists of high calibre like you. But you will certainly agree that evolution of concepts and precepts are not based on theory where mathematics is used as a tool to construct the theoretical side. Both theory and experiment contribute. But the latter has an edge as, nothing can get fully accepted unless proven correct exptally. My word of caution for the theorists will be to first become clear about the concepts/precepts evolved about the problem at hand before proceeeding further mathematically about the theory. Also, intermediate steps in a theory too may be verifiable experimentally and the same needs to be done. Only then a theory can stand the test of time.

Bookmark and Share

Dr. E wrote on Oct. 6, 2008 @ 16:19 GMT
Hello Narenda,

We need more experimentalists here!! For truly, experimentalists are the ones who wrap their hands around the foundational questions.

Although I started off in theoretical physics, I moved more and more towards experimental physics and engineering. Check out my dissertation:

, Einstein would agree with you!

"But before mankind could be ripe for a science which takes in the whole of reality, a second fundamental truth was needed, which only became common property among philosophers with the advent of Kepler and Galileo. Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts form experience and ends in it. Propositions arrived at by purely logical means are completely empty as regards reality. Because Galileo saw this, and particularly because he drummed it into the scientific world, he is the father of modern physics -- indeed, of modern science altogether." --(Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions)


Dr. E :)

Bookmark and Share

Dr.NN wrote on Oct. 7, 2008 @ 17:16 GMT
i agree pure logic till tempered with available observations and experiences of a scientist, have no relevance. You promised going thru my two Attached Mss posted subsequently. i eagerly await your bed time study and response to them.

Let me share with you that ' consciousness ' a non-physical provides the Expanding paradigms for the future growth of science. Currently developed science methodology is restricting innovative growth in science. To illustrate a bit more, it is my personal feeling that huge expenditures in sophisticated scientific Epts., like Large Beam Collider of Cern, may not provide as much new information, as perhaps expts being done using Wilkinson Anisotropy Telescope data coming from the sattelite about the Cosmological measurements on early Universe closer to Bigbang.

Bookmark and Share

Dr. NN wrote on Oct. 8, 2008 @ 05:52 GMT
Last posting : Wilkinson 'Microwave ' anistropy! Please find discussion on ' consciousness by other essay contributors like Dr . Song of Korea. We need indepth discussion on such issues that may help expand the paradigms in Science. Only then can we expect bigger breakthroughs to come forth.

Bookmark and Share

Clinton "Kyle" Miller wrote on Oct. 8, 2008 @ 13:43 GMT

I loved the essay. Very astute and cogent! I think I implied a similar discrepancy in my essay, however, it was not the main emphasis of my essay. Great job in teasing apart the two convoluted meanings of 'time'.

Dr. NN

It might interest you that I as well discuss the topic of consciousness in my essay.


Bookmark and Share

Dr.NN wrote on Oct. 9, 2008 @ 04:00 GMT
To CKM, In order that discussion on ' consciousness ' becomes meaningful, we need to see the points of view expressed by different authors of this essay series non this aspect. In- depth exchanges are required on the topic ' Science, Consciousness & Spirituality ' to provide an expanding paradigms to Science cum Technology. i understand that 2 World Conferences have been held on this topic by the medical scientists all over. It confines itself to the miracles observed in treatment of fatal diseases. i feel it is time we fundamental scientists, take over this topic and provide an overall Expansion to such a concept.

Bookmark and Share

Clinton "Kyle" Miller wrote on Oct. 9, 2008 @ 06:14 GMT
Dr. NN,

In my paper I reference a theory of consciousness (practically the only comprehensive one), called "Orchestrated Objective Reduction". I consider this a meaningful discussion/topic; what do you think? While it remains to be seen if this theory is, in fact, correct--I believe that, as of right now, it stands as our singular hope for unifying the human condition. For these reasons, I would suggest that we attempt to falsify it (see the prediction of the so-called "gravitational objective reduction" in my essay).

I look forward to seeing your response!


Bookmark and Share

Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Oct. 9, 2008 @ 08:47 GMT
Clinton "Kyle" Miller,

Thank you for your kind words.

I very much enjoyed your essay too.

Bookmark and Share

Narendra Nath wrote on Oct. 10, 2008 @ 07:44 GMT
To Clinton Miller's interjection on my essay and his own essay on the Posts of the essay by Dr. Nikolic , is proving to be like cross talks on the phone! Let us work out adequate separation in such Postings , as issues discussed by many of the authors are invoking 'consciousness' of the observer of scientific phenomena. In my view, consciousness too has different levels and dimensions too. There are interactions between individuals and then possible interaction with cosmic/ all pervading consciousness with independent individuals. Non-physical nature makes it difficult to define the possible modeling parameters for ' consciousness'. Personally, it is dangerous to do work out modeling parameters, as significant unknowns are likely to be left out. An innovative scientific methodology is to be worked out carefully introducing well thought out 'concepts', linking physical with the non-physical. There are some Yoga concepts to approach the Truth, developed by an Indian Saint PATANJALI thousands of years back, that i have quoted in my essay and the attached manuscripts to provide the holistic approach!

Bookmark and Share

N.Nath wrote on Oct. 10, 2008 @ 13:30 GMT
To Dr. Nikolic;

i have conjectured about the nature of dark matter in my essay. Also, i have attempted an explanation for initial inflation of the universe in a trillionth part of a second through 'negative' gravity of primordial dark matter constituents. nature dictates the interactions as per its intelligent design and physics job is just to explain the observed. Physics developed thus far may find it difficult to dictate explanations for some unexplained phenomenon. Thus a logical holistic approach may well help build on our current methodology in sciences! The Unified field may well be postulated to pre-exist the Big Bang with an intelligence to design the Universe(s). I have conjectured extremely heavy but neutral quarks to form the primordial matter which decayed very very fast under that extremely strong Unified field. The other forms of fields components emerged as per the requirements of that intelligent design. This may be also considered as the ever-existing pure/cosmic consciousness, which remains unaffected through physical creation of the Universe(s).

Bookmark and Share

matthew kolasinski wrote on Oct. 14, 2008 @ 06:44 GMT
Hello Mr. Nikolić,

i'm slowly working my way through the papers here.

i enjoyed reading yours. i appreciate that you kept it not too technical. communications is getting to be an issue. people in science spend all their lives studying what they need to know just to get to talk about something specific, there winds up only two or three others in the whole world to chat with about...

view entire post

Bookmark and Share

Narendra wrote on Oct. 19, 2008 @ 05:19 GMT
Dear Dr.nikolick and Mr. Clinton Miller,

we all need to keep this essay postings confined to the text/ posting on this text. However, consciousness has come out to be a major 'expanding paradigm' in presenting our scientific essays on 'The nature of Time'. The hope should be to go a step further in modifying the currently accepted 'Methodology of Science'. It requires wide acceptance amongst us, public as well as scientists in the mysteries of the Universe. May i request the authors of these essays from the western part of the World to become aware of the deep philosophical insights the Asian philosophers tto. For example, the originator of Yoga, very popular these days in the western world too, Rishi Patanjali who formulated a manuscript nearly 4000 yrs. back on ' Yoga Shastra '. Medicinal and health preservation aspects of Yoga have already been admitted all over the world. The problem is that Yoga needs to be correctly implemented in practice and only approved Preceptors/trainers should be accepted by public. However, the other benefit of Yoga practices often remain hidden, its capacity to control the human mind, make it calm. This aspect can improvr the human personality and capability to much higher levels of consciousness, as intrinsically it improves the interaction between individual and cosmic consciousness, unifying nature with humans!

Bookmark and Share

Prem Nath Tiwari wrote on Oct. 21, 2008 @ 10:18 GMT
Dear Dr.Nicolic,

I have offered an explaition of 'our subjective experience of time' in terms of cosciousness in my write up dated 20th October, under my paper titled "Ultimate Reality and Non-Material Origin of Universe". Please see it for your comments and questions if any.

Bookmark and Share

Narendra Nath wrote on Oct. 22, 2008 @ 14:10 GMT
Consciousness/nothingness/perfect silence seem to create things physical, how we can't know through present science methodology.Human mind involves consciousness in its operation and thus the brain gets involved too with consciousness. Some time back, Prof Eccles of Oxford University Professor of neurology was quoted as believing that the neurons in the supplementary motor area ( SMA ) of the brain were seen to get activated by external influences (outside the human body). He postulated a non-physical covering for the SMA that keeps a record of all such interactions and also does not die with the human body. Strangely, there is an Indian belief in incarnation where the rebirth of the soul of a dead person is supposed to carry the gist of one's actions in the past lives , called the SAMSKARAS. Thus, there are mysterious aspects that are not that easy to comprehend in the methodology of Science that has been worked out and believed strongly thus far! Here, i happen to cover partly the comments made by P.N. Tiwari in his posting above.

Bookmark and Share

Peter Morgan wrote on Oct. 29, 2008 @ 16:20 GMT
I write to comment that I argue in my FQXi essay contest paper that there is a direction of time in QFT (which might be said to be because of the positivity of the Hamiltonian, but I would prefer to say that it is because the algebra of observables is not invariant under time-reversal). This perhaps has something small to say about your comments on page 3 of your paper, "Both the “future” and the “past”, as well as the “presence”, are there, without any of them being less certain or less real then the other". I note that your sentiment that "Moreover, any attempt to define “future”, “past”, and “presence” in an observer independent way destroys the mathematical structure of the theory in an artificial and arbitrary manner" could be said to underlie the argument of my paper.

I apologize that I'm asking you to read my paper, "The direction of time in quantum field theory", on your comment thread. I found your paper interesting.

On a small detail in your paper, you comment that "In modern science, a positivistic philosophy dominates", however I believe a gradual shift can be detected amongst those who are more positivistic to accommodate the post-positivist critique of Quine, Feyerabend, Lakatos, and Kuhn, and of more recent writers, particularly the issues of theory incommensurability, the pessimistic meta-induction, the underdetermination of theory by evidence, and theory-ladenness. Although post-positivism is rightly criticized as non-constructive, nonetheless there is now broad acceptance that theoretical models are not as securely grounded by an observation language as a positivist would claim. I observe also that a Platonist view of Mathematical Physics is a common impulse in Physics, which I consider to be under-represented in positivism. Whether someone is willing to take seriously an effective field theory view of Mathematical models could be thought of as an acid test.

You also comment that "According to positivism, it does not make sense to discuss about something unless it can be empirically experienced", to which we could add that according to post-positivism, it does not make sense to discuss something unless we can place it in a larger theoretical context. For example, the edited volume "Models as Mediators" takes as its theme that we can only discuss anything in the world by constructing a thought-model that mediates between our sensory experience and what we say about it.

The paragraph of yours from which I'm quoting continues to ask "So, how to make positivism compatible with the requirement of objectivity?" and offers that "The answer is - by measurement." I think this is too brief to do proper justice to the distinction between inter-subjectivity and objectivity, either of which, I would say, is a sufficient requirement for science to be possible.

These are larger issues than we are asked to address for this essay contest, however, and are rightly small issues in your paper.

Best wishes,

Peter Morgan.

Bookmark and Share

Narendra Nath wrote on Oct. 30, 2008 @ 05:28 GMT
dear Dr. Nikolic,

Many posts have come up on your essay, without any response post from your goodself. May be wisdom is downing on you through silence thus far. Let it be shared with the commentators for their benefit! The choice however rests with you alone.

Bookmark and Share

Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Oct. 30, 2008 @ 09:43 GMT
Dear Narendra Nath,

There are two reasons why I don't respond to the comments.

First, with some of them I completely agree and I have nothing new to say.

Second, some of them are purely philosophical, so I don't want to dwell into purely philosophical debates.

Bookmark and Share

Narendra nath wrote on Oct. 30, 2008 @ 14:25 GMT
Thanks for the response. Philosophical comments on ' consciousness' deserve comments as many of the essays including yours, dwell on this non-physical parameter while dicussing ' The Nature of Time '. Your comments will benefit we all who are participating through various postings. In fact my own essay ' Mysteries of the Universe- a perspective' may benefit from your enlightening comments. Even the youngest among us, Clinton Kyle Miller may desire your intervention in an explict way than mere approval!

Bookmark and Share

Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Nov. 13, 2008 @ 09:20 GMT
In my essay, I mainly discuss the block-time picture of the universe in classical (i.e., non-quantum) physics.

Yesterday I have finished a paper (not an essay, but also not too technical) in which the block-time way of thinking is used to propose a simple solution of the problem of time in quantum mechanics. You can download it from

Comments on that paper would be wellcome as well.

Bookmark and Share

T H Ray wrote on Nov. 26, 2008 @ 15:37 GMT

Has Ken Wharton seen your arXiv paper? I think your equation 6 might be of interest, for treatment in the 4-volume.


Bookmark and Share

Ken Wharton wrote on Nov. 26, 2008 @ 19:05 GMT
Hi Hrvoje,

Great essay! I agree with just about everything in it, but I still can't quite imagine telling my students that time in physics has little to do with their notion of time (even though it may be true!). (Your arXiv paper, on the other hand, I'm having some problems with; I'll email you those comments separately once I have time to write them up.)

You mentioned in the comments of my essay that there are now "two" block universe essays -- are there really only two? I haven't yet read most of them, of course, but I was hoping there would certainly be more than just two! (I thought Carlo's essay, at least, should fit in this category.)

And, since I know where you're coming from on the physics side of things, I just have to ask... Are you imagining that the Bohmian quantum potential is what you call "unmatter" in this essay?

I also discuss Bohmian QM in my own essay, and conclude that it's the *best* standard interpretation, but the ontology of the quantum potential remains my main concern; I don't see how it can fit into the block universe. Related to this, I'd be interested to hear what you think about the portion of my essay concerning configuration space.



Bookmark and Share

Mark Stuckey wrote on Nov. 29, 2008 @ 03:15 GMT

“On the other hand, unlike time, pime does not lapse or flow. Pime simply is, just like space. In this block-pime picture of the universe, there is simply no room for a pime-travel paradox [11], just as there is no room for a space-travel paradox.”

What about Polchinski's paradox, for example?

“Now we are finally ready to answer the question posed in the title of this paper. Why many physicists still don’t accept the block-time picture of the universe? This is because they use the same word “time” for two different entities. One of them, that we still calltime, is indeed incompatible with the block-time picture. The block picture refers only to the other, now called pime. All the confusion stems from a tacit assumption that these

two “times” are the same, while they are not.”

Exactly, I agree.

Great essay,


Bookmark and Share

Narendra Nath wrote on Nov. 30, 2008 @ 16:39 GMT
The sensing of physical time in Physics gets messy when one takes it as the fourth dimension in space/time picture. It gets tied to 'c'. The same is no longer seen to be constant if one believes cosmolgy eperiment on the light coming from an object 12 billion years back. It came out to be slightly more, over and above the measuremental errors of the day. If one goes back further to within fisrt billion years of our universe, my essay indicates the likelihood of a still higher value for 'c'. Everything is fine if we confine ourselves to more recent times. The implication is that Physics is not the same for the earlier times of the universe. What we have worked out now holds good in more recent times? If 'c' changes, time scale need to change too. For the possibility of multi-universes, the picture can be still more open. The dimensionality aspect for the gravity as conditioned by quantum aspects really throws another challenge for the concept of time within and outside of a system involved!

Bookmark and Share

Cristi Stoica wrote on Dec. 1, 2008 @ 07:10 GMT
Dear Hrvoje,

Well written and interesting exposure! Congratulations!

After reading your essay I tried to test your proposal of pime/time difference in practice. I had to meet somebody at noon, and I took the subway. During this trip, I checked the time when I left home, the time at the subway’s clock, the time when the subway arrived at the destination station, and again when I arrived at the meeting point. I used my table clock, my phone clock, the subway clock, and I also compared with my friend’s clock. Were all these times, or “pimes”? My understanding is that all these devices measure physical time.

During the travel in the subway, because I was a little late, I was anxious, and the time seemed to flow very slowly. When I returned home, I could be relaxed and read from a book, and the same time in subway seemed to me much shorter. So, this was the subjective time. But the subway clock showed the same time lapse in both cases.

When I was traveling in the subway towards the meeting point, somebody asked me “what time is it”. Of course, the question being about time, I should have answered “the time is flowing too slow, I am in hurry”. Instead, I decided to simply tell the “pime” showed by my cell phone, to keep the appearance of a mentally sane person.

People use the term “time” when they really discuss about pime. When they ask “what time is it”, they expect you to tell them the “pime”. They use instead of the term “time” in your acceptation, the term “subjective time”, or “psychological time”.

I would say that I see another difference between the frozen time and the flowing time, which you felt, and you may or may not succeed in expressing, but I failed in perceiving it from your essay. In Tegmark’s formulation, is the difference between the “bird view”, and the “frog view”. Is the difference between a flatlander, and a visitor from the 3-rd dimension. Of course, physicists do this by their imagination, not by traveling in other dimensions.

The pime is viewed geometrically, as a 1-dimensional structure. The psychological time is 0-dimensional – is the experience of the present. To put all the 1-dimensional information in a 0-dimensional structure, we admit that the time is changing – it is flowing.

I believe that it is the switch between “bird view” and “frog view” responsible for the confusions about time which you are trying to solve by the introduction of the new term “pime”. “Pime” is the time in the “bird view”, and “time” is in the “frog view”.

Best wishes,

Cristi Stoica

“Flowing with a Frozen River”,

Bookmark and Share

Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Dec. 1, 2008 @ 09:09 GMT

You are right that a many-particle wave function lives in the 4n-dimensional configuration spacetime, not in the 4-dimensional spacetime. I also agree with you that it is a puzzle that needs a better understanding. This is something that I am working on, but at the moment I do not have a completely satisfying answer.

Bookmark and Share

Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Dec. 1, 2008 @ 09:19 GMT

I discuss the paradoxes of the Polchinski type in more detail in Ref. [12].

Essentially, they are resolved by observing that only self-consistent solutions of the equations of motion are solutions. If some initial condition does not lead to a self-consistent solution, then such an initial condition is simply impossible. This is not in conflict with free will if you assume that a true free will does not exist. But even free will can be introduced consistently, by proposing that free will does not choose initial conditions, but self-consistent solutions themselves.

Bookmark and Share

Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Dec. 1, 2008 @ 09:23 GMT

You have presented a nice explanation of the difference between pime and time. Thanks!

Bookmark and Share

Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Dec. 1, 2008 @ 09:33 GMT

I do NOT think that the quantum potential is "unmatter". (Although, I must admit that sometimes I am tempted to think that it might have something to do with it.)

Bookmark and Share

Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Dec. 1, 2008 @ 09:40 GMT
T H Ray,

I already had a private discussion with Ken on my arXiv paper. I think he liked Eq. (6), but let him say it for himself.

Bookmark and Share

Narendra wrote on Dec. 1, 2008 @ 13:43 GMT
Pime and time distinction appears fine but it still leaves the physical time with problems if 'c' is not a constant. Its linearity and scaling comes into question, as also the interpretations / attempts made from the cosmological data from distant objects! There is still we need to work on to solve such mysteries of reality too!

Bookmark and Share

J. Smith wrote on Dec. 2, 2008 @ 19:52 GMT
Dear Hrvoje,

if understand, the distinction between pime and time you provide remains unresolved. What is your conclusive statement on that?


Bookmark and Share

Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Dec. 3, 2008 @ 09:53 GMT
Dear J. Smith,

In my essay, I argue that the distinction between time and pime is resolved, but that the relation between them is unresolved.

Bookmark and Share

Eckard Blumschein wrote on Dec. 25, 2008 @ 01:22 GMT
This is a question to all those who understood the notions pime and time:

I agree that we need two different notions of time.

Our ordinary abstract time relates to an arbitrarily chosen common point of reference and is thought to extend from minus infinity to plus infinity.

Regardless whether or not one is aware of it, any observable physical or mental process can only be influenced by what already happened. If we consider future events to influence earlier processes in advance, then we are cheating ourselves.

May I therefore identify pime with elapsed time, i.e. with growing rather than flowing time?

My question relates to attached files

Eckard Blumschein

attachments: 8_Microsoft_Word__How_do_negative_and_imaginary.pdf, 9_Microsoft_Word__How_do_part_2.pdf

Bookmark and Share

Dimi Chakalov wrote on Dec. 28, 2008 @ 21:18 GMT
Eckard Blumschein wrote (Dec. 25, 2008 @ 01:22 GMT): "...any observable physical or mental process can only be influenced by what already happened. If we consider future events to influence earlier processes in advance, then we are cheating ourselves."

The tricky issue is whether "what already happened" is enough to determine, even statistically, what we observe: please check out Conway-Kochen Strong Free Will Theorem in my essay on QM here.

D. Chakalov

Bookmark and Share

Eckard Blumschein wrote on Dec. 29, 2008 @ 00:24 GMT
Dear Dimi Chakalov,

Thank you for pointing me to Conway-Kochen. They are mathematicians. While I was not yet able to carefully read their reasoning, I nonetheless got the impression that they took Hilbert space and what they called EPR phenomenon for granted.

In this case, I just suspect that the conclusion of EPR might be due to an inappropriate mathematical point of view. This suspicion of mine relates to

- apparent symmetries

- evidently careless use of complex quantities by Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Dirac, etc.

- Weyl's confession in 1931

- v. Neumann's confession in 1935,

- obviously unrealistic single photon counting by Gompf et al. in PRL 1997

- lacking ability of Nimtz to explain his measured superluminal propagation of signals

- so far unfulfilled promise for a quantum computer

- so far missing evidence for Higgs bosons

- non-convincing arguments by Schulman

- further murky matter

Of course, I am not familiar with quantum mechanics, and I do not exclude being wrong. However, what I looked at reminded me of Ewald's sphere of redundant complex wave numbers.

I reckon myself to those who do not doubt that lady moon is to be seen even if nobody looks at her. I do not even believe in Cantor's naive set theory. I used MATLAB as to demonstrate how uncertainty also affects real-valued time-frequency representations, see my M284, M285.

E. Blumschein

Bookmark and Share

Login or create account to post reply or comment.

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.