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February 22, 2018

CATEGORY: The Nature of Time Essay Contest (2008) [back]
TOPIC: On the Nature of Time - Or Why Does Nature Abhor Deadlocks? by Christine Cordula Dantas [refresh]
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Christine Cordula Dantas wrote on Nov. 13, 2008 @ 08:59 GMT
Essay Abstract

This essay aims at introducing a novel point of view on the nature of time, inspired by a synthesis of three seemingly unrelated concepts: Bergson's notion of duration, Dijkstra's notion of concurrency, and Mach's notion of inertia.

Author Bio

Christine Cordula Dantas has an undergraduate degree in Data Processing Technology (PUC, Brazil), a BS degree in Astronomy (UFRJ, Brazil), a MSc degree in Astrophysics (INPE, Brazil) and a PhD in Astrophysics (INPE, Brazil). She works at the Materials Division of the General-Command of Aerospace Technology (AMR/IAE/CTA, Brazil). Her main interests are foundational questions in theoretical physics (quantum gravity and cosmology), as well as philosophy of science. Her blog can be accessed at

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Christine C. Dantas wrote on Nov. 13, 2008 @ 17:46 GMT
I would like to report a missing reference in my essay:

Wolfram, S. “Undecidability and Intractability in Theoretical Physica”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 54, 735 (1985).

Thank you.

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matthew kolasinski wrote on Nov. 15, 2008 @ 22:17 GMT
Dear Dr. Dantas,

while i couldn't argue either pro or con re. the applicability of the notion of deadlock avoiding being an intrinsic property of the universe, i do admire the creativity in the approach you have taken here and the intuitive impression that there just may happen to be something about the dynamics of the universe that we've been missing. i couldn't agree more; suspecting the tools we have had to work with may have significantly and inappropriately limited results in spite of the extent of their effectiveness in what they have thus far been applied to. simply because we don't have a tool to describe a certain characteristic doesn't mean that characteristic doesn't exist (sort of like a map maker good at drawing roads with considerable precision which infallibly guides travelers to their destinations but he doesn't have a way of drawing mountains, so he leaves them out of the map as 'irrelevant' failing to recognize that this feature can add significant distance and energy requirements to a journey [i actually have an old road atlas that is like that - the mileage marked on the map through mountains is significantly short of what it is to physically travel]. he can't represent motion on a flat drawing, so he leaves the rivers out also. the only thing important to him is the 2D course of the road between point "A" and point "B" and limited notations about "scenic", "business" or "bypass").

the word choice of 'concurrency' to me didn't seem as fitting a choice as could have been for the dynamics described - with 'concurrency', i get the picture of two books sitting side by side on a shelf not going anywhere.

a friend of mine once described a notion of a dynamic interrelationship he had termed 'co-evolution' - something from a childhood experience of his, watching a small stream flow over a sandy bottom into the ocean. he noticed that the ripples in the stream changed the ripples in the sandy stream bed, changed the ripples in the stream, changed the ripples in the sand...

while i have no idea if the idea of concurrency has a viable place in physics, the concept of deadlock, what leads to it and what avoids that would seem to have some highly beneficial cross-discipline applications in sociology/social psychology, where the 'deadlock avoidance' mechanism does not seem to be an innate feature in the landscape.

an interesting read.

thank you,


matt kolasinski

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F. Le Rouge wrote on Nov. 18, 2008 @ 16:38 GMT
First of all I would tell you that Dr C. Rovelli’s essay is one of the most subjective in this forum. His answer that ‘the arrow of Time is just an arrow of Time’ is a very specific choice.

‘Quanta physics’, Einstein’s theories, ‘String theory’ are therefore coming from Galileo, Newton, Huygens, Kepler, a.s.o., Scientists who all had specific ideas on the Nature of Time and...

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Christine C. Dantas wrote on Nov. 19, 2008 @ 10:39 GMT
Matthew Kolasinski: thank you for your comment.

F. Le Rouge: thank you for your comment. However, you have misunderstood my essay.

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F. Le Rouge wrote on Nov. 19, 2008 @ 12:41 GMT
'Duration': it is in the word that you try to strengthen the subtle Time. And that is what H. Bergson wanted to do himself against his 'opponent' R. Descartes, because Bergson was aware of the link between mechanics and empty space idea that does not satisfy his biological idea.

('Misunderstanding' is a classical argument against opponents that Plato was still suggesting.)

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Christine C. Dantas wrote on Nov. 19, 2008 @ 13:50 GMT
F. Le Rouge: I respect your interpretation. However, it does not reflect the contents of my essay. This is what I mean by 'misunderstanding'. On the other hand, it may reflect a poor writing of my part.

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Anonymous wrote on Nov. 19, 2008 @ 13:51 GMT
F. Le Rouge: I do not have, nor intend to have opponents.

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T H Ray wrote on Nov. 20, 2008 @ 00:04 GMT
An interesting and fun to read paper. I am reminded of another philosopher, Daniel Buridan, and the problem of "Buridan's Ass." It really does appear to us that where we want to imagine conditions under which events should cease, such conditions are incomprehensible. If we want comprehensibility, we turn to mathematics and if we want a constructive mathematical argument, we fundamentally invoke what Brouwer called "a move in time."

Thanks, Christine, for placing a well thought out humanistic frame around the big picture.


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Christine C. Dantas wrote on Nov. 20, 2008 @ 18:53 GMT
T H Ray: thank you for the kind words.

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F. Le Rouge wrote on Nov. 21, 2008 @ 10:46 GMT
Turning to Mathematics or arithmetics to get comprehensibility is exactly the XVIIth century's Revolution in France and England Kingdoms, especially R. Descartes and Dutch C. Huygens in France.

No doubt that Bergson is fighting against this method and that the idea of 'opponent' is important in Bergson's Mind.

Why is this 'opposition' important to keep here? Because Bergson does not think he is speaking on a more metaphysical level. He does not think he is COMPLETING Descartes method but he wants to replace his Science by a better one (and he is in fact very sarcastic with Descartes).

Even if I do not agree with the idea of 'duration' (similar idea is Clinton Kyle Miller's idea of 'Here and now' on this forum), I do agree contrarily with Bergson that one must choose between Algebraic method of Descartes and Bergson's Science (under Anglo-saxon influence of Spencer) that cannot be added up.

Neutral idea of Science that Descartes' algebraic method does suggest is not only wrong in my opinion but dangerous. Nothing is more dangerous in fact to think that everybody has the same idea -on Time for example-, and to dicover at the end that everybody think different and that the general agreement was just an illusion.

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Dr. E (The Real McCoy) wrote on Nov. 23, 2008 @ 21:56 GMT
Hello Christine!

Nice paper!

"Why does Nature abhor deadlocks?" Because change is woven into the fundamantal fabric of spacetime with dx4/dt=ic.

You write, "It is a most interesting fact that correlations of physical properties between two entangled particles, as so far tested experimentally, cannot be explained under local realism."

Entanglement arises because the...

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Cristi Stoica wrote on Dec. 30, 2008 @ 06:21 GMT
Dear Dr. Dantas,

I find very interesting the idea of Nature abhorring deadlocks, and the way you combine the three notions. Congratulations for your beautiful essay!

Best wishes,

Cristi Stoica

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