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

Michael Deans: on 3/6/11 at 22:35pm UTC, wrote Dear James, I hope you may find the anthropocentric view of everything...

T H Ray: on 12/29/08 at 18:48pm UTC, wrote James, I'm sorry that I just got around to reading your essay. It's...

Cristi Stoica: on 12/28/08 at 6:47am UTC, wrote Dear James, I enjoyed reading your essay! It is well documented, and...

Dr. E (The Real McCoy): on 12/26/08 at 17:03pm UTC, wrote RE: Moving Dimensions Theory & Quantum Mechanics Hello Matt, You write,...

Narendra Nath: on 12/26/08 at 7:14am UTC, wrote Dear Jim, What an excellent essay submitted so late that may have deprived...

matthew kolasinski: on 12/25/08 at 4:33am UTC, wrote Hello Mr. Stanfield, trying to get through reading the papers here in...

Dr. E (The Real McCoy): on 12/24/08 at 17:50pm UTC, wrote Hello Jim & All, I greatly enjoyed your essay! It is great in scope and...

John Merryman: on 12/20/08 at 19:08pm UTC, wrote Jim, Here is a simplistic model; Non-being and being are space and...


Josh Hoffman: "Frontiers of Fundamental Physics The world's most important and..." in Frontiers of Fundamental...

Steve Dufourny: "Dear Jonathan, this fifth force possessing the main codes if it exists is..." in 16th Marcel Grossmann...

Steve Dufourny: "I try now to correlate my equation about the mass energy equivalence of the..." in 16th Marcel Grossmann...

Steve Dufourny: "Hi , the problem is complex considering this consciousness. There are..." in The Quantum Music Makers

jim h: ""One approach is to recognize that [...] a conscious experience depends on..." in The Quantum Music Makers

Jim Snowdon: "For us, time seems real, enforced by the relentless, constant rotational..." in The Nature of Time

John Cox: "Our human sense of a flow of time only suggests that there are some..." in Can Time Be Saved From...

PhysicsPfan: "The phrase above "...argued that time does not exist at all" shows how..." in Can Time Be Saved From...

click titles to read articles

Quanthoven's Fifth
A quantum computer composes chart-topping music, programmed by physicists striving to understand consciousness.

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.

August 18, 2022

CATEGORY: The Nature of Time Essay Contest (2008) [back]
TOPIC: Complex Time, Causality and the Anthropic Principal by James G Stanfield [refresh]
Bookmark and Share
Login or create account to post reply or comment.

James G Stanfield wrote on Dec. 1, 2008 @ 16:54 GMT
Essay Abstract

Complex time, with real (sequential) and imaginary (simultaneous) components facilitates the requirement of an observer to collapse the wave function of the universe. The end state informs the beginning. The infinite configurations of virtual n-dimensional space-time offer a fecundity of choices with consistent and persistent histories of our familiar four dimensional space-time. The future becomming the past is cuncurrent with the collapse of the wave function, both in a global sense and within us, a collection of localized and individuated observers.

Author Bio

Jim Stanfield is an associate engineer at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Passtimes include photography, writing, and mycology.

Download Essay PDF File

Bookmark and Share

John Merryman wrote on Dec. 1, 2008 @ 22:38 GMT


Bookmark and Share

juan ramos wrote on Dec. 2, 2008 @ 20:59 GMT
great reading for a layman

Bookmark and Share

Jim Stanfield wrote on Dec. 9, 2008 @ 21:00 GMT
Thank you for your kind words.

Bookmark and Share

John Merryman wrote on Dec. 10, 2008 @ 03:24 GMT

I like your essay for three reasons; First you naturally appreciate the point I focused on in my essay, that time isn't a meta dimension from past to future, but is the effect of future potential collapsing into past circumstance. Tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth rotates. Not the earth travels along a fourth dimension from yesterday to tomorrow.

Two; You really make an inspired effort to explain consciousness functioning as an integral part of reality and not just a by product or external element. Personally I find both atheism and monotheism to be equally limited. We are far too primitive to really delve very far into the issue of consciousness, other than to say it's as fundamental to biology as gravity is to mass. I think the only real hope for humanity is to continue up the scale of fractal evolution and transition from being top predator in the global eco-system to central nervous system of the global organism. This would require serious changes in thinking and attitude on many levels. The approaching world crisis might offer an opportunity though. Shock Doctrine on many levels.

Third; It's very well written, developed, accessible and informative.

Bookmark and Share

Eckard Blumschein wrote on Dec. 14, 2008 @ 00:57 GMT
Hello James,

Your essay does apparently not satisfy the desire of experts for highly speculative theories to pretend unifying QFT with QG as if the topic was quantum physics and not the nature of time.

However, it also fails to be as utterly unwelcome as the essay of mine.

Nonetheless, you are an engineer like me and should therefore be able to understand or refute my reasoning concerning some overlooked details with complex representation of physical quantities.


Eckard Blumschein

Bookmark and Share

Jim Stanfield wrote on Dec. 16, 2008 @ 00:38 GMT

Your essay was one that I read with interest as it dealt with imaginary time. And I would place it easily within the top half of those I read. There are so many excellent ones it will be difficult to pick only three.

I am afraid that I am not qualified to confirm or dispute your math but it seems sound enough to me. So much of it revolves around interpretation. In math classes we are taught to ignore the imaginary solutions as unphysical. But complex math reveals a deeper level of reality that spills over to the physical world in so many ways that it can not be dismissed so easily as non physical.

Don’t feel so bad about your essay. You got it out there. It got read. I, for one, liked it! I think the most useful thing about this essay contest is that it provides a forum for a huge spectrum of ideas, from the conventional to the radical at every level of difficulty. It was a great learning experience for me to write mine and another great learning experience to go through as many of the others as I was able. I wish I had time to read them all.


Bookmark and Share

Chris Kennedy wrote on Dec. 16, 2008 @ 21:33 GMT
Hi Jim,

Great essay. I particularly admire the fact that you recognize that certian theories of time are not compatible with relativity. That is the central theme to the first part of my essay. People have been asking me how my theory compares to many others out there. 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...

view entire post

Bookmark and Share

Jim Stanfield wrote on Dec. 18, 2008 @ 23:45 GMT

You ask very provocative questions!

When I started my essay on time (about a year ago), I was very perplexed. Well into it, I at least thought that I had made a start. Now, after reading a good share of the essays on this site, I am as perplexed as ever.

There are many good insights here; many ways of looking at time. As you mention, one of the main threads relates...

view entire post

Bookmark and Share

Jim Stanfield wrote on Dec. 19, 2008 @ 20:55 GMT
I would like to comment the formatting problems and add a few notes to my previous post.

The formatting of the formula to what I called the characteristic frequency of becoming, which is just the energy-time formulation of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principal (delta E times delta T is greater than or equal to h-bar/2) got clobbered when I posted it. I guess I will use plain text for my posts from here on out. The real equivalents to the virtual particles have the same energy.

On obvious aspect of the relativity of psychological time is that we have a sense of time that is inversely proportional to our age. When we are ten years old, one year seems so long to us because it represents ten percent of our years. When we are fifty, it seems a lot shorter because one year, and correspondingly months, weeks and days, represents only two percent of the time we have experienced. The respective difference in hours, minutes and seconds seems not to change that much because our wake-sleep cycle resets that internal clock.

I am surprised that so few people are into the principals of dissipative systems and self-organized criticality. To me, it is every bit as important as GR, QM and entropy in explaining our universe.

The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in describing physical reality is matched by the unreasonable expectation of mathematics to provide a final answer. Not withstanding the incremental progress that the insights of new ideas such as Dr. E’s MDT provide, there is a fundamental gap between GR and QM, which I believe will never be resolved. Gravity will not be quantized. It is geometric and continuous. For it a block time suffices. But a closed block time is a static time. Nothing would ever change in a purely block time. For the dynamism and sequentiality of time as we intuitively know it, there needs to be a spontaneous element of discontinuous becoming. As different and incompatible as they are, we need both GR and QM, and viva la difference.

I would like to propose an experiment. It is a variation on the Young’s two-slit experiment. With a suitable laser as a light source, replace the two slits with a hologram. Set up one or more cameras focused on the holographic image. In a totally darkened room, turn down the laser to the point that it is firing one photon at a time. The most direct way of determining a correct exposure would be to keep the shutter open for as long as it would take the equivalent number of photons to accumulate to produce a conventional exposure of that holographic image. In verification of the original two-slit experiment, the single photon should take all possible paths and interfere with itself to produce an interference pattern and reconstruct the 3-D virtual image.

I wish everyone a happy holiday season.

Jim Stanfield

Bookmark and Share

John Merryman wrote on Dec. 20, 2008 @ 19:08 GMT

Here is a simplistic model; Non-being and being are space and motion.

The being of motion emerges from the non-being of space as polarity.

Time implies a fundamental linearity to this activity, but there is no linearity to non-being, so in mass these relationships tend toward a non-linear equilibrium.

Non-linear motion is scalar, i.e. temperature, pressure, etc.

Between the linear ticks of a clock is non-linear activity. So while units of time may be discrete, they are perpetuated by non-linear activity. As all this linear activity exists in an equilibrium, it cancels out to non-linear activity.

Space is described as dimensional, but that is essentially a linear description, as it is explicitly direction and distance. A non-linear description of space is volume.

The same logic that equates linear units of activity (time), to linear space (dimensions), could also equate non-linear activity (temperature/pressure), to non-linear space (volume). Just as time is described as a fourth dimension, temperature would be an additional parameter of volume, since the temperature and/or pressure of a given quantity of energy is affected by changing its volume, just as units of time change relative to velocity.

So it is a fluctuating vacuum, with dimension and volume describing the vacuum and time and temperature describing the fluctuation. Space and motion, non-being and being.

Now for cosmology; This fluctuation causes space to effectively expand for the energy crossing it. The further the energy travels, the more the effect is compounded, so that the redshift is increased relative to distance. Eventually the source appears to recede at the speed of light and this creates a horizon line for visible light, although black body radiation can cross it.

While space expands, it is also infinite, so the build up of energy creates vortices into which accreted energy/mass falls, until it breaks down to an entangled energy field and expands back out as light, seeding the vacuum with more energy.

The expanding energy/light is the present moving from past structure to future potential. The collapsing mass/gravity fields describe the units of time going from being in the future to being in the past.

Dr. E's expanding dimension of time is light. Einstein proposed the Cosmological Constant because gravity caused the structure of space to collapse. Energy moves from one unit of time to the next, while these units start in the future and recede into the past.

Just speculating....

Bookmark and Share

Dr. E (The Real McCoy) wrote on Dec. 24, 2008 @ 17:50 GMT
Hello Jim & All,

I greatly enjoyed your essay!

It is great in scope and ties a lot together, asking all the right, honest, natural questions; and providing common sense contemplations and answers.

Welcome to the Hero's Journey--the fellowship of immortal souls!

I think you'll enjoy my podcast:

MDT allows us to get around Lockwood's reasoning on p. 2 of your essay, as MDT stipulates that the past is not real, but for in space-time diagrams, which are human constructs that were built upon not realizing that x4=ict implies that the the fourth dimension is moving, or dx4/dt=ic.

Indeed--a photon tells us as much! For a photon stays in one place in the fourth expanding dimension, while also defining a probabilistic spherically-symmetric wavefront expanding at c in our three spatial dimensions! How could this be, unless the fourth dimension was expanding in a spherically-symmetric manner? Well, Einstein almost wrote this with x4=ict. All he had to do was write dx4/dt=ic, which also accounts for quantum mechanics' nonlocality and entanglement, time and all its arrows and assymetries across all realms, entropy, and Huygens' and Heisenberg's principles.

In your conclusion you talk about the collapse of the wave function. In the photon's case, what this represents is a localization of the photon in the three spatial dimensions. The expansion of the fourth dimension is inherently nonlocal, and the photon surfs this fourth expanding dimension--dx4/dt=ic, and so it appears as a spherically-symmetric expanding wavefront of probability. (Please see attachement#1). Nonlocality and entanglement naturally descend from MDT.

All wavelike behavior comes from the fundamental wavelike behavior of the fourth expanding dimension. (Please see attachment #2)

Any clock which relies on changes in energy is inherently a light clock, and if we keep in mind that allphotons of energy surf the fourth expanding dimension at c indepentent of the velocity of the inertial frames, then light clocks in moving frames will be seen to run slower. (Please see the treatment in attachment #2)

So it is that MDT sets both the velocity of light c and Planck's constant, by proposing that the fourth dimension is expanding at the rate of c, relative to the three spatial dimensions with a wavelength of the Planck length. And too, MDT allows us to derive Einstein's Principle of Relativity from a deeper principle, along with time and all its arrows and assymetries, nonlocality, wave-particle/space-time/mass-nergy duality, entropy, and Huygens' and Heisenberg's principles.

Thanks for your essay and words!


Dr. E (The Real McCoy)


Bookmark and Share

matthew kolasinski wrote on Dec. 25, 2008 @ 04:33 GMT
Hello Mr. Stanfield,

trying to get through reading the papers here in order of appearance. i'm jumping ahead a little to yours after first having had my attention drawn to this paper from your comments posted at:

Temporal Platonic Metaphysics by Aleksandar Mikovic

the following:

"I am drawn intuitively to the special case where D = 8 and N = 4 yielding four regular and four imaginary dimensions."

i have an interest in this also, for my own reasons.

you might find:

interest, if you get the time. maybe after the contest; it's not one of the entrants here.

lots of reading here. yes, lots of great ideas; yes, hard to settle on only 3. not personally concerned - we're all winners here as i see it. :-)

no, i didn't personally have anything to do with writing the Speed of Thought paper.

but Mr. Targ happens to live there in Palo Alto. (i see you work at LSAC)

you might also enjoy the FMBR (, a little group that meets in the area started about 20 years ago by Bill Gough. you may know of him, he used to work at SLAC also.

from comments above, re:

Wild conjecture and a hunger for an answer leads me to brew a hearty stew from the various available ingredients: superstrings vibrating in compactified orbafolds at the Planck scale being T-Dual with the curvature of space at the cosmic scale. Could something be oscillating within this specific structure to set the speed of light?

good question. a physical effect requires a physical answer. best bet i've found here on that appears to be a scaling principle.


The progression of time as a cosmological process by Johan Masreliez

and the suggestion that this scaling would generate a sort of vibration.

put that together with:

Time and Quantum - Musings about the Quantized Nature of Becoming by Chi Ming Hung

and you've got something of a quantized McGuken

who i've not yet seen how to get quantizations out of.

i haven't gotten to Crowell's yet myself:

Time as a Universal Scaling Principle by Lawrence B. Crowell

there's a couple of others that mention scaling also.

but Masreliz' paper's pretty beefy, with some predictive comparison graphics for support.

having said this, i guess maybe i'd better actually get your paper read here.

looking forward to it.


matt kolasinski

Bookmark and Share

Narendra Nath wrote on Dec. 26, 2008 @ 07:14 GMT
Dear Jim,

What an excellent essay submitted so late that may have deprived many in public as also other authors to have read it in full. i for one feels that you have covered the entire background from science rather well. Though you tried to discuss 'consciousness' specifically towards the end, it remained limited as you could not go further into its philosophical and or spiritual (humanity) aspect. This is the usual restrictions all authors may claim from their respective angles, least of all you. As the discussion period is more or less over and voting too ends in 6 days, may i just make some comments for you to contemplate further:-

1. A part of consciousness is related to the body ( brain) but there is an external component of it for an individual too. A proof of it exists when the Nobel winning neurology Professor Eccles of Oxford found neurons in the SMA of the brain to get activated when the same was not expected under experimental conditions. He attribute such activity to outside interactions.He further conjectures that there exists a non-physical shield around SMA part of the brain that records such interactions. The latter record does not die with the death of the body,as this information continues to remain recorded in that non-physical covering!

2.Rational Uncertainity has been claimed as 'highest truth'. Do you believe that science can ever reach absolute reality, being confined with dualities of various sorts, we can only approach better and better relative truth/reality?

3. There is a quote from Pitanjali, Indian philosopher cum originator of Yoga techniques way back over 3000 yrs. back. In one of the verses that i have quoted in my essay he states ' the cognizer, the process of cognition and the object of recognition need to become one to realize the truth'. The cognition is more than an ordinary observation . It involves 'discriminatory observation'. Thus, this quote goes beyond the observer/observed uncertainity of quantum physics.

4. you rightly indicate about an external individuated observer and an internal unindividuated non-local observer. The former you call 'consciousness'. May i say that the totality of 'consciousness' are both. The only thing that the former dominates usually. But it is possible for a human to raise his level of 'consciousness' to higher level in order to strengthen his overlap with the latter type of 'consciousness'.Patanjali talks about it in his Yogshastra when discussing the various distractions suffered by the human mind, when overcome one can reach the higher level of self-consciousness.

Bookmark and Share

Dr. E (The Real McCoy) wrote on Dec. 26, 2008 @ 17:03 GMT
RE: Moving Dimensions Theory & Quantum Mechanics

Hello Matt,

You write, "Time and Quantum - Musings about the Quantized Nature of Becoming by Chi Ming Hung

and you've got something of a quantized McGuken

who i've not yet seen how to get quantizations out of."

Attached Matt, please find a document which shows how...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share

Cristi Stoica wrote on Dec. 28, 2008 @ 06:47 GMT
Dear James,

I enjoyed reading your essay! It is well documented, and explains well some issues related to time, consciousness, QM, and reality.

Best wishes,

Cristi Stoica

Bookmark and Share

T H Ray wrote on Dec. 29, 2008 @ 18:48 GMT
James, I'm sorry that I just got around to reading your essay. It's excellent, and so rich with history and background that every paragraph could be an opening to the chapter of a book. If you ever decide to write it, I can guarantee at least one reader.

You and I (my essay, "Time counts") agree on the physical utility of complex analysis and imaginary time.

Just one thing--I wonder if, for a physical theory, "countably infinite" might be a better choice of words than "transfinite." The latter seems more apropos to abstract set theory.

All best,


Bookmark and Share

Michael Thomas Deans wrote on Mar. 6, 2011 @ 22:35 GMT
Dear James,

I hope you may find the anthropocentric view of everything presented in my essay 'The chip in the brain' to the current contest interesting. Please take a look.

Peace, love & progress!

Michael T Deans

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

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.