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FQXi FORUM
January 19, 2018

CATEGORY: The Nature of Time Essay Contest (2008) [back]
TOPIC: What Is Time? by Gregory Keaton [refresh]
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Gregory Keaton wrote on Dec. 2, 2008 @ 14:40 GMT
Essay Abstract

I examine the point of view, advocated by Einstein, that the flow of time is an illusion. Evidence to support this view comes from the fact that the time variable t can be eliminated from the equations of classical and quantum mechanics. However, I argue that quantum jumps—which are notoriously left out of the equations—play a role in creating a real, objective flow of time.

Author Bio

Greg has always been interested in the philosophical aspects of science. He earned a Ph.D. in theoretical particle physics from U.C. Berkeley, and since then has had a variety of jobs, including teaching, patent writing, and laser design. He currently works for a small laser startup called Mobius Photonics. More than once he has tried to prove that time doesn’t really exist—probably because he is such a terrible procrastinator.

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Carl Brannen wrote on Dec. 2, 2008 @ 22:15 GMT
I loved your essay! Wonderful!




Chi Ming Hung wrote on Dec. 2, 2008 @ 23:10 GMT
Nice essay Greg. I share your view that the only possible explanation for the "flow" of Time in modern physics is in quantum "jumps". In fact it seems to me that the Schroedinger equation and other wave equations in quantum mechanics should be regarded as mathematical artifacts which arise when we try to describe what's essentially discontinuous Becoming by the mathematics of the continuous and the differentiable. The continuous evolution of the wave function in time as described by quantum mechanics is not observable, only the quantum jumps and the frequencies of various quantum phenomena are observable. My contention is that these are the basic building blocks from which one should use to try to re-build quantum mechanics. I've written more about this in my essay.




T H Ray wrote on Dec. 3, 2008 @ 12:34 GMT
Very nice essay, Greg, and it perfectly frames the actual physics of time without invoking philosophical prejudice. You write:

"If the future is entirely determined by its past, then the flow of time makes little sense: all of the information necessary to predict the future already

exists today."

Excellent. And then, on other hand, if future information impinges on the present probabilistically (as in the quantum jump phenomenon) time _must_ flow.

All best wishes.

Tom




Marek Alboszta wrote on Dec. 5, 2008 @ 02:15 GMT
Excellent essay to communicate your fundamental insight that deterministic formulations of physical law could be mapped to just space parameters using mathematics, but for the quantum jumps that saved us from such a boring fate. Though irksome to those that try to construct a complete and axiomatic system, I thank the existence of these pesky and discontinuous QM jumps for saving me from the thought that I have no free will and time is an illusion.

all the best!

Marek




Christine Koenig wrote on Dec. 14, 2008 @ 00:35 GMT
Wonderful essay, Greg! I enjoyed the mix of humour with technical know-how. Very entertaining and spiritual at the same time. Thank you!




Cristi Stoica wrote on Dec. 27, 2008 @ 18:34 GMT
Hi Greg,

Beautiful and interesting essay! Nice idea of identifying the existence of time with indeterminism.

Best wishes,

Cristi Stoica




John Merryman wrote on Jan. 1, 2009 @ 16:46 GMT
Greg,

"I believe that time can be eliminated from the laws of physics because the

equations are deterministic. If the future is entirely determined by its past, then the flow of time makes little sense: all of the information necessary to predict the future already exists today. In the words of Pierre Simon Laplace, given a sufficiently intelligent being who knew every detail of...

view entire post





Wilton Alano wrote on Mar. 12, 2011 @ 18:45 GMT
Greg,

No need of formulas to know what is time, sorry!

Time means matter particles and corpses continuously change their spatial position, exactly like energy. Is this continuous motion that we call "time".

No energy, no time. So, in a supposed system where no energy happens (no movement, no kinetics, like a frozen bottle at absolute 0º), no time occurs.

Once no thing in known universe is unenergized, so time is elapsed in any place.

Important is to keep in mind that time is synonym of Energy (motion) and is also synonym of change.

Cheers,

Wilton




Larry Moss wrote on Aug. 2, 2016 @ 11:31 GMT
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