∆ Why Time is not a dimension.

1.                 Sorry but there’s, No fourth dimension (in my opinion, it may be the case).

Minkowski's 'spacetime' as depicted in Wikipedia,  is a very useful concept, which makes sense 'IF' Time exists, but which does not PROVE 'that' time exists.
(click for Wikipedia entry)




Pythagoras's theorem can always be expanded on, but this neither proves, or disproves time.

When we put, Galileo, Newton, and Einstein together, they all agree that time exists in some way, though they may disagree about the finer details. But this situation distracts us from the fact  that none of them actually proved that time exists in the first place, let alone as some kind of ‘fourth dimension’;

Time is often described as being a ‘fourth dimension’, this is to say a dimension that in a sense exists in addition to the normal three dimensions we might label width depth and height or X,Y, Z and so on.

Although time clearly doesn't exist ‘simply’ as an extra dimension, i.e. one that we could walk along or measure with a tape, the point here is that it is said to exist ‘in some way’ as another dimension, and also that in the world of Minkowski spacetime, mathematically changing values of time, or ‘t’ for distances and vice versa works in a very precise and sophisticated way.

I emphasis ‘in some way’ here because this book is all about time not existing in any-way at all, and therefore the idea that Time ‘may be’, or ‘may be seen as’ a fourth dimension, should be defeated before it has begun if I am correct[1].

 One of the most common examples for believing that time can be seen as a fourth dimension is to consider the problem of two people meeting in the morning and agreeing to meet again for a coffee some-where else, and at some-other time in the future.

They can make sure they meet up at the same place by agreeing on an address, or a map reference, describing a location and then at the right time, by agreeing to meet in say ‘3 hours’.

The physical location where they agree to meet can always be given by three numbers, two numbers giving the north-south and east-west location of where they should meet, say 200, and 300 metres, and one number giving how ‘high up’ the meeting place is, which makes sense in a big city because it could be a meeting room or a restaurant on the 10th floor of a sky-scraper, say 30 metres off the ground.

So to get to the meeting you may simply leave ‘home’, walk 200 metres north, then turn and walk 300 metres east, then take the stairs 30 metres ‘up’. You could also add up all these distances and say you had travelled 530 metres in total, which would be true, but not really the actual direct distance between the two locations.

If you are mathematically inclined you will know that the real ‘shortest’ or most direct distance from where you started to where you arrived can be worked out using ‘Pythagoras’s theorem’.

 If you are not mathematically inclined then, to cut a long story short, all you need to do is imagine your starting point is like the bottom left corner of a massive ‘three dimensional shoe box’ that is 200, by 300 by 30 metres big, and your meeting place is in the top right corner; And Pythagoras’s theorem is some mathematics that will let you easily work out the ‘straight line distance’ between the two places as if you had stretched a super long tape measure in a straight line between the two.

Pythagoras works in (1) 2 and 3 dimensions...


Pythagoras also works in 4 dimensions...and 5, and 6, and...




Mathematically speaking, if you start at one location, and it takes you say ‘10 seconds’ to get to another place, then this ‘10 seconds’ can be seen as also being a ‘distance’[2].

This is achieved by multiplying the ‘time’ by the speed of light’, and so we can say that ‘10 seconds’ may literally be considered as an extra physical distance of ‘300,000 * 10 km’; what is more, with this way of making time equate to distance we can mathematically us Pythagoras in ‘4 dimensions’, and work out the ‘straight line’, ‘spacetime’ distance we travel when going from A to B.

Even more amazingly, just as we could physically rotate a ‘three dimensional object’, we can mathematically rotate a ‘four dimensional object’, or ‘journey from A to B that takes a length of time’. We don’t need to get bogged down in the details here, but it is suffice to say that this does makes sense, and work, for experts who deal with time, and the fact that it works is seen as a reason to support the idea that time can be seen as a fourth dimension’ – which in turn implicitly is seen to support the idea that ‘time exists’[3].

So in this way we say we need ‘three dimensions of space’ to define where they should meet. And, because they also meet ‘after a period of time’, and this period of time can be seen as a ‘distance’, we add the idea that they need an extra ‘dimension of time’.

This seems to make sense because if you and I just agree to meet at ‘some place’, and don’t also specify a time, then it’s a bit like specifying a distance north, but not east or west. So without at ‘time’ also described,, we might never meet, and even miss each other by months or decades, because one of us might turn up, wait a week and then leave before the other had even arrived.

(The problem with the fact that Pythagoras's theorem mathematically works in '4' dimensions is that is not a proof that a fourth dimension exists. The theorem still works mathematically in 5,6,7 even 2,739 'dimensions' and beyond - but probably doesn't prove there are that many dimensions.)

(for a different view of 'space time intervals see

‘Space-time intervals’ vs ‘space–consequence’ distances.)

Galileo’s input.

As mentioned elsewhere, this idea of another ‘ethereal’ or ‘extra’ dimension i.e. of us, or some ‘thing’, heading along from A to B or, some ‘thing’ steadily passing by us is also suggested by Galileo’s work;

This is because Galileo made great sense out of the complex motion of things like projectile, by comparing their complex motion to the regular ‘beats’ or counts of a swinging pendulum. And this steady continuous count 1,2,3,4 etc leads to the idea of some other ‘ruler’ or measure of some other ‘thing’ existing in a way that was different to just a ruler pointing up-down or left-right and so on.

Another view.

But now consider the same problem of two people meeting up somewhere else and some time else, with a few of the simple but confusing factors removed.

Imagine two people chatting at an office desk, in the morning, and planning to meet up again for a gossip later in the day; but this time they also agree to meet up again ‘in 3 hours’, but not across town, just by the coffee machine, in corner of the room where they both work.

The odd factor here is that after agreeing to meet up again, they just go back to their separate desks, a few metres away from each other, and constantly in sight of each other.

In this case, it is hard to really agree whether they ever really ‘part’ so that they can meet up ‘again’; in fact whether they do part is really a matter of personal opinion; are two people wandering across a field side by side ‘apart?; and are two strangers sitting side by side without talking or touching on the same bus seat ‘together?.

If the coffee drinkers desks were separated by walls; on different floors; or in different buildings 200 or 300 metres apart, then we as humans might be happier to agree that ‘they had parted, and could meet up again in the future’.

But in reality they would still both always just ‘be’ existing, and just be some arbitrary distance apart. Imagining otherwise is like saying that ‘the moon is not here’ just because you cannot see it or it is further than some randomly chosen distance away from you personally.

 

Nonetheless they get on with their separate jobs, and when each sees by his or her watch that it 3 hours has passed, they get up and wander over to the coffee machine and have a nice chat as agreed, so everything works out just fine.

So what’s the difference?

These two planned meetings, across town, or across a single room, are not in any way fundamentally different; in both cases two people have agreed to meet in a different location and ‘at a different time’.

The only significant difference is that we have simplified how they agree where to meet, eliminating grid references and sky-scraper floor numbers, and just said ‘ the coffee machine in the corner’; and made it so they don’t even leave the room they are in between meetings.

If you look at this simplified case with time, it seems to make sense, and therefore, it may seem to suggest that time exists, possibly even as a ‘fourth dimension’ if the experts say so; But if you look at it without time it also seem to make sense[4].

Coffee-timeless.

Without time, we have two people and a coffee machine, in a room, on planet Earth.

The people, the coffee machine, the room and the planet all just constantly exist.

The people sit and work, using up some of their internal fuel reserves and perhaps sweating, or dehydrating slightly as they work; The coffee machine just sits their keeping the molecules of coffee bouncing around rapidly, so that the coffee is ‘hot’ as long as it is plugged into some power; The room doesn’t change much, unless something like an earthquake or a wrecking-ball hits it, and the Earth just keeps constantly spinning because it has colossal angular momentum and is floating in frictionless space.

Each person may also have a ‘clock’ or a ‘watch’, or even may be a sundial, so they can keep track of how much the Earth is rotating, and after ’45 degrees of rotation’ or ‘3 hours of rotation’ if you prefer, they both move ‘closer’, along some ‘physical dimension’ to the coffee machine.

We could choose to also say they have ‘waited’ in some way for ‘3 hours’ along the ‘dimension of time’. And we could even produce diagrams and ‘four dimensional’ equations and that would mathematically make sense and add up as mentioned above.[5]

However, saying someone ‘moves along a physical dimension of space’, when they ‘go along some fairly straight path’ from their desk to a coffee machine for example, makes sense, because we have two ‘places’ that we go between; so we have an ‘A’ and a ‘B’.

But the idea that time can in some sense be seen as a ‘dimension’ stems from the idea that as well as the present moment, with all the movement and change we see in it, there are also two other places;

These other places being ‘the past’, and ‘the future’.

 And then, that in ‘some way’, (and it doesn’t really matter here just what that way is), we move ‘between the two’, so this can be seen as being similar to moving along some kind of fairly straight ‘path’.

Even though in the time sense we never seem to really get from any ‘A’ to any ‘B’, this still doesn’t seem to really matter, because we may imagine time to be like an extremely long, if not endless ‘railway track’.

This works fine, because, If we really were constantly travelling along such an endless track, without ever stopping, then although we never really seemed to get from an ‘A’ to a ‘B’ we would still legitimately agree, that we were ‘travelling along in a direction’ and therefore along a dimension.

So, traditionally when thinking about the dimension of time, we take it that time exists, and then we just wonder about what Time is, and how it is that we travel along it; So our questions go straight to things like ‘do we travel along time’, or does time ‘pass us by’? and so on.

The requirements for a dimension...

But here is the critical point, to say we are travelling along a dimension, from an ‘A’ to a ‘B’, we really do in some sense need an ‘A’ and a ‘B’. Even along an endless track there would have to be something ahead and something behind of us.

In the time view these are said to be the past and the future, and these features are then said to be invisible for their own special reasons.

But, taking these features separately, when we look very carefully at why we think the ‘past’ exists, or why the idea of the past makes sense, we realise it is just an over-interpretation of the evidence of movement and change and matter interacting with itself, that we see in and around ourselves.

From all this ‘present’ evidence, we may get a sensation that there may be a ‘temporal past’ in existence in some way; but to my knowledge, no ‘thing’ other than the ‘stuff’ that is ‘here now’ is ever actually ‘seen’.

Likewise, when we consider the future, we can see how we may construct models and ideas in our heads, and ‘say’ that we are thinking about 5 minutes in the future, or 5 years in the future, or 5 centuries in the future; but all we are actually doing, is constructing ‘some thing’ in our minds[6] and talking about it in a particular way[7].

But, we assume that these constructs in our minds mean more than they do, and that the future exists, because we think we can at least ‘see the future constantly arriving’.

But even here, all we provably see is ‘stuff existing and moving’, where there is energy being released, and in ‘orderly’ or ‘chaotic’ ways, which we correspondingly ‘call’, ‘pre-dictable’ or ‘un-pre-dictable’ ways.

So, we can't directly prove there is a past behind us, or a future ahead of us, but even this is ok, because ‘the arrow of time’ at least seems to exist; ‘Dropped china vases, always fall downwards, and smash into pieces’ – but – ‘released fragments of china, never fly upwards and snap together to make a vase’.

This as good as universally guaranteed fact, seems to at least show us that there is definitely a constant motion or flow of time, that does exist, and so we are in some sense moving along in one fixed direction, which will qualify as enough proof that it makes sense to think of ‘another dimension’ in some way, no matter how bizarre, or ethereal, as ‘existing’.

But, the idea that the one way destruction of falling vases proves times arrow, only really makes sense if you start by suspecting that time exists. Without the initial idea of time, we can see that of course if you smash a vase up it breaks in thousands of ways, and of course the pieces are unlikely to reform into the vase because you would have to launch every single fragment towards to other with incredible power and accuracy.

In other words,, you can ‘drag’ a ten metre length of string along ‘behind you’ but you can't push ten metres of string along in front of you, not because time exists and stops it from happening, but because that’s what the laws of nature, in this case friction, make happen.

This may not seem to be a very good disproof of the ‘arrow of time’ because time seems to be backed up by so much other evidence, so the idea of the arrow of time seems more robust than this; but this really is the whole point here. All the evidence seems strong, because each assumption seems to back up all the others, but this is not in fact the case.

When we examine the ‘chain of reasoning’ carefully it becomes worse than a house of cards, everything seeming to back everything else up, but in fact everything is relying on everything else to back it up, and there is no real beginning of the chain, or any core proof of anything other than movement and change. (To see what i mean in detail go to ...The House of Cards.)


Figure: A borrowed picture of an odd house of cards that actually depicts what I am suggesting quite well.



Back to the office.

If you look back at the office scenario, you can see that in fact our two coffee drinkers are never really ‘separated for a period of time’, just as you and I, though we may have never me, are not separated by a period of time.

The coffee drinkers just exist and move and change, the Earth can spin its heart out while it has its ‘spin’ and machines called ‘clocks’ can spin their hands while they have good batteries, or coiled springs; the coffee drinkers can agree to look at the ‘clocks’ or out of the window at the position of the sun, and meet for a drink when they see a particular cue, and all their plans will work.

And we can look at this scenario, and other more complicated ones, and choose to describe in terms of time existing and being a ‘fourth dimension’ that can be merged and interchanged very successfully with the three normal dimensions,

But if you actually sat and watched the coffee drinkers scenario, from the first meeting to the next, you would never see ‘time pass’, or ‘the past grow’, or ‘the future arrive’.

 So you would see no ‘A’ to mark the start point of our movement along the dimension of time; And no ‘B’ to mark the end of our journey, and to prove that the dimension of time really existed; Or to prove that everything involved, the room, drinkers, coffee etc were all ‘travelling steadily along the ‘dimension’ of time’... ‘at the speed of light’.

Instant coffee at the speed of light?

Concerning this idea that everything travels forwards through the mystical and unseen ‘dimension’ of time at the speed of light; it is worth noting that while our coffee drinkers scenario is going on, many things, objects, consequences, events, whatever you wish to call them will be departing from, and arriving at the ‘location’.

It would be true for example that simple objects and sounds may be ‘leaving’ the office in many directions, ‘particles of light’ would be flying off clocks hands, coffee drinkers, and everything else in the area ‘at the speed of light’, and phone calls on land lines or via wireless cell-phones, would also be leaving, or arriving at the area at up to the speed of light.

On a more exotic and generally ignored level, consequences like the ‘gravitational’ disturbances caused in all directions by anything that moves anywhere, will be constantly ‘radiating’ outwards from the office to affect the whole universe, and radiating into the office from the whole universe simultaneously and in all directions.

Carefully considering how these ‘simultaneously’ departing and arriving photons can represent the maximum speed that any and all effects, events, or ‘consequences’ could be leaving the scene (to change the surroundings) or arriving at the scene (to change the scene itself), while also considering how we tend to ‘mentally isolate’ all examples of such motion... whatever its actual direction, and then think of each example as ‘to be going forwards’ – Gives us a pointer as to where the idea came from that ‘everything’ is constantly ‘travelling forwards through time at the speed of light’.

 

Hey buddy, can you spare a dimension?

You may, choose to look at a ‘clock’ and call ‘the hour hand pointing at the 12’ a ‘start point’ or an ‘A’, and then call the hand ‘pointing at the 3’ an ‘end point’ or a ‘B’, and in some way see these things as marking out points along a dimension - but jumping to such conclusions about what the changing position of a small rotating piece of metal or plastic means, and concluding that it proves the existence of an invisible fourth dimension is not scientific.

And for this view to make sense it relies on all the other discredited points about time as detailed so far being actually proven to be real. In other words we should be wary that if time exists then clocks are useful ways of measuring its flow, but ‘clocks’ do not prove that time, they assume that it does.

So we shouldn’t forget that the ‘clock’ is not the proof, but something produced apparently after the reason for making it had been proven.[10] So, the Earth, and clock hand spinning don’t prove that fourth dimensional entity called time exists. All that is proven is that stuff exists and moves and changes in many different ways if there is energy in the vicinity.

In this case, if there is power the coffee will be hot, if there is a power cut the coffee will be cooling down, if say of the batteries on any clock or watch runs flat, it will stop, if either of the people hasn’t looked after themselves and been eating properly they could ultimately run out of energy so much that they too cease to ‘run’, and if ‘heaven forbid’ a massive meteorite of just the right size and speed hits the Earth in just the right place it too could stop spinning.

But none of this proves time exists alone, or as an extra dimension.

Back to >> ∆ Timeless v.Time distinctions (Rhetoric and Semantics).

[1] This is not as grand as it sounds, no books will really need to be rewritten, as long as the word ‘Time’ is seen to only really represent ‘Change’, and change in the present only, as defined elsewhere in this book.

[2] In these kinds of equations it is a convention that any amount of ‘time’ can be ‘said’ to be converted into the ‘distance’ that light can travel in that duration of time’; So 1 whole second becomes 300,000 km; 1 millisecond becomes 300 km; and so on. Note also that any of the distances can be converted in the opposite way, so ‘300 metres’ equates to the length of time light takes to travel 300 metres (1 millionth of a second)CHECK .

[3] This idea of ‘four dimensional space time’ is not in any way to be dismissed as being redundant, it is essential to countless very powerful and useful cosmological equations; but I am suggesting that it needs to be seen in a different way if ‘time’ itself, cannot be shown to exist (either as a feature of ‘space’ or not), for reasons explained in this chapter; And, given that this book is about debunking ‘time’ we needn’t go into a fuller description or proof of what four-dimensional minowskie space time rotations are in any more detail.

[4] Given that both explanations seem to make sense, we might at first want to say that this neither strengthens or weakens the case against time; however to use the ‘magic’ analogy, this is like watching an illusionist, and saying that what you saw made sense if described as ‘pure magic,’ or as ‘clever physical manoeuvring’; but if you go with the ‘it was magic’ point of view you should at least find for yourself some actual proof that something other than ‘clever physical tricks exists’: so with time or no-time, if you want to go with the time view, you should perhaps show that something other than matter simply existing and changing in the present exists.

[5] An expert in ‘relativity’ could even explain how these combined dimensions (three of space and one of time) can be mathematically ‘rotated’ not just in the 3D sense as you might rotate a cube, but in ‘four dimensional space time’, where physical dimensions can be transposed and seen as time, and durations of time can transpose to be physical dimensions.

[6] And odd as it may sound anything we construct out of the ‘stuff’ existing in our minds has no especially higher status than anything we may construct out of some existing ‘stuff’ in a mechanical toy construction set.

[7] A way that makes sense ‘if’ the future exists, but which doesn’t actually ‘prove’ that the future exists.

[8] What I'm trying to say here is, you can't re-present something unless the thing you are re-presenting exists, if time, and the temporal past do not exist, then the records we have in the matter in and around us are the only records, and not re-presentations of some other record.

[9] There is slightly more to this idea of a dimension, because the idea makes mathematical sense even when we think of the dimension of time being squashed and stretched; but this can be interpreted as making sense when we think of ‘speeds’, ‘rates’, ‘dimensions’, ‘space’ being distorted. I.e. the fact that it makes mathematical sense even when thought of as something ‘flexible’ is not a ‘core’ to the idea that time exists, it is something that seems to back up the idea of time – assuming that it has been proven in some other way. In this sense this is just another part of the ‘run-around’ that makes us believe that time has been proven somewhere else (and harder to see that it hasn’t been proven anywhere) – and that this is ‘yet another’ bit of supporting evidence. (but as far as I can tell, it’s all ‘supporting evidence’ and no real proof).

[10] The error here is like imagining that printing a headline that says ‘GUILTY’ proves someone is guilty, so there for the headline is correct.

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