∆ Bridging the past and future.

Bridging the past, present, and future.



Is this the design of a bridge that failed years ago? Is the design in use somewhere and about to fail now? Or would it fail if it was built in the future?

Is 'thinking' about 'the past' or 'the future' some kind of proof these notions make sense, and relate to things that really exist?

Or is it really just us thinking 'now'?

(screen shot from 'Bridge basher' iphone app)

Given that so far the crux of the argument has been that everything around and within us can be explained in terms of just what we actually directly observe in life, i.e. things moving and changing in the present moment, let's see if these concepts can also explain what we perceive as the infinitely forward reaching and unpredictable future using a simple and easily arranged experiment.

Consider the following scenario. We have three enthusiastic structural engineering students, A, B and C who have all agreed to be part of an experiment.

We put each in a separate room and each room contains an identical wooden model of a simple bridge spanning a river. Each student also has an instruction sheet, a copy of an engineering text book a pencil, pad and calculator.

The students are asked to analyse the bridge models, read the instructions and write a report.

At the end of the experiment we get three different reports from the students each analysing the same bridge.

  • student A’s report says that the reason section 1 of the full scale version of the bridge had collapsed two years ago was because it had been built with a serious design flaw and could only have just about supported its own weight and that was why it collapsed shortly after it was opened.

  • Student B’s report says that the planned full scale version of the modeled bridge should not be built next year ! because it has a serious design flaw in section 1 and will only just be able to support its own weight and is doomed to collapse if built and used.

  • Student C however didn’t even complete the written report but left the room half way through the experiment reporting to the organisers that they must contact the operators of the full sized bridge that the model was based on immediately because it has a serious design flaw and section 1 could even be collapsing right now as they speak !

So had the bridge already collapsed in the past, is it about to collapse in the present or will it collapse in the future?

The point of this experiment is to show that in each of the cases the students were doing virtually the exact same thing. They were carefully analysing and thinking about a model of a bridge and working out how good or bad the models design was.

They had been given virtually the same starting conditions, the only difference being the particular layout of ‘squiggles’ or ‘writing’ one each of the three instructions sheets was different.

As a result they were also thinking about what they had been told the model represented in different ways, and had reacted in different ways to this extra information. (But in each case, each student was just sitting in a room, following instructions, in the present moment.)

In examining the model of the bridge Student A thought he or she was examining evidence previously created by the original designers of a bridge that had previously collapsed and was therefore working out the details of an event that had happened in the past.

Student B thought he or she was predicting how something might happen in the future, and student C thought he or she was working out how something was performing right now.

In each case however every student was doing fundamentally the same thing, each was in fact just sitting in a room in the ‘present moment’, examining sheets of paper and a wooden model all there in the present moment, and moving the pencil, calculator keys, and parts of their own brains, in the present moment, to work out facts about the model.

However each student thought about what they were doing in different terms.

What I am trying to show here is how we can ‘think’ we are thinking about the past, or think we are thinking about the present or think we are thinking about the future, when in fact in all three cases we are just doing precisely the same thing. More specifically I am trying to show that the idea we can think we are thinking about something we refer to as being ‘the future’ does not constitute proof that the future is a thing that exists.

(in the same way that thinking about the idea of thing you may choose to call ‘telepathy’ does not prove, or disprove, that it exists)

All change.

If student C had been told they were examining the construction of a bridge planned to be built 10 years from now, then they would have thought they thinking about something 10 years in the future, if they had been told 20 years then they would have thought they were thinking about ’20 years in the future’, like wise if a student had been told the bridge had collapsed 50 or 100 years ago, they would have ‘thought’ they were discovering and examining something about the past, 50 or 100 years ago.

So we can see thinking that you are thinking about a great or small ‘amount of time’ in the past or in the future, does not actually prove that the past, the future, or that ‘amounts of time’ exist or stretch away from the present in a fourth dimension in either direction.

what about the actual bridge ? you may ask

is it real or not, did it collapse or not? well the point is that in this case the students were all always just looking at models in front of them, sheets of paper, or , critically, their own thoughts about a scenario, but thinking about them as IF the thoughts were the real thing (IE the actual matter that makes up the "bridge").

>> ∆ Do you believe that Time exists?



[1] This is the predicted Time of greatest eclipse.

Comments