- How memories are timeless.

How can personal memories possibly be completely timeless?

Our own memories of the ‘past’, us being smaller, wearing smaller clothes, being in places and with people that we don’t go to or see now, are our own most personal and direct reasons for believing that Time must in some way really exist. If time does not exist, then how could it possibly be that we have these memories of our ‘little selves, back then’, inside our ‘big selves, right now’. 

Our own minds create a record of events, but they are clearly more complicated than a muddy imprint or a cheap camera yet it can still be seen that no matter how intricate and sophisticated our memories are, the basic way that they create a record of events is the same, by trying the following very simple experiment.

Look carefully at the simple diagram below. There is nothing particularly special about it, but once you have looked at it, cover it out of sight.

Now with the diagram covered, close your eyes briefly then reopen them and then take a pencil and a sheet of paper and see if you can recreate another version of the original.

This shouldn’t be too hard, and once complete you can uncover the original diagram and compare them.

By seeing how similar the two versions are, we have clearly proved that one way or another, being able to recreate the diagram with the original out of sight means that there must exist in some form a re-presentation of the original in your mind.

And thus of course that by looking at the original you had formed that internal mental representation, and that by being able to draw the copy we have also proved that you must be able to re-access or re-collect the internal re-presentation existing in your mind in a sensible and coherent way.

This of course is not ground breaking news but what it shows us is that we do not actually need to know how our minds create and store internal representations of the things we see[1], or how we retrieve these stored ‘impressions’ and can recreate versions of them in the real world, to prove beyond all doubt that we can do this.

The point here is that again, to show that for us to create an internal mental impression, of any ‘thing’ in our minds nothing need be added to or taken from the ‘environment’ (our brains), and so the creation of ‘a memory’ in a mind is really not fundamentally different, or in any way more ‘special’ in a universal way, to the creation of a footprint in mud.

Although you probably weren’t eating, i.e. taking onboard any extra matter or energy, while you did the experiment it is however a fact that again matter and energy was needed to create the impression in your mind.

In this case the matter was the stuff your brain is made of, and the energy came from food you had eaten. And the changes that happened in your mind are in the form of electrochemical reactions, created as signals are being triggered off on your retinas as light reflected off the image hit its specialised cells. This then triggers off more complex electro-chemical chain reactions to trigger chain reactions in groups of chemical ‘ions’ to send signals down your optic nerves, to your brain, where even more complicated electro-chemical reactions, take place.

Within your brain, one way or another, a group of brain cells is allocated the job of chemically rearranging their own contents to change their own internal states to create some kind of version of the received signal – the image of the diagram. And although we might be able to find out if we wanted to the precise details of the process, we don’t actually need to know how it works, the fact we can recreate the diagram proves that internally, in some way an ‘impression’ is made.

So this is how internal mental re-presentations are formed, be they of sights, sounds or any other sensation the basic process will be the same and critically to store any representation, just as with a photograph or a footprint, we need some energy to change something, and we need to assign some physical matter, in this case a bunch of brain cells, to do the job.

Now, the world around us keeps happening, and our minds are continually switched on to a greater or lesser degree, so we create a steady stream of memories; and therefore the all of the above may if anything seem to support the idea that time exists, and flows, and creates the events we witness and that time is also needed for the chemicals and signals to flow around our minds to form the memories that we have, but now consider the key question when checking to see if timeless makes sense in a particular situation.


  • Would the situation I am considering still work and make sense if time did not exist, and things ‘just’ moved and changed’ - or does this situation  actually prove the existence of the fourth dimension... ‘Time’?


If you consider the action of looking at a diagram, covering it up, then redrawing it - then you can see that all we need for this to happen is a supply of ‘light’, or moving photons to exist, hit the diagram, and carry the image to your eye, and we need a supply of electro-chemicals or ions, in your eyes, optic nerves, and brain to all exist, and be able to move. So as long as we have matter and energy that is able to exist, move, change, and interact we have all we need for us to be able look at a diagram and ‘memorise’ it.

If we assume that time exists, then this whole process can be described as happening over time, and even as ‘proving that time exists’ – but if we don’t just assume that time exists, and we use our imaginations to ask how the whole situation would look if there was no such thing as time, and if matter could just exist and move... then we find that the everything would appear, and work just the same.

In other words; if there was no such thing as time, and if matter just existed and moved, then you could look at photons carrying an image to your eyes, let your retinas change the contents of your mind, access those changed contents, and move your hands to draw a version of the diagram, all with no ‘temporal record’ of this happening, and you and I would not notice any difference between this happening in a timeless world, and one where time existed.

What is more, if this kind of process keeps just happening, not over time, but just happening, then as you and I live, breath and eat our bodies will naturally change and grow... as we make internal representations (memories) of ourselves and the world around us, and so we, and the world around us appears as it does.

So in relation to the key question, these observations would still make sense if there was no such thing as time, and they also do not prove that time exists!

Specifically here, our memories and the actual processes by which they are formed, only clearly prove that matter and ‘motion’ must exist for ourselves and the world to be in such sophisticated states, but do they do not prove that an invisible ‘fourth dimension’ called time exists, or is needed for the universe to appear as it does.

Here you may be on the verge of both seeing, and completely dismissing what I am saying, as it seems to make sense, and yet also be completely wrong, if so this may be because you are trying to see the non-existence of time from a point of view that time must exist. So the test here is to look directly around you and consider what you see and whether you personally really think there is another hidden dimension within, or around what you see?

If you do think that all this motion and your memories of it prove this ‘time’ thing exists, then can you explain where you got the idea from and how, and where, and why time exists, and why so many people have such different opinions of what it ‘is’?

If you see a car drive by does it really need to do so ‘over time’, constantly creating a temporal record of its motion somewhere completely unseen and totally inaccessible as it does so? Or does it just move if it has chemical energy stored as fuel in its gas tank that is being burnt in its engine, and stop if the fuel is all released? And as the car passes out of sight, do the changing contents of your mind prove that time and the fourth dimensional temporal past exist... or just that the contents of your mind can be changed as long as you have energy in your body and mind and happen to be looking at moving things?

If two people are talking next to you, releasing chemical energy as they speak each word, and using more energy as they amplify the sounds in their ears, changing each other’s minds, as they do so then as they part how do they know that they conversed?

Do they access the contents of their own minds, and also access ‘the past’ if they re-call what they discussed – or do they just, and only access a particular location within their physical brains, and re-call the formations found there?

Mere matter and motion make memories...

The inescapable fact is that no matter how physically small, some quantity of matter is always needed wherever we, or nature, want to store and record information, because it always is ‘matter in-formation’.

Be it fossils in rock, ink in a book, magnetic patches on audio tape, or chemical ‘differences’ locked in our minds, the fact matter is always needed is often overlooked either because it is always true, or because the quantity of matter needed and used can be very small indeed compared to the amount of matter available in the universe. And in most cases records of events are created automatically, and they can be  created without conscious effort.  That is to say a ‘tree’, or a fossil or a footprint or a memory, ‘Is’ a record of what happened to make that tree, fossil, footprint or memory. One can even say that a brand new car leaving the factory gates is just a record of some of the events that happened in the factory.

But there are two sides to this very significant detail because not only do we always need some quantity of matter when mankind or nature makes some record of an event, but despite what you may think or feel records of apparently ‘past’ events are only found in the patterns within existing matter.

This leaves us with a colossal amount of ‘circumstantial evidence’ (the state of the universe) that we see as being a colossal amount of circumstantial evidence... that suggests or proves that time exists, whereas, I believe, on close inspection it is just a colossal amount of circumstantial evidence that suggests matter, and motion, exist.

So to create a ‘record’ we always need some matter and some energy to change the formation of the matter. We can ask ‘where did that energy and matter come from?’ and the answer may be ‘we just don’t know’, as in we just don’t know how or why anything in the universe can or does exist, but we shouldn’t get sidetracked into a false conclusion by using hasty and faulty logic. I.e. by the false logic that ‘the fact that someone does not know where energy or matter came from, or was created, either proves or disproves the existence of Time’.

In other words the sentence,

·         ‘I don’t know how or why the universe exists, therefore Time definitely exists’,

 is as invalid and inconclusive as the sentence,

·          ‘I don’t know how or why the universe exists, therefore Time does not exist’.

[1] See, hear, feel and so on.