∆ Einstein's Relativity.

This is a detailed break down of the first 9 sections of "Special Relativity" ON THE ELECTRODYNAMICS OF MOVING BODIES purely from the point of view of checking whether each reference to 'time' is both legitimate and necessary,

or whether the papers assumptions about 'time' existing, and use of the word time, are valid and/or actually necessary. Or, if the papers workings and conclusions might be usefully and legitimately interpreted if the matter/energy in the universe just exists moves, interacts, integrates and dis-tegrates in 3 dimensions. without a past, future or time actually being observed, or needed in Relativity.

(The original paper Relativity stems from can be found here... ON THE ELECTRODYNAMICS OF MOVING BODIES)

written as part of a reply to an email about time, It is focusing on just where Einstein uses the word 'Time' and whether he proves Time has any meaning other than as a word that describes 'motion' here and now.

i.e whether time (as some kind of fourth dimension) does not exist - but Einstein assumes it does without proving it.

this may be important because many experts take Einstein to be our chief expert on 'Time' - and thus take his work to in some way be a proof of time. while he may just be our chief expert on gravity and distorted motion.

the following was part of a reply to an email the first part of the email is here.


A breakdown of sections 1-9 to see if they give evidence to support the existence of (4d) time, or just matter and motion.

So – hopefully with an idea of where a very young Einstein may have first picked up the idea of time - this brings us to ‘Relativity’ (Routledge classics uk 1920) and  what Einstein thinks time is, and why it is included in his theory, what he says about it in SR, and why he thinks it can be dilated, and what we can deduce that this says about reality etc.

In this examination of the first sections of the book I hope to show how Einstein may have invalidly adopted, and run with, some unproven assumptions about the existence of time, the past, and future etc. And produced a theory - that is genuinely about how mass warps space, and about how warped space can affect the rate at which things move and change  – but worded this theory as if it was about a thing called time, and about the flow of ‘time’ between a ‘future’ and a ‘past’ being changed by gravity and motion etc.

‘Einstein’s Relativity’ (sections 1-9) reviewed to show they talk about (dilated) motion and rates of change, but don’t seem to prove ‘time’.

Sections 1 and 2.

The book lays out in a very orderly and progressive way the steps needed to appreciate first special then general Relativity. Sections 1 and 2 clarify simple geometry and systems of spatial co-ordinates.

Section 3-‘Space and time in classical mechanics’.

Time is first mentioned in section 3. Here, straight off the bat Einstein’s first comment on time is in the sentence…

 ‘The purpose of mechanics is to describe how bodies change their position in space with time’.

In his first example of this Einstein asks us to consider (recklessly) releasing a stone to fall from a moving train carriage window. He then points out that the stone seems to fall ‘straight’ down relative to the moving carriage, but in a parabola relative to someone ‘stationary’ on an embankment.

He then suggests that…

‘in order to have a complete description of the [stone’s] motion, we must specify how the body alters its position with time; i.e. for every point on the trajectory it must be stated at what time the body is situated there’.


‘These data must be supplemented by such a definition of time that in virtue of this definition these time values can be regarded essentially as magnitudes (results of measurements) capable of observation’

Einstein then goes on to describe the use of two synchronized ‘clocks’ of identical design, in each location, and the act of logging where the dropped stone is from each POV for each Tick of the clocks.

So – critically – here we have a mention of a ‘definition of time’  - and the suggestion that we use machines showing motorized hands rotating about a numbered dial (‘clocks’ to use a loaded name).

Then – as the train moves, and as the stone falls and moves and as the motorized hands move, we can compare and log the positions of all these examples of movement – and discuss and even graph them.

But the way this is all expressed – using familiar and loaded words like ‘clock’ and ‘time’  - while not outlining the precise meaning of each – leave the reader with no reason to doubt, whatever they personally casually assume each word might imply or mean. For example, if the reader thinks time obviously exists and flows into the  past then this Is not contested, and because time based words are used , it can seem to be actively supported. While in fact the word time has just been used as if it is a given that it refers to some real thing, and the conversation has continued on immediately without pause drawing the readers attention to the problems of viewing an example of motion from different (moving) points of view. Thus (unintentionally) the term time has been mentioned and accepted, and incorporated, and taken by association to be as real as moving trains and falling stones.

So while all that is described in SR Section 3, is movement of – a train, a stone, motorized hands etc, a reader my imply or assume that energy is needed for the train to move – and energy is needed for the motorized hands to overcome mechanical friction and rotate – energy Is needed to lift the stone – gravity is needed for the stone to fall – but a reader is also led to believe that…

The stone/train experiment suggests or shows that in the world…

  • An extra thing called ‘time’ also exists (because it is explicitly named)
  • And, ‘clocks’ measure ‘time’.
  • I.e. time has  magnitudes’ (results of measurement) capable of observation’
  • and time is needed or passes, as things move.

(note in this section  only classical mechanics are discussed and needed– all the issues with relativistic motion, actual measurements and the speed of light etc are not relevant yet).

Note also the magnitudes’ (results of measurement) capable of observation’, that will actually be seen and measured in such a stone dropping experiment will actually be ‘the number of degrees a mechanical hand is rotated around a dial’, as a stone is in a particular place.

This may be expressed in terms of ‘seconds of time’ – but before we rush off to assume the existence of an invisible fourth dimension (let alone another 10 or so ‘dimensions’ in some kind of string theory- or start speculating about ‘time machines’)  we should check careful that the measured value actually is of something other than just ‘degrees of rotation’ expressed in a misleading way. (i.e that we are not just comparing different examples of motion ‘now’.)

SO – what’s my point ?

Firstly, the point is to show that we can assume Einstein will have probably started his pondering by using some of the (casually assumed and worded) historical assumptions that time exists, and then looked at modifying them. And that these historical views often sound ‘profound’, coming from philosophers,  but may actually not be at all scientific.

And to show, that in the earliest stages of relativity he is talking about time as if it just is something and does exist, and  clocks’ as if they are things that measure time ,– And thus (rightly or wrongly)  implying and assuming without proving / or clearly defining what he means by it –  that ‘time in some way is some thing, and his work is only to correctly define it.

In doing this Einstein is not describing, or denying, whether or not he thinks time is just another word for motion, or whether he thinks there is a mysterious ‘fourth dimensional’ thing, that relates to and flows through a ‘past’ and a ‘future’ etc.

However we know that further in his work it is very clear that he thinks there is a great deal to time – that time can be seen in some way a fourth dimension – and that it can be merged in a sense with space to form spacetime. And that Einstein said time is that which clocks measure.

(and we know motorized hands called ‘clocks’ exist – therefore weak, and probably not even openly expressed, ‘logic’ would suggest the thing they measure must exist, and if Einstein says the thing they measure is time, then time must exist.)

Also – we know, that many, many, people seem to assume that – because Einstein, and relativity, use the word time - the genius of the man, and the correctness of the model of relativity, are also taken to be a proof that time (+ thus in some sense the past and the future etc) really does exist as a thing extra to just motion. And if we don’t understand time  fully, this is a proof that it exists, and is very complicated (as opposed to a hint that time existing as a real thing may be an unfounded and invalid idea).

And, in seeing time as a real thing extra to just motion*, many people consider that time has extra and ‘mysterious’ (in the scientific sense / i.e. yet to be fully understood) features, aspects, properties* etc.

(*if we try to fall back and say ‘no time isn’t extra to motion, it’s just another word we use to describe motion – then we are invalidly pretending ‘the past’ and ‘the future’ don’t need to be mentioned and explained for this part of the conversation.

I.e. you can’t logically say time flows between the past and the future- but really time is only another word for motion ‘now’ and the past and future do, but don’t exist!)

*By extra, and mysterious feature etc, I mean, for example, Time may (apparently)  be slowed/dilated or even almost stopped, by great speed or gravity. Warped along with space – possibly folded back on itself – possibly travelled through – or jumped between ‘moments’ forwards into the future or back into the past etc!

(all of these are not legitimate claims if ‘time’ is just another word for ‘motion’).

The above may be right or wrong – at this stage I am just pointing out Einstein’s first references to time and  ‘clocks’, and the kind of assumptions he, and much of the scientific community seems to ultimately have drawn from them - and about the real existence of ‘time’ by the end of the theory of relativity.

NOTE ALSO : In the follow up book  ‘The meaning of Relativity’ (Routledge classics uk 1922)…

‘section’ 1,Page 1 –Einstein says about time…

[1] The experiences of an individual appear to us arranged in a series of events; in this series the single events which we remember appear to be ordered according to the criterion ofearlier’ and ‘later’,

[2] which cannot be analyzed further.

The first part of this is both true, and unintentionally misleading, while the end statement is I believe incorrect.

Re [1]- It is true that our own memories appear to be arranged in sequence, and effectively are in sequence as much as the sheets in  an accumulated pile say news paper clipping are in an order. For yourself and anyone around you their memories are also all ‘just here now’ – just like the pile of clippings.

It is also worth noting the reference to earlier and later – this is akin to Aristotle’sbefore’ and ‘afterness’. So here I’m saying Einstein’s foundation for starting to talk about ‘time’ as opposed to just matter and motion (being warped and dilated but just ‘now’) seems to be built on similar grounds as the ancients – but – this ground can be seen to be flawed

 – ‘if earlier and later’ (or just the past – i.e. a load of earlier) exist – then they exist – but if they don’t then they don’t – and I haven’t seen for Aristotle or Einstein a proof that they exist – or proof that they saw the possible error that arises if we over interpret what the ‘presently’ physically existing contents of our minds actually and only shows.

So, critically, what I am saying is – if along with the ordered collection of memories we physically form in our minds (by rearranging ions etc as one might rearrange beads on an abacus) – another – ordered record of these and all events IS also created and stored in ‘The past’ – then the past is created and exists

– but if this other temporal record IS NOT created then it is not created – and if it IS NOT created then it, i.e. the past,  does not exist.

And we can’t have it both ways and say the past does, and does not exist. If the (temporal) record or sequence is not created and does not exist then it does not exist. And if the temporal record or sequence does not exist then ‘time’ the thing that is menat to make it cannot be said to exist either.

XXX See nn part of timelessness talk 2 video

Re [2]– so I am saying , this can be analysed further, and with very significant results as to whether ‘the temporal past’ etc actually does exist or not , as follows…

If you walk down a street that has a flower, then a lamppost then a bench along its length, then you will create and store and order memories of a flower a lamppost and a bench in that order. So in a sense our memories are created ‘in order’. Not only this but any number of people walking alongside you may also memorize  and agree on the objects (or events) they see as they walk with you.

What is critical here is to first see that in considering our memories we seem to also act as if we are obviously also talking about ‘time’ and a ‘time order’ of events.

But as we are storing the order in which we see things, or see things happen – in simple terms, either…

A temporal record of the order of events in the world/universe, is also being created in some way, some ‘where’, for some ‘reason’. (i.e. due to a law of physics that exists and naturally operates, and makes this happen)


We are just, and only, forming memories in our heads, by moving stuff that exists ‘here now’, here now. As the laws of physics allow (photons ions electrons etc)– and there is no other ‘temporal’ ‘thing’ going on,  because no such thing as time/ the past etc exists.

(some may add, that alternatively there may be a ‘block universe’ – all events all existing ‘now’ in some way – the order being apparent as we move ‘through’ the block or stack of nows –giving what we see as time – but as I say this seems like a logical abortion caused by (invalidly and unecessarily) trying to force an unseen and over complicated assumption (time), to work no matter what).

So – I’m saying , Einstein seems to assume the fact things happen ‘in a sense’, ‘in an order’ – means time exists and temporal order/past exists. But, to state this again because its importance can’t be over emphasized – (and it removes the possibility of different observes being in different nows re your point 1)

 if  - this order of events IS in some way existing or recorded in a temporal manner (eg the past)

then - It is recorded in a temporal manner – and thus time and the past etc exist


if this order of events IS NOT in some way ‘existing’ or ‘recorded’ in a temporal manner (eg the past)

 then - it IS NOT recorded in a temporal manner – and thus time and the past,+ different nows,  etc cannot be said to exist.

And I say the second case is true, just because as things happen ‘now’ they affect the contents of our minds ‘now’ and are added/stacked if you will in some kind of physical order – this doesn’t prove that another ‘temporal’ record also exists some where.

– but critically ( and this is basically what everything I am saying in timelessness hangs off) – people seem to almost instantaneously (thoughtlessly)  assume the contents of our minds (here now) do prove that extra to matter and energy and invisible fourth dimension of mysterious time also exists, flows, passes etc.


Relativity Section 4 briefly outlines The Galilean system of co-ordinates.

Relativity Section 5 – The Principle of relativity (in the restricted sense).

This outlines how the principle of relativity – (the observation that the laws of physics seem to be the same of any observer ‘coasting’ without acceleration – and thus one can’t use ‘experiments’ to detect ones ‘speed’ without external observations) – makes sense and seems to be true for us on the moving earth.

i.e. that it is a provable and observable phenomenon that is worth investigating and learning from.

6- the addition of velocities in classical mechanics

This section outlines how in simple terms the speed of a man walking at  ‘w’ on a train moving at ‘v’ can classically  seem to be simply added so W=v+w  - But, how this will be shown to be not quite true in special relativity, as there is a maximum speed limit in the universe that can be approached, but not exceeded, even by ‘adding velocities’.

7-The apparent incompatibility of the constant speed of light with the principle of relativity.

Here Einstein starts to explain relativity, and mentions that most school kids ‘know’ that

the speed of light (in a vacuum) ‘C’ = 300,000 km per second.

Here, again,  we have a subtle reference to time – (seconds), which again I believe needs the most critical investigation  - because -casually  saying’ c = 300,000km ‘per second’  - suggests and implies without mentioning let alone proving that …

  • -time/seconds pass as things move
  • -so - time – e.g. seconds or whatever, exist
  • -light moves 300,000 km as one second of time ‘passes’
  • So time is needed – or at least passes – as things move.
  • If time exists and passes, then the assumption that it passes between, or creates, (or whatever) the past and future seems supported.
  • Thus the existence of the past and future is also implied in passing.

My point being, that behind one tiny, casual comment (light travels at n Km second) a lot of critical points may ‘hide’ and go ‘ticked off’ as ok, but not actually checked, or proven, or even accurately defined in their nature. (so their existence or nature can be scientifically checked and independently confirmed elsewhere).

My POV The redundancy in expressing the speed of light as ‘300,000 KM/second’.

In saying 300,000 km/second all of the above may in some way implied, and seem sensible.

But consider the principle of ‘Occam’s razor’ – very loosely – the simplest answer that explains all observations and answers all questions, has a high chance of being correct.

Then consider another way of genuinely expressing the speed of light.

It can be show that all expressions like hours, minutes, seconds basically just relate to an amount of / number of degrees of the earth’s rotation. So while we think we are talking about units of an existing thing called time, we are only ever just comparing ‘speeds’ (happening now) in a roundabout and misleading way, semantically and invalidly conjuring up words like ‘seconds’ in the process.

Imagine a fixed spot ‘S’ on the Earth’s equator we can express it’s speed as a result of the earth’s rotation in numerous ways (eg S = 466 metres per second) – as could we express the speed of a photon ‘C’ = 300,000,000 metres per second.

But we can also through simple algebra compare these 2 speeds and say

C = 644 * S (approx)      (and vice versa S = some fraction of C)

In other words – we can express the speed of any two things as a ratio between them

– And this is completely useful and accurate – in fact I would propose that wherever we are talking about a speed in terms of time or ‘seconds’ this is ultimately essentially all we are doing. (comparing the speed of one chosen thing, to the speed the earth happens to rotate at).

This point should not be over looked – because in saying 300,000 km / second Einstein suggests Time etc, without proving its existence or function, or what makes it happen, or how or why it exists in the universe.

 But in saying S = 0.000,001,5 * c etc we are expressing what we directly observe. i.e Only, that the earth spins, and light moves – And that we can compare the two – without mentioning or needing or implying the existence of any extra unseen thing. And without suggesting that…

  • -as things move they also need – or create an intangible thing called time
  • Or as things move a thing called time also passes
  • Or as things move a ‘future’ arrives or a past recedes – etc, etc, etc

(ultimately given the nature of ‘C’ it makes sense to express all speeds in terms of fractions of ‘C’. But in practical terms because of its incredibly high velocity compared to the speeds we humans talk about this would be very unwieldy. E.g. Road signs expressing a speed limit of ‘0.000,000,1 C’ would be hard to read :^)

To continue, the constant speed of light.

 Einstein also – critically – mentions that Dutch astronomer De Sitter observed double stars (pairs of stars orbiting each other and thus necessarily moving away from and towards observers on the same plane )  - and De Sitter showed that the propagation of the speed of light ‘cannot depend on the motion of the body emitting the light’ !

(Otherwise on earth we would detect the speed of light from either star increasing and decreasinginstead, we only observe that its wave length shifts towards red and blue – so an approaching light source does present us with more energy, but the speed of the approaching light is still fixed at ‘C’).

Einstein then shows that this consistent speed of light – no matter what the speed of the emitter or detector – seems to conflict with the (Galilean) principle of relativity

In other words – (in Galilean relativity) if we shine a torch from a fixed railway platform towards a moving train – a stationary observer on the embankment should see one velocity for light – but an observer on the train – rushing towards the light should see a different speed – thus invalidating the idea that a coasting observer can’t tell they are coasting.

But Einstein then shows how ‘the theory of relativity entered the arena’ – and – critically – how…

‘as a result of an analysis of the physical conceptions of time and space, it became evident that in reality there is not the least incompatibility between the principle of relativity and the law of the propagation of light’


‘that, by systematically holding fast to both these laws a logically rigid theory could be arrived at’

‘this theory has been called the special theory of relativity’. (!)

So, at this point we have the start of Special Relativity.

 Essentially leading to the concept that

– if we hold fast to the idea that the speed of light should always appear to be ‘C’ to any coasting observer – AND – that any such observer should not be able to detect/say they are moving at a speed – THEN – if - moving bodies (the train) contract in length – then the observer on the train will also measure the value ‘C’ for the light he  or she detects.!

In other words - in a way the length of the observers ‘rulers’ have changed. So they detect the speed as ‘C’ AND it effectively IS ‘C’ for them also – despite the fact they are moving relative to an observer standing still on the embankment.

This leads to the conclusion that ‘time runs slow for moving observers’.

Phew =)

On to

Section 8 – the idea of TIME in Physics. (first mention of ‘simultaneity’).

Here Einstein famously discusses 2 bolts of lightning striking the ground at different places – but doing so ‘simultaneously’  - and goes on to discuss the complexities of defining and agreeing what ‘simultaneous’ means.

(this is important because ‘simultaneous’ clearly relates to time, the passing of time, and different times. While I am saying there is no such thing as time, only just everything here now, with all things always, just doing whatever they do – now).

In simple terms he explains – we might say if a point ‘M’ is a mid-point between (say) two mirrors at A and B – then if lightning strikes the mirrors such that at M an observer sees both flashes ‘at once’ (i.e. the flashes meet there) then we can basically agree/define the flashes hit the mirrors simultaneously.

The word simultaneouslymeaning’ or taken to mean,  at the same time – thus of course implying that ‘time’ exists. (and thus also implying that ‘different’ times, befores, and afters may also exist)

On page 25 (s8) Einstein states (for various reasons) – when talking about his definition of  simultaneity

‘it is indisputable that light requires the same time to traverse the path A>M as for the path B>M’

And so says that time passes or is required as light moves.

So we can see that by here the idea of time has become very firmly emeshed in the text, and Einstein has effectively stated as a fact that time exists, and that it passes as things happen.

 But hopefully at this point, I have shown you, that it IS disputable that as things move a thing called time also exists, and is ‘required’ (or even just ‘passes’) as they move.

And, hopefully I have also cast serious doubt that, neither Aristotle or Einstein (or other speakers, or even ‘clocks’) have shown the existence of time, or the existence of its 2 most ‘familiar’ aspects the past and future, or shown what it ‘is’, or  apparently ‘does’, as it passes, or why it ‘just’ passes if that’s the case.

 I.e. no one or thing, has actually shown the existence of anything other than matter, energy, orderly or chaotic motion (now) etc. But the existence of time is casually accepted by many without much thought, and has been steadily assumed, suggested, implied, and spoken of as if proven by first philosophers and then scientists, who we assume must be picking up a genuinely existing thread.

And they have not mentioned or disproved how our physically existing and changing minds and  memories’ might mislead us into thinking there is ALSO and accumulating temporal past. And how this evidence alone is not enough to prove the existence of the past, but may wrongly suggest time exists and performs at least one function. (creating and adding to ‘the’ temporal past)

(Note again, here, we can’t legitimately, logically or scientifically, ‘temporally’ fall back on the claim that ‘time is just the word for what happens ‘now’ to make this part of the conversation work‘. And then also talk about dilating time, or theoretically sending stuff or message ‘through’ ‘time’ (to past/future etc) in some other part of the discussion!).

Einstein also says …

‘We are thus led also to a definition of time in physics’

(if time is just another word for motion then he would not have needed to define ‘time’).

(paraphrasing) We suppose ‘clocks’ of identical construction are placed along the track and the position of their pointers can be set simultaneously in the same positions (in accordance with the definition of simultaneous he describes)

Under these conditions we understand by the time of an event –relates to the position of the hands on a nearby clock.

In this manner a time value* is associated with every event which is essentially capable of observation.

*Here I would say ‘a position of the motorized hands’ value is associated with every event (not ‘a time of an event’).

 If we fall back and say ‘that’s just semantics, your just talking about the time of the event in different words’ then I would disagree. I can prove the existence of batteries, energy, motors, hands etc. to say the position of the hands relates to a value in time you would have to prove the existence, function, driving force of time – and existence of the past/ future etc.

In other words, I might say - ‘a position of the motorized hands’ value is associated with every event – and if the reader says this is the same as ‘a time value’ – then I would say the reader is using semantics to unjustifiably imply, and conjure up the existence of an unseen things ‘time’ past future etc.

 – re section 8 ‘on the idea of time in physics’ continued, page 25

Simultaneity continued.

Einstein’s reason for mentioning simultaneity here are to show that in such a simple or ‘special’ situation – where an observer is fixed midpoint between two equally fixed points (mirrors) – things seem quite uncomplicated. And by suggesting ‘

it is indisputable that light requires the same time to traverse the path A>M as for the path B>M

Einstein is first suggesting -it is clear the lightening stuck the mirrors at the same time*-

(* but in the interests of pure, unambiguous, ‘impertinent’, rigorous, science I would say this is not clear that the expression ‘same time’ has a meaning.

 It is clear that bolts of lightning can strike, and hit mirrors, and 2 flashes of light can head towards each other and meet. And clear that hands can rotate around dials. And clear that the position of a photon or photons can be noted and compared to the position of, say, a rotating hand.

But it is not clear that the term ‘time’ has any meaning – or that rotating hands, or any other examples of motion, need or prove ‘time’ or that the term ’same time’ has any meaning.

I can say this without disputing what happens in the thought experiment thus –

First we think carefully about how the world would look if we could ‘stop’ all the things in it, at the places where they, are at any ‘moment’ or in any instant. Just so we could wander around ‘god like’ and get our bearings. Whether the reader believes time exists or not this idea should still be able to have some meaning.

There are many obvious practical problems with trying to stop all things at once – not only cant you ‘stop’ lightening, or even simple objects exactly where they are, but even if you could send out a ‘stop’ signal from one particular place, in reality this signal would have to propagate at the speed of light – so distant objects would still move a bit while nearer objects had stopped.

(you could in reality simulate the general effect by dropping a flat Perspex sheet onto a pool table, thus all the balls would be brought swiftly to a halt ‘at once’)

Non the less – if we imaging the embankment/lightening set up – I would agree that if we froze all motion as one bolt of lightening just hit mirror A, then (because of Einstein’s definition of the scenario) we could wander over to B, no matter how far away it is , and see that the other bolt of lightening is also just hitting mirror B. – This is what I would exchange for the concept of ‘same time’.

Also, with all  things stopped at once we could wander around and look at ‘clock’ hands and note their positions. E.g. We could check ‘clocks’ at A, M and B were all reading zero as the lightening bolts were hitting the mirrors at A and B.

We could then release everything and note how the clock hands all rotate a bit, and the reflected photons head towards M a bit. We could then stop it all again as one set of reflected photons reach M – and we would note that the other set of photons met these just at M also – and all the clock hands pointed to ‘1’ or whatever.

Again, in this way we can examine what I believe is meant by ‘at the same time’ – and while a bit top heavy here, this ‘thought experiment’ will help with interpreting Einstein’s next section ‘9 the relativity of simultaneity’.  

Section 9 The relativity of simultaneity…

Here having shown we are happy that, in a single static scene, at point M we can deduce lightening struck 2 (equally) distant mirrors A and B (as he would say)  simultaneously.

 Now Einstein asks us to consider carefully how things might look an observer M’ moving at speed from left to right at the lightning strikes.

M’ is aligned with M as the bolts hit, but carries on heading toward B, as the 2 sets of reflected photons head towards each other (and thus M).

Einstein shows that thus M’ will thus be hit by light from B first (as he/she heads towards it). Then, after a ‘delay’ M’ is hit (from ‘behind’ so to speak) by light from A – because M’ is heading away from A.

So it is said that what  can be deduced to be simultaneous by M is seen not to be simultaneous to M’ ! -  

The critical thing to see here is that – M’ is coasting smoothly at a steady rate – so due to the principle of relativity he cannot say he is moving. M’ also sees the speed of light as being constant in all directions (as experimentally proven in the real world (see de sitter – double stars)).

Also if we say M’ is riding on a very long straight train as he passes M, burn marks on the side of his train – (caused as the lightening hit A and B ‘simultaneously’ (according to M) on the nearby embankment) -  would be equidistant from location M’ on the train.

So – M’ agrees the bolts struck equidistant from his position on the train – and sees the speed of light as constant in all directions – yet detects light from ‘ahead’ (B) first, then from behind (A). So M’ disagrees with M on this last point and insists that according to his calculations the bolts could not have struck simultaneously – But A struck then B.

(we can note for another observer passing the scene similar to M’ but in the opposite direction, she may apparently also conclude that the lightning bolts were not simultaneous – but that B struck then  A!)

This is outstanding, as it suggests different times, or nows, or even orders of events exist for different moving observers!

This in turn suggests ‘time’ is a real and separate feature of the universe, that does exist, can be confusing, and can be manipulated – and does at the very least ‘span’ between different nows – or earlier’s and later’s. And if time exists, and ‘spans’ then it can be seen as a 4th dimension, and it should have a direction or ‘arrow’.

So I must disprove all of this if ‘A Brief History of timelessness’ is correct. (to use a redundant word if it is true).

Disproving different nows.

To disprove time, and different nows needing to exist for the ‘relativity of simultaneity to be explained, let’s consider using the ability to  ‘freeze’ all motion in the scene, and do this 4 times,  examining  the scene at each point.

These 4 times being,

  1. first as everything starts, so  M and M’ are aligned, and the lightning bolts strike.
  2. as a photon from B hits/passes M’ (as M’ is heading towards B)
  3. as the photons from A and B collide somewhere, and
  4. as photons from A catch up with and hit M’ (as M’ is moving away from A)


1 - first as a M and M’ are aligned, and the lightning bolts strike.

Consider M’ coasting fast and parallel to A, M, B as Einstein describes. The bolts strike the mirrors, as M and M’ are aligned – and we press the ‘stop button’ to freeze all motion instantly. (leaving open whether this is the same thing as freezing time until this analysis is complete).

In doing this, we can wander around, and see, as before,

·         that photons of lightening are just hitting mirrors A, and B, equidistant from M.

·         And each bolt is scorching M’s train equidistant from M’ himself

·         and ‘clocks’ at A, M and B are all reading zero (as set to do so)

·         and now, also, that M and M’ are aligned with each other (e.g. side by side), and, that a clock with M’ also reads zero.

We should note that to confirm all these observations you would have to walk close to each thing! At A you could see the (frozen) lightening hitting the mirror and the clock reading zero. But looking over at distant clock B, its hand would seem to be before Zero, and the lightning bolt some distance above the mirror at B, not yet hitting it!

However, as you walked over to B to check the problem (walking through frozen photons or ‘images’ from the distant objects) the clock hand would seem to approach zero, and the lightning bolt descend to hit the mirror!

(these distortions are similar, though not the same as, looking down at a static map etc through a magnifying glass, as you move the glass distances away from the centre seem to shrink or expand depending on the direction you move your point of view, only where you actually personally are seems to be ‘normal’). 

So all views are in agreement, and we allow everything to move on a bit, then stop it all again.

2 - as a photon from B hits/passes M’ (moving towards B)

So we un freeze, and we watch the reflected photons move halfway towards reaching M. M’ moves a bit to the right towards B. and all ‘clocks’ advance a bit.

We allow things to run on, stopping all motion as photons from B hit (or are just parallel to) M’, this is the first significant ‘event’.

Wandering ghost like around the frozen scene, we find that if photons from B (hitting M’) are say 50 metres from their source mirror, they are also 50 metres from mirror A.

AND we find that these photons from A, are ‘some distance’ from M’ and heading towards first the ‘stationary’ midpoint M, and then on to the receding M’. No observer would disagree with this general description of the scene. – though they may disagree on the actual ‘distances’ involved.

E.g. we may find that as we walk from the ‘train’ to say A or M or B, everything near us seems fine but things away from us seem smaller (length contracted). As we get to A, again everything near us looks fine but now the train M’ looks ‘contracted’. But still, everything is stationary, and everything (photon, train, clock hands etc) are all each just in ‘one’ place.

If to clarify things, we insist there is only a single photon coming from each mirror A and B, heading to M. Then if the photon from B IS just hitting or reaching M’, as we freeze things, then no matter where everything else is, this must be the case.

I.e. M’ would agree that the photon only ever hit or passed him ‘once’. And M would agree that the photon must have only hit or passed M’ ‘once’. – And – as that happened all the clocks in the scene must have each had ‘one’ single reading whatever it is, or however they differ.

(clocks A,M and B having the same reading, - not sure re clock M’, obviously > zero reading. But moving clock  M’ runs slow, but also hits the photon be-fore (physically in location) M ?)

3-as the photons from A and B collide somewhere, and

We advance things again so the train, photons, and clocks all move and stop again as both photons meet at M. (the experiment being set up so ‘clocks’ at A,M and B all read ‘1’ as the lightning meets at M).

As this happens, M’ would agree with what M sees. I.e. M’ is never said (e.g. by Einstein) to believe the photons meet/pass or collide anywhere other than at M. in fact M’ must insist on this collision or passing happening ‘behind’ him if he is to detect photons first from B then A.

M’ must also agree that the photons collide/pass only once, and thus only at one place.

i.e no one ever claims that any one thing is in two places at once. And as we freeze all objects and wander around, we do not see things being in two places at once.

However, as we walk from the (frozen/moving) train to other things we do see ‘lengths’ smoothly changing. So a person at M might say a photon is (say) 10 metres from A. while M’ might disagree about how far ‘M to A’ was, and thus disagree how far the photon ‘actually’ was from A.  But as M’ walked over to M to talk about the disagreement (in the frozen scenario) he would agree more and more on the distance the closer he got to M!

4-as photons from A catch up with and hit M’ (moving away from A)

So – we advance things again, until the point where the photon(s) from A catch up and hit M’, then stop all motion again.

Here there is not much to say, the show’s over. If M’ had logged the ‘clock’ hand position as photons from A hit him, he would see of course that the hand had moved around the dial, as his train had moved along the track, and various photons had moved in their paths. And so B declares that photons (from) A reached him ‘before’ B.

But this can all be resolved timelessly.

Breakdown of the frozen motion thought experiment.

The thing to see with this break down is that at whatever stage we ‘freeze all motion’, whatever observers disagree about, they all agree that every thing or person in the frozen scene is always only ever at one place.

(eg in the frozen scene - things are never in two places so –someone at A always agrees that M’ is just some distance away, and that there is only one M’. M’ agrees the same about A.

So A can simply walk over to M’ and visa versa - (though A and M’ using ‘distance measuring wheels’ might disagree about readings).  So, also, A can’t walk over to an object and see it atx’, while someone at M’ walks over to the same object but for them it ‘is’ at ‘y’ )

So to resolve ‘the relativity of simultaneity’ timelessly, we have to consider that there is in a sense , both ‘no such thing as simultaneity’ – and – that ‘all things are always simultaneous’.

This sounds wrong because it is a distortion of words created in an attempt to explain timelessness in time based terms.

To clarify, consider a stationary ball ‘A’, and a rolling ball ‘B’. Is it correct to say ball A is stationary before ball B rolls, or that ball B rolls before ball A is stationary ? the answer is neither, both are always just doing something. Just as everything in existence is just doing something ‘now’.

What the above breakdown of the lightening thought experiment shows us is that wherever you stop the scene, every thing (bolt of lightning, train, observer ‘clock’ hand etc) is always just somewhere doing some thing. And wherever you stop the scene any single thing is always only just in one place.

Seeing all things as being here now – no matter how far away they are can feel odd and unintuitive, but only because we are used to ‘framing’ things as if everything was being filmed and the frames of film were being filed away in order. If you drop all presuppositions you may see that all I am asking you to ‘believe’ is that which you constantly directly observe – which is that every thing exists, moves, interacts, and is always only ever in one place. But also to add to that the length contractions (mass increase) and ‘rate’ dilations that Einstein describes – but always as only happening ‘now’.

The break down also shows that as a bolt of lightening strikes A, everything else in the universe is some where, (and also only ‘one’where) in a sense ‘simultaneously’ but also this word is redundant because there is no alternative to ‘simultaneously’.


In response to your points SYA

1-      things being different ages – or out of sync for different observers. Eg ‘the back of my head is older than the middle of my head, and the middle of my head is older than the front of my face. 

I hope I have shown no good proof has been give that expressions such ‘the past’ or ‘the future’ have any actual, real, physical, existence, or meaning (their validity only coming from assumed credibility , general agreement, and constant familiar use – but not a scientific proof)  thus the idea of different things being different ages due to ‘time’ passing between these non existent places at different rates is invalid. Thus older or younger seems to have no meaning.

But ‘things may change at different rates’ – e.g. general relativity tell us a clock or person at the bottom of mount Everest changes more slowly than a clock or person at the top. But if you run up and down between these two places/people 10 times , It cannot be said that you are dipping into the future and back to the past each time-(because the existence or purpose of either place has not been proven by anyone scientific or philosophical)- and thus you can’t be experiencing different nows.

To see how this can make sense timelessly look at > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PDAes4wGZY  valeri polakov – and the ‘rate machine’ – not in the end case although things change at different rates no one is in the past or the future – just changing in different ways – and can be side by side – even touch etc.

2-      I should point out that this is true even if the quantification of TIME is based on nothing but the comparison of relative cyclic activities or motion (which it is).

Here the problem may be the idea of ‘ the quantification of TIME’ because again we are trying in some subtle way to force the concept of time into a view – but I think I have shown the idea to be very poorly founded at best – if there is no time we look at what we are ‘quantifying’ if anything .

Then we can consider you and I passing with our own ‘clocks’. Now I would say the motorized hands on these machines ‘just’ go round. And they don’t really add up, or count or accumulate (quantify) anything. We make squiggles and cll them numbers on the dials. We say ‘12’ is the top and its important – and where ever a hand is we look at ‘how far around from 12 it is – and call that a quantity – but who picks the starting point and why/what does it ‘mean’. All different ‘clocks’ really show you is different hands may rotate at different rates (due to relativity) – but again – just now – with no actual accumulated ‘quantity ‘ behind them.

3-      If there were only an ever changing NOW, then what I stated above could never happen.  And if it cannot happen, then light's speed cannot be invariant ... yet we do measure it as invariant.

I think ( but my brain is tired =) that if there is just an ever changing now – with local rate variations – different things could be different lengths, different ‘identical’ ‘clocks ‘ could run at different relativistic rates – and so go out of ‘alignment’ – and different observers could still  see the speed of light as invariant. ( remember speeds are ‘said’ to be measured eg miles per ‘hour’ etc – but ultimately we always only compare one thing moving ‘now’ to another thing moving ‘now’.



more on relativity >> 07 Introducing Relativity..