Comment on Sean Carroll's - The Reality of time.

This is a comment I posted on Professor Carroll's page headed "the reality of time"

the comment was removed,I assume it was too long, or not read carefully by the monitor, but for anyone interested here it is.
(video links added to this page, but weren't on original post)

more general aspects of 'time' v ‘Time-lessness’
Does Time exist? How 'Time travel Paradoxes' can't happen without "the past".
Does Time exist? What is Time? +What does Einstein's Relativity Prove?

Resolving 'time travel' paradoxes timelessly
Time Travel,Timeless Answers to Prof Cox's Science of Dr Who:

Time travel, Worm hole, billiard ball' paradox, Timelessly. (re Paul Davies- New scientist article)

‘Time’, or, Is the elephant in the room wearing the Emperors new robe?

The theory of Time, and the lack of experiments as per the scientific method.

 In my opinion the scientific analysis of the theory of time is generally conducted in the most unscientific way. For some reason it seem to be the one area where all virtually all experts seem happy to completely ignore the scientific method without even noticing they do so, or giving a reason why. Also, if you check most books, and blogs etc you will find they tend to rush straight into apparently exploring ‘time’ without even positing a clear testable definition. This is imo, as unscientific as asking “does God exist”, without even citing a definition.

 Generally initially in the scientific method we...

 1 - starts with observations,

2 - asks questions about them, form a hypothesis – and –

3 - develops testable assumptions about the hypothesis.

4 - From there the hypothesis is expanded, modified, or rejected etc


It is also extremely useful if not critical to consider both a hypothesis and any logical antitheses. Otherwise we risk confirmation bias and dogmatism. In other words we end up only asking questions that support our assumptions, and instead of using our logic scientific skills to consider other possibilities we use those skills only to consider ways of rejecting other ideas.

 With this in mind, re 1, consider what we actually in the simplest form seem to observe. I would postulate...

What we actually seem to observe

1- We seem to observe that matter(/energy) exists, and

2 -That matter(/energy) seems to be moving, changing and interacting in all directions.

 From this most people might add ( as Professor Hawking does in "A Brief History of Time” p161)

 “We remember the past, but not the future”

 And thus the concept of time seems born, but there may be a couple of serious problems here. As a working definition let’s take the O.E.D.

 “O.E.D "TIME" : The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future”

 So we have (in simple terms) the idea that a thing called time exists, and passes as things move, and must do so for things to exist and move. And, both the OED and Hawking mention two ‘things’ or ‘places’,

 “the past”, and

“the future”

 And Hawking suggests we remember one and not the other, suggesting ‘the past’ and ‘the future’ are different in some way, and if two things are different, then those things must exist.

 But here’s a problem, surely, logically and in testable fact where anyone claims they are “remembering as thing or place called ‘the past’ “ they are in fact just, and only looking at patterns of matter information simply existing in their physical minds. ( ions, electrons, neurons etc). And where anyone claims they are “predicting ‘the’ ‘future’ “ they are only formulating or imagining scenarios in their minds.

 Just ‘saying’ that some of the patterns in our minds are of ‘the past’ or about ‘the future’ is in no way a scientific proof of the existence of these things. At best it is only the basis for hypotheses that they may exist – and as such should be supported by experiment, but no scientist seems to have even defined an experiment as per the scientific method to test either possibility.

 More importantly, there seems to be a couple of key questions, hidden very much in plain sight, that no expert of ‘time’ ( with respect professor Carroll included), seems to have bothered to ask. Specifically...

Q1 - “IF the matter in the universe ‘just’ exists, moves and interacts, would this be enough to mislead us into assuming a ‘past’, ‘future’ and thing called ‘exist’ ?”

 And in simpler form...

 Q -2 “Is there actually ‘a past’ “

  Note here the critical word ‘IF’, and also note it is not up to us to bend science s that the universe looks the way we want or expect it to , but to use the scientific method to find out how things actually are – whether we like, or can understand what we discover.

 (e.g. there seems to be a force or effect called gravity that attracts objects over vast distances... we do not need to know how, or why, or what it is, to know that this certainly seems to be the actual fact).

 Professor Carroll starts his piece saying

 “The idea that time isn't "real" is an ancient one -- if we're allowed to refer to things as "ancient" under the supposition that time isn't real.”

 With respect, this indicates the primary assumption is that ‘time exists and is real’. And (imo) it is absolutely critical to be very aware of initial assumptions in any scientific venture. If for example I start an investigation with the assumption “ghosts are real”, then nowhere will I find evidence to the contrary, and I may be likely to log any unexplained evidence as “not disproving, and possibly supporting ghosts” – likewise ‘time’, if we are wrong to assume it exists.

 In considering how ‘time may not be real’, the professor hits on the word ‘ancient’, which is of course assumed to be dependent on time being real.

 So here is another problem. Most people if trying to consider how time may not exist...

 “only consider the non existence, of something they think must exist”

 What I mean by this is, for example, most people see to assume “time exists and passes”, and “must do so for/as things exist and move” – therefore – if there is no time things cannot exist and move. And if there is no time, then “we can’t sensible use words like ancient”, yet we apparently can.

 This  may be poor logic, based on our central (possibly) false assumption “that a thing called time exists”, in other words it may be like reasoning “if phlogiston does not exist then things cant burn –but things do burn so it must”. Or “if there are no such things as ‘ghosts’ then where have they all gone to?”

A possible antithesis to 'time'

 Imo, the logical antithesis to time existing, is not “an entirely static universe”, or “infinite block time”, or Barbour’s Platonia, or Presentism, or Possiblisim, or Eternalism, any other variant , which are all attempts to explain away time, in terms ‘of time’ – but to very seriously consider a possibility that, (with respect) Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Schrodinger, Hubble, Hawking, Einstein, Newton, Galileo, Barbour, Rovellie, Callender, McTaggert, Davies, Coveny & Highfield, Gribben, Edny, Gott, Cox, and Professor Carroll’s analyses, seems not to have considered, i.e ...

 “perhaps everything just exists, moves and interacts in all spatial directions”

 If this were the case, then would matter be able to be in the form of computers, and would professor Carroll be able to type the sentence

 “-- if we're allowed to refer to things as "ancient" under the supposition that time isn't real.”


 “the moon is made of cheese”, or any other valid, or invalid sentence.

 In other words, just using the word ‘ancient’ doesn’t prove the term is valid. In fact to be able to say or type the word ‘ancient’ requires only that matter exists, moves and can interact. SO, imo, the answer to the professors question, effectively [are we] “allowed to refer to things as "ancient" under the supposition that time isn't real.” May be “yes”, if we consider not the non-existence of an assumed but unproven hypothesis, but the logical possibility that the world is just as we see it, full of stuff moving and interacting.

 The past

This is why Q2 Q -2 “Is there actually ‘a past’ “, may be very important.

 We all seem to just assume the term ‘the past’ is valid, because we think we have books, photos, memories etc clearly relating to “it”. But in fact every such piece of evidence clearly, and only seems to just exist.

 Consider your own memories. For one to be being formed light may reflect off an object, hit your retina and be causing some of the existing contents of your mind to change formation.

 This is evidence that matter exists, moves, and interacts, but is in no way at all evidence that where matter is doing so “ a thing called time exists, and is passing”, also it is in no way evidence at all that “as things exist and interact the universe creates and stores a perfect record of all events in a thing or place called ‘the past’”

Conclusions to the contrary seem only to be incompletely thought out assumptions – specifically assumptions built on the blind assumption ‘time exists’ and assumptions not even checked out against the possibility that “perhaps matter just exists and interacts”. (please correct me if I am wrong).

 The future

We ‘say’ that we can consider a thing or place called ‘the future’ ( and likewise, very unscientifically no one seems to have even defined if this is even a thing or place, let alone defined an experiment to support the hypothesis).

 But consider, you look out a window and write down you think it may rain ‘today’, your friend writes down  not. So You both create stable patterns of ink on paper, and the unstable environment around you continues to change. It may change so as to correlate with either writing, but neither of you are seeing ‘a future’ arrive.

All you observe is that matter exists,  moves changes and interacts, forming stable or unstable patterns in different places.

 Storm clouds clearly do not ‘come out of a future’ , just as rain clearly does not ‘disappear into a past’, clouds and rain are clearly just existing collections of matter moving and  changing formation.

 Likewise the idea the matter that is the “Magna Carta” is ‘older’ than the matter that is a burning cigarette, just because one is a different collection of matter, in a more or less refined state, or one is energetically changing form faster is not logical.

 Einstein’s Relativity - "On The Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies" seems to only describe motion, but refer to some motion as 'time'.

At this point of course Relativity has to be accounted for, and of course it is in essence correct. But so many people cite it, and the concept of space-time, without seeming to be familiar with

"On The Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies"

 Specifically Section 1 Kinematics.

 Here the paper very clearly says...


If we wish to describe the motion of a material point, we give the values of its co-ordinates as functions of the time.

 If, for instance, I say, “That train arrives here at 7 o'clock,” I mean something like this:

 “The pointing of the small hand of my watch to 7 and the arrival of the train are simultaneous events.”

 So the paper suggests it is

 “describing the motion of a material point, as functions of the ‘time’.”

 But in actual fact, the paper only describes the motion of a material point ( a train) as a function of the motion of another material point (the tip of a rotating hand on a numbered dial).

 The point being, that in fact...

 - a hand rotating on a dial does not prove there is a “past”

 - a hand rotating on a dial does not prove there is a “future”

 - a hand rotating on a dial does not prove there is a thing called ‘time’ that exists, and must ‘pass’ for things to be able to move.

 So whether ‘time’ exists or not, this paper does not in fact (correct me if I'm wrong) provide any evidence to support the assumption. And in fact, all its stated observations are...

 - that matter exists, and can be moving, and

- that different examples of moving matter ( a train, or a rotating pointer) ,can be being compared.

 The point being that where the paper clearly shows that assuming the speed of light is constant , a moving oscillator will be oscillating more slowly than expected, for clear and simple physical reasons, the paper

 - does not (imo) show that there is also a thing called ‘time’, that is dilated in its flow from a future to a past,

 (in fact the paper doesn’t use the words past or future at all)

 Thus, perhaps, Minkowski’s quote...

 “The views of space and time which I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality."

 Is not quite right. Because the “experimental physics” referred to shows only that the speed of light is constant, and that  rates of change can be affected by gravity and motion – but not that there is thus also  a thing called time that exists and is merged with space.

 In other words, showing that caesium atoms in a gps satellite, are oscillating more slowly than expected – as they are moving e.g. “west”, does not prove they are also sinking into a past, or surging into a future, or that either place, or time exists.


The agony and the Entropy

Ok, if anyone’s reading this far : )

With respect the professor is a great fan of entropy, and cites it as being directly related to “the arrow of time”. But again, with respect, can I ask the professor,

 “Have you considered that entropy may just be entropy?”

 In other words, in all your work, have you actually considered that

 -perhaps the matter in the universe is ‘just’ expanding?

- not heading into a future, and

-not leaving a temporal past behind it ?

 If you have not carefully seen or considered that possibility, then it might be dogmatic to just ignore it.

 This is also where Q -2 comes in, “Is there actually ‘a past’ “ comes in, we all have the ‘idea’ there is a ‘past’ – but where’s the experiment ?

 I would suggest the following. Place an object on a table, and push it with your finger... from there ask yourself...

 -do I actually see any evidence at all, whatsoever, that as things move a ‘temporal past’ is created or existing at all?

-or, do I in fact only observe that matter exists and moves, and patterns in my head are also changing, possibly misleading me to call them memories of ‘a temporal past’?


The Big bang

Please note, as I said above, imo, science Is not about getting things to look how we want them, but to show us how things may be, whether we like it or not. And, I am not insisting that what I am saying here is correct. But most experts agree the “problem of time” needs shaking up , and, none seem to have considered they may be entirely wrong from the outset to assume a thing called time exists, and seem not to have considered the most obvious logical alternative ( that things may just exist move and interact).

 But this seems to leave the question “where did it all come from if not ‘the past’, and what of the big bang”

 Here it may be critical to realise first that nowhere do we actually see anything appear or disappear. Change form yes, but not appear or disappear.

 i.e specifically , we do not in fact, anywhere see anything ‘come out of  future’ or ‘ go into a temporal past’

 so the question “where does it all come from?” may be invalid (whether we like it or not). It may all just exist, and perhaps be in a bang crunch cycle. But note even this bang crunch cycle may ‘just’ be happening. As hard as it is for us to imagine. ( especially if we have confirmation bias to only seeing things as if there is a past and future). So by ‘just’ happening, I mean ‘just’ happening. – not happening ‘eternally’ which implies endless time, but just as it seems to be.

 We should also note a typically unconsidered point that if someone IS looking at stars in all directions, and they are seeing that all stars are receding, then they will be forming the idea in their heads that if this was run backwards then there must be a big bang ‘in the past’.

 But we have to realise that even those thought, and that model, consist of matter, ions, electrons etc , in a human head, travelling in simple physical directions – so nowhere are we actually talking about ‘the past’, we are always just talking about ‘the idea of a past’ – and that ‘idea’ is just another existing thing.

 Quantum mechanics.

I know virtually nothing of this, (enough to know i don't know) but – if I understand correctly  a key problem here is

 “why does ‘time’ seem to have an ‘arrow’ on a classical scale but not a quantum scale?”

 And for anyone still following I suggest the question may contain a false assumption – i.e. that a thing called time exists in any form, let alone has a direction.

 If we are wrong to assume ‘time’ exists, then it makes sense to consider that “if matter just exists moves and interacts in spatial (3d) directions, then there is no past, no future, and no arrow of a thing called time” – thus  large aggregates (eg a vase) of course smash where they hit solid floors – and the pieces fly out chaotically in all physical directions – while non aggregates are free to transform in all directions forming and reforming ‘identical’ particles where they do so.

Thus, it ‘may’ be the case that there is no question to answer, matter may just exist , move and interact in logical physical ways on all scales. The observation “that certain things are not ‘reversible’ ”,( like the professors Entropy)  does not prove “that there is a thing called ‘time’ that is not reversible” –this may just be convoluted logic born from a central false assumption – leading to confirmation bias.

(we don’t see reversible things – so we assume this proves what we are (bias-ly) looking for, i.e. that a past and future exist)

 Conclusion - "Is the elephant in the room wearing the Emperors new robe?"

 I ask this of ‘time’, because “the elephant in the room” seems to be the complete lack of experimental evidence to test whether there actually IS a ‘past’ and or a ‘future’, or thing called time – yet no one seems to bother about this, and “the emperors new robe” refers to the idea that if we are ‘told’ “an invisible intangible unimaginable ‘past’ “, and  “ an invisible intangible unimaginable ‘future’ “, and “an invisible intangible unimaginable thing called ‘time’ “ exist – and others wiser than ourselves know this to be true – so many people seem to accept it – without considering that just as the emperor may in fact simply be naked... matter ‘may’ just exist move and interact ‘timelessly’ so to speak.

 Just my carefully considered opinion, ( I hope the professor leaves it up : )


Matthew Marsden

"A Brief History of Timelessness"





















No antithesis, in valid observations over extrapolations