∆ Young looking Cosmonauts.

Diagrams - Although he doesn't  look happy about it, Valeri Polyakov is said to have literally travelled 'into the future' a few milliseconds, because he aged at a slightly slower rate than usual during his extended mission on the Mir space station.

The relativistic effects that caused this are well proven. But if we could duplicate this 'slow aging' on earth, logically we should still see that everything is just happening 'now' - but at different 'rates' in different places?.

If  so, the existence of a 'past' or 'future' would not be required to make sense of what we observe. 

Young looking cosmonauts.

This page is about a real life example of some of the effects of Relativity, and it relates to the famous 'Twins Paradox' (which is not really a paradox, but a misunderstanding that arises if we don't take into account relativistic effects from 'acceleration')

(in time based terms) Valeri Polyakov holds the record for the most time spent in space, just over 437 'days'.

(logically Mr Poyakov either is in space or is not.. but this is covered elsewhere)

Because of his increased distance from Earths gravitational field, and his high speed, both General, and Special relativity would have had effects on the apparent flow of time in his space craft. The effects of special relativity - only the apparent slowing of time aboard the ship are discussed here. 

(if a cosmonaut is orbiting the earth they will typically be travelling at around "26,000 KM per hour", or more accurately described, without 'time', as around 0.0025%  of the speed of light.)

The consequences of ‘time-dilation’ due to Einstein’s relativity mean that if Polyakov had synchronised a super accurate wrist watch with a super accurate clock on earth before he went into orbit then on his return 14 months later his watch would show a time a few billionths of a second less that the earth based clock.

This effect is very small, but that’s not the point, all that matters is whether the effect is real or not. because once a principle has been proven we can nearly always develop and expand on it.

If (as a "thought experiment") we exaggerate what happened to Polyakov significantly and imagine that his journey in space resulted in his own watch displaying a time and date a whole 6 months out of sync with the Earth based clock, then we can understand more clearly why it may appear he had travelled through time, and in particular appear that he had travelled into the future.

If the effect had been a full 6 months difference between the times and dates displayed on Earth bound clock and spaceship clocks then it would be quite possible for Polyakov to return to earth at say the age of ‘52 and a half years old’ by his reckoning, and yet be greeted on earth by fellow cosmonauts with cards and a cake to celebrate his ‘53rd birthday’!

If we imagine that instead of maintaining his spaceship and carrying out experiments and observations while in space Polyakov just slept for the whole mission from take-off to landing, then to him, it would appear to him, that he had stepped into a machine - while his life was in perfect synchronisation with everyone around him - then gone to sleep, and then woken up literally six months further into the future than he should be.

Hence this misalignment in the time shown on clocks is sometimes described as ‘time travel into the future’.

Time travel into the future derailed.

However, this interpretation only seems to make sense if you start off with the absolute belief that thing in the universe don't just change, but change with, or because of, the passing of a thing called time. So, for example, ‘clocks’ aren't just motors that rotate the hands on their dials, but in doing so, also actually ‘measure and display’ time.

If you look at things from a timeless view, then you hold the belief that matter and energy exist, and that objects can change where there is energy present.

So, however things may change and however their own changing may affect the matter around them, there is not also a thing called ‘time’ that exists, and supplies new events from a ‘future’, or creates records events in a ‘past’ or that is, ‘passing us’, or ‘being traveled through’.

If we look at the effects of Polyakovs journey in a timeless view they make complete, and less mysterious sense.

And additional point worth considering is if we insist there is a time difference between Valeri and his ground station, then what would it mean if we attached a nano wire from Mir to the ground? e.g. to the north pole for simplicity.
the practicalities are not an issue here, the question is would we be saying that the wire was different ages along its length? and that one end is a few milliseconds in the past?
and if so why is it that we could always bring the two ends together apparently back to the same 'moment in time'?

The Cosmonaut’s journey re-explained.

Diagram - A 'Rate-Machine'.

Things might happen more slowly due to 'time dilation', but if we could build a 'Rate-Machine' we might see the effect does not involve a past or a future or a flow of time.

(Note in this diagram the dotted and dashed lines indicate how the speed of the ball, and people etc, is always slower inside the 'rate machine' compared to outside.)

If we could make a booth in which 'time', or rather just simply 'rates of change' were slowed, then some might think that people, or objects, in the booth were constantly travelling into the future. Just as it is assumed that an astronaut 'changing' more slowly while orbiting the earth at high speed - is also apparently travelling 'into the future at a faster than normal rate'.

while in fact genuine astronauts travelling at speed, or people in this thought experiment booth, are just changing more slowly now.

In the thought experiment it is easier to see how...

- It is always just 'now' for all parties concerned.

- no passing of information 'from the future' into 'the past' could take place (e.g. lottery results) Because the past and the future do NOT exist. 

- no requests for 'past' events to be changed could be carried out ( e.g. the murder of Hitler, or ones own Grandfather).

-What is more you could even play table tennis with a person in the booth - with no 'temporal' or 'causal' paradoxes arising.

(Note, This 'rate machine' is just a thought experiment, and not something we could ever construct. But we could duplicate the basic effect just by having a constant live TV picture, including an image of a highly accurate clock on board a spacecraft, sent directly to Earth. 

In this way we could directly see how things on the spaceship ran slower than here on Earth, and also see how no astronauts or earthbound humans ever drifted into 'the past' or 'the future').

Looking at Polyakov’s experience from this timeless point of view, we only have to agree that he and his super accurate wrist-watch constantly changed throughout the journey or experiment; And similarly therefore his friends on Earth, and their super-accurate clock also constantly changed throughout the experiment.

The only difference between the two groups being that Polyakov and his watch change at a slower rate while they are moving rapidly, i.e. if he and his spaceship are travelling at some fraction of the speed of light in orbit around the earth.

Imagine how things would appear if, instead of having to send Polyakov off into space to create this change in rates, we could place him in a specially designed glass box i.e. a ‘rate machine’ (as opposed to a ‘time machine’) here on earth and get the same effect.

If we could do this then we would be able to synchronise his watch and our clock as he stepped into the machine, then look through the glass and directly see that his watch seemed to be running slow as soon as we turned the machine on.

And we could also see that this effect happened as long as we let the experiment run. And we could let the machine run until, for example, his watch, and calendar inside the machine, showed a 6 month lag, behind our own clocks on the outside.

Then as our Earth based subject stepped out of the ‘rate machine’, he, and any type of calendar he had would be convinced he was ‘45 and a half’, while we on the outside would be convinced he was a full 46.

However, in this case the mystery behind this difference in time, or ‘apparent ages’ would be very significantly lessened, because throughout the entire experiment no one would have seen anything more mysterious than ‘one thing changing at a different rate to another’ !

Summary of the ‘rate-machine’.

The other point of imagining how it would appear if we could create and operate this ‘rate-machine’ in a single room, with changing objects, be they living beings or running machines side by side, is that we could also observe that there would be no need to violate or add to the precise definition of the word ‘change’ as put forward in this book.

This is to say, that if our subject is in the glass box, changing more slowly than we change outside of it, then we may well see people within the box seeming to move and change in slow-motion, and observe that displays on apparently identical machines (clocks) slip behind, and out of alignment (or ‘synchronisation’ to use a loaded term) with our clocks and machines outside of the box.

To people inside the machine the opposite would seem true, they would feel they were moving and changing at a normal rate, while people and machines ‘outside’ seemed to be speeded up.

But, although this sounds like a description of a typical scene in a ‘time-travel’ movie, while we would see all of this happening, the need for, or existence of, ‘time’ and ‘time-travel’ is never raised.

‘Rates’, not time.

In the above case, there is no discussion about, problem with, or misalignment of, some ‘thing’ called ‘the past’; And at no point is there any ‘jumping into’ or ‘misalignment of’ some ‘thing’ called the future, and no need for things to be explained in terms of time-travel.

All we need do is see that things might change, in the present, but at unexpectedly different rates, and these rates are the only things being distorted.[1]

Inside and outside of the rate-machine, our subject and ourselves, will continue to move and function, as long as we have enough food and air, and while we don’t wear out some critical part of our bodies so that we ‘cease to function’ or ‘die’. Similar any running mechanical machines that either of us have, will continue to run if they have not used up all of their power source, and have not worn out or broken some critical component through wear and tear.

Indeed, throughout the experiment we might even try placing some single object, say an apple, half in and half out, of some kind of serving-hatch in the ‘rate machine’. If we did this we would observe how one half of the apple decays more slowly than the other.

 From outside the glass box it would seem our half of the apple decayed normally and the other half more slowly, but for anyone observing from within the ‘rate-machine’ their half of the apple would seen to decay at a normal rate, while the outside half would seem to move, change, or ‘decay’ more rapidly than usual.

Although fundamentally different in nature,[2] this idea of different halves, or parts, of the same object changing at different rates, is no more mysterious than considering what would happen to a large slab of ice if you left one half in the shade and the other in bright sunlight.

It would be clear that each half of the ice block would change at a different rate, and there would be some kind of smooth and natural blending of the effect between the two halves – which would always work out absolutely perfectly, because the laws of nature cannot allow us to do something that cannot be done. So with our ice-block, or ‘rate-booth’ there would be no snapping, shearing, jumping or mysterious misalignment of something called ‘time’.

We could even place a complicated machine like a pin-ball table half in and half out of the rate-machine, and even though there is a lot of different ‘causes’ and ‘effects’ travelling at different speeds and in different directions up and down the table, this would all ‘work itself out’ and add up correctly, never creating any immediate ‘time-based paradoxes’ or any time-based paradoxes that got more and more exaggerated the longer you played.

This is because causality in the timeless view is purely and simply a ‘physical’ and ‘directional’ phenomena. For one thing to cause an effect somewhere else it has to physically ‘push’ from A to B in that direction ‘now’, and no matter how warped, sped up or slowed down things may be in different locations, causes do not happen ‘over time’, or affect the future.

Back to Earth.

We should recall here, that we cannot just build a ‘booth’ in a lab that will create this kind of rate distortion, this is because for the effect to happen an object must cover a distance – so that while it is moving, it is in effect ‘putting off change by running away from it. But nonetheless the effect we are talking about is very real, and is achieved by high flying cosmo and astro ‘nauts’.

The reason for imagining how it would be, if we could create the ‘time distortion’ effect in a single room, is to remove the layer of mystery and complexity that arises if we can only get the results by sending someone on a very fast and very long journey, ‘out of sight’. Because when we send people out of sight - we can't just see what is happening, so it is easy for us to wrongly imagine, that they are ‘sinking into the past’. When they may just be ‘out of sight, and changing more slowly than us’.

The reason this point is worth so much consideration is because this variation in rates is a very real effect, but the realness of the effect is generally confused with, and even expressed as a proof of, the assumed realness of time. Hopefully you can see here however that the effect can be understood as just constantly happening, and not a proof of the existence, or warpability of the past or future.

So in conclusion we note that this ‘glass box’ version of not time, but ‘rate’-misalignment shows that even if we create a ‘6 month’ misalignment in the mechanical clocks, and body clocks of machines and people inside and outside of the box there is…

  • No, sending of objects forwards or backwards in time
  • No sending of energy
  • No sending of messages
  • No way of sending or receiving ‘special information’ – e.g. lotto numbers ‘back from the future’.
  • No confusion
  • No paradoxes
  • Never at any point any ‘miss-accounting’ in the universe, i.e. the total matter and energy in the whole system never increases or decreases because some has arrived from the past etc.
  • And critically no causality problems.

So, while at first the effect we call ‘time-dilation’ seems to prove that one of most basic theoretical forms of time travel is real and feasible, and that we should then look at how to make the effect larger and more useful, in fact there is never any form of time travel in the first place, just rate change, and everything can be fully explained without reference to a future and a past.

So the effects actually show there is no need for time – but if the effect is interpreted with the initial belief that there is time then they seem to prove our guess to be right. Which is a very subtle error, which unless spotted, leads to a persistent illusion.

(see ∆ Tame Warped Space)

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

[1] A confusion might try to reappear here, if we insist on discussing speeds and rates in terms like km per ‘hour’, and insist that this ‘proves that hours exist’ and proves that ‘time is needed for things to move’. If we do this we miss seeing that an ‘hour’ is just a word used when talking about and comparing the constant motion of the Earth to some other moving thing; and when we use words like ‘hour’ we inadvertently obscure the fact that all we are doing is expressing the speed of one thing as a fraction of the speed of another thing.

[2] The melting of some ice is a simple mechanical effect, while the slowing of the way things change when, for example the contents of a spaceship are being rapidly accelerated, is a deeper and more intrinsic and ‘fundamental’ effect to do with the way matter itself is intimately related to and integrated with the ‘space’ it is in,  and how matter and change is intimately affected by how that space is warped.