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|Time Travel?....To What Exactly?
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Posted by daViper on July 29, 1999 01:21:28 UTC
As Bill Nye, The Science Guy, would say "Consider the following."
(This may not appear relevant to Time Travel at first, but bear with me.)
There is an activity each of us engages in on a daily basis that is so un-natural, so foreign to the workings of the universe, so unique, that WE may be the only beings in the entire universe that engage in it. I can't be sure about that last part, but it is possible.
This process is ingrained in us shortly after birth and we engage in it daily until we die. We are not born knowing this process, we have to be taught it. We then pass it on by teaching it to others, yet it is nonetheless a very unusual activity in terms of reality. There is nothing in nature or the universe that directly correlates to it, or that exists in any natural form one has ever identified. It actually is not even necessary for accomplishing the goals we seek by engaging in it. There are even more natural alternatives to this activity and yet we persist in engaging in it to achieve these goals. We have been taught to do it this way and feel unnatural doing it in any other manner. This activity is probably a result of the forms our bodies have evolved in, but has nothing to do with any biological function.
What is this enigmatic activity? DECIMAL MATHEMATICS!
The fact that we have ten fingers is probably why we humans do math in base 10. There is nothing special or required in pure mathematics that says it has to be performed in base 10. The computer you're looking at uses base 2 (binary) math to translate, execute, and store its instructions and data. The programmers who wrote the software it runs on use base 16 (hexadecimal) math to implement the instructions it executes.
Why? Because base 10 math is in fact un-natural in any way that pertains to the construction of machines that process, store and convey information. Programmers have to FORCE computers to deal with decimal math in order to perform our calculations and represent them in a manner we understand easily. (As a Software Engineer I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that computers do not perform decimal math without being 'tricked' into doing so.) In fact, they don't REALLY do decimal math at all. We programmers just make it appear as if they do. But for the person other than a programmer or some math scientists, the concept of doing math in some base other than 10 is totally foreign. YET IT IS A CONTRIVANCE OF HUMANS AND NOTHING ELSE. If there are no other beings in the universe who have evolved with ten fingers, it probably does not exist ANYWHERE except on Earth in the minds of people.
Binary math is of course UNIVERSAL. Any intelligent species can understand the principle of on/off, yes/no or some symbol to represent 1 or 0, regardless of what those symbols may be. But alas, we humans plod along with our decimal math because it has become so ingrained in us, we simply do not normally THINK any other way.
What if we began to think of Time as if it were like the decimal math described above. Time as something we have become so ingrained in thinking of, that we cannot consider the possibility that it may not really exist in the manner in which we perceive it. We started by observing and describing the obviousness of cause and effect. We began to talk of what 'went before' and what 'came after'. This then became the "past" and then the "future".
We then started using using simple contrivances to measure a given amount of it like the bowl with a hole in the bottom or the hourglass. At first we used these to determine how long something took. We didn't really care HOW long, just that it was consistent in describing things like someone's fair share of indulgement in something or a limit for how "long" something was allowed to occur before some change was made. From there, we devised mechanisims to keep this measurement process going indefinetely so we could begin to organize around it and base activitites on its definition. Clocks. We haven't really perfected this process yet but we keep getting better at it. Thermodynamics says all clocks must eventually run down, or at least wear out before they do. Natural processes, such as the Earths rotation and orbit, cause us to adjust our measurements if even on only small levels in our never ending efforts to organize and synchronize our measurements with these observed processes. We have gone from simple practical usage of increment measurement to full blown adherence to its marking that we literally arrange our lives around this marking of the duration of cause/effect intervals. We have come to see 'time' as some tangible entity that somehow exists on its own as if it were now a specific "thing" we might be able to control or even "travel through".
It seems to me if there were ever anything the human race has ever manifested form nothing to full blown reality, it is time. We have literally taken a figment of our imagination (the past/future) and fabricated an artificial reality based on our ability to describe the interval between cause and effect. By postulating the possibility of travelling thru this artificial reality as if it were something that actually existed, we may have actually played the biggest joke on ourseves imaginable. By having this concept of time become so ingrained in the very fabric of our lives to the extent that we take it so for granted, we may have lost the ability to stand back see it for what it truly is. Something unique to us. Something we did to ourselves that really has no bearing on any of the rest of the universe, other than the continuing effect of a long ago big bang cause.
Just like Decimal Math. Now I expect to have this beat up on a bit but lets see if we can come up with some solid physics or philosophy as to why the above is NOT true. Lets assume we all know about supralight speed, hypothetical tachyons, and the EPR paradox. But I still would like to see a good clear understandable definition of just what "time" IS, according to physics. QM, Relativistic, or otherwise.
Thanx for your time.
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