Is Time an Illusion?

We all have the perception that TIME occurs linearly because there is a natural linear progression of events from the past, to the present, and to the future separated by space. The SPACE-TIME continuum (space with its 3 dimensions of length, width, depth to which Einstein added the dimension of time into the mix via the construct of quantum mechanics) that our universe exist in is not linear, but a cube. Depending upon where an observer is located in that cube, and the speed with which that observer is traveling, the perception of an event in TIME may be totally different from the perception of other observers located in other places and traveling at different speeds in that cube. This results in an immensely vexing scenario where a single event is perceived simultaneously as the past, present, and future by different observers.

This leads to the question: Could we not exercise our free will to carve our own destiny, if that destiny has already been set in the past/present/future all bundled up somewhere in that cube of a Space-Time continuum? Let us say we are at a crossroad of events and we make a choice as to what road( event) to take, but then all the choices presented are happening simultaneously in the past, present and future, thus pre-determined, could we still say with absolute certainty that we exercised our free will when making that choice?

So how do we deal with this conundrum in a conception of reality without linear time? A new model must be developed that keeps the best features , including experimentally confirmed predictions about how time is relative (not speculative), while re-instating or reiterating the notion that the present is fundamentally and unreservedly distinct from the past and the future.

The cosmologist George Ellis has proposed a modified model of Einstein’s cubed or block universe. In it, he retained the four dimensional space-time in line with relativity’s predictions. However, he emphasized that there is no need to assume that the fourth dimension i.e. TIME must already exist out into infinity, thus the future’s boundary does not encompass all that will ever happen. So in his proposed scenario, the leading edge of Space-Time marks the ‘present’ crawling outward, moment by moment, transforming tomorrow’s maybes into yesterday’s fixed happenings. Ellis stated it quite simply: “Tomorrow there will be one more day in the universe than there was today. The past is real and can have an effect on us today, but the future cannot influence us because it does not yet exist.”

The interpretation of Time really becomes almost incomprehensible when viewed from the perspective of observer dependent quantum events. According to quantum mechanics, at any given moment one could be both alive and dead, but which of these two totally divergent events is real depends upon who is observing it and how it is being perceived or observed depends upon the observer’s position/speed of movement at the moment light strikes and shines on these two events.

Several questions to ask: Since the universe is not filled with observers, like us on earth, who then are observing these events? If not being observed, are these events truly happening? Stretching the analogy further…Do the universe exist if there are no entities like us and other sentient beings, that observe and perceive and interpret that it exist?IMG_0825

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