Zeno time and the continuum of nows discussion thread

Discussion in 'Pseudoscience Archive' started by quantum_wave, Jul 31, 2009.

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  1. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

    Here is what I think I understand about time as it relates to the question of “did the universe have a beginning or has it always existed?”. This thread is open for discussion on the topic.

    I see time as a continuum of “nows”, i.e. a continuum of points in time, Zeno and all. If there was a beginning, and if you could go backward in time to along the continuum toward the beginning, you would always be at a point on the continuum of “nows” until the beginning point on the continuum which would then be the first “now”. Each point marks a time event. If there was no beginning and if you could go backward in time forever you would always be at a point on the continuum of “nows”.

    No matter how finely you divide a moment of time, time still passes.

    There is always a finite length of time between any two points on the continuum.

    I do not see the logic in saying that if there was no beginning we could never get to now. Someone I know believes it is that way. I believe that you are always at a point in time and there could be an infinite continuum of “points in time” or there could be a finite continuum of “points in time” depending on if there was a beginning or not. We can’t tell if the continuum is infinite or not from where we are now and we can't tell if there was a beginning or not just because there is a "here and now".

    But this forum acquaintance doesn’t believe that it is possible for the continuum to be infinite and that is a different story. He says that if there was no beginning we could never get to the present.

    What do you think? Comments welcomed.
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  3. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

    Promethues on time cannot be infinite:


    I had listed a few basic ideas in QWC and Prometheus responded:

    “ Originally Posted by quantum_wave
    Nothing yields nothing ”
    “ Originally Posted by quantum_wave
    Everything is composed of energy
    Energy cannot be created or destroyed
    The universe is composed of energy ”
    “ Originally Posted by quantum_wave
    The universe was not created
    There was no beginning
    The universe has always existed ”

    “ Originally Posted by quantum_wave
    You won't take a position on "if it is correct"? ”
    “ Originally Posted by quantum_wave
    And are you still saying that it is absurd to consider the idea that the universe has always existed because you believe that if time was infinite backward we could never get to now? You might want to comment about this post: http://www.sciforums.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=110

    Hmm, I thought I did: http://www.sciforums.com/showpost.php?p=2318502&postcount=110

    “ Originally Posted by prometheus
    ... If an infinite amount of time has to pass before we get to this time, it's logically absurd to suppose that we'd ever get there. ”

    “ Originally Posted by Prometheus
    If time has always existed there can always be two events that are separated by an infinite amount of time, which seems to be absurd. ”

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  5. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member


    And yet you say this:
    So this shows that having been accepted in you PhD course suggests that the standards of that program are too low.
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  7. CptBork Valued Senior Member

    I see time as a continuum of cows. It flows like milk.
  8. Tnerb Banned Banned

    What's the use of that (the purpose, meaning or intention?)

    So you're saying Zeno has predicted a theoy which universally applies via connections of time (I forget the seriousness of his theory), and so that therefore at each point in time there exists a moment of which seems to apply some way?


    I don't see the finitness so described - please elaborate if you can?

    I'll expain what I can of this via logic.
    If there was no beginning there is no now.
    This means that if there was no beginning,
    how would we expect to get to now?
    As now surely exists, but in what way?
    Does a past precipitate a now in some way
    I can't consider being at any particular point in time. I can see what you mean by saying that there are a finite continuum of points in time. But how does this proceed to claim to us that there is a now- a point in time? IMO it really doesn't.

    Infinite time continuum that's a bit confusing.

    Perhaps that there is no real explaination for seeking this form of receedence back in time or whatever. Persoally I'm intereted in your comments regards to me about what I've suggested. Alas, what you're saying I guess really is that time, if it is to exist at all has to exist by some form of finite plane (here I go getting lost again

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    ). Maybe someone doesn't want to think that any finite plane can't exist without a finite now.

    Zeno's whole issues regarding points in time usually from my perspective are best described without refrence to them. Good questions.
  9. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

    No, the reference to Zeno was out of respect for paradoxes that are attributed to Zeno. http://plus.maths.org/issue17/xfile/index.html

    The consideration of time has been a human preoccupation. Contemplation of time and the philosophy and science of time are hard to separate.

    Categorical syllogisms seem to work, like:

    An event occurs at a point in time.
    If the universe had a beginning, the beginning would have occurred at a point in time.
    Therefore if the universe had a beginning that would have been an event.

    As set of syllogisms can be constructed following logic (the science of logic) to show that the idea that we could never get to now if there was no beginning is nonsense, which is what I told Prometheus.

    Another syllogism:

    Time measures the interval between two events that are each marked by points in time.
    The beginning of the universe and now would both be events that are marked by points in time.
    The beginning of the universe and now can be measured by the interval between them.

    If there was no beginning of time then the beginning of time was not an event.
    It is nonsence to say a time existed to mark an event if the event did not happen.
    It is nonsense to say that a time existed to mark the beginning of time if there was no beginning of time.

    That is why I say that it is nonsense to say that there can be an infinite amount of time between now and any event that didn't occur because time is a measure between two events that have actually occurred.

    This statement by Prometheus is logically absurd to use his phrase:
  10. Tnerb Banned Banned

    I can understand that... Most of what I was saying despite the importance of your ideas is refutation of your conception of the now (despite the fact that you elaborated on why it is an important concept). Sorry about that!

    I can understand that.

    This seems to all be very good or interesting. I really don't know though.
    I don't see the logic. But it seems like some attempt to construct other theories. I may have to re-read your previous post

    We all have our own different ideas.

    Well that is scientifically interesting to be sure.

    Whatever you say.

    I still believe that I cannot find a justification of your now hypothesis but whatever.
    It is still an interesting type of physics and should be scientifically interesting too.
  11. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

    Share your wisdom with us farmer.

    Logic tells me that time passes continually with no stops and starts, no spurts and fits as there would be while milking a cow.

    Time is just a continual changing of the universe that can be broken into infinitely short intervals that each mark their own point in time and at each point in time the universe is slightly different. For any duration other than the passing of that point in time, time is a measure between two points in time. Time can be infinite but the duration of the time between two points in time cannot be infinite.

    The truth seems to be that it is impossible to tell if time has always been passing or if it had a beginning, but both are possibilities.

    I'll cut people some slake about saying they are not being able to grasp infinity. It is a difficult concept for some but I don't know if it is a lot or a few.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2009
  12. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

    Maybe you are right.
  13. CptBork Valued Senior Member

    My whole point is that without any objective means of testing your ideas against reality, your attempts to philosophize about time are about as valid as attempts to philosophize about morality. You can go ahead and debate it to your satisfaction all you want since it looks like others care to indulge, but your conclusions will only be logical insofar as they follow from whatever assumptions you choose to make. Those assumptions in turn are only valid if they match what is found in nature; whether or not an idea seems reasonable to you is irrelevant, because space, time and nature don't really care what you or I think about them.
  14. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

    Are you saying that there is no point in thinking about time or morality whether the thoughts are philosophical or scientific?
    How is that different from how you or any of us form logical conclusions?
    Is there any philosophy or science on the subject of time that you think is more consistent with what we observe, and/or is there anything that we find in nature that is inconsistent with what I am saying?
    Do you think that this a non-reaction on the part of the universe or are you implying that the universe has considered what we think but doesn’t care?
  15. CptBork Valued Senior Member

    Not if you're looking to reach any sort of absolute, indisputable conclusions.

    I only make assertions about the structure of the universe when I have strong evidence to support such assertions. There are areas where we really don't have any evidence to point towards one view or another (i.e. beginning of time), and the perception of logical contradictions can't be used to reach conclusions on this matter if those contradictions are based on personal assumptions (such as the idea that cause and effect applies even at the Big Bang).

    I haven't reached the level of technical complexity just yet where I'm doing calculations in this area, but my understanding is that quantum gravity theorists are suggesting that space and time are actually composed of discrete elements, and can't be broken down indefinitely. I do know that all present theories indicate that events occurring within a span less than the Planck time can't be directly observed by the outside world. No it's not an absolute proven fact, but all the evidence so far points towards a discrete picture of spacetime, not a continuous one.

    I'm saying that our personal sense of logic and understanding has no bearing or relevance to the way our universe actually works. There are very few if any things we can say for certain about the universe a priori, and the few things we can say about it don't put any constraints on what kinds of universes could possibly exist. So if you want to treat it like a casual fireside chitchat, that's fine, but it's impossible not to take any conclusion you reach with a grain of salt, if you think about it objectively.
  16. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

    You are right when you state that in those extremes. Nothing is indisputable, right?.
    Are you equating “making assertions” to forming logical conclusions? If so, then you would call my thoughts, anyone's thoughts assertions instead of logical conclusions? And following that assertion logically, do you question the logic, or at least do you question if it can be logical to make assertions about time? In your way of thinking is it possible to make a logical conclusion about time?

    You seem educated and so I assume in your courses you have studied logic. Would you be comfortable saying that there is a science of logic? And have you worked in logic with the tool called conditional syllogism? If so, are you saying that the science of logic cannot be used to make a distinction between what is scientifically logical and what is nonsense?
    So you are saying that as far as science goes, or maybe even can go, it falls short of being able to observe whether or not time actually passes smoothly or if it passes in tiny jumps? Let me ask you a question that we can’t answer yet, a rhetorical question: If time were to pass in tiny increments, would movement involve a point particle changing location between the tiniest time increments? I think you can see why I ask because for a particle to move it has inertia and to allow a particle to freeze each moment and then appear in a new position the next moment and freeze there, and then appear to have moved again the next moment, how does the inertia comply with this start and stop motion at the Planck level?

    But on the other hand if the movement of a particle is continuous between the smallest observable time increments, then though it would appear that the particle was hopping from increment to increment, in reality it is moving continuously. Maybe if you can bring in to the discussion theories that deal with wave/particle duality you could solve this enigma by describing a particle to appear to stop during its particle state and move during its wave state.
    This seems to be so obvious that I have to ask why you point it out. Does this go back to the distinction between asserting and concluding?
    Let me ask you about that. You say “a priori” and I think in this cause you imply that there are very few thoughts that we might have about the universe that can be said to be true for certain. But yet that opinion has not stopped us from thinking, it has not stopped our thinking from leading to discovery of the nature of the world around us, and it has actually been the starting point for progress that we have made; hardly inconsequential. So I don’t think I understand your point.
    Please explain how anyone could form a conclusion about anything that can’t then be taken with a grain of salt then. Is that what you are saying?
  17. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    It's really like watching a catastrophic accident in slow motion. You know what is about to happen, but you are powerless to prevent it and at the end, when the dust has settled, you just feel ill.
  18. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

    Is that a priori or an absolute, indisputable conclusion from the peanut gallery?
  19. CptBork Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, but from a scientific POV you'd be stupid to dispute something that can be tested and confirmed. There's no way at present to even think of how we would test philosophical ideas about time and the Big Bang.

    Insofar as they depend on basic assumptions which are chosen so as to be aesthetically pleasing to you.

    You can make logical conclusions about time insofar as you can back them up with experiment. At that point, once someone appeals to experiment, it's just a question of whether you want to accept the only consistent reality you can actually touch and sense.

    No, logic is not a science, it's a set of very simple rules for ascertaining the "truth" of certain statements based on their consistency or contradiction with a set of fundamental assumptions.

    No philosopher should flatter themselves to think they can deduce reality from universal first principles. Unless you can demonstrate a direct contradiction between two fundamental assumptions in an idea, the only other way to rule that idea out is to show that it contradicts demonstrable reality. Appealing to personal opinion and saying "come on, think about it, it doesn't make any sense" as if some concept were self-justifying, this type of activity is known in science as "handwaving argumentation" and is looked upon with severe distain by those who demand proper logical rigour.

    It seems there may be a limit to the ability to make such observations, making the answer irrelevant since the consequences of the answer will never be seen.

    Doesn't seem like much of a rhetorical question to me, but the answer is that momentum is not a well-defined concept. Average value/expectation value of the momentum, on the other hand, is well-defined, and doesn't depend on whether particles are making discrete leaps from point to point or whether there's a smooth, continuous transition.

    You can't solve the enigma, that's the whole point of the Planck time discussion. The particle could make a smooth transition. It could be eaten by a space monster and then spat back out before the Planck time has fully elapsed. From a physics POV, it makes absolutely no difference whatsoever because we physically can't observe what goes on behind the curtain. There's no "solving the enigma" when infinitely many answers are possible.

    Any time you assume something without justification and use it to deduce something else, your conclusion will be tentative at best. In math that's ok, because math doesn't depend on whether numbers really exist or not and whether or not they happen to apply to the real world. You're trying to deduce things about the real world as if you don't even need to look at it in order to know what its basic properties would have to be. In physics we don't take our conclusions with a grain of salt, because we can back them up with repeatable observations performed in the real world. When one makes claims about the world based on philosophical as opposed to experimental reasons, these claims take on an unwelcome religious nature.
  20. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

    Prometheus’ assertion, Prometheus’ logic, Prometheus’ conclusion: It is logical to say that if there was no beginning of time, i.e. if the universe has always existed we could never get to now, so it is absurd to consider that the universe could have always existed. Prometheus’ assertion, Prometheus’ logic, Prometheus’ conclusion.

    Everything you and I have said makes that assertion, that logic, and that conclusion nonsense.

    You and I have shared some discussion about specific views, yours and mine about logic, about philosophy and about what is and isn’t science. You give no quarter to people that think and form conclusions that are not testable and I think and form conclusions about things that are not testable. We’ll never see eye to eye but that doesn’t mean we can’t communicate back and forth to air our differences as we are doing here.

    And logic is a science FYI.
  21. CptBork Valued Senior Member

    You can't use deductional logic to decide one way or the other, it can only be decided by experiment.

    Science implies knowledge, logic is a definition which is not the same thing as knowledge. There's no experiment or deduction you can do to determine the rules of logic.
  22. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

    Exactly. And Prometheus has decided one way or the other and that is the precise problem that this thread is intended to point out.

    He has used faulty logic to decide that it is absurd to think that the universe has always existed.
    My old Logic text book by Hurley says it is a science and explains that in the first sentence of the book. But of course it is his book and he could just be trying to build it up to a science. That is if it wasn’t for Webster who says it is a science http://mw1.meriam-webster.com/dictionary/logic.
  23. AlphaNumeric Fully ionized Registered Senior Member

    That implies that you cannot encode the information which signifies an object momentum into some kind of static configuration. The momentum of light is defined by its wavelength, infact that's true of any object. If you divided space into a lattice of unit side length a Planck length then given a snapshot of the universe you can give a motion of momentum in that configuration by saying which lattice point an object will be at in the next snapshot. A lattice site far away means more velocity (or momentum).

    The notion of discretization dynamical systems using difference equations is a very well developed method, it is the foundation of all computer simulations because they work in little numerical steps.
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