Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's About Time…

I’ve been meandering along the Cognitive Midway at The Future Fair the past couple of days. Here’s where that stroll lead me as I encountered cosmic carnival barkers, Barnies, Clems and Bozos, and various games of chance… or no chance at all.
Is Time real, or a necessary shadow of Creation. Perhaps it is both the death shroud and essential invocation of Experience? Can it run backward, as well as forward? Start with those linked articles in this paragraph as a random points of departure and explore further, if you’ve got the time and inclination.
Well, there’s nothing in the math of physics that says that Time cannot run willy-nilly as it will. It could run sideways, by any account perpendicular to our perceived timeline. What would such an orthogonal timeline look like to a Human observer? And, what has Time to do with G-d, His preordained plan, and our humble study of comparative religions and the relationship of World religion’s to physics? They do seem to be bossing their way into each others’ territory as Time goes by. Answers aplenty in the bye and bye.
Yes, so many good questions that I cannot answer. I can offer some personal observations on the questions themselves, and perhaps a clue or two as to where the answers may lie for you or I.
First question… is Time required by Creation, or merely a support for the balustrades of and within Human intellect, a device required to experience Experience? Two of Einstein’s great quotes are apropos in these queries. 
Let us begin with: “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.” In this, Einstein suggests (among other things, to be mentioned soon) that our minds are perhaps too little evolved to handle Everything, Everywhere, All the Time. Still, anybody who has tried to tackle deep Physics or even taken a gander at the proceedings of modern Cosmology, anybody who has taken a true, fat trip on any certain chemical or vegetable substance knows the desire to know It All. Paging Dr. Faust! Paging Dr. Faust to the Red Emergency Phone!!!
Well, perhaps Uncle Al was simply commenting on the limited capacities of the Human mind. He might have been thinking of the possibility that Time does exist, and the Universe, Itself, requires Time to evolve. But, this notion is belied by another of his quotes. “Time is an illusion, but it is a persistent one.” It seems that our wise friend might have been inclined to believe something akin to the religious notion of G-d’s Will. Every theistic tradition has such a concept and its expression in words: God se Wil, Mapenzi ya, 天命, Dei voluntas… etc., etc.
Implied in such words is the thought that an omniscient and omnipotent Creator, by definition, knows all. All has already happened in The Creator’s Mind, in The Great Plan. There are no surprises for The One who cast Time upon Space and coddled Space within Time in an infinite moment of infinite and all encompassing Creation. In this conception, the scientist, the mystic and the psychedelicist may not be exclusive of each other’s intellectual and spiritual company.
So, just as a theory or a devotion taken as fact, Everything has already happened. Creation is complete. It (IT!) has already All been done. We Humans thus have nothing to do but discern G-d’s intentions and live in accordance with them.
I am not a religious person. Spiritual, yes, darlink, but not religious. Nonetheless, another quote from our old friend comes to mind. “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” Yes, Al, given what physics now tells us about time and space, the history of the Cosmos, that anything exists is a fine operational definition of a miracle.
So, back to Time. Time as we experience it is not required by the math behind current physics. Despite our never seeing it actually happen, there is no reason that the coffee that I just spilled in you lap can’t pour itself back into the cup that I dropped, the cup itself undropping, your pants unsopping… it just might take longer than the lifetime of our Universe to witness this statistical possibility or it might not be memorable, might not be glued to our minds’ presently enmeshed in our Universe… or not. We won’t be around to see it happen… if Time exists
Now, if this is not weird enough for you, let’s move on to the possibility of Sideways-Time. What would that look like? It’s a slippery thing to try to get one’s mind around. That’s why I find it useful to contemplate in meditation. There’s nothing better by my lights to stop my mind than trying to wrap my pia and dura maters and all their electrochemical goop, synapses and glial cells around Orthogonal time. Can’t be done. It’s a good exercise for a busy and experience besotted mind.
Still, Sideways-Time might exist. Consider the Universe that we inhabit from the point of view of an electron traveling through a true vacuum at the speed of light. At the maximum velocity permitted by nature, and according to Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, all physical dimensions as seen by said electron, are compressed and perpendicular to the point that the electron inhabits, and time has stopped. If that pointy particle could see and report back to our world, what might be in view?
A gander to the left or right, up or down… it’s all relative when everything has become perpendicular to your location… might it be given a view into other Universes? Yes, there is some theory emerging that certain forces, Gravity and it’s weird kin, Dark Energy, chief among them, may have some of their weird properties as a result of our Universe’s “leakiness” into neighboring and otherwise unobserved Creations. 
So, on to Orthogonal Time and the proceeds of my deliberately idle meditations and a strange little science fiction story. I’ve got a perpetually unfinished short novel before an agent. If she smiles upon the first draft of the main story-line, all I’ve got to do is actually finish the damn thing. That entails weaving in a sub-plot and set-up for a prequel and a video game franchise. Ho-ho-ho! That is where the real money is. Bigger than movies!!!
Anyhow, my little confection is baked at the bleeding edge Cosmology, where the smallest twines with the greatest, where reality meets so-called hard science fiction. I quickly make a shambles of that and the story becomes a fable, a cautionary tale called “The Wisdom of the Edges©.” There’s enough science fact and theory, and appropriate lingo in the thing to perhaps get a giggle out of the armchair cosmologists out there, and perhaps provide some entertainment to serious scientists as they see their arduous work gleefully perverted. So, I hope.
In the sub-textual rivulet that streams into the main story, there is a fellow, Professor Anton Saurian, who worked earnestly at the behest of Josef Stalin, First General Secretary of the Communist Party, USSR (Иосиф Сталин, первый генеральный секретарь Коммунистической партии СССР). Under the direct instructions of the Great Mush Brained Crazy Leader of All Happy Peoples, the good professor invents a device most sinister yet unassailably attractive… The Super Sideways Time Orthogonal Time Projector®! Presaging developments to arrive decades later in the fields of Quantum Mechanics and String Theory, Saurian creates a machine, an inter-dimensional vessel of steel, bakelite, medical tubing, duct tape and horribly toxic radioactive materials. Upon entering the “Time Craft,” the intrepid traveler could essentially turn sideways to Time and exit this World for any of the infinite number adjacent.
Alas, as happens frequently, not only in my fiction but in Human affairs, things go horribly awry. This is in the Dare All nature of the experiment. It is eons later that a robotic ship from a very distant world encounters the decaying hulk of a dead ship circling a dead sun orbited by the cinders of rocky worlds long gone to their home star’s last rattling gasp. Aboard is found no trace of life, but the incinerated sole of a red converse sneaker, a splotch of a sock’s heel, men’s size 8-10, and within the molten capsule of polyester, a tiny tuft of DNA. This is all that remains of Professor Saurian as he is now about to be spread across the Face of Time, albeit, in an unanticipated way.
The robot craft is on a mission to collect biological samples for another brave experiment. This is the derivation of new species from old; the development of productive creatures of some mental dexterity, but not too much. They will be more than Human, but just as hapless, as the story unfolds over time. And, there is much time for this story to unfold. Time is infinite, as it is instant, in every Universe, every Dimension, every Time possible, all of the Time.
That last thought might ring true beyond my silly story. We may see. Time will tell.