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Time Is Real - What Do You Make Of This?


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In a conversation with Duke University neuroscientist Warren Meck, theoretical physicist Smolin, who's based at Canada's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, argued for the controversial idea that time is real. "Time is paramount," he said, "and the experience we all have of reality being in the present moment is not an illusion, but the deepest clue we have to the fundamental nature of reality."

 

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/controversially-physicist-argues-time-real-161310790.html

 

Okay.. I won't pretend to understand the theoretical physics this is based on, but somehow it caught my interest because I've always have the intuition that time is somehow important to our understanding of our reality. I so with I had the scientific background to grasp some of the concepts as they are explained by the scientists... gosh, I probably should have been a scientist (lol)

 

My 'knowledge' of this kind of thing is more woo based (Seth's explanation of the nature of time and reality through Jane Roberts - whether he really exists or Jane was an closet genius/idiot savant.really smart insane person is moot - the ideas were amazing)

 

I'd really like to know what BAA, Bhim, Stryper and the rest of you with your brilliant minds and broad knowledge base think about this hypothesis... I think there may be something here, even with the problems it also suggests.

 

I'd also like to say I've never met a smarter bunch of people as I have here, and I've belonged to a lot of forums - you guys rock!  :)

 

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Ooo. Thanks for the article. I love stuff like this.

My two cents: this isn't going to rock the physics world. I don't see this guy coming up with a revision to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and I don't see him proposing uni-directional Feynman Diagrams. He's got a hunch, but he has no constructive revisions to our current understanding. I think the most revealing part of the article is that quote at the bottom - he's trying to find a space for human dignity, when, actually, human dignity has nothing to do with it. I'd suggest he's motivated by philosophical concerns rather than scientific ones.

The thing is, all the evidence we have so far (won over the course of a century and a half, in fact) suggests that time is fundamentally an illusion (the equations we use to describe and predict what we see can be read as happening forwards or backwards in time), and it's driven by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, one of the only things in physics that isn't reversible (time symmetric) is the increase of entropy in a closed system. In order to prove his point, and get his opinion accepted, he'd have to overturn all of modern physics... and I don't think he's got the evidence for that. 

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Ooo. Thanks for the article. I love stuff like this.

My two cents: this isn't going to rock the physics world. I don't see this guy coming up with a revision to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and I don't see him proposing uni-directional Feynman Diagrams. He's got a hunch, but he has no constructive revisions to our current understanding. I think the most revealing part of the article is that quote at the bottom - he's trying to find a space for human dignity, when, actually, human dignity has nothing to do with it. I'd suggest he's motivated by philosophical concerns rather than scientific ones.

The thing is, all the evidence we have so far (won over the course of a century and a half, in fact) suggests that time is fundamentally an illusion (the equations we use to describe and predict what we see can be read as happening forwards or backwards in time), and it's driven by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, one of the only things in physics that isn't reversible (time symmetric) is the increase of entropy in a closed system. In order to prove his point, and get his opinion accepted, he'd have to overturn all of modern physics... and I don't think he's got the evidence for that. 

What  you say doesn't logically follow from what you say! Even if time is a result of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (which it probably is), that doesn't make time an illusion - it makes time a very real phenomenon.

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"Is time real, or the ultimate illusion?"

 

Well, if it's an illusion, what is it an illusion of? An illusion of an illusion of an illusion ad infinitum, or is it an illusion of something that is actually real beyond that illusion? Then wouldn't that actually real thing be the fundamental "Time" of time?

 

In science there's the concept of "arrow of time", which means that even if our impression and concept of time is illusionary, the arrow of time still flows unidirectional. Why? No one knows.

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Choosing one theoretical scenario over another is often like choosing a religion - nobody really knows the answer, pick what appeals to you.

 

If time is a necessary illusion, why is it necessary; why did we evolve in such a way as to need illusion just to function? If time is real, as indeed we must perceive it to make use of it, why must we challenge that idea?

 

It is fun to think about such things, but I doubt any final conclusions will be reached.

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I kinda think of time in terms of the second law of thermodynamics.  Entropy always increases within a closed system.  IOW, it's a constant unraveling of order in the universe.  Ultimately everything changes from order to disorder, from higher exergy (more concentrated energy) to lower exergy (more dispersed energy).  There are temporary exceptions to this- or noise in the overall trend:  life, crystal formation and stars to name a few.  But ultimately it all decays into disorder.  I reckon the bible got that much right in Ecclesiastes.  And it looks to me like time is the x-axis for a y-axis of entropy.  Or order.  Same thing either way.

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In a conversation with Duke University neuroscientist Warren Meck, theoretical physicist Smolin, who's based at Canada's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, argued for the controversial idea that time is real. "Time is paramount," he said, "and the experience we all have of reality being in the present moment is not an illusion, but the deepest clue we have to the fundamental nature of reality."

 

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/controversially-physicist-argues-time-real-161310790.html

 

Okay.. I won't pretend to understand the theoretical physics this is based on, but somehow it caught my interest because I've always have the intuition that time is somehow important to our understanding of our reality. I so with I had the scientific background to grasp some of the concepts as they are explained by the scientists... gosh, I probably should have been a scientist (lol)

 

My 'knowledge' of this kind of thing is more woo based (Seth's explanation of the nature of time and reality through Jane Roberts - whether he really exists or Jane was an closet genius/idiot savant.really smart insane person is moot - the ideas were amazing)

 

I'd really like to know what BAA, Bhim, Stryper and the rest of you with your brilliant minds and broad knowledge base think about this hypothesis... I think there may be something here, even with the problems it also suggests.

 

I'd also like to say I've never met a smarter bunch of people as I have here, and I've belonged to a lot of forums - you guys rock!  smile.png

 

Someone said time is a construct of the mind that helps explain how things change in an infinite succession of nows. Can I grasp the past. No, it's only a thought. The future is similarly a thought. Only right now is real. That's my take on it, anyway.

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Someone said time is a construct of the mind that helps explain how things change in an infinite succession of nows.

Wouldn't the succession of nows be a definition of time? Just wondering.

 

Can I grasp the past. No, it's only a thought. The future is similarly a thought. Only right now is real. That's my take on it, anyway.

True. Even the "now" is just a thought. Our awareness of the "now" is delayed by a fraction of a second (if I understand the research correctly). Meaning, when we see, feel, experience something right now, we (our consciousness) only realize that it happened quarter second later.

 

Still, theoretically, there must be a "now" for the experience to have emerged from. Our senses must've fired signals of "sensing" at some point in "time".

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We have to differentiate between physical time as the fourth dimension of our universe and the subjective experience of time.  Time is a real dimension to the universe, it is measurable via clocks and a variable in many physics equations.  A clock measures time the way an odometer measures distance, by moving through it.  Our experience of time is unique to the other dimensions due to the fact that your consciousness only occupies a single point of time, the present.  We are three dimensional beings who occupy a single point of the fourth dimension.  A fouth dimensional being like "Dr. Manhattan" can look at past and future just as you can look left or right.

 

 

 

We experience time the way a flatlander experience the third dimension, in cross sections called the present.

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Couldn't find a video without the subtitles...

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbFoSR44ImY&playnext=1&list=PL9C0B1895302A65C7

 

Edit: Lee Smolin about 3/4 of the way through the video says he is awaiting the results from the Fermi Satellite that may prove his ideas on time right. It didn't. 

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I haven't had a chance to view the videos yet, but I will.. thanks!

 

The way I visualized it was that time is actually like a singularity.. a bracketing, if you will, of [events in motion] and/or [experiences sensed], but that ultimately all was 'happening' in the same instance - the same point. (kind of like the entire 'history' of the universe is all basically an illusion... that it is really a singularity of spacetime where events/experiences are contained and we just perceive it as this immense action.. BB to now)

 

kind of reminds me of BAA's explanation of locality, and how observers would perceive pretty much the same thing no matter 'where' they were (ie: wherever they are is the 'center'). I wonder if that is related somehow?

 

But then I think about how time is actually affected by gravity as well...(seems to be) atomic clocks on the earth, and on the Space Station do not synch.. the ones on the space station run a fraction slower, (yet the astronauts still perceive time as 'running the same as it does on earth - as observers/actors are they also affected by time and it's variables) and I'm sure the clocks on any of our probes also show that time changes as these devices move in and out of the gravity wells of the planets... so what would happen to a clock when it's interstellar? What does this tell us about time? Does the warping of space by gravity warp time and does that mean time has some sort of physicality? Like photons? Or is it intrinsically a part of space itself?

 

It also seems to be, as stated above, a function of consciousness and sense perception... which is tres interesting.  biggrin.png

 

Another idea brought up is the entropy thing - which makes me wonder.. do we know whether the universe is an open or closed system? The answer to that question changes a lot of things.

 

I do think this line of inquiry is more important than say, theology though... they are working on several aspects of warp theory at the moment.. if we can understand.. and apply the functions of time (warped space=warped time?) it may solve the problems of human space travel and the immense distances and the difficulties of actually getting anywhere in less than thousands of years - at least that's my intuition on it.

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Someone said time is a construct of the mind that helps explain how things change in an infinite succession of nows.

Wouldn't the succession of nows be a definition of time? Just wondering.

 

Can I grasp the past. No, it's only a thought. The future is similarly a thought. Only right now is real. That's my take on it, anyway.

True. Even the "now" is just a thought. Our awareness of the "now" is delayed by a fraction of a second (if I understand the research correctly). Meaning, when we see, feel, experience something right now, we (our consciousness) only realize that it happened quarter second later.

 

Still, theoretically, there must be a "now" for the experience to have emerged from. Our senses must've fired signals of "sensing" at some point in "time".

 

 

The succession of nows is probably a good definition of time. I don't think the definition proves time is a real thing though. I don't think time is real because I can't experience, for example last Monday again except as a thought. And future is just conjecture. This doesn't prove that time is an illusion either. It's just my personal preference to think of it that way. lol.

 

And you're right, awareness of the 'now', at least by the five senses is delayed due to brain processing, delay of sound waves, light waves entering the senses, etc.

 

So, if all our senses were disconnected yet our awareness was still awake, then we could be experiencing the 'now' without delay maybe. Been reading a little about Yoga Nidra. Interesting mind stuff.

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I've never given this much thought, but it would seem that until someone can show that E=mc2 is false then we must accept that time is real. The constant c in that equation is a velocity, which in turn is distance over, wait for it ... time. It is difficult to imagine that something so fundamental to our understanding as time would not have a basis in reality given its use in that equation.

 

I am used to working with multidimensional arrays as a programmer, but I have a hard time trying to grok the dimensions called for in modern physics. To help me do this I used a model based on four soap bubbles in a pyramid shape. The four bubbles intersect in various planes, lines and a point that help me visualize dimensions contained within the four "normal" dimensions of space-time that we are familiar with. The bubbles themselves represent those dimensions.

 

The interesting thing about the model that applies to this discussion is that "time" is just another bubble like the other three associated with space and is indistinguishable from them. I think there might be some basis for such a comparison if one thinks about Feynman diagrams.

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The succession of nows is probably a good definition of time. I don't think the definition proves time is a real thing though.

You mean that succesion of nows doesn't exist either then?

 

I don't think time is real because I can't experience, for example last Monday again except as a thought. And future is just conjecture. This doesn't prove that time is an illusion either. It's just my personal preference to think of it that way. lol.

It's a tricky thing, for sure. FrogsToadBigGrin.gif

 

Anyway, I think the problem is also what do we mean with "time". Is it really "time" as you describe it there about experiencing Monday or future? Or is time just a matter of an eternal now of processes? If time included the past and future, then time wouldn't be something we could experience since the now would always be all-times and never a unique time. But if time is just a matter of eternal nows, then that's what time is, and is real in that sense at least.

 

And you're right, awareness of the 'now', at least by the five senses is delayed due to brain processing, delay of sound waves, light waves entering the senses, etc.

 

So, if all our senses were disconnected yet our awareness was still awake, then we could be experiencing the 'now' without delay maybe. Been reading a little about Yoga Nidra. Interesting mind stuff.

So true. I need to study some of that too. I've heard things about it, but never really done much of it.
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I've never given this much thought, but it would seem that until someone can show that E=mc2 is false then we must accept that time is real.

One of my sons is reading some higher math and physics. He showed me to full formula... if I understood him right... basically, E-mc2 is a simplification of a somewhat more complex formula. There are some extra terms that usually can be discarded, even though they're part of the whole... I don't know. Have to ask him again.

 

The constant c in that equation is a velocity, which in turn is distance over, wait for it ... time. It is difficult to imagine that something so fundamental to our understanding as time would not have a basis in reality given its use in that equation.

That's part of the conflict in science, I guess. Quantum Mechanics removes time and space (I think) and that's why it doesn't marry well with relativity. Wendyshrug.gif Somethin' like that. BAA can correct me now.

 

I am used to working with multidimensional arrays as a programmer, but I have a hard time trying to grok the dimensions called for in modern physics. To help me do this I used a model based on four soap bubbles in a pyramid shape. The four bubbles intersect in various planes, lines and a point that help me visualize dimensions contained within the four "normal" dimensions of space-time that we are familiar with. The bubbles themselves represent those dimensions.

You lost me at bubbles... actually, even at grok. Grok means so many things. smile.png

 

The interesting thing about the model that applies to this discussion is that "time" is just another bubble like the other three associated with space and is indistinguishable from them. I think there might be some basis for such a comparison if one thinks about Feynman diagrams.

You lost me at "The"... LOL!!!

 

Back to my beer. I have time for another cup.

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Sure, time on our scale seems to flow forward, but that's just because of the Second Law. That's all I meant, not that time isn't "real." If you had a perfect mirror, and bounced a photon off it, you could "play" the interaction in reverse time, and you'd never know the difference. Most interactions in physics are time symmetric... except when you take the Second Law of Thermodynamics into account: there are no perfect mirrors. Then, with entropy increasing, we have something that makes interactions no longer symmetric. That's what we call time. "Time" in the sense of a universal absolute, that exists without some other laws driving it, is the illusion. What this guy seems to be suggesting, however, is that time is precisely that universal absolute, and would be here, regardless of the Second Law, which, frankly, requires that he overturn all of the last century in physics... and I don't think he's got the goods.

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We have to differentiate between physical time as the fourth dimension of our universe and the subjective experience of time.  Time is a real dimension to the universe, it is measurable via clocks and a variable in many physics equations.  A clock measures time the way an odometer measures distance, by moving through it.  Our experience of time is unique to the other dimensions due to the fact that your consciousness only occupies a single point of time, the present.  We are three dimensional beings who occupy a single point of the fourth dimension.  A fouth dimensional being like "Dr. Manhattan" can look at past and future just as you can look left or right.

 

 

 

We experience time the way a flatlander experience the third dimension, in cross sections called the present.

 

I'd say its worse. We experience time in 1D, at least visually and experientially. We can look back on further 1 dimensional snapshots of time, but its still a 1D perspective. The perpetual and former "present moment"s

 

 

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Sure, time on our scale seems to flow forward, but that's just because of the Second Law.

Isn't the second law dependent on time?

 

That's all I meant, not that time isn't "real." If you had a perfect mirror, and bounced a photon off it, you could "play" the interaction in reverse time, and you'd never know the difference. Most interactions in physics are time symmetric... except when you take the Second Law of Thermodynamics into account: there are no perfect mirrors. Then, with entropy increasing, we have something that makes interactions no longer symmetric. That's what we call time. "Time" in the sense of a universal absolute, that exists without some other laws driving it, is the illusion. What this guy seems to be suggesting, however, is that time is precisely that universal absolute, and would be here, regardless of the Second Law, which, frankly, requires that he overturn all of the last century in physics... and I don't think he's got the goods.

I'm not sure I understand. Isn't the whole universe going towards a higher entropy? Isn't that uniform motion of the whole universe a collected form of motion of time in one direction? If there wasn't an arrow of time, entropy would move to both lower and higher entropy simultaneous. But I could misunderstand something here...

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow_of_time#The_cosmological_arrow_of_time

 

To tell you something, I didn't even know that time was considered just an illusion and not real at all by the majority of scientists. It thought the "arrow of time" was a common concept. So real time not being real? I didn't know that was even an issue until this article. Wendyshrug.gif

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The succession of nows is probably a good definition of time. I don't think the definition proves time is a real thing though.

You mean that succesion of nows doesn't exist either then?

 

I don't think time is real because I can't experience, for example last Monday again except as a thought. And future is just conjecture. This doesn't prove that time is an illusion either. It's just my personal preference to think of it that way. lol.

It's a tricky thing, for sure. FrogsToadBigGrin.gif

 

Anyway, I think the problem is also what do we mean with "time". Is it really "time" as you describe it there about experiencing Monday or future? Or is time just a matter of an eternal now of processes? If time included the past and future, then time wouldn't be something we could experience since the now would always be all-times and never a unique time. But if time is just a matter of eternal nows, then that's what time is, and is real in that sense at least.

 

And you're right, awareness of the 'now', at least by the five senses is delayed due to brain processing, delay of sound waves, light waves entering the senses, etc.

 

So, if all our senses were disconnected yet our awareness was still awake, then we could be experiencing the 'now' without delay maybe. Been reading a little about Yoga Nidra. Interesting mind stuff.

So true. I need to study some of that too. I've heard things about it, but never really done much of it.

 

 

The succession of nows I think just refers to memories of what was.  The memory of the past exists in your head but it doesn't have the quality of living presence that right now has. There probably isnt a 'now' either, just timeless awareness. I've read too many books on non-duality discussing time, space and reality. They could all be baloney. :-) Time certainly is useful on planet earth. So is language. Yet, words are only a symbolic representation of something and not the particular something itself. Maybe time is like that as well. An abstraction or an explanation of why it hurts when I try to straighten back up after bending over. It's cuz I'm old. :-)

 

"If time included the past and future, then time wouldn't be something we could experience since the now would always be all-times and never a unique time." - After watching the "Through the Wormhole" video I sorta wonder if time is really just a never ending succession of switching to a new universe within an infinite  multiverse. Maybe last Tuesday at 9 am does exist somewhere and maybe it can be relived. Maybe not. :-)

 

The part of the video about the two clocks and how one lost accuracy after being lifted 12 inches was really cool. Doppler effect has also fascinated me in that it shows time is not absolute. Great stuff!

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The succession of nows I think just refers to memories of what was.  The memory of the past exists in your head but it doesn't have the quality of living presence that right now has. There probably isnt a 'now' either, just timeless awareness.

True. There's no "pure" now.

 

I've read too many books on non-duality discussing time, space and reality. They could all be baloney. :-) Time certainly is useful on planet earth. So is language. Yet, words are only a symbolic representation of something and not the particular something itself. Maybe time is like that as well. An abstraction or an explanation of why it hurts when I try to straighten back up after bending over. It's cuz I'm old. :-)

No, what sucks is that if there's no real time, that means that there's never a good time for beer, and I just have to strongly disagree to such a notion... beer.gif

 

"If time included the past and future, then time wouldn't be something we could experience since the now would always be all-times and never a unique time." - After watching the "Through the Wormhole" video I sorta wonder if time is really just a never ending succession of switching to a new universe within an infinite  multiverse. Maybe last Tuesday at 9 am does exist somewhere and maybe it can be relived. Maybe not. :-)

I think that's what the quantum multiverse (or whatever they call it this year) is about. But I did read something, somewhere (at some time... or not?) that some recent research, macro flow, dark flow, can't remember what it was called, or rather the lack of it, pointed to just one single universe and not a multiverse. sad.png Whatever. Who knows... or nows?

 

The part of the video about the two clocks and how one lost accuracy after being lifted 12 inches was really cool. Doppler effect has also fascinated me in that it shows time is not absolute. Great stuff!

Sure. I really never had a problem with relativity. But what confuses me is that if time is an illusion and not real, how can relativity be real? That should be just an illusion too. Wendyshrug.gif If nothing is real but everything is just an illusion of nothing, then perhaps that explains how something came out of nothing. Simply because it's still nothing, there is no something. eek.gif
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It's fun to think of it as this mysterious thing, but the way it works out mathematically is just one of the axes, (x, y, z, t).  It's part of the framework, the structure of things, as I heard an astronomer put it, time is the shape of the universe (which I thought was a pretty cool way of saying it.

 

 

 

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I think that's what the quantum multiverse (or whatever they call it this year) is about. But I did read something, somewhere (at some time... or not?) that some recent research, macro flow, dark flow, can't remember what it was called, or rather the lack of it, pointed to just one single universe and not a multiverse. sad.png Whatever. Who knows... or nows?

 

Dark Flow? From the research it seems to indicate a group of galaxies that are clustered together with velocities and movement in a non-random pattern according to the WMAP data. Something is attracting these galaxies, even beyond the mysterious "Great Attractor" found in 1986. Some have theorized that the only possible thing that could cause this anomaly is something massive outside our own universe. That's all conjecture though. 

 

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/images/content/433217main_Dark_Flow_map.jpg

 

 8a300897-bfc7-4dc4-a2ef-8b1ce18d94e8_zps

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It also seems to be, as stated above, a function of consciousness and sense perception... which is tres interesting.  biggrin.png

 

 

I will argue the reverse, that consciousness, sense perception, sentience, are functions of time, resultant of its natures in our environment.

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My 'knowledge' of this kind of thing is more woo based (Seth's explanation of the nature of time and reality through Jane Roberts - whether he really exists or Jane was an closet genius/idiot savant.really smart insane person is moot - the ideas were amazing)

 

I'd really like to know what BAA, Bhim, Stryper and the rest of you with your brilliant minds and broad knowledge base think about this hypothesis... I think there may be something here, even with the problems it also suggests.

 

I'd also like to say I've never met a smarter bunch of people as I have here, and I've belonged to a lot of forums - you guys rock!  smile.png

 

Thanks for the inclusion with the brains of this outfit. ;)

 

 

I approach this two ways. 

 

 

I.

  1)  The Micheal teachings, similar to Seth I think, basically state that beyond our physical plane, time doesn't exist as we understand it.   It is less linear.   Beyond that my understanding of how they view time makes my head hurt. 

 

  2)  Therefore, Time is real.

 

II.

     Time is an observable and measurable reality.   Seasons change.  Babies are born.  Grandparents time.  Children become adults and have babies of their own.  Plants grow and die in single season.  When you plan a trip by car, train, or plane.  You take into account when.  When do wish to do?  When does the plane take off?  When does it arrive?  How long is the layover?  etc. 

 

  In that respect time is like gravity, it is a universal "law" of our universe.  With gravity we have tools that can overcome its effect with much effort for a short period.  This has allowed us to view our world differently.  Instead of the "flat" plane of standing on the earth, we can see from a higher plane for a short period.  Yet we cannot stop gravity.  We can not repel it.  

  

   Given enough time,  Time itself could be view with tools in the is manner. This may allow us to eventually view time while in time for a brief time.   Just as the airplane allows us to view the ground from the air while still being "on" the planet for a brief time.   Work has already been done in this area. 

 

http://thephoenix.com/Boston/News/69961-Space-cowboy/

 

 

Now could it lead to us actually interacting with the past or the future in some physical way?  I doubt it.  But, I am the first to admit that I have been wrong before and probably will be again. 

 

anyway just my thoughts on it. 

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