Most of us think of time as a deadline- a ticking clock around your wrist, a alarm clock by your bed-side (five more minutes, mom?) or perhaps, a collection of empty boxes on a calendar. It may seem as if it’s uniform and unwavering, since most of us live in a society where we’re constantly under deadline to reach work on time, pick the kids up from school, get dinner out of the oven before it burns… or simply staring at the clock, thinking there aren’t enough hours in a day. There are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. That’s uniform — and according to Sir Issac Newton, it’s something like space itself, that’s entirely absolute. What if I told you, that time (as we know it) is just an illusion — our own manifestation of an order of events? Doesn’t sound so crazy, does it? Read on:
If you had a science teacher that was worth their weight in salt, you probably know that there are three purported dimensions of space, with time comprising the fourth dimension. Together, the four make up the entirety of the spacetime continuum. Sir Issac Newton is often referred to as one of the forefathers of modern mathematics for the invention of calculus, but he also contributed some invaluable ideas to physics. One of his most important accomplishments during his life time (and to physics in general) are Newton’s three laws of motion, which describe the relationship between objects and the forces of nature that interact with them. Another one of his famed ideas deal with absolute space and absolute time, which suggest that time is an unchangeable quantity of the universe, it flows on its own without any outside influence and is the same everywhere to all observers. Now, we all know that Einstein’s theory of of relativity contradicts that thoroughly. Time passes differently from say, Kentucky (where I live) and Mars. Two new papers have recently been released that propose a new way of looking at the spacetime continuum that ultimately suggest that the universe is “timeless.” (so-to-speak)
Three of the physicists involved, who include: Amrit Sorli, Davide Fiscaletti, and Dusan Klinar begin by telling us to think of time as the resolute x-axis variable on a graph, one that is developed to visualize the evolution of a physical system (such as our universe, in this case). We measure an object’s frequency and speed, but time is not generally measured here, but regardless, it has a mathematical value without a primary physical existence.
“Minkowski space is not 3D + T, it is 4D,” the physicists explain in one of the two papers. “The point of view which considers time to be a physical entity in which material changes occur is here replaced with a more convenient view of time being merely the numerical order of material change. This view corresponds better to the physical world and has more explanatory power in describing immediate physical phenomena: gravity, electrostatic interaction, information transfer by EPR experiment are physical phenomena carried directly by the space in which physical phenomena occur,” they said.
“The idea of time being the fourth dimension of space did not bring much progress in physics and is in contradiction with the formalism of special relativity,” he said. “We are now developing a formalism of 3D quantum space based on Planck’s work. It seems that the Universe is 3D from the macro to the micro level to the Planck volume, which per formalism is 3D. In this 3D space there is no ‘length contraction,’ there is no ‘time dilation.’ What really exists is that the velocity of material change is ‘relative’ in the Einstein sense.”
As a thought experiment, imagine this: You have a photon that’s moving back and forth between two points in space. The distance between the two are entirely composed of Planck distances, which is the smallest distance a photon can move. As the photon moves a Planck distance, it’s described as moving exclusively in space and not absolute in time, which is supposedly intermixed between the three dimensions of space. “The photon can be thought of as moving from point 1 to point 2, and its position at point 1 is “before” its position at point 2 in the sense that the number 1 comes before the number 2 in the numerical order. Numerical order is not equivalent to temporal order, i.e., the number 1 does not exist before the number 2 in time, only numerically.”
Basically, this experiment suggests that time may just be the numerical order of change instead of the fourth dimension. This is an issue that has been discussed in great detail every since Einstein brought forth information about how objects in different places, traveling at varying speeds experience time dilation. Furthermore, many scientists truly think the natural world can better be described by removing the concept of time being the fourth dimension of space (which also resolves Zeno’s paradox of motion) and putting forth the notion that there is a timeless “state space” that the universe exists in perpetually.
“The theory of time as the fourth dimension of space is falsifiable and in our last article we prove there are strong indications that it might be wrong. On the basis of experimental data, time is what we measure with clocks: with clocks we measure the numerical order of material change, i.e., motion in space.”
Both papers (“New Insights into the Special Theory of Relativity” & “Time is the Numerical Order of Material Change“) have been published and can be read for free.