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Turner, R. (2011). Nature of Time. PHILICA.COM Article number 274.

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Nature of Time

Robert P. Turnerunconfirmed user (independent researcher, Lancaster University)

Published in philoso.philica.com

Special Relativity demonstrates that a caesium atom beats slower due to dilation as its speed is increased, the interval between beats dilates (lengthens) as it approaches light speed until the same interval spans the entire duration (it stops beating). To understand the nature of time we need a measure that equates time in both the material and photon rest frames when calibrated between the two events of photon emission (star) and absorption (telescope). To do this, time flow is conceived such that a quantum instant of time (observed as “now” in a material rest frame) flows along fundamental time (observed as a continuous time line or single time interval in a photon rest frame). Calibration then accords a length of photon static time line for a given set duration of flowing material time, the metric based on light speed. This is described in detail @ Philica.com (articles 238, 242,247).

Article body

Two alternate concepts

The 11th century philosopher, Omar Khayyam, defines time thus: The moving finger writes; and having writ, moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel a half line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.

This suggests a universe of unfolding becoming.

The proponents of the block universe, on the other hand, contend that space-time is a ready formed block where time does not flow, time flow being imaginary. Instead of the writing finger, they see the written parchment.  The need for this model is to avoid a requirement of synchronicity. According to Special Relativity, two different observers moving in different fashions will make differing judgements about the simultaneity of separated events. This need for fixed instead of flowing time is in contrast to the proponents for a universe of unfolding becoming.

Analysis of rest frames defined by Special Relativity allows a comparison of static time (block) in the photon rest frame with flowing time (unfolding becoming) in a material rest frame.

A particle (to a good approximation when compared with light speed) is at rest in three space dimensions.

A photon moves at light speed in this rest frame. Special Relativity requires time to stop at light speed, so a photon is at rest in the time dimension. So the particle rest frame (i.e. space) and the photon rest frame (i.e. time) contra flow at light speed.

This is a fundamental departure from the block view where time and space have a common origin. Time is stationary in the photon frame (where trajectory space is dynamically experienced) and space is (relatively) stationary in the material frame (where time is dynamically experienced); which means that the flow of each rest frame is relative to (and dependent on) each other and the interaction is sequential infolding and unfolding of time and space (i.e. a dynamic interface). Synchronicity is more subtle than matching all points of space to one point of time, rather it is the mutual influence of ongoing interactions where an unfolding sequence is spatial as well as temporal; i.e. synchronicity is the process of mutual influence. This suggests two aspects of time, our material perception of flowing time (the moving finger) and the written parchment (observable dimension). We experience “now” time (but neither past nor future). We observe space beyond our point in it, not so time. The parchment belongs to the photon realm, where time stops for the photon by flowing along with it in the material rest frame, future photons keeping pace upstream; i.e. the static time line exists for the photon beyond the photon’s rest point just as space exists for material observable beyond its rest point. So the time line is not static in the material realm, being at maximum flow for a stationary observer and subtly synchronised for a moving observer.

Misconception at the heart of time

According to Frank Close in The Void, the general perception is that time is a simple linear dimension with “now” at some point on it and the Big Bang at one end but nothing beyond it, the line simply disappears. This simple perception of time stopping at and disappearing at a point is inadequate and we need to go deeper to see static time. Whilst black holes and Big Bang involve static time, so does light speed and it is easier to see static time at light speed. The natural impression of time collapsing to nothing is corrected when seen from the photon rest frame as an expanded motionless time line with different photons occupying different points on it. From the material perspective the time line flows at light speed, as do the photons. There is equivalence between trajectory space and time as a bonus.

Consider the time and space trajectory of a photon emitted from a star a million light years away and absorbed at a telescope. How to calibrate the duration of time when the photon is absorbed in the same photon instant in which it is emitted (because time stops at light speed) whereas in material time it takes a million years.

The theory of Special Relativity describes how time and trajectory length change with increasing speed with respect to the material rest frame alone. The length is fully expanded at rest and contracts with increasing speed to a point at light speed. The time line is a million years in the material rest frame and dilates to within an instant in the photon rest frame. It is a natural mistake to associate this as a time contraction, giving the false impression that stopping time is associated with time disappearing to a point.

A very different perspective of the same details is apparent at a deeper level of time where this photon instant is perceived to have expanded from a quantum instant of material flowing time “now” until it spans the equivalent of a million material years in one instant of static time. Obviously I need to back up this claim concisely if I am to convince you. This involves only six steps in the argument, so please bear with me.

1.        Quantum time requires that duration is a sequence of instants. Dilated time measures fewer instants. This suggests that dilation expands each instant.

2.        The trajectory space line is at rest in the material rest frame, contracting with increasing speed to a point in the photon rest frame.

3.        The time line is at rest in the photon rest frame, contracting to the point “now” in the material rest frame where it has maximum flow.

4.        Because we are ego centric, we easily see that the space line in the material rest frame is real and does not disappear because it is at rest (it is a million light years long). It is absurd and ego centric therefore to claim that the time line at rest disappears when this static instant spans a million material years. Certainly it takes “now” a million years to traverse it.

5.        Therefore static time is present if photons are present (and absence of photons does not preclude static time) which suggests an eternal static time.

6.        It is reasonable to suggest static time in the photon rest frame resembles static time at black holes and the Big Bang, allowing eternal static time even then.

The false impression that time contracts as it slows down is given because it takes our photon a million material (i.e. stationary spatial frame) years from star to telescope compared to the photon rest frame (i.e. light speed in the spatial frame) where time flow has collapsed to an instant. This can be rephrased as: a material instant (of quantum length “now”) expands to an instant a million light years long at light speed, taking a million material years to traverse from star to telescope. The correct analysis of this second choice of view provides the insight that this instant of time is a static length in the photon rest frame which can be compared to a static spatial (trajectory) length in the material rest frame if time and trajectory space are each compared from its own respective rest frame. Equivalence emerges that both expand as they slow to rest in their own rest frame.

The Special Relativity narrative of contraction-dilation as referred from the space rest frame alone conceals this equivalence of expansion. It is easier to see the equivalence of the time line and the space line contractions from their own rest frames, because both time and space contract from their respective rest frames, collapsing to points at light speed. This equivalence is reinforced by the mirror symmetry of this collapsed “now” (in the material frame) traversing the expanded instant (the time line in the photon frame) which mirrors the corresponding collapsed trajectory space point (in the photon frame) traversing the expanded trajectory space line (in the material frame).


The important aspect of time is the dynamic (which is responsible for action) rather than the passive one (the caesium atom does not beat at light speed). The essence of time is the process of the time line interacting with space rather than the substance of the time line itself. This is the fundamental meaning of unfolding becoming.

These two extreme aspects of static time flowing through the material rest frame is seen at a deeper level as a one-brane time interacting at its interface (quantum space-time crucible) with the three-brane space at light speed (also described in articles 238, 242,247 @Philica.com). The quantum junction (interface) between the two branes is called “now”, and it is this junction which moves along the time line.

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This Article was published on 12th September, 2011 at 13:27:35 and has been viewed 2275 times.

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The full citation for this Article is:
Turner, R. (2011). Nature of Time. PHILICA.COM Article number 274.

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