Thursday, March 24, 2005

Is, Was, and Always Will Be (Fabric of the Cosmos)

I haven't completely finished Brian Greene's "The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality" but I’ve decided it is time to comment on it. I'm not going to claim that I understand it, and yes, it certainly did make my head hurt at points. It has one gigantic insight that hits me like a brick between the eyes. I'm not sure I even really know what I'm talking about, and even if I do,  it is hard to fathom. 

An effect of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is that whatever has ever happened, is happening now, or is going to happen in the future, has always been happening, will always be happening, and is happening now. The "thing" that is moving through this "static history" may only be our consciousness, which gives us the impression of the “flow of time” to us. 

An observers view of space-time is relative based on distance and velocity, so if one is 10K light years away from a location (say earth), and changes their velocity toward or away from the location, by even highway speeds, their “space-time slice” relative to the distant location shifts by 100s of years into the past or the future. Up that velocity to thousands of miles per second, and the time scale becomes millions of years. Since there are no “privileged observers”, any of the “slices” are equally valid, and the only way to make that work is if all the slices are there all the time and always have been. The expansion of space-time since the Big Bang means that those slices "got bigger", but they were still "always there" from the perspective of the "smaller" space-time).

The picture he presents is space/time as a frozen “loaf” sitting on a table, with one’s view of reality as a “slice” with a certain angle through that loaf based on location/velocity. If everything that has and is going to happen is always happening, one might question “free will” just a bit. It isn’t important to me to fully understand these things, but I like to have some sort of model that I at least find “interesting” of what is happening in the universe. I’m perfectly willing to leave it up to God, but I do have some questions that I’m looking forward to answers on when I get to meet him.

One "answer" may be the Hugh Everett “Many Worlds (MW) Interpretation” where everything that CAN happen in the universe maybe does. In this model, the old "is light a wave or a particle" question becomes "it depends on which universe you are in". In Quantum Mechanics, the answer is "both, until you observe it, then for your perspective/universe it "resolves" to one or the other.

In MW, at every possible decision point, even at the particle level, there is always another whole universe, or the fact that "somebody" (a conscious being?)  observed it causes a "new" universe sharing the same past but a new future with the pre-observation point. 

In computing terms, this is much like a process "forking" -- everything is the same up to that point for the "new" process, shares the same prior context, but a different future -- in the physics case, possibly different only as a single photon resolving as a wave vs a particle. 

A lot of people find this theory disconcerting because it means “a whole lot of universes”, but since I can’t comprehend one infinity, it doesn’t seem like that much more of a burden to not comprehend infinity to the infinity power ;-) This interpretation has gained some more followers as work on quantum computation has progressed.

So, in the “Moose interpretation”, I think the “universe forking” only happens when consciousness is involved. That is why we see the “uncertainty principle”. If there isn’t a conscious observer, there is no reason to fork (resolution can be "lazily evaluated" for you computer people). As we go through our lives, we generate new universes when we make conscious choices … and the aggregates of those choices interact with each other.

There are a whole set of universes where none of us reading or writing this blog are even here, and there are a bunch of universes where some set of us are in radically different circumstances because our “consciousness track” chosen to date was different.

In some universe I stopped HERE …. But you got to read on to HERE in SOME other universe ;-)

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:41 AM

    The spark of life passes through us in much the same way that early man found and worked with fire, but couldn’t create it, and didn’t understand it.

    This was my favorite line. By 'spark of life', I inferred that you meant the love of God, too. I thought it was beautiful