Posts Tagged arrow of time

Time dilation is like yacht racing

An explanation of time dilation by analogy with yacht racing

In yacht racing, unlike say motor racing, it is difficult to know which boat is in front when they have taken different paths. Consider the case of two-yachts, e.g. an America’s Cup type event. One boat might look closer to the finish line, but if it is substantially down-wind of the mark  then it will be moving slower than another boat upwind but further away. In addition, the boats might move into regions of the water space where the wind is faster (or slower), or coming from a different direction, and this will affect the outcome.

For a spectator, it is very difficult to see which boat is winning, or how the boats are doing against each other when they are on different parts of the water, unless that spectator has a lot of sailing knowledge him/herself. Plus the spectators are invariably far away and low to the water, so have very little ability to perceive the depth of the visual field. All this makes watching yachting a boring spectacle.

To improve the situation Virtual Eye, based in New Zealand, has developed a data acquisition, software, and rendering system to visually show spectators how the race is progressing. This is a  neat system as it shows the advantage between the boats, and avoids the need for the spectator to have specialised sailing knowledge…which of course is important in getting the wider public interested in the sport. Here for example is an image showing a red boat ahead of a black one. It would otherwise not be clear which one was leading.


Yacht racing: Visualising advantage (

Yacht racing: Visualising advantage (

Things start to get more complex when there are multiple boats, all taking very different paths across the water. In this next image, the white boat with the blue line is ahead of the black boat (Oracle). This would have been hard for a land-lubber to determine, as black looks ahead. The larger the physical space between the boats, the harder it is to see which boat is ahead. This also applies to the yachties on board their boats.


White leads black in this visualisation of a yacht race. Image from Visual Eye (

White leads black in this visualisation of a yacht race. Image from Visual Eye (


By now you will probably be seeing where this discussion is heading. Yachting is done on a 2D course where there are an infinite many loci possible. The boat’s velocity depends on which part of that 2D space it travels through, how fast the wind flows in those spaces, and the relative orientation of boat and wind.

Now replace the flow of the wind with the flow of time, and the time dilation situation emerges. If two space craft were to take different paths through space, going through different regions of gravitational strength  and accelerating differently, then it would be difficult to determine from afar which was ahead in time. Hence the Andromeda Paradox.

Time dilation is often illustrated with the idea that ‘you’ stay on Earth and ‘your twin’ goes off in a spacecraft. In which case we are protagonists embedded within the time dilation, and like the yachties on their boats, find it difficult to comprehend our relative progress. Visual Eye’s software looks down on the yacht race from an independent third-party perspective, and worldlines do this for cosmology though not nearly so engagingly.

Time dilation only applies when two (or more) protagonists take different routes through space. One can never be totally sure which protagonist is ahead in time, because you don’t know what future choices they will make regarding the gravitational and acceleration regimes they will be exposed to. It is only when the protagonists are brought back together in the same location that you can see the time difference. In the case of time dilation this will show up as one clock indicating a later time or date, or a biological organism showing greater age. (This part may sound weird, and indeed it is still something of an open question as to how time occurs at the level of fundamental physics. You can just accept that the clocks will show a difference. There are many explanations of time-dilation on the internet. They invariably address the question of  what is is and how to formulate it mathematically. The much harder question is how it occurs. If you want the additional mental gymnastics, start by thinking about atomic clocks (i.e. like atomic vibrations), as this feels less weird.  Then you can ponder how atomic time scales up to the level of clockwork timepieces.  Then explain to yourself how this determines biological time at the cellular level.  Finally, work out the implication for yourself as a biological being. It is a interesting and rewarding personal gedanken experiment. The initial weirdness, which arises from the psychological incongruence between what physics and our own senses tell us of the *now*, becomes resolved and one gains an appreciation of time and the nature of the gift. Our own explanation of time is referenced below).

In the case of yachting, this time dilation shows up as one boat ahead of the other, i,e, one boat enters a region of 2D space before the second boat enters the same space. So whatever has happened before on the water, when the boats come together, heading in the same direction, then it is apparent who is in front, as the image shows. The finish line is one such 2D space, and the most important one. But there are also others where the precedence becomes visible, e.g. going around marker buoys.


White leads Black. Differences in time are definitively evident only when the boats are in the same space. Image source Virtual Eye.

So the outcomes of time dilation only become clearly evident when the protagonists are brought back to a common location in space. At this point the ambiguity of which one is ahead collapses. The Andromeda-type paradoxes exploit this ambiguity, but the ambiguity only exists when the protagonists are far away in space – bring them together again and the paradox collapses. Just like in yachting, all the ambiguity during the race collapses at the finish line: both boats have to cross the same region of 2D space, and the first one there is the winner.


PS: If you don’t like wet, then alternatively, time dilation is like hiking up a mountain where there are no paths and each hiker takes his/her own route. Some paths might look like a more direct route to the summit, but if they are steeper then progress may be slower. This is actually what I was thinking of first since I was hiking at the time and realised that hiking was just like yachting, and then realised both were like time dilation.

Dirk Pons 23 April 2014


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Time: There Already Are Answers If You Look A Little Wider. . .

Space vs time: One has to go – but which? This is the question asked by Anil Ananthaswamy at New Scientist asks. As he says, ‘If we want to progress towards a theory of everything, we need to understand how space and time fit together – if they do at all.’ He goes on to review the usual candidates: quantum mechanics and general relativity, and finds them wanting. Then he checks out string theory (and AdS/CFT) and then takes in loop quantum gravity. Ultimately there are no definitive answers. As he concludes, ‘Many potential ways around lead to different worlds of space and time – and we have as yet little clue which route to follow.’

Here’s our take on this subject, being a copy of our post at the NS article:

We have a theory that time is an emergent property of matter, as opposed to being a dimension of its own or a property of space. The idea being that particles of matter emit discrete forces at their de Broglie frequency, and these are meshed together over space to create a fabric of discrete fields. The particles then interact with each other via the discrete field forces that they send to and receive from this fabric, and since those interactions are not instantaneous (for reasons given in the theory), so the arrow of time emerges.

This is an unorthodox perspective, especially since it starts from a non-local hidden-variable (NLHV) solution, but it has the benefit of being able to explain everything that quantum mechanics, general relativity, LQG, and string/M theory can explain about time, and quite a lot more. We call this the Cordus theory. It becomes quite simple to explain why time as measured by atomic clocks is consistent with time as we perceive it as humans, how time dilation occurs, where the arrow (irreversibility) arises, how time began, whether time exists outside an expanding universe, and many other such niggly little questions at fundamental and cosmological levels.

I can’t explain the whole thing in one post – instead I just want to point out that there already are answers for pretty much all the questions raised in the article, providing one is prepared to be open-minded and look beyond the fixed mental models provided by the orthodox theories. According to this Cordus theory there is nothing wrong with QM and GR per se, it is just that they are situationally-accurate but merely special-case approximations of a deeper mechanics. The only reason time is such a quandary to QM and GR is because those theories have premises that limit what kind of solutions can be admitted. But at the deeper level it is easy to unify the forces, resolve wave-particle duality, and explain entanglement and locality. So there is a lot of progress being made in the unorthodox areas of physics, even if the mainstream has stagnated.

Of course we could also be wrong! Make up your own mind: See the full time paper here or a simpler series of explanations here

Thank you

Dirk Pons

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Will time end, Why, and When?

Illustration of spacetime curvature.

Illustration of spacetime curvature. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The answer to that question depends on what theory you adopt for *time*. In the particular case of the Cordus theory, time is caused by matter, i.e. time is an emergent property of matter, especially discoherent matter.

This is a very different proposition to practically every other  theory of time. The main other theory is to link SPACE and TIME together in the SPACE-TIME concept. This also means that such theories are locked into a concept where time is a continuous variable, and is a dimension. Therein lie a lot of deep problems: first that a continuous or ratio variable is not easy to break into discrete units, and hence the difficulty of reconciling the *time* concepts in general & special relativity with quantum mechanics; second that a dimension implies something that can go backward or forward, and it is not at all apparent that time actually does that, and no one really knows why.

The Cordus theory is different in that it proposes that *time* is the interaction of cause and effect between two pieces of discoherent matter. It provides a natural explanation for the tick of time, rooted in what might generally be considered the de Broglie frequency of matter, and for the one-way direction or arrow of time. The Cordus theory also predicts that time does not work this way for coherent assemblies of matter, which may be falsifiable.  (Coherent matter is a very specialised state of matter that includes superfluids and Bose-Einstein condensates, and is not something that is typically encountered at the macroscopic level of our daily existence).

With that in mind, what does the Cordus theory say about the end of time? Well, with time being a property of matter, it implies that time emerges with matter at genesis, and shares the same fate. Therefore time as we know it will cease when the universe does.

Just how the universe will end is another question altogether. One option is that it will continue to expand, and eventually just wimp out (heat death), in which case Cordus theory predicts time would just slow down to a crawl too. The other option is that the universe collapses in on itself, in which case Cordus theory suggests time would speed up and then suddenly stop altogether. There is a third option, which no-one believes, which is that the universe is static. That seems ruled out by the red-shift.

Those outcomes are unimaginably far into the future, and there are more proximal existential threats to worry about. More interesting to us in the present epoch of the universe, is another curious prediction of the Cordus time theory. This is that there is no time (as we know it) outside the universe, i.e. beyond the cosmological boundary (DOI: This  means that there is no time in the void into which the universe is expanding. Likewise for a being outside the universe (God) there need be no time either (atemporal). There are some interesting philosophical implications of this. We will leave that discussion for another day.

Read more about the Cordus theory here:

Pons, D.J. (2013) What really is time? A multiple-level ontological theory for time as a property of matter. vixra, 1-40 DOI:

Pons, D.J. and A.D. Pons (2013) Outer boundary of the expanding cosmos: Discrete fields and implications for the holographic principle vixra (1303.0017), p. 1-26, DOI: Available from:

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Which perspective of time is correct: the absolute clock of quantum mechanics or the spacetime of general relativity?

Neither, but in some ways both are adequate for their purposes.  According to the Cordus theory, time at the fundamental level is created by the local frequency of oscillation of the particule. That effect occurs internal to the particule concerned. Such particules include the electron, proton, etc. Since frequency and energy are related, this has the side effect of making time, as perceived at the particule level, speed up or slow down depending on the energy of the particule.

As a separate effect the arrow of time arises from the irreversibility in the interactions between particules.We explain how that irreversibility arises, but the explanation is a bit long for here.

Thus time is locally generated, and Cordus suggests the QM  idea of an absolute clock is only partlycorrect. Also, Cordus suggests that time is a patchwork at the cosmos scale, not a continuous spacetime, thereby not accepting this feature of GR either. However both QM and GR turn out to be approximately correct, at least at the level of detail that concerns them, which is submicroscopic and macroscopic respectively

English: Cordus model of the photon

English: Cordus model of the photon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Cordus theory provides a more primitive mechanics for time that accommodates the thoroughly different models of QM and GR.

Read more here:

Pons, D.J. (2013) What really is time? A multiple-level ontological theory for time as a property of matter. vixra, 1-40 DOI:

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Reality and apparent simultaneity

One of the long-standing philosophical questions is whether there is a reality to what humans experience. One of the famously controversial ways to looking at this is the holographic principle, which proposes that everything we experience in 3D is merely a holographic projection of 2D information on the outside surface of the universe.

That raises a second question, which is how my experience of reality is connected and coordinated with yours. This introduces time into the problem. Special relativity (SR) has a principle, in the form of the relativity of simultaneity, that says that the order in time of two spatially separate events cannot be determined  absolutely, but instead depends on the motion of the observer. Thus it is impossible to order two events in time if they occur in different places (hence difference frames of reference).

In our Cordus theory of time, we examine some of these questions. We look at the question of how multiple bodies interact, and how the coordination arises. We have already identified that there is no master clock, but if that is lacking then we still need a coordination mechanism. There is a connectedness of phenomena that are at different geometric locations. It seems that spacetime is continuous, because it seems that it is possible to coordinate the two phenomena in time. We show that the two phenomena are linked, because they share the same fabric.

According to this new perspective, any communication between two objects is a result of photons, or massy particules, or fields, and these cause positional constraints on the other, i.e. the geometric location of the reactive end is affected by the communication. A phenomenon that occurs in one volume of matter, be that combustion, noise, motion, etc,  thereby communicates that to other matter around it. Consider one volume to be my body: my speaking transmits forces to the volume of air immediately around me, which in turn propagates the dynamic displacement throughout its bulk, so that the membrane in your ear is displaced, and you hear the sound.

In general the phenomenon is that one volume of matter causes an effect in the second. The interactions at the most basic level all require frequency cycles, so this causes temporal causality.  Thus we infer:

It is not a master clock that accomplishes the temporal connectedness of phenomena that are at different geometric locations, nor does it require continuity of spacetime per se. The piece-wise communication, via discrete field interactions of the fabric, between adjacent volumes of space (matter and fabric) applies spatial consistency to time.

Any one particule A receives discrete forces (fields) from all the particules (many Bs) in the observable universe. Space within the universe is therefore filled with a mesh of  discrete fields in transit, which in the Cordus theory is termed the fabric.

Fabric time is the mutual interconnectedness of matter particules spread over three-dimensional space. This occurs via the fabric, comprising discrete field forces for electric-magnetic-gravitational interaction. Not strictly a time, this is rather  a coordination of events across space.

In this theory the fabric, and the EMG fields it carries, causes a connectedness between particules. They respond together, even if in a slightly delayed manner as their separation increases. There is therefore a coherence and smoothness to the interaction between particules, mediated by the fabric. The resulting interaction stitches together three-dimensional domains of space (matter and vacuum-fabric) into a macroscopic collated time. This level of time passes more slowly, due to the many tiny delays required for particules to react to each other, given the dissimilar-frequency and phase-differences between the particules.  This, Cordus suggests, is where the arrow-of-time arises,  and what general relativity perceives as spacetime. This is also the macroscopic level of physical time, and hence where our perception of time first arises.

This Cordus concept of 3D fabric affirms the general relativity perspective of spacetime.  It also provides an ontological answer to one of the earlier questions: it suggests that spacetime has a quasi-substantial status (comprises discrete force) but has no universal time-signature per se, and mainly represents merely the relationships between bodies.

Read more about the Cordus time theory here:

Pons, D.J. (2013) What really is time? A multiple-level ontological theory for time as a property of matter. vixra, 1-40 DOI:

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Arrow of time

The ‘arrow of time’ refers to the one-way nature of time. Special and General relativity considers time to be a dimension, as in ‘spacetime’, in which case we should be able to go forward and backward in time, just like we can in the x, y, and z directions of space. But we can’t. Time does not behave like a full dimension. True, we move forward in time, but it is more that time drags us onwards than us voluntary moving forward. Nor can we move backwards in time. We can’t even stay still! We are forced forward along.

So, where does this irreversibility arise? After all, the fundamental physics says that it should be a two-way effect. This is one of the unsolved problems of physics, and has occupied many physicists, thermodynamicists, and philosophers. To be sure, there are a number of solutions, but they are only partial and there is no complete solution.

Here is the solution we have found within the Cordus theory. Remember that the Cordus conjecture is a non-local hidden-variable solution, which means that it proposes that particles have internal structures. By comparision all of conventional physics including quantum mechanics is buit on the assumption that particles are merely zero dimensional points without substance.

The Cordus theory for time proposes that Decoherence is the root cause of the Arrow.

Coherence, according to the Cordus theory, is two  or more particles synchronising their frequencies using the strong force, and this also requires a particular and consistent geometric arrangement. Thus time in coherent bodies, like superfluids and Bose-Einstein condensates, is proposed to be one single time pulse for the whole body.  However, when decoherence occurs, the individual particules are no longer synchronised and instead bond with the much less precise electrostatic force.

Specifically, we propose that the Arrow of Time arises because decoherence causes a time delay to be inserted into the functional interac

The Cordus theory explains the difference between coherent and decoherent (discoherent) objects. It then uses this to construct a theory for time, including the irreversibility thereof (arrow of time).

The Cordus theory explains the difference between coherent and decoherent (discoherent) objects. It then uses this to construct a theory for time, including the irreversibility thereof (arrow of time). (Click to see larger image)

tion of two or more domains (objects) of matter – whether or not those domains are individually coherent. This because the frequencies of the fundamental particules differ, so the faster oscillating domain will have to mark more ticks (hence more of its local time) before the slower responds. Since there is geometric separation, however small, then the finite speed of field propagation (c, speed of light) adds a further time delay. Consequently the one domain generally has done something different, e.g. responded to a third domain, before the second has fully responded. Therefore getting domains back into their initial positions becomes unlikely and statistically impossible as the number of participating domains increases. So what happens stays happened, and does not naturally self-repair. We sum this up as follows:

Decoherent assembly time is irreversible, hence the arrow of time arises at this level. This is because  the interaction between subassemblies is practically irreversible due to intervening changes, propagation delays, and the complexity of large number of participating particules. This is also where and why entropy arises.

Hence classical mechanics and decoherence arise at the same point in the assembly tree of matter. The macroscopic perception of time arises at the same point, as does entropy.

While reversibility seems feasible at simple levels, we never see this for macroscopic bodies. This is because such bodies are decoherent. More accurately, their relationship with their external environment is decoherent even if their internal bonding arrangements are coherent.

Macroscopic bodies invariably have decoherent relationships between them. Such bodies, regardless of whether they are internally governed by coherent or decoherent relationships (bonds), interact inelastically with their environment, in that such bodies do not return to precisely their initial states. Inability for one body to return thereby means that all the other bodies in the accessible universe cannot either, because the fabric of background discrete forces has been changed.

Read more about the Cordus time theory here:

Pons, D.J. (2013) What really is time? A multiple-level ontological theory for time as a property of matter. vixra, 1-40 DOI:

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Where did time come from?

The Cordus theory of time suggests that time started when the universe started.

To the level to which Cordus can penetrate, time is a consequence of the frequency oscillations of particules.  Its rate is thus determined by the mass of the particule, in turn how it is assembled and from what subcomponents. In that sense even massless particules (photon, neutrino) have frequency and therefore time. However the forward arrow of time arises where coherence lets off and decoherence starts. This discontinuity in the physics of time occurs at different levels of assembly depending on temperature and homogeneity. Time therefore comes from the frequency oscillation of matter, which in turn comes from the primal photon(s) at genesis.

Read more here:

Pons, D.J. (2013) What really is time? A multiple-level ontological theory for time as a property of matter. vixra, 1-40 DOI: