Posts Tagged Time

Beautiful mathematics vs. qualitative insights

Which is better for fundamental physics: beautiful mathematics based on pure concepts, or qualitative insights based on natural phenomena?

According to Lee Smolin in a 2015 arxiv paper [1], it’s the latter.

As I understand him, Smolin’s main point is that elegant qualitative explanations are more valuable than beautiful mathematics, that physics fails to progress when ‘mathematics [is used] as a substitute for insight into nature‘ (p13).
‘The point is not how beautiful the equations are, it is how minimal the assumptions needed and how elegant the explanations.‘ (http://arxiv.org/abs/1512.07551)
The symmetry methodology receives criticism for the proliferation of assumptions it requires, and the lack of explanatory power. Likewise particle supersymmetry is  identified as having the same failings. Smolin is also critical of of string theory, writing, ‘Thousands of theorists have spent decades studying these [string theory] ideas, and there is not yet a single connection with experiment‘ (p6-7).

Mathematical symmetries: More or fewer?

Smolin is especially critical of the idea that progress might be found in increasingly elaborate mathematical symmetries.
I also wonder whether the ‘symmetries’ idea is overloaded. The basic concept of symmetry is that some attribute of the system should be preserved when transformed about some dimension. Even if it is possible to represent this mathematically, we should still be prudent about which attributes, transformations, and dimensions to accept. Actual physics does not necessarily follow mathematical representation. There is generally a lack of critical evaluation of the validity of specific attributes, transformations, and dimensions for the proposed symmetries. The *time* variable is a case in point. Mathematical treatments invariably consider it to be a dimension, yet empirical evidence overwhelmingly shows this not to be the case.
Irreversibility shows that time does not evidence symmetry. The time dimension cannot be traversed in a controlled manner, neither forward and especially not backward. Also, a complex system of particles will not spontaneously revert to its former configuration.   Consequently *time* cannot be considered to be a dimension about which it is valid to apply a symmetry transformation even when one exists mathematically. Logically, we should therefore discard any mathematical symmetry that has a time dimension to it. That reduces the field considerably, since many symmetries have a temporal component.
Alternatively, if we are to continue to rely on temporal symmetries, it will be necessary to understand how the mechanics of irreversibility arises, and why those symmetries are exempt therefrom. I accept that relativity considers time to be a dimension, and has achieved significant theoretical advances with that premise. However relativity is also a theory of macroscopic interactions, and it is possible that assuming time to be a dimension is a sufficiently accurate premise at this scale, but not at others. Our own work suggests that time could be an emergent property of matter, rather than a dimension (http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/apr.v5n6p23).  This makes it much easier to explain the origins of the arrow of time and of irreversibility. So it can be fruitful, in an ontological way, to be sceptical of the idea that mathematical formalisms of symmetry are necessarily valid representations of actual physics. It might be reading too much into Smolin’s meaning when he says that ‘time… properties reflect the positions … of matter in the universe’ (p12), but that seems consistent with our proposition.

How to find a better physics?

The solution, Smolin says, is to ‘begin with new physical principles‘ (p8). Thus we should expect new physics will emerge by developing qualitative explanations based on intuitive insights from natural phenomena, rather than trying to extend existing mathematics. Explanations that are valuable are those that are efficient (fewer parameters, less tuning, and not involving extremely big or small numbers) and logically consistent with physical realism (‘tell a coherent story’). It is necessary that the explanations come first, and the mathematics follows later as a subordinate activity to formalise and represent those insights.
However it is not so easy to do that in practice, and Smolin does not have suggestions for where these new physical principles should be sought. His statement that ‘no such principles have been proposed‘ (p8) is incorrect. Ourselves and others have proposed new physical principles – ours is called the Cordus theory and based on a proposed internal structure to particles. Other theories exist, see vixra and arxiv. The bigger issue is that physics journals are mostly deaf to propositions regarding new principles. Our own papers have been summarily rejected by editors many times  due to ‘lack of mathematical content’ or ‘we do not publish speculative material’, or ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’. In an ideal world all candidate solutions would at least be admitted to scrutiny, but this does not actually happen and there are multiple existing ideas in the wilds that never make it through to the formal journal literature frequented by physicists.  Even then, those ideas that undergo peer review and are published, are not necessarily widely available. The problem is that the academic search engines, like Elsevier’s Compendex and Thompson’s Web of Science,  are selective in what journals they index, and fail to provide  reliable coverage of the more radical elements of physics. (Google Scholar appears to provide an unbiassed assay of the literature.) Most physicists would have to go out of their way to inform themselves of the protosciences and new propositions that circulate in the wild outside their bubbles of knowledge. Not all those proposals can possibly be right, but neither are they all necessarily wrong. In mitigation, the body of literature in physics has become so voluminous that it is impossible for any one physicist to be fully informed about all developments, even within a sub-field like fundamental physics. But the point remains that new principles of physics do exist, based on intuitive insights from natural phenomena, and which have high explanatory power, exactly how Smolin expected things to develop.
Smolin suspects that true solutions will have fewer rather than more symmetries. This is also consistent with our  work, which indicates that both the asymmetrical leptogenesis and baryogenesis processes can be conceptually explained as consequences of a single deeper symmetry (http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/jmp.2014.517193). That is the matter-antimatter species differentiation (http://dx.doi.org/10.4006/0836-1398-27.1.26). That also explains asymmetries in decay rates (http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/apr.v7n2p1).
In a way, though he does not use the words, Smolin tacitly endorses the principle of physical realism: that physical observable phenomena do have deeper causal mechanics involving parameters that exist objectively. He never mentions the hidden-variable solutions. Perhaps this is indicative of the position of most theorists, that the hidden variable sector has been unproductive. Everyone has given up on it as intractable, and now ignore it. According to Google Scholar, ours looks to be the only group left in the world that is publishing non-local hidden-variable (NLHV) solutions. Time will tell whether or not these are strong enough, but these do already embody Smolin’s injunction to take a fresh look for new physical principles.

Dirk Pons

26 February 2016, Christchurch, New Zealand

This is an expansion of a post at Physics Forum  https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/smolin-lessons-from-einsteins-discovery.849464/#post-5390859

References

[1] 1. Smolin, L.: Lessons from Einstein’s 1915 discovery of general relativity. arxiv 1512.07551, 1-14 (2015). doi: http://arxiv.org/abs/1512.07551

 

 

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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: http://vixra.org/abs/1301.0074.

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New thinking about *time*: Does time depend on the level of assembly of matter?

The Cordus conjecture suggests a particular multi-level interpretation for time. In this construct, time at the fundamental level is generated by each individual particule, and is associated with the frequency of the particule.  Of the different *times* within the Cordus model, this ticks the fastest. However, particules will generally not have identical frequencies, and even like particules with different energy or in different situations will tick differently.

Time at our macroscopic level of existence

Time at our macroscopic level of existence

The next level of time is caused by the interactions of multiple particules. This interaction occurs since each particule emits discrete field elements, and these interact with neighbouring particules, either strongly as in bonding, or weakly as in macroscopic fields. 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. There is no real tick at this level, but rather a one-directional mutual causality. 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 arises. Actually, Cordus suggests there are several intermediate levels of time, and these are described later.

Thus there is more than one *time*. The time at the macroscopic level is different to that within particules. Macroscopic time depends on the connectedness of matter hence on the number of particules and the nature of their relationship, i.e. the ‘level of assembly’ of matter [15].

This is an unusual approach, since time is conventionally associated with a dimension (spacetime) of the cosmos. Nonetheless it has the potential to better-explain certain features of time.

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Physics and philosophy

We are currently working on the problems that arise at  the intersection of physics and philosophy. Questions we are asking include, ‘What is time?’, ‘Does locality exist?’, ‘Is there free-will?’, ‘Why does QM coherence seem to apply, but not to macroscopic objects?’ Applying the cordus idea gives some interestingly novel perspectives to these problems.

We have addressed the time issue, and published a paper on that topic. Likewise for coherence, and again locality.

Time: http://vixra.org/abs/1201.0060

Coherence: http://vixra.org/abs/1201.0043

Locality: http://vixra.org/abs/1203.0086

The results are  interesting for the new insights they bring. They are also radical, and challenge the orthodox interpretations. That radical attribute can be problematic:  We submitted the time paper to a journal, and received a cutting rejection from the reviewers, so that hasn’t got much further! Well, we keep trying.

Next we are looking at FREE-WILL. We have done some preliminary work, and I think we can add novel insights there too.

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What really is time?

Time is a strange effect in the universe. What exactly is time, and how does it arise?

One way of looking at time is to consider to be the fourth dimension: after the usual three of length, width and depth. Hence we have the concept of spacetime. This is most famously put forward by Einstein in special relativity, though the roots of that predated even him.

At our personal level of perception, time is a physical reality. Everything else around us also seems to exist in the same time-frame as ourselves. For example, we stretch out our arm to shake the hand of someone else, and there really is a someone else there with whom we can interact.

But relativity says that is an illusion, that  time progresses differently in various places. This is called time-dilation, and the effect is real: time passes slower where gravity is stronger or acceleration is greater.

In our recent paper we explore time, using the cordus conjecture. What emerges is a novel and useful way of thinking about time. Cordus suggests that at its most basic level time originates with the frequency cycles of the particules of matter and photons. Thus time is locally generated, and cordus rejects the idea of an absolute clock. The forward arrow is only applied to the ticks of time when irreversibility arises.

The paper explains how the irreversibility arises, in terms of the interaction between two volumes of matter and the statistically impossibility of returning all particules in the system to their original positions and states. Thus decoherence, irreversibility, entropy, cause-and-effect, and the arrow of time all arise at the same discontinuity in physics. The interconnectedness of matter, via its fields, creates a patchwork of temporal cause-and-effect.

Thus human perceptions of time are a construct, with all the potential for illusion that implies, founded on a real physical principle of temporal causality.

http://vixra.org/abs/1201.0060

However that is really only a convenience, becuase the first three are spatial (geometric) dimensions, whereas time does not have the same units.

About time: What is it? New Scientist

About time: Why does time’s arrow fly only one way?  New Scientist

About time: Is time travel possible?  New Scientist

What is Time? Lee Smolin

Limits of Coherence (cordus.wordpress.com)

About time: Why does time’s arrow fly only one way?

 

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