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The Far Horizons of Time. Time and Mind in the Universe
Рансфорд К. (Ransford C.) The Far Horizons of Time. Time and Mind in the Universe // Warsaw/Berlin: De Gruyter Open Ltd, 2014, 128 p. ISBN: 978-3-11-044028-7

Категории: Авторский указатель
The Far Horizons of Time. Time and Mind in the Universe

The Far Horizons of Time. Time and Mind in the Universe
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What is Time? Assuming no prior specialized knowledge by the reader, the book raises specific, hitherto overlooked questions about how time works, such as how and why anyone can be made to be, at the very same instant, simultaneous with events that are actually days apart. It examines abiding issues in the physics of time or at its periphery which still elude a full explanation ― such as delayed choice experiments, the brain's perception of time during saccadic masking, and more ― and suggests that these phenomena can only exist because they ultimately obey applicable mathematics, thereby agreeing with a modern view that the universe and everything within it, including the mind, are ultimately mathematical structures. It delves into how a number of conundrums, such as the weak Anthropic Principle, could be resolved, and how such resolutions could be tested experimentally. All its various threads converge towards a same new vision of the ultimate essence of time, seen as a side effect from a deeper reality.

Keywords: Popular science, time, mystery of time, mathematical universe, space-time, quantum, delayed choice, Bell's inequality, wave function, the brain's perception of time, saccades, anthropic principle


Acknowledgements & Thanks VI

Introduction VIII

Prologue: Walk Towards A Distant Star X

1 Time - Part 1 1

2 When is Now? 2

3 The Time Explorer’s Toolkit 4

4 Infinity & Infinities 15

5 Our Quantized Reality: Life in the Strobe Lights 20

6 A Surprisingly Puzzling Reality 24

7 Wave Functions: Mathematics Is Reality 26

8 The Most Complex Object in the Known Universe 32

9 Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (aka Indeterminacy) 36

10 Time - Part 2: the Guises of Time 38

10.1 Time as an Emergent Property? 38

10.2 Time as a Dimension? 44

11 Gödel Universes? 51

12 Big Bangs 57

13 Bubbles of Time 62

14 Multiverse Scenarios 67

15 In Search of OM 73

End Notes 83

Further Reading 107

Index 111


This book is about Time. The mystery of what time actually is leads perfectly sane people to insist that time cannot possibly exist and is nothing but an abiding illusion. Others offer starkly contradictory theories as to what time actually is.

Trying to understand time, we must soon drill down ever deeper into the nature of reality itself, for time simply cannot be apprehended on its own. To understand time, it turns out that we have to understand wider reality, of which time is but one component. This quest ultimately leads to unexpected conclusions, which will be explored in this book. During this exploration, further questions will inevitably arise. Understanding the nature of time demands that we first apprehend the context in which it plays out – that we delve into the very weft and fabric of reality itself. We will on occasion find that some of the questions we ask have a way of shifting and reappearing elsewhere rather than simply resolving themselves.

A number of popular science books as well as more academic treatises have addressed the subject of time before – by authors such as Stephen Hawking, Dieter Zeh, Paul Davies, John Gribbin, Igor Novikov, Huw Price, Roger Highfield, Max Tegmark, Martin Bojowald, Adam Frank, Sean Carroll, Roger Penrose, and Lee Smolin, amongst many others. This book, while building on well-established findings, investigates areas of enquiry that have somehow been overlooked so far. By doing so we are able to present a new handle on time and how it may relate to the most complex structure in the universe, the human brain, and thenceforth to every single one of us.

The first six Chapters lay the necessary groundwork which will then enable the reader to seamlessly follow new ideas developed from Chapter 7. Chapters 10 through 12 build up the background to the main argument, which is explored in Chapter 13. The rest of the book deals with examining the main argument and where it leads.

Extensive use of end notes is made in this book and decision as to whether a particular passage belonged in the separate end notes rather than the main text was not entirely straightforward. Thereby three criteria have been used in determining where it should belong:

First, would the passage disrupt the smooth flow of the narrative or even lead to a wandering off-tangent. If so, the passage has been moved to notes.

Second, whenever a context or a proof or justification for a main text assertion is called for, but presenting the proof in the body of the text would disrupt its narrative, because the point of the narrative is not the proof of the assertion but rather the consequences that flow from it.

Third, whenever a particular passage entails further context or ramifications and/or consequences which are worth noting, but which would exceed the narrower scope, or point made in the main text. In such case this further context is mentioned as a note.

Within the main text some passages are indented. These passages delve somewhat deeper into the background of an argument being currently made, but may be safely skipped without impairing the ability to follow the argument.

Acknowledgements & Thanks

First and foremost, I am indebted to Dr. Paulina Lesna-Szreter at de Gruyter Open who helped make a book out of a rather formless original manuscript, and whose advice was precious at every step of the way. I am also deeply indebted to all the teachers who ignited and then fed a thirst for always understanding “what lies beneath”, why is reality that way and not some other way. They are far too numerous to mention, and some have by now left us, but let me at least mention here Jean-François Guyot and Jean Besson in Grenoble, Klaus Tödheide in Karlsruhe, and Charles Joachain in Brussels.

There are also those who have written remarkable contributions in the form of books, articles or treatises and who, by doing so, have extended their influence well beyond their narrow confines of time and space. Some have been kind enough to occasionally correspond with me by email. For their kindness and discussions I am forever indebted to, among others, John D. Barrow, the late Evan Harris Walker, Dieter Zeh. Among those I did not correspond with but whose books and writings inspired me may I cite Stephen Hawking, Charles Joachain, Paul Davies, John Gribbin, Bernard d’Espagnat, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, all those whose names are cited in the index, and many others.

My deep gratefulness extends to my language editor, Andrew Laister, my esteemed friendsandcolleagues, Jean François Lacoste-Bourgeacq, Jean Bornarel, Bodil Jönsson, France Citrini, Andrew Greentree, Ulrich Mutze, Joachim Kalden, Claus Janew, Issam Sinjab, David Johnson, Daniel Peterson, Ben Thomas, Luciano Cassata, Jacques de Schryver, Charles Hirlimann, Johannes Grünwald, Andrzej Szymanski, Frank Volke, Muhammad Farooq, Erkki Brändas, Jean Claude Dutailly, Abedallah Rababah, Sergio Wechsler, Fethi Belgacem, Costas Drossos, H.E. Lehtihet, Hemanta Baruah, Mohammad Ayaz Ahmad, Vitaly Voloshin, Michael Brückner, Anatolij Prykarpatski, Yuri Gornostyrev, Octav Olteanu, Dmitry Kazansky, Abderrahmane Kadri, Nageswara Posinasetti, and countless others far too numerous to mention, some of whom I may only have interacted with electronically, but who have all proved stimulating, challenging, and enlightening. Of course, the ideas presented herein are mine, and discussion partners may have held different views.

Second- thereinliesatale. Oneofmyearliestmemoriesisaclassatprimaryschool- it had to be primary one , because that’s when they teach about time and clocks. The teacher, a kind old man - although any man at any age must have looked positively ancient to us youngsters - was telling us about the time and its subdivisions, an hour, a minute, a second, and how they were clearly marked on the faces of our then exclusively analog watches.

He then volunteered a pretty odd comment which instantly indelibly etched itself on my young impressionable mind.

I still see him, wistfully peering at the bleak outside weather lashing the classroom’s window panes with rain, when he mused half aloud, probably more to himself than to us: “ Some people say that there exists a sixtieth of a second too, but that’s just much too small - it does not exist .”

This odd pronouncement puzzled me endlessly, and the manifold questions arising from trying to make sense of it just wouldn’t leave me alone. We were also then learning about distance and I recall thinking that if I ran as fast as I could across the schoolyard, then a sixtieth of a second or perhaps even less would be the time it would take to maybe move by an inch or less. I also remember thinking that if we kept adding up enough however small fractions of an inch, then we would inescapably end up with the yard’s full measure - and then some, and that in order to run the length of the yard I had to run those small distances first, in whatever time it took to do so - much certainly less than a sixtieth of a second each. The more I thought about it, the less this pronouncement seemed to make any sense at all.

Then time passed and I learnt about calculus - i.e., adding an infinitely large number of infinitely small things - and then even about languages: whereas there is no formal word in English for a sixtieth of a second exactly - a number of words, such as a jiffy, have been proposed but somehow never jelled - a number of other languages, such as both German and French, do have a definite word for it. Thus, my old teacher’s pronouncement appeared doubly wrong - a sixtieth of a second did exist after all, it wasn’t too tiny, and adding up very many vanishingly small things did yield up measurable, ordinary, tangible outcomes.

And yet - because time is almost certainly discontinuous in our universe, the old teacher’s pronouncement was, in its essence, not so wide off the mark - albeit wrong by many orders of magnitude as to the actual measurement value of a time quantum. My kind old teacher, who set me wondering about time early on and whose name I now cannot ever hope to recall, rates a special acknowledgement here.


Last but not least ... the readers, who by reading science books demonstrate that the spirit of enquiry is alive and well, and that a society that keeps asking questions and investigating themes well beyond immediately utilitarian ones is a society that enhances human experience, as such eminently worth living in.


"Time is the river in which runs our life. We are all quite familiar with time. But time is a mystery for physics. Chris Ransford, in his book “The Far Horizons of Time“, invites us to an almost poetic hike through the most advanced concepts of relativity and quantum mechanics. This trek makes us visit some really strange, sometimes even weird parts of our world; Alice’s promenade in the Wonderland appears as quite boring once the reading of the book is finished. In the world of relativity time contracts or expands depending on the direction one is walking toward; even if the universe were to be infinite you can only know about a finite sphere; strange Black Holes do cannibalize all matter and light passing by, but they could as well be the cradle for new universes. While relativity applies to astronomic objects, quantum mechanics helps us apprehend objects with the size of an atom. This world is mostly made out of vacuum in which photons can spontaneously appear from nowhere as long as they live only very short periods of time. Particles can cross energy barriers, like a ghost can cross a wall. More, two photons can share a same wave function: if one acts on one of these, then the properties of the other one are instantaneously modified in a fully predictable way. This happens even if the photons are appart at such a large distance one from the other that communication at the speed of light between them is impossible for explaining the phenomenon. Physics cannot escape metaphysics. It uses principles that are not laws and cannot be demonstrated: “energy is a conservative quantity“ or “the action is minimal during dynamical evolutions“, for example. The Occam’s razor principle is even fuzzier, stating that the best explanation of any physical effect is the one that needs the minimum number of hypotheses.Chris Ransford smoothly navigates over the ocean of the strange effects physics is made of, avoiding the pitfalls dug by the principles and leading us along multiple universes that appear everywhere from nowhere and no when. At the end of the journey we face an animist definition of time that directly connects us to the Paleolithic era. Fascinating."

Dr. Charles Hirlimann, Institut de Physique et Chimie des Matériaux de Strasbourg, France


"The book ‘The Far Horizons of Time’ by Chris Ransford covers the paradoxes of time. These paradoxes relate to the human understanding of the Universe, seen as a whole in its development in which mankind plays its own part, however small. To that end, the author uses aspects of quantum science as may apply to both time and life itself. Considering that after Einstein’s theory of relativity time is no longer seen as a separate dimension, but as closely intertwined with space, the distinctiveness of ‘The Far Horizons of Time’ lies in how it looks neutrally at all possible renditions of what time is, from more ancient ideas to the multiverse. The latter, seen from the Tryon scenario, makes a difference between time and space: while space can bend, can duplicate into another baby-universe, can create small amounts of a force called torsion (67) – in one word, space can be distorted – time is still something different, something parallel with space. The apparent arrow of time shows time as invariant, going in one direction only, without fluctuations, from past to the future, but the human mind (the ‘ultimate quantum machine’) is the only real factor that can distort time and create ‘bubbles of time’ (81)."

Cosmin Tudor CIOCAN, PhD, Department of Theology, Ovidius University of Constanta, Constanţa, Romania


"Analyzing time has been a recurrent topic of research in physics. This book discusses many oddities and subtleties of time from the point of view of modern theoretical physics, including relativity and quantum physics. Furthermore, it includes an interesting discussion of the role of mathematics according to the Comtean hierarchy and the role of infinity in the ideas related to time. In spite of its brevity, the book is rather dense and goes deep into many concepts, which are explained in a rather clear manner without loss of rigor. The author also makes some explorations on quantum effects of the mind, though he also considers very modern theories such as time in Gödel universes, the possible existence of other instances of a big bang and multiple parallel universes to finalize with a discussion of emergent phenomena and the mind. The reader of this book will enrich himself with a very broad and critical overview of many modern ideas and developments in theoretical physics. A large collection of end notes clarifying many concepts discussed in the book and a rich list of related books for further reading is included at the end, so that the interested reader may explore this field of physics research."

Miguel A.F. Sanjuán, Department of Physics, King Juan Carlos University, Madrid, Spain


"This pretty book attempts to relate two of the greatest mysteries of Science,the nature of time and the human brain. Although these intriguing argumentshave been analyzed by various authors and scientists, I find the approach ofthis book original. In addition, the author discusses some fields of enquirythat can have been overlooked by previous authors. In order to achieve hisambitious result, the author reviews and discusses at popularizing level various interesting issues of maths, physics and cosmology, like infinity & infinities, quantum mechanics, wave functions, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, Gödel universes, big bang, bubbles of time, black holes, etc. In general, this book is a very interesting and enjoyable reading for both of experts and common readers."

Christian Corda, Dipartimento di Fisica, Scuola Superiore di Studi Universitari e Ricerca, "Santa Rita", San Pietro Infine (CE), Italy