Friday, June 13, 2008

Tenth Dimension Polls Archive 14

Poll Question 14: "Every direction has its opposite: up/down, east/west. For us, 'time' is a direction in the 4th spatial dimension: but even though the opposite direction exists our bodies never travel that way because they're made from thermodynamic chemical processes. (poll ended May 18 2008)

78% agreed, while the rest disagreed.

Like Kaluza's 1919 proof that our physical reality is defined at the fifth dimension, the concept of time-reversal symmetry is well-known in the scientific community but not something generally known to the public. The laws of physics make just as much sense if time travels in the opposite direction, so why don't we ever see "time's arrow" traveling from the target back to the archer's bow?

I suggest that our experience of time traveling only in one direction is tied to our role as conscious observers living in bodies made out of thermodynamic processes, and 78% of the visitors to this site were willing to agree with that statement (this also means, presumably, that they were willing to accept that "time" is a direction in the fourth spatial dimension, which is already a somewhat contentious viewpoint according to those who believe time should always be discussed separately from the other spatial dimensions). In my book, as a mental exercise I work through some scenarios of what might have happened if other forms of life were defined by the time-reversal symmetry versions of reality that science tells us are just as real as our own. What would it be like to meet a "reverse-time alien" who was riding time's arrow in the reverse direction, because that alien was constructed from time-reversal symmetry chemical processes?

Like many of the ideas I explore in this project, "time as a part of the observer effect" relates to concepts from quantum physicist John Wheeler, and from Digital Physics. This also relates to one of our most basic questions: what is life? According to this recent blog entry by Hazel Muir over at the New Scientist Blogs, there are 280 accepted definitions of life in the scientific literature. The question of "what is life" takes on greater significance as we discover more about our own solar system, and about the other planetary systems of our universe: any attempts to search for "life" should not assume that all life uses the same chemical processes or matter/energy distributions as life on Earth.

My simple definition of life is "any process that is interested in what happens next". By the time we are thinking of an omniverse of possible expressions of matter, energy, and other patterns of information, we can think of a great many other ways that life might be able to express itself that have nothing to do with genes, and that might even be able to transcend the narrow boundaries of a three-dimensional space being observed one planck length after another to create the arrow of time.

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Other entries that relate to these discussions:
Infinity and the Boltzmann Brains
Time is a Direction
How to Make a Universe
Hypercubes and Plato's Cave
You Can't Get There from Here

Click here for the blog discussing polls 1 through 10.
Click here for the blog discussing polls 11 through 15.
Next - Poll 15: A line passing through two points extends to infinity in either direction. Can we call those two directions positive infinity and negative infinity?

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