Saturday, October 18, 2008

Scrambled Eggs

A direct link to the above video is at

I suppose you could say this is a continuation of the "Beatles" theme we started with last week's entries "I Know You, You Know Me", and "You are Me and We Are All Together"... since Paul McCartney tells us when he first came up with the melody for his classic hit "Yesterday", the phrase he would sing to himself is "scrambled eggs".

Isn't it funny how we each have our own perspective, and find it so very hard to imagine some other perspective different from our own?

With my project, I've been trying to get people to understand that "time" is just a direction, not a full dimension, and like any other direction there is an opposite direction to "time" that makes just as much sense (north has its south, up has its down, and time has its "anti-time"). This idea is central to the way of visualizing reality that my book and this project is based upon: look up "time reversal symmetry" if you'd like to know more about how this concept of time having two possible directions is an accepted idea from mainstream science. In my blog entry "Time in Either Direction", I talked about physicist Sean M. Carroll's proposition put forth in a recent article in Scientific American, that there could be other universes that operate in the opposite "direction" of time to ours, which means in those universes it would be like eggs could unscramble and go back into their unbroken shell.

For most of us, that thought is unfathomable. What would it be like to live in a universe where every choice, every random occurrence results not in a bush-like branching structure of more possible outcomes, but less?

Even the idea that there are more copies of our universe created through chance and choice takes some getting used to: but the Deutsch team's 2007 proof confirms Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics, which tells us there is a wave function of possible futures at both the quantum and macro level. Quantum mechanics is one of the most proven theories of reality known today, so a proof that shows there is a direct continuum from the quantum to the macro world is an important breakthrough: this is why New Scientist Magazine called the Deutsch team's proof one of the most significant science stories of 2007. But the upshot of the Many Worlds theory is that right now, if I break an egg, there are other versions of our universe where I didn't break the egg, and still others where I broke more than one egg, and others where I did lots of other things involving much more than just eggs. Each of those other universes exist, but at any particular instant I can only observe one of them.

Clearly, in our universe, eggs can be broken, eggs can become scrambled, and once that has happened they can't be unscrambled. There are an increasing number of possible paths forward, just as there are many ways to break an egg, but none of those possible paths will reduce the options back to a universe where a broken egg can once again become unbroken.

Now, let's look at this idea from the opposite perspective.

Believe it or not, we live in a universe right now where each choice taken, and every random outcome at both the quantum and macro level, results in less and less choices. As we flip our minds into this opposite viewpoint, it's quite easy to see: by observing one possible outcome, there are a huge number of other logical outcomes that are no longer available. If I get out of bed at seven this morning, I am no longer going to be able to get to the versions of our universe where I got out of bed at six. If I go out my front door this morning and turn right, I am no longer going to be able to get to the versions of our universe where I went out my front door this morning and turned left. With each branching universe observed, a huge number of other universes became inaccessible, because they are no longer part of the fifth-dimensional probability set for our universe in it current state.

In one of the more poetic paragraphs from my book, I talked about the "angels of possibility that swirl around a toddler's head"). Isn't it clear that this is why so many cultures regard their children as a sacred trust? A child has a huge set of possible paths branching out into the future before them: but with each choice taken and every random action, some of those potential futures are pared away. From this other perspective, then, it's like we're living right now in a world where eggs unscramble themselves and go back into their shells!

Ultimately, what we're talking about here is timelessness. Some of the greatest minds of the twentieth century - Einstein, Wheeler, Feynman, Hawking, etc. - have tried to get us to visualize that the distinction between past, present, and future is really immaterial. Quantum physicists like Seth Lloyd and Anton Zeilinger often use a phrase that this project also embraces: in the biggest picture of all, information equals reality. So, whether we're talking about Everett's Many Worlds, or just our own universe moving through time, we should really be thinking about how the other possible states already exist, and have always existed, within timelessness.

(diagram from "Everything Forever". Gevin Giorbrans's caption for this graphic reads:
"The order of one type is the disorder of the other.")

When we're thinking about timelessness, all branches exist simultaneously. As we move down our line of time, each new instant takes away a set of possible branches that are no longer accessible, and adds another set of branches that are now part of the spacetime tree for our universe. This double-edged sword that we're thinking about here is the magic of the two kinds of order, grouping order and symmetry order pushing against each other to create the "now" that we are currently observing: and Gevin Giorbran's wonderful and uplifting book Everything Forever - Learning to See Timelessness gives us a powerful and intuitive way to imagine that process. Click here if you would like to watch the last interview I did with Gevin before his untimely death.

Here, to close, is one of my personal favorites from the 26 songs I've attached to this project: it's about picturing our universe as just one of many possible universes that exist within timelessness. This video was created by Ryan Hill, and the song is called "The Anthropic Viewpoint".

A direct link to this video is at

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Next: Top Ten Tenth Dimension Blogs, October Report

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