The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Discussions on classical and modern physics, quantum mechanics, particle physics, thermodynamics, general and special relativity, etc.

Re: Instant Results

Postby rajnz00 on May 23rd, 2020, 12:28 am 

Faradave » May 22nd, 2020, 11:53 pm wrote:Through most of his work in optics light was thought to transmit instantly.


I would be very surprised if Newton thought the speed of light was infinite. His explanation of Snell's law of the diffraction of light was the ratio's of the speed of light through different mediums. And even Galileo knew the speed of light was finite.
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Re: Quotes from Sabine Hossenfelder

Postby rajnz00 on May 23rd, 2020, 2:33 am 

http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2008/0 ... -then.html

Needless to say, my believe that the past, present and future exist in the same sense goes back to time being a coordinate in Minkowski-space and not a parameter. Since some people commented on this in the previous post with mentioning the problem of time in General Relativity, let me emphasize I didn't say it follows that nature can't be a succession of present moments for this reason [2]. I'm just saying that very possibly this is the origin of my personal opinion, and I occasionally wonder how far our education influences the opinions we hold on philosophical questions [3].


(Emphasis mine)

http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2008/0 ... verse.html

In my earlier post Every Now and Then I explained why I think the most plausible explanation for our perception of the now being different from the past and the future is due to the ability of our brains to store memory. I thus believe in the 'block universe' in which there is nothing special about the now, and the past and the future exists in the same way as the present moment.

Nevertheless, I want to point out this isn't more than a believe of mine that I personally find plausible. Especially, I do not think it follows from Special Relativity, as some comments indicated - and as also Petkov argues in his paper.

(Emphasis mine)
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby rajnz00 on May 23rd, 2020, 4:22 pm 

DragonFly » May 23rd, 2020, 2:49 pm wrote:....

Using philosophy to build up to to the mode of time, we first have to note that what basically 'IS' has no option but to be, ever, since there can be no alternative, such as 'non-existence', which cannot even be meant or said, and so I've put it in quotes.

It seems, then, that it can only transmute/transition in such a way that it can always return to any of these states of itself, as kind a topological transformation, which 'turning' we call the laws of nature.

More so, it appears that it can never be still, as being energetic, for its temporary patterns can never last longer than an instant. While we call these 'changes', overall it must ever remain as itself.

So, in summary, that one can deduce, I would tend to banish Beginning, End, Nought, Stillness, Infinity, Apart, Originality, Free Will, and He.


Wouldn't that mean that nothing exists? That everything is an illusion? That would explain everything, but I don't find that a satisfying explanation.
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby rajnz00 on May 23rd, 2020, 6:35 pm 

DragonFly » May 23rd, 2020, 4:32 pm wrote:There is the Eternal Permanent and that's it.

As for Presentism’s problem being so, then

The unborn future is inherent in the past,
It’s ‘will be’ is real, since no unreal contrast class,
As there’s no opposite to existence—no Nil;
It’s not just that future is going to exist.

The present now undergoes an updating,
In a fleeting swoosh that passes it away,
For the ‘now’ fades, consumed, as future becomes,
Yet, what will become past can’t just non-exist.


I don't think the future is inherent in the past, as in that it can be absolutely predicted by the past.

Presentism undergoes a dynamical updating?

Yes I think so. Constant new Events is this dynamical updating, that are created, or allowed to be created by the expanding Universe.

So reality is created anew at every Now?

Yes, I would say so. It’s a moving wave, which is probably the expansion of the Universe, which is expanding all around each one of us, creating space and time as it goes. The reality that we experience with our Nows.

The expansion is maybe the hardware where information is manipulated?

"Yet, what will become past can’t just non-exist."

I think it can, Even chairs and tables become old. They are not the chairs and tables they used to be. Events happen and pass. Memories fade. Unless there is a Universal memory keeping track of every event. And I don't think so. The evidence is that memories don't last forever and they fade with time.
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby rajnz00 on May 23rd, 2020, 6:47 pm 

Re davidm’s posts, I am not claiming his arguments are invalid, or that the Block Universe cannot exist, my argument is limited to showing that presentism, specifically in regard to Einstein’s train thought experiment, is not precluded by that experiment.
And I think I have successfully defended that argument.
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby davidm on May 23rd, 2020, 7:10 pm 

This seems to me to be a significantly weaker claim than what you started with. As for Sabine and the block universe, in the comments section of her block universe thread, someone wrote:

Ok sorry, now i get it, i think. You are saying that you don't have to connect existence with simultaneity within SR, because even if we had this hypothetical existence slicing (not the simultaneity plane) to define existence, then we wouldn't know the difference with the laws of SR.[/quote\

To which she replied:

Yes, you got it :-)


To me, this pretty clearly indicates she is endorsing the above-mentioned surface presentism, but only as a defeater for Petkov’s claim that SR by itself entails a block universe. The idea, again, is that there may well be a privileged absolute reference frame that cannot be detected from within SR (or any other current physics). And … yeah, that could be true, I guess, but again, if one goes this route, it is pure article-of-faith stuff — not science.

The important point to note, however, is that the presentist goes this route because he recognizes that SR does pose a major threat to presentism, and must be dealt with if presentism is to be vindicated. So is that now your stand? It sure didn’t seem to be your stand at the start of this thread.

Remember also that Sabine won’t commit to the existence of an apple, based on observing an apple.
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby rajnz00 on May 23rd, 2020, 8:15 pm 

davidm » May 23rd, 2020, 7:10 pm wrote:Remember also that Sabine won’t commit to the existence of an apple, based on observing an apple.


That sounds almost like a presentist, who would say that the apple of a second ago is not the apple of now.

That time passes could be an illusion. That the past ceases to exist could be an illusion.

Even that the future exists could be possible, though I find that much harder to believe, as 1. There is no accompanying illusion to sustain that and 2. There is zero evidence that the future exists, unlike the past, which has evidence that it, at least, at one time existed.

Or, that there is permanence could be an illusion. We do have the illusion of permanence. A caterpillar can change almost in front of our eyes, but my car looks pretty much the same today as yesterday when I drove in it. But just like the river of Heraclitus, where we never step into the same river twice, that is an illusion. It does change slowly, imperceptibly, from event to event.

The difference between our Nows and those of a stone is that we have the added facility of recording our Nows with our consciousness, during our lifetimes. It’s almost like that provides crosschecks of events in spacetime.

Therefore, I think that living is a significant event in time. There is a profound difference between being alive and being dead.

Similarly that apple, that we buy from the market, hold in our hand and even bite into, changes imperceptibly from moment to moment. Only being in our Here/Now it’s existence is intersecting with our existence so we can be sure it exists along with us, in our moments.

To me for the past to exist, we would have to have more than Universal time, but a universal memory. If I hit a stone with a hammer n times and walk away, those events would have to be recorded and the records kept permanently

Just my thoughts on the fly.
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby DragonFly on May 23rd, 2020, 8:56 pm 



I don't think the future is inherent in the past, as in that it can be absolutely predicted by the past.

As a side note for you all: I just discovered a great new show, called DEVS, that explores this.


Presentism undergoes a dynamical updating?

Yes I think so. Constant new Events is this dynamical updating, that are created, or allowed to be created by the expanding Universe.

So reality is created anew at every Now?

Yes, I would say so. It’s a moving wave, which is probably the expansion of the Universe, which is expanding all around each one of us, creating space and time as it goes. The reality that we experience with our Nows.

The expansion is maybe the hardware where information is manipulated?


Dark energy’s the fuel that keeps on giving.


"Yet, what will become past can’t just non-exist."

I think it can, Even chairs and tables become old. They are not the chairs and tables they used to be. Events happen and pass. Memories fade. Unless there is a Universal memory keeping track of every event. And I don't think so. The evidence is that memories don't last forever and they fade with time.


That all may return is akin to all History.

The sun is not the same sun as it was a trillionth of a second ago, although to us the semblance of the ‘sun’ remains.

There are, strictly speaking, no objects that are identical with themselves over time, and so perhaps the temporal sequence probably remains open.

Nature would then then no longer seen as clockwork, but only as a ‘possibility gestalt’, the whole world occurring anew each moment; however, the deeper reality from which the world arises, in each case, acts as a unity in the sense of an indivisible ‘potentiality’, which can perhaps realize itself in many possible ways, it not being a strict sum of the partial states.

It appears to us, though, that the world consists of parts that have continued on from “a moment ago”, and thus still retain their identity in time; yet, matter likely only appears secondarily as a congealed potentiality, a congealed gestalt, as it were.
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby rajnz00 on May 24th, 2020, 12:57 am 

DragonFly » May 23rd, 2020, 8:56 pm wrote:

I don't think the future is inherent in the past, as in that it can be absolutely predicted by the past.

As a side note for you all: I just discovered a great new show, called DEVS, that explores this.

I’ll try and watch DEVS sometime

Random thoughts
The Block Universe makes no sense. My end and yours already exist? Not only that but that of the whole Universe?

After the Big Bang, space and time was created. This creating is still going on and may well never end, so how can we know the end?

Creation itself means something new. Space that didn't exist before, time that didn't exist before. How can it be known what's in the new creation(s)?

In fact we don’t even know the beginning. Everything breaks down an infinitesimal second before the beginning.

We don’t know the beginning and we don’t know the end, so how can we have a Block Universe?

Another time, another place, my friend. I think you are in a more idyllic island than I am.
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby davidm on May 24th, 2020, 7:06 pm 

The evidence for a block universe, of course, is the special theory of relativity, such evidence having been spelled out in this thread, and in the many papers I have linked. This is why we see presentists turning cartwheels trying to reformulate a coherent presentism (point presentism, cone presentism, surface presentism) because they understand the challenge that SR poses to presentism.

Presentism fares even worse under general relativity. Closed time-like curves have been mooted that would be spacetime paths to the past. The physicist Paul Davies wrote a book, How to Build a Time Machine, in which he shows that in principle (though perhaps this will always remain beyond our technology) one might connect two disparate regions of spacetime with a wormhole, or even find an existing wormhole that does this, and use it to travel to the past. Of course, these scenarios require that the past exists in order to travel to it, and that the future exists in order to have a spacetime region to travel to the past from. General relativity give us the past, present and future on the required equal ontological footing. Of course, GR is in conflict with QM and may turn out to be incomplete.
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby rajnz00 on May 25th, 2020, 2:58 am 

davidm » May 24th, 2020, 7:06 pm wrote:The evidence for a block universe, of course, is the special theory of relativity,

By “evidence” you mean assertion. “The evidence for a block universe, of course, is the special theory of relativity” is an assertion, if I ever saw one.

I do not accept that either the past exists or the future.

Your response:
Eternalism vs. Presentism
Your position is called presentism — the idea that only the present exists. The past used to exist, but no longer does. The future will exist, but does not yet.

The competing position is eternalism — that the past, present and future all exist; they share equal ontological footing. Socrates exists; he is just temporally distant from me — (in an “earlier than” state). People in the far future exist; they are also just temporally distant from me, in a “later than” state. These sorts of temporal relations are called McTaggert’s B-series of time.


So you have defined Presentism above, (as well as eternalism), a definition I agree with. I shall call this definition 1.

This is what you need to be defending, if you are a presentist. The presentist claims that there are distant present events, everywhere in the universe, that occur simultaneously with the finger snap. This is presentism’s core foundational claim, the exact definition or [of] presentism.


I shall call this definition 2.

Now anyone can see that definition 2 is not the same as definition 1.

Definition 2 is defined as the very thing that SR says doesn’t happen. Hence presentism is refuted. Very nice.

If I substitute eternalism for presentism in definition 2, I would get “The eternalist claims that there are distant present events, everywhere in the universe, that occur simultaneously with the finger snap. This is eternalism’s core foundational claim, the exact definition or [of] eternalism.”

Now please tell us how eternalism is compatible with SR? I have perfectly crafted the definition of eternalism to be antagonistic to SR.

But how does davidm arrive at definition 2 from definition 1?

There is obviously an argument from definition 1 to definition 2. An argument is not evidence. The argument has to be examined.

Definition 2 is claimed to be derived from definition 1, through an argument.

I have made comments on both Petkov’s argument (and your argument about Einstein’s train experiment), as to why, on first principles, they are wrong.

Sabine Hossenfelder also didn’t think too highly of Petkov's argument.

Her definition of presentism:
Presentism means there is a notion of 'now' and it is only the 'now' that exists.
Short and sweet and the same as mine.

Her statements which I have quoted are pretty clear and unequivocal, but you have to reiterpret her to suit your narrative and get her to say what she is not saying.
PS
SR does not rule out a privileged, absolute at-rest frame — it only rules out that this frame can ever be found within SR itself.

Where did you get that from? The first postulate rests on the very denial of what you are claiming. Is this your own postulate?

I have used Einstein's thought experiment to give my argument, with the help of phyti and his spacetime diagram and argument, why presentism is perfectly compatible with SR. ( http://www.sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=35865&p=350840&hilit=awareness#p350840 ).

It directly contradicts the reasoning in your argument. It is there for you to examine and refute. The argument is simple and short. No Jargon, refernces or labels.

Neither you nor anyone else has addressed it. Or pointed out any fallacies in the reasoning.

You can do so anytime you want.
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby DragonFly on May 26th, 2020, 1:12 pm 

Parmenides’ philosophic statement,
That ‘Nothing’ can’t be, nor even be meant,
Shows that what ‘IS’ has to be so, ever,
There being no alternative fundament.
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby hyksos on May 26th, 2020, 4:44 pm 

It directly contradicts the reasoning in your argument. It is there for you to examine and refute. The argument is simple and short. No Jargon, refernces or labels.

Neither you nor anyone else has addressed it. Or pointed out any fallacies in the reasoning.

You can do so anytime you want.

Okay buddy, I will address it.

In S-R you can always select your coordinates, and place your <0,0,0,0> point, "origin", anywhere in spacetime you like, and even decide on the choice of the direction of the axes, tilt them and rotate them however you want.

Once you have established an "origin" of your spacetime axis system you can take any vanishingly small topological region around it... a tiny 4D ball with "vanishingly small" radius r. Within your 4D microball surrounding your origin, you can demonstrate both the mathematical and physical reality of presentism, using arguments about "The time in which the signal of Event 1 reached her retina" or whatever it is that you were arguing in bold text.

This argument is correct and fully true. So at this point in my reply your argument has been fully addressed. Now we will move on.

Our situation is such that different observers -- each with their own independent "local ball of radius r" -- will observe the same events taking place at different times, relative to their own local "presentist clock" inside their local ball. We don't want a theory of physics that is merely used to describe what any individual observer will see from his local ball --- that theory would be a mish-mash of independent spacetime pockets with no correlation. Questions about which observer is seeing the True Reality and which observer is seeing the Illusory Reality would never be answered. Is Amy's set of observations what really happened , or was Mary's set of observations what really happened? Curious young students would be ordered to "shut up" if they ask that question.

That's not very satisfying.

What we want is a physical theory of reality. There are independent observers with different flows of time each in their own little microball. In what way do these independent observers relate to each other? Is there a relationship, at all? At base , we are asking that since we know relativity-of-simultaneity actually is physically real -- then what really happened? The Block Universe is a question about the nature of reality, not a question about independent measurements of Event 2 made by Amy's retina.

There are a bunch of retinas. In some way, every atom is a "retina". Keep going with where this logic leads. Take the logic to its apotheosis. How do all these retinas that comprise the universe correlate?
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby davidm on May 26th, 2020, 6:10 pm 

If I substitute eternalism for presentism in definition 2, I would get “The eternalist claims that there are distant present events, everywhere in the universe, that occur simultaneously with the finger snap. This is eternalism’s core foundational claim, the exact definition or [of] eternalism.”

Now please tell us how eternalism is compatible with SR? I have perfectly crafted the definition of eternalism to be antagonistic to SR.


But eternalism does not claim this. Presentism claims it. The eternalist claims, um, just the opposite.

There is not need to respond to the rest until you can figure out the simplest things being discussed.
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby phyti on May 28th, 2020, 12:26 pm 

hykos;

1. What we want is a physical theory of reality. There are independent observers with different flows of time each in their own little microball.
2. In what way do these independent observers relate to each other? Is there a relationship, at all?
3. At base , we are asking that since we know relativity-of-simultaneity actually is physically real -- then what really happened?
4. The Block Universe is a question about the nature of reality, not a question about independent measurements of Event 2 made by Amy's retina.


1. SR includes perception, 'reality confined to the mind'.
2. Beyond the coordinate transformations, they don't relate.
3. It is a simulated simultaneity, established by a specific method. What happened depends on the observer perception.
4. The observer conclusions/perception depend on their measurements, sensory input, and any necessary analysis. The mental processes are reality, governed by the same laws of physics.
----------------------------------
Each observer occupies their own perception space.
SR theory works without an '_ism'
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby rajnz00 on May 29th, 2020, 1:35 am 

davidm » May 26th, 2020, 6:10 pm wrote:But eternalism does not claim this. Presentism claims it. The eternalist claims, um, just the opposite.

There is not need to respond to the rest until you can figure out the simplest things being discussed.


But you haven’t figured out the simple thing I’ve said in my post, which is not that eternalism claims this, but to show how you have crafted your definition of presentism to be perfectly antagonistic to SR.

When I said that you must have derived definition 2 from 1, I was being very charitable, because I couldn’t believe that you could have arrived at definition 2 without some sort of argument or derivation.

But no, there is none. It’s just an assertion, insertion, with no argument or derivation. It has been plonked on apropos nothing, out of the blue, without explanation and you want me to accept it and defend it.

No thank you.

what I have said:

Presentism merely means that the present for each object, exists for a short while, and then disappears into the past. They don't have to agree on what happens now except for themselves.
And
What I am defending is that the present only exists, briefly, fleetingly, but finitely, for you and me (in other words no need for distant events to be simultaneous with us), not the past, nor the future. Call it, label it, what you will.
And – “This Now is unique for every object. My Now is not your Now.” I originally said that in bold.

Maybe some people claim that there are distant present events, everywhere in the universe, that occur simultaneously with the finger snap, who also believe that the present only exists and not the pasty or future. So what?

I am defending that the present only exists, not any other beliefs of anyone believes that.

PS I know where you got that definition from. Petkov’s paper, which I skimmed through. No wonder Sabine Hossenfelder chucked it into the rubbish bin.

Sabine Hossenfelder's definition: “Presentism means there is a notion of 'now' and it is only the “now” that exists.” - Short and sweet.

Hence her conclusion that nature can be a succession of present moments.

I forgot that I had written to Carlo Rovelli in late 2018. He very kindly replied to me and supplied me with a copy of a paper of his. I will share it on here. It has some parts very relevant to our discussion.
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby rajnz00 on May 29th, 2020, 2:13 am 

hyksos » May 26th, 2020, 4:44 pm wrote:...This argument is correct and fully true. So at this point in my reply your argument has been fully addressed.


Aren’t you the person who came storming in to announce that the equations of SR carried the arrow of time?

And now you have burst in which your cloud of microballs claiming what?

Fully addressed? Which microball are you in? All you have done is created a lot of smoke to obscure a simple argument and addressed precisely nothing.

The experiment is elegant and simple. We have already selected our coordinates, Amy, Mary, the ends of the train, the flashes of light and the receipt of these on Amy’s and Mary’s retinas. These are the events defined by Einsterin’s experiment. An event is neatly defined in SR.

You can keep your microballs to yourself. Microballs might make you cross-eyed. I suggest you step back to get a clearer view.

Events 1 and 2 are on the ends of the train. Events 5, 4, and 3 are at where Amy and Mary are.

You made something simple unnecessarily complicated. Like the Emperor who wore no clothes, you are prancing about in your transparent bubbles stark naked. I bet 99% of the people reading your post don't know what on earth you are talking about. They don't see anything but are reluctant to speak.

Our situation is such that different observers -- each with their own independent "local ball of radius r" -- will observe the same events taking place at different times, relative to their own local "presentist clock" inside their local ball.

Why not say observers (who observe) and leave it at that? Why do you have to add “each with their own independent "local ball of radius r"”, unless you think this makes you sound more profound?

We don't want a theory of physics that is merely used to describe what any individual observer will see from his local ball --- that theory would be a mish-mash of independent spacetime pockets with no correlation.

There is a correlation, within certain limits, much larger than your microscopic “local balls”. The limits dictated by the speed of light, in which effects follow cause.

Questions about which observer is seeing the True Reality and which observer is seeing the Illusory Reality would never be answered. Is Amy's set of observations what really happened , or was Mary's set of observations what really happened?

Where does “reality” come into it? True or otherwise.

They both really, happened!

They were both observations of events, by different observers, in different frames in uniform motion with each other, events that happened spatially removed from either observer. That’s the whole message of SR.

Why can't you understand that, instead of curling into your ridiculous microballs.

What we want is a physical theory of reality. ... Take the logic to its apotheosis. How do all these retinas that comprise the universe correlate?


Your logic is faulty to the point of ludicrousness. Your “physical theory of reality” takes you far away from the physical reality of the real world, into an illusory, intangible, fantasy world where the past and future exist, all because of your microballs. Away from science into the world of Harry potter.

You have taken the basic, fundamental message of SR, that simultaneity is meaningless among distant objects and turned it upside down, by not only assigning meaning to simultaneity, but deriving a fictitious universe from your false premises.

You have substituted a universal Existence for a universal Now, which is far more ridiculous.
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Carlo Rovelli on The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby rajnz00 on May 29th, 2020, 5:58 am 

The absence of a preferred objective present does not imply that temporality and becoming are illusions. Events happen, and this we call `becoming', but their temporal relations form a structure richer than we previously thought. We have to adapt our notion of becoming to this discovery, not discard it.
There are temporal relations, but these are local and not global; more precisely, there is a temporal ordering but it is a partial ordering, and not a complete one. The universe is an ensemble of processes that happen, and these are not organised in a unique global order.
In the classical theory, they are organised in a nontrivial geometry. In the quantum theory, in possibly more complex patterns.
The expression “real now here" can still be used to denote an ensemble of events that sit on the portion of a common simultaneity surface for a group of observers in slow relative motion; the region it pertains to must be small enough for the effects of the finite speed of light to be smaller than the available time resolution.
When these conditions are not met, the expression “real now" simply makes no sense.
Therefore the discovery of relativity does not imply that becoming or temporality are meaningless or illusory: it implies that they behave in a more subtle manner than in our pre-relativistic intuition. The best language for describing the universe remains a language of happening and becoming, not a language of being. Even more so when we fold quantum theory in.
LQG describes reality in terms of processes. The amplitudes of the theory determine probabilities for processes to happen. This is a language of becoming, not being. In a process, variables change value. The quantum states of the theory code the possible set of values that are transformed into each other in processes.
In simple words, the now is replaced by here and now, not by a frozen eternity.


Space and Time in Loop Quantum Gravity
Carlo Rovelli
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Re: The Block Universe and The Flow of Time

Postby TheVat on May 29th, 2020, 6:43 pm 

Off-topic material moved to separate thread in Arts/poetry forum. Posts here will stick with the guidelines for science forums. Also, posts with snarky or mocking attitude directed at other members may be removed or edited. As always, try to make the humble assumption that content of a post you didn't understand may be owing to gaps in your own knowledge or logic, and not necessarily the fault of the poster. Good luck.
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