Feb 062013

Question by Big Messy Tranny: Will the uninterrupted scale of time allow you to ship your consciousness to the past?

Best answer:

Answer by oldprof
Sure… they are called memories.

What I suspect you are really looking for is can we travel into the past through some sort of mental process. That’s a no.

There is nothing back there in time. Time exists now and only now as current events unfold.

There are fringe folk who will take exception to this assertion, but they ignore the facts and the laws of physics. The major argument for the inability to travel backward in time is the splattered egg. An egg cannot spontaneously reassemble itself because of a little something called entropy.

Without going into the boring details entropy states that things get more jumbled and chaotic, not less. The 1000 page “War and Peace” novel, for example, can fly into the wind and become totally jumbled. But as there is only one way for low entropy to occur, i.e., all the pages are in order, that same wind is very unlikely to ever blow those thousand pages into order 1-2-3-…-1000.

To travel into the past, if it existed, would mean to reassemble the universe as it was back then. We cannot put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Even were we to travel into the past by mental process alone, for a past to exist to see through our minds, the universe would need to be reassembled as it was for us to see it as it was.

There are other folk who would also claim time travel into the past is possible because none of the physics equations is time forward only. And they are right, there is no preferred direction for time in our physics equations.

That is, for example, we can write S = vt; where S is distance, v is speed, and t is time traveled. There is nothing in this simple equation to disallow us from writing -S = v (-t) indicating time t is traveling backward. But what the heck does – S, minus distance mean? Remember, distance is a scalar; so the negative sign does not mean going in the opposite direction. It means here walking minus 10 yards for example. That is clearly meaningless; yet we can write the equation for that.

My point and counter argument to those who claim time can go backward because the equations allow it is that the equations don’t make the physics. They describe, in shorthand, what the physics is, but they are not perfect in that description. They, for example, allow us to compute negative distance resulting from negative (backward) time. So, just because time is symmetric in our equations doesn’t make time symmetric in our universe.

One final note… there is a symmetric entropy model. Most people discount it, but some people still attempt to use it when discussing time travel into the past. Essentially the symmetric entropy vs. time curve looks like a big U, with the now entropy at the bottom of the U. The past entropy is in the higher left side of the U and the future entropy is in the higher right side.

But let’s think about that whole egg in the now, before it falls off the wall.

According to the symmetric entropy model, that whole egg could very have been splattered at high entropy in the past and reassembled itself to be whole in the now. And, yes, the entropy equations do allow entropy going both ways from the now. But, once again, that’s a failing of the equations, not a description of the physics.

Finally, time does not flow from past to present to future. Time does not flow at all. In fact time is nothing more than unfolding of events all over the universe and beyond. So rather than uninterrupted, these events and their unfolding are discrete. Once an event unfolds, it lies in the past and cannot be recreated perfectly or spontaneously because of that one-way entropy build up to the right, to the future.

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