I’m taking a class that makes me think about existence, life, God, and the posibility of all things physical and abstract. Also, I’m reading a book called Physics of the Impossible by Dr. Michio Kaku. When I say “read” I mean I’m crawling through the book at a snail’s pace, because I only read it while I’m sitting and waiting for class to start. That could be anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. My first thought is from Dr. Kaku’s book…
“How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is and the future is not yet? As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time, but eternity.” -St. Augustine
According to the logic of St. Augustine we can see that time is not possible, since the past is gone and the future doesn’t exist, and the present exists only for an instant.
So what is time? Using the Dictionaire application on my iPod, I counted 15 different definitions of the word “time.” Time must just be a means of measuring the events that have disolved into oblivion. In other words, events that have become the past. In all truth time, in the terms of 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock is unnecessary except as a means of organization. This could be why explaining time to children might difficult because young children do not develop permanence (according to Piaget’s studies on cognitive devlopment) anywhere between 2 and 7 years of age, with 7 being the extreme. Permanence is the ability to know that an object or event still exists even though it is not in the direct line of sight or perception.
For example: If you were to hide a toy behind your back and the child has not develpoed permanence yet, then the child might cry because it believes that the bear is simply gone forever, because it is not seen, nor percieved.
This brings us to the thought that time is nothing more than a method of organization or measurement rather than an object that we can use or even adjust (in terms of time travel). The only spot in which, logically, time exists is now. Not 5 minutes from now because it doesn’t exist yet, and not 5 minutes ago because it no longer exists, but now.
Which leads to the question of destiny. How can one have a destiny if the future does not exist? Clearly, destiny is a fallacy in which to take the blame off of the individual to lessen the blow of failure, or make one feel more important in terms of success. It can also lessen the effect of success by saying, “It was their destiny to become the most powerful leader in the world,” rather than give credit to their hard work. The fact of the matter is, that I make my own “destiny.” the choices I have made in the past (which, of course, no longer exists) have dictated where I am presently, and the choices I am making at this very instant are dictating what my future will become. There are too many paths to choose, logically, to say that there is one predetermined spot that one individual is supposed to end up at.
This, in a round about way, brings me to the last conundrum for today, and it has to do with Quantum Theory.
Quantum Theory is described as the most successful theories ever devloped by the human mind, but it is built on probablilities rather than definate answers. The theory is, more or less, a way of predicting events rather than giving a definate outcome. (Mind you, it is extremely accurate to within 1 part in 10 billion.) But there is a possibility that it could give a false prediction at any point. Which brings up Schrodinger’s Cat Paradox.
The cat paradox goes like this:
You put a cat in a sealed box.
Inside that box you also have a gun pointed at the cat’s head.
The trigger to the gun is attached to a Geiger counter that sits next to a piece of Uranium.
Normally, the Geiger counter is activated by the decaying Uranium it activates the trigger, ultimately, killing the cat.
Sounds simple, right? Not quite… The Uranium can either decay or not, and the cat is either dead or alive, but there’s more to it than the apparent common sense involved. If we were to use Quantum Theory to predict the results, we would have to add the 2 possibilities (dead or alive), and add the wave function of a decayed Uranium atom with the wave function of an intact Uranium atom. This shows that, in order to describe the cat, because of the operation above, the cat is not dead or alive. It is the sum of a dead cat and a live cat. Even though it’s highly unlikley, there is that possibility.