Time: tree or circular?

Forums Physics and Philosophy Time: tree or circular?

This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Ashish December 5, 2018 at 12:14 pm.

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  • #6710
    Paul
    Participant

    If I remember correctly, I’ve read that time is circular, that time has a tree structure, and that trees don’t have loops. These seem to be conflicting facts. How should this be understood?

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  • #6711
    Ashish
    Participant

    Both space and time are loops and trees. Loop means it is a closed region of space and time. An example of closed region of space is a house, and an example of closed region of time is an hour. The hierarchy is that a house is inside and a city and an hour is inside a day.

    A more correct way to think about it is a house is a “unit” of space and an hour is a “unit” of time. Therefore, even though space and time can be subdivided we can understand in terms of larger units. Without these units, “hour” and “house” would not be individually meaningful; we would reduce these units always to smaller and smaller units in a reductionist theory.

    One consequence of this hierarchy of space and time is the uncertainty relations in atomic theory. The atomic particle’s time is said to be “uncertain” because it is spread in time. Just like you can say that the year is 2018 but the year is not yet completley finished. Similarly, I can say that I’m in a city but I’m outside my house. There is hence a distinction between a position state and a classical position. The position state is like being in the house, and the classical position is like being in a particular room of the house. Atomic theory speaks about the position state which is certain, but the classical position is uncertain. However, experiments have shown that we can fix the position state to an ever increasing degree of certainty, which is like saying that after I fix my position as being in the house, I can further fix the position of being in a room.

    The hierarchical position and time are needed because of meanings. Just like you can say that the time is half past 12, but you haven’t said which day we are talking about. Similarly, you can say that I’m in the bedroom, but you haven’t said which specific house I’m in. So ‘bedroom’ is not universally meaningful; it is meaningful in relation to a particular house. Likewise, half past 12 is not meaningful universally; it is meaningful in relation to the particular day. The day is meaningful in relation to the month, the month in relation to the year, etc.

    So, what we call the ‘cycle’ of time is actually a unit of time like a day which begins and ends, and the hierarchy of time is that the day is inside a month, which is inside a year, etc.

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  • #6714
    Paul
    Participant
    Participant

    That makes sense. Thank you.

    I was thinking before that loop means a circle, but then I remembered when I was a kid having a toy car race track with a loop. The loop had an entrance and exit that were adjacent, rather than being an actual circle. This makes sense to me because, although a house is a closed region of space, it must have one or more doors. Hierarchical loops give the impression of an extended spiral, like the threads of a wood screw, but then it’s not clear where the doors would be.

    The idea of looping space reminds me of a Pac Man game where exiting the screen on one side is followed by entrance on the opposite side, except perhaps on a different board or level.

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    • This reply was modified 6 days, 9 hours ago by Paul.
  • #6716
    Ashish
    Participant

    There are three descriptions of space–(1) a tree, (2) lotus petals, and (3) spherical. These appear to be confusing normally but you can think in terms of the circle limit diagrams.

    http://mathworld.wolfram.com/PoincareHyperbolicDisk.html

    The center of the circle is the root and the triangles are the branches. You can also think in terms of a lotus flower. Also, because the triangles toward the circumference become smaller, you can never reach the circumference, and this is an analogue of Zeno’s paradox.

    In terms of numbers, if the center is visualized as 1, and the successive emanating leaves as fractions of 1, then the fractions get smaller and smaller, and they are all parts of the center, and yet different from the center, and there is potentially no limit to dividing, and yet no matter how many times you divide, you never actually finish dividing. So, there is “circle limit”, which means that space is infinite and yet there is a boundary to this infinity which cannot be crossed.

    Then again you can view this picture as the flattened projection of a sphere, in which the center is the north pole and the circumference is the south pole. The exception is that if you begin from the north pole, you can never reach the south pole, but you can get closer and closer to it.

    If you draw this kind of geometry with colors, then the north pole will be white, and the south pole will be black. That type of drawing is called a “color sphere”. White is the full color and black is lack of color, but you can never get pure black because it could never be seen.

    So this kind of picture is useful in visualizing the tree with closed spaces which then spawn more closed spaces. And even though you can imagine infinite divisibility you can never reach that infinite division. This applies both to space and time. This kind of space is hyperbolic but if you insist that equal distance is traveled in equal time, then the same thing becomes a sphere. In other words if you presume that the world is uinform the tree becomes a sphere.

    This is the approximate sketch, but it needs formal mathematics (for semantics) in which we are able to represent the branches as parts of the whole and yet separate from the whole. I still don’t understand it well enough but if I do someday I may be able to write that geometry.

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