A New Kind of Science: The NKS Forum > NKS Way of Thinking > time for time
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Philip Ronald Dutton
independent
Columbia, SC

Registered: Feb 2004
Posts: 172

time for time

(Currently reading the physics chapter in NKS)

(assuming universe based on simple programs and rules w/ initial conditions, etc.)

Given the simplest rules and initial conditions of the "universe's operations", perhaps we would have been stuck only with space (or stuck only with 3 dimensions). What if time (dimension 4) could have emerged as a new "property" or new level of complexity once the universe "happened" to use the slightly more sophisticated rules (or rules which utilized slightly more of it's available input, etc.).

Or in other words: maybe time is structure which emerges from simple rules. (Implying some inherent dynamic for time itself due to moving around or changing shape in the output of the simple programs of the universe)-- note: I am mixing my terms and imagery a bit.

Just a fun thought.

Afterthought: if time was after space then possibly the point at which time emerged from the simple rules is equal to what most people refer to as the big bang... or: "the beginning" which actually is only the beginning of time and not the beginning of space.

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Last edited by Philip Ronald Dutton on 07-21-2004 at 01:38 AM

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07-20-2004 05:23 PM
Philip Ronald Dutton
independent
Columbia, SC

Registered: Feb 2004
Posts: 172

clarification

I went back over certain sections of what Wolfram was saying in the chapter on physics (and related to time). What I have read so far seems to be related to whether or not simple programs can produce features which are similar to what we observe as "time".

What I was exploring in my initial post is that time could have emerged from what only included space. Again thinking in terms of the simple programs operation of the universe I could say that given space and the right rule(s) and the right program(s) and throw in the right initial condition(s), time emerged from space. This is a little different than what Wolfram was talking about (unless i am wrong given what I "read" at the noisy coffee shop). He seems to just be exploring properties of simple programs which look like time. However, maybe there is something about space which allowed time to emerge (with help from the simple programs, etc)- some property.

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07-21-2004 01:36 AM
MikeHelland

Registered: Dec 2003
Posts: 182

Julian Barbour has popularized the idea that "change is primary, time is something we deduce from it" which is very similar to your suggestion. Time is something that emerges.

Where my personal views differ from what you said is how time and space are related. It is not that space is first, then comes time, but rather a phenomenon comes first, and space and time are both consequences that emerge from this.

I'll try to explain, starting with what can be considered to be a
strictly materialist view of the universe:

Any arrangement of matter can be considered to be processing
instructions for a computation device.

Let's talk about the computation device. If the matter is the
instruction for a computation device, what is the computation device
itself? It can't be matter.

So we'll call it... oh what the hell, God. We'll call it God. Why not?
If anyone can think of a better name (that not non-linear algorythm in
the sky?) I'd like to hear it but for right now I hope everyone
reading this can be intelligent enough to realize that "God" is simply
meant to be the computing device by which matter arranges itself.

It's obvious to see that there is some correlation between the
arrangement of the matter before the computation and the arrangement
of the matter after the computation. In fact, it is so strong that we
might begin to think that the arrangement of the matter before and
after the computation is dependent on each other to the degree that
the before may be considered an instruction... a parameter of sorts.

But, this is merely a product of our imagination. What is the saying?
"Coincidence does not imply causality"?

I want it to be clear that the arrangements of matter are *not*
instructions, parameters, or in any way something used in the actual
computation. The arrangements of matter are *soley* the product of the
computation.

Like the computation device, the computation's parameters are not
physically existing things like arrangements of matter. For fun
consider that God's parameters are the properties of angels.

So, we have a few different things here, the computation device (God)
its parameters (angels) and its results (information, whose analysis
yields all that physically exists, arrangements of matter, space, and
time). The resulting information, because it is what physically
exists, can be considered synonamous with "a phenomon".

A quick aside is that this view of matter, existing within the
analysis of phenomena seems to be the most consistent view of matter
with quantum mechanics (it even explains the uncertainty principle and
wave-particle duality from the looks of it).

More details here:
http://www.techmocracy.net/science/time.htm

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07-23-2004 07:48 PM
Tony Smith
Meme Media
Melbourne, Australia

Registered: Oct 2003
Posts: 167

"Matter" "computes"

It's Saturday morning on this side of the nearest lump of matter, so I might as well have a go at this:

If the matter is the instruction for a computation device, what is the computation device itself? It can't be matter.
While agreeing entirely that "change is primary" and that "space and time are both consequences that emerge", I see it as being the stuff (including matter) of the multiverse that is forever computing the next local state based on the current state of its neighbourhood.

There is not something else doing the computing but rather the computing is just what the only stuff that is still around does, anything which ever failed to compute/influence a next state being unrepresented in the world we find ourselves in.

Those things we see as matter (and energy and even "empty" space) are all nothing more and nothing less than persistent patterns in the output of the next state computation.

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07-24-2004 01:12 AM
MikeHelland

Registered: Dec 2003
Posts: 182

Tony,

I am pleased that you agree with the space and time aspect of my point of view, and I am not surprised that you are not on board with the matter suggestion. It is clearly the most difficult of the three to grasp.

I sympathize with your point of view: It looks as if the matter is doing the computing. It looks like we don't need something else to do the computing.

Think of the "something else" that is the computing as Leibniz's monad. Sometype of fundamental matter that doesn't exist on our physical level as matter.

Recall that matter is not a wave, is not a billiard ball, but something that we don't actually understand.

Think about performing computations with "wavicles", and then think about performing calculations with something like the monad, a billiard ball and how much more elegant that would be. Also consider the results, and consider that matter would exist in these results.

If you wrap your head around that properly, in my opinion, you'll find the wave-particle duality of matter infinitely easier to understand.

Again, many people will grasp that time is a result of change, and some will get that space too is a result of change. That matter is a result of change is something *noone* gets.

That could be because its wrong, I admit, but the more I explore this idea, the more I doubt that it is incorrect.

http://www.techmocracy.net/science/time.htm

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07-26-2004 09:03 PM
Tony Smith
Meme Media
Melbourne, Australia

Registered: Oct 2003
Posts: 167

Byproducts

Ok, Mike, I am starting to get the picture, though I'll reserve judgement on how it might survive Occam's razor. Instead I'll just mention a couple of examples where something qualitatively similar is clearly going on.

In our rich biosphere, all have ancestors but only an often vanishingly small fraction go on to have viable descendants of their own, whether we are talking whole organisms or their individual cells. We remain preoccupied with the analysis of reproduction, yet it is this excess of production over the direct needs of reproduction which provides us with bountiful ecosystems and interestingly complex life forms.

For some time I have been convinced that it is almost certain that our Big Bang must similarly be the product of a long line of viable near singularities, but that it is but one of a preponderance of non-viable child universes of the multiverse, a byproduct of the engine of cosmogenesis, just as planets themselves are inconsequential byproducts of star formation and life itself is an inconsequential byproduct of chemical dissipation of (mostly) solar energy.

So I really don't have a problem with the idea that rather than our space time energy matter being patterns in the ultimate computing medium, that they are rather patterns in the inconsequential output of computations in a medium that is otherwise inaccesible to us. However I still suspect the clear resilience of space time energy matter might give this particular abstraction some trouble with Occam's razor, the persistance being easier to imagine if the local state at the previous moment is input to the next local state computation. For the foreseeable future this is a modeling question anyway as any difference in the underlying reality is far from accessible.

Where I get annoyed is when those humans who cannot accept that we do not have some preordained purpose attempt to close the loop by suggesting that that unknowable computing medium has some kind of direct connection to human consciousness and human word forms. Consciousness and language are just the latest in a long linage of inconsequential byproducts, albeit ones with transformative potential, but clearly that potential is not preordained and comes with no guarantees.

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07-27-2004 02:00 AM
MikeHelland

Registered: Dec 2003
Posts: 182

Tony,

>So I really don't have a problem with the idea that rather than our space time energy matter being patterns in the ultimate computing medium, that they are rather patterns in the inconsequential output of computations in a medium that is otherwise inaccesible to us.

You deserve some congratulation here. You are the first to be able to satisfactorily relate this idea back to me in your own words. Even in the case that these ideas are wrong, that is quite an accomplishment on your part.

Let us consider Occam for a moment. Here are various view of nature:

1. Assume space, time, and matter exist. Now we can describe a phenomenon.

This is the old view. We assume 3 things to explain 1 thing.

2. Assume a phenomenon exist. Now we can deduce space, time, and matter.

This is my view. We assume 1 thing, and can explain 3 things. Clearly Occam would favor the simplistic priniciples and explanatory power of #2.

Now I'm not sure how we could phrase the intermediate view. Perhaps like so?:

3. Assume matter and a phenomenon between that matter exists. Now we can deduce space and time.

It seems to me this intermediate view assumes 2 things to explain 2 things.

I could be looking at this rather simplisticly but I would still think Occam's affinity for the fewest assumptions with the most explanatory power would result in the selection of #2.

I do appreciate your point about that "the persistance being easier to imagine if the local state at the previous moment is input to the next local state computation."

However, I note that you correctly reserve the possiblity that this may be a modelling issue.

The model I suggest is called Multiple Natures. Basically what happens is we create a model and from within that model arises an output that could literally be mistaken for its own model. This by-product model is nature.

As my ideas sink in, I am hopeful that you change your mind about Occam's preference, though I suspect you and I may have some more interesting discussions before that occurs, if ever :-)

Here are my ideas in full, should you like to read about them:

http://www.techmocracy.net/science/time.htm

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07-27-2004 04:22 AM

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