A New Kind of Science: The NKS Forum > Applied NKS > How many things can happen in a single instant?
Author
MikeHelland

Registered: Dec 2003
Posts: 179

How many things can happen in a single instant?

This seems to be a standard assumption people have:

"If time did not exist, no event occurred."

As you may know this the opposite of how I view things. Instead I would say:

"If no event occured, time does not exist."

So time is not a medium for change. It is not a continuum, and its not even really a dimension. It is the analysis that something has changed. It exists in the subjective conscious experience of an observer. This is consistent with special relativity's definition that "time is what a clock measures", with the implications of quantum mechanics and string theory, and with what recent developments in the field have suggested.

In other words, time is not a prerequisite for something happening, it is a result of something happening.

Let's take the following situation with bleacher seats. Imagine you
have a stadium, and there are four people (A1-A4) sitting in a single
row:

___A1_A2_A3_A4

And in the next row, are four more people (B1-B4), but sitting one seat
to the left, so we have:

___A1_A2_A3_A4
B1_B2_B3_B4

Finally, there is a third row, and those people (C1-C4) are sitting one
seat to the right of the original row. This is our picture:

___A1_A2_A3_A4
B1_B2_B3_B4
______C1_C2_C3_C4

We now make the following rules:

1. Consider that movement and time in the stadium is discrete

We know that from quantum mechanics and Planck's Constant, such a
suggestion might actually apply to nature

2. Since time is discrete, consider that the smallest, indivisible
interval of time is the time it takes to move one seat, and this interval is called an instant

Ok. Now, in our picture, our row B will move one seat to the right, and
C one seat to the left, so that after an instant we have:

___A1_A2_A3_A4
___B1_B2_B3_B4
___C1_C2_C3_C4

In this instant of time, if we were sitting in row A, you would have
seen row B and row C move one seat. Which makes sense, because our
rules say that in one instant, the smallest indivisible interval of
time, only movement from one seat to the next will occur.

But what if you were sitting in row B? You would have seen row A move a
single seat, but row C would have moved 2 seats! How can, in the
smallest indivisible interval of time where only movement by one seat
is possible, can this be true? And doesn't that mean that if the
smallest indivisible unit of time corresponds to the movement of one
seat, that by moving two seats, we've actually managed to divide the
indivisible unit of time?

There is an assumption here that all eight seats (four from row B, and
four from row C) can move in a single instant. The assumption is
multiple things may happen in a single instant.

What if that assumption is not correct? In fact, let us assume it is
wrong.

Remember what I said at the top about time?

If something moves, there is time. Not the other way around.

That means that when a single seat moves in its smallest allowed
motion, there is an instant of time. In our example eight seats are
moving, so, based on this new view of time, there should be eight
instants, not just one, which was the previous assumption.

Therefore, the rules are not violated, since the seats would look like
this after one instant:

___A1_A2_A3_A4
B1_B2_B3____B4
______C1_C2_C3_C4

and this after two:

___A1_A2_A3_A4
B1_B2_B3____B4
___C1____C2_C3_C4

If you follow this scheme, you will never observe a seat moving more
than one seat away from you in a single instant, even when relative
motion is involved.

...

Right now our leading theory of mechanics is Relativistic Quantum Field Theory. A brief history of the idea is that we found Newtonian mechanics, we updated Newtonian mechanics and made it special relativity. Then we found quantum mechanics, something totally different from Newtonian mechanics. Making a field theory out of QM gave us QFT. And finally we combobulated special relativity, which is an evolution of Newtonian mehanics, with QFT as an afterthought.

I suggest that the reason this path to a theory of everything has failed is because we made QFT relativistic by pairing it with old and incompatible Newtonian mechanics.

What I've described in this post is the foundations for a brand new version of mechanics well suited for quantum phenomena that implicitly contains the effects of special relativity, eliminating the need to force QM and the old Newtonian mechanics into the same hole, and taking a new path to a theory of everything. We also avoid postulating into existence a speed limit, something that might come in handy since Newtonian mechanics and general relativity assume that changes to the force of gravity are propogated throughout space-time much faster than the speed of light, making it difficult to find a workable theory of quantum gravity with a graviton that may only move at c.

I've done this by asking a simple question "what can happen in an instant?"

By the way, this puzzle is Zeno's fourth puzzle on time and motion. In
2500 years it seems that no one has questioned the assumption that
"many things can happen in one instant of time." By questioning that
assumption, and postulating the antithesis, we have an extremely
elegant solution, and an interpretation of mechanics that implicitly
contains the effects of special relativity.

If you disagree with me, you are essentially saying that "more than one thing may happen in one instant of time."

I see no reason to accept that as a fact (nor, as a consequence, any of the physics that is built on that assumption).

That leaves me with one question:

Why do you accept the fact that many things may occur in a single instant?

--
http://www.techmocracy.net

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12-17-2004 04:01 PM
Richard J. Gaylord

Chicago, IL

Registered: Jul 2004
Posts: 35

what is an 'instant'?

__________________
"I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.". - H.D. Thoreau

"Correlation is not Causation and Big Data is not Science" - R.J. Gaylord

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04-03-2005 11:53 PM
MikeHelland

Registered: Dec 2003
Posts: 179

That is precisely the question I was looking at.

The old way of thinking about time is that it is a big line, continuum, or dimension. A medium where things may happen. In such a framework, an instant is a single point on that line.

On the other hand, there is a quite different way to think about time, very similiar to what has been said by Julian Barbour and Peter Lynds.

In these new views, time is not a line or a dimension, but time is a analysis of change by an observer. So an instant in this framework would be the analysis of a discrete change, wherein there is a before and after and nothing in between.

An instant was defined by a single state of the world the old way, but the new way defines it with two states.

This, consequently, solves all of Zeno's paradoxes on the subject.

It is quite compatible with NKS too.

A computer simulation of a universe is running on a computer. The computer has a clock. This represents absolute time.

Within the simulation is a structure that makes up a new clock. This represents time to simulated observer's within the simulated universe.

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

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04-04-2005 10:27 PM
Ed Meier
Independent researcher
Springfield, OH

Registered: Oct 2003
Posts: 31

Semantic vaguaries

You're playing with semantics here. An "instant" is subjectively defined based on context. "I went to a baseball game. My team was winning until the bottom of the ninth. Then their homerun hitter came up with the bases loaded. In an instant it was over." An instant in this case is the amount of time it took for the ball to leave the park and the runners to cross home, hardly a sub-second phenomenon.

All you are really saying here is that the definition of 'instant' is not a scientific term. Multiple things can happen in an instant, or not. It depends on the situation you are trying to describe.

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04-14-2005 01:09 AM
MikeHelland

Registered: Dec 2003
Posts: 179

>All you are really saying here is that the definition of 'instant' is not a scientific term.

Not quite.

I'm saying is that the scientific definition of instant, a point on line of time, is as open to criticism as any other scientific claim.

In the context of scientific experiments (and thought experiments such as Zeno's puzzles) the two definitions of an instant I gave described two very different theories of time.

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04-14-2005 08:36 PM
janos

CT

Registered: Nov 2004
Posts: 23

I am not a physicist, but here is one question. Where is the instant? Is the "instant" here or over there ?

Let's say an illuminating body s falling into a black hole "over there". I am looking at it from "here". As the body gets closer and closer to the event horizont the photons from it will be gravitationaly redshifted and "here" it will look to me that it is getting farther and farther. As the body falls through the event horizon, it will happen to the atom which radiates the photon in an "instant". From "here" it will look as it lasts forever. Now, if I move the "here" closer and closer to the "there", the situation still will not change. Even if I am just one atom behind the radiating atom, its disappearance will last forever for me "here" although it takes no time for the atom just before me "over there".

If I leave the black hole out, then there is another question. How significant is the change and what does it take to register it. If two cats are looking into a straight pipe and do not see each other, the reason for it that they did not look at the same "instant". If they continue doing that, then when can we say that both cats looked into the pipe. From the "right" cat point of view "no change took effect" as long as he does not see the other cat. The situation is the same for the "left" cat. However if we take their observation and compare it to our investigation with the cats where they both are saying that they looked into the pipe, we get a contradiction. Now, if we would not be there just the cats, then can any of the cats say that nothing happened ? Surely. And that would be the truth for them. Is our truth then a "higher order" truth just bacuse we made a back channel to both of them ? Now this hierarchy can be expanded to help register the events. How far it should be expanded? If we expand it to infinity, then there will be no such thing as "no event". Even in an "instance" infinitly many events can occure which would drive time forward at any moment. So, there has to be a limit to this expansion if we want to preserve the notion, that "if I have no information about it, then it did not happen".

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04-30-2005 12:22 AM
MikeHelland

Registered: Dec 2003
Posts: 179

> Where is the instant? Is the "instant" here or over there ?

If time is what a clock measures, or perhaps a little better, if time is the analysis of change, then time exists within the context of the change that has been deduced.

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05-04-2005 07:27 PM
Michael Kreutzjans

Registered: Not Yet
Posts: N/A

INstant

I'm certain that Loop Quantum gravity and many other variations of a theory of quantum gravity have a logical explaination for what an "instant" is. A time quanta or spacetime quanta is what I believe you're trying to say.

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06-08-2005 04:15 PM
Philip Ronald Dutton
independent
Columbia, SC

Registered: Feb 2004
Posts: 172

what time is it?

At what time quanta did your time quanta cease to exist?

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06-11-2005 12:10 AM

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