The past, the present and the future

If time is about events, then we must consider that an instant in time is a snapshot of everything (the universe) in a specific (non-changing) state. An instant in time can’t have any change occuring in it (else it isn’t an instant in time). Every object (composite or quantum) is unchanging. That is an instant in time. It has no intrinsic value, it is just a gap between all events.

It is important to re-affirm that it is not that time stands still (time doesn’t do anything) which causes events to cease. It is that events cease (albeit momentarily) and hence we have an instant in time. The distinction may seem unnecessary, but is actually pivotal.

So we might have a hypothetical instant when nothing in the whole universe is changing, and then something changes (we have an event). It might only be one quantum particle in the whole universe that changes. But as soon as it has changed, the universal instant has gone and a new instant has arrived. Time has passed, we might say.

And as already noted, this probably doesn’t ever occur – there are just too may unsynchronised events occurring for there ever to be a moment of universal stillness!

This change from one configuration of the universe to another (although not in discrete frames) does lead to an obvious explanation of the past and the future. The past is a previous configuration of the universe – all quantum particles; the present a current configuration of all quantum particles, and the future a configuration of all quantum particles that will occur.

[We ought to say the past could also be called a configuration of all quantum particles that might have existed, and the future could also be called a configuration of quantum particles that might exist – but that’s just highlighting the issue of the certainty or not of your knowledge of the configuration and the event-series that links one to configuration to another.]

Let’s put Time Travel to bed, once and for all (sorry Doctor Who).

To travel in time would need you to recall and re-create an entire past configuration of the universe, or forecast and create an entire future configuration of the universe.

If you only partially re-create the configuration, then its not the same ‘moment in time’.

Apart from the obvious practical issues of re-creating an entire configuration of every quantum particle in the universe, the mere fact that you are there to witness this (i.e. you are time travelling) renders any attempt as futile (your very presence contaminates the configuration, hence it isn’t a pure re-creation, hence it is invalid).

Not to mention that both memory and forecasting (which are what essentially differentiate the past from the future) are both imbued with serious amounts of inaccuracy.

The beginning and the end of time

 The conundrum about when did time begin goes away too using our definitions of time. If time is merely a register or a collective for events, then time “begins” at the first event (the Big Bang maybe, who knows) and ends at the last event (a small whimper perhaps). There is no conundrum about “what happened before the universe began”. Time is irrelevant UNTIL an event happens. If there are no events, there is no time, it serves no purpose.

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