Chapter 31. My Time is Your Time

Nothing is more important to you and me than the time which is our life. Yet we know almost nothing about time and seldom even talk about it. Space is easier for us to visualize, divide up, separate off, name and talk about. Most people can get excited about space travel, about having enough living space and about the prospect of owning some real estate. But although time is at least as essential to their existence as space, most of us have little more to say about time’s unfathomable mystery than “My, how time flies!”

Since we find it so hard to get a mind-hold on any aspect of time, few of us can grasp what our own life is, or venture an opinion about what drives the history of the world onward. Without some understanding of the whys and wherefores of time, nothing of our life in this world can make much deep sense.

Few people ever reflect upon the fact that the “Now” which they are experiencing occurs at the very same moment as everybody else’s “Now.” Moreover seldom, if ever, does it cross anyone’s mind that the Now which we share with all people is shared also by everything everywhere, however miniscule or great. The world exists on many levels from events on the quantum level to the whole universe with its far-flung galaxies. Everything on every level nevertheless participates in one and same Now-state of the universe—the one that presently exists.

When each Now-state comes into existence for its brief life span, its layout is always somewhat different from the one that has immediately preceded it, the one that just dissolved to become the latest entry into the past. Large-scale events such as the “fixed” stars, the “everlasting” hills and the walls of your room seem to remain relatively stable and unchanged during long periods of time, i.e., throughout a very large number of Now-states. But at the level of the ever-shifting quanta of energy very little remains the same from one moment to the next. When a light is shining, every atom upon which it shines is affected. Other kinds of radiation also keep raining in from outer space. Nothing on earth remains entirely untouched. No subatomic particle is likely to be found in the very same place twice. Such particles are always in motion with respect to their neighboring particles. Besides, the whole earth is not only rotating, but always moving at a fearsome rate around the sun, which at the same time is hurtling onward among the stars.

This being the case, it is easy to see that from moment to moment at the quantic level the whole 3-D layout of the world is always decidedly different. I believe that this succession of ever-new and differing states of the. universe comes about because Now after Now God keeps recreating all that is. His recreating takes place down at the mini-microlevel of the quanta of action.

What the world actually is at the quantic level is quite different from the world which we perceive using our normal sensory organs. Extensive changes in the realm of quantic events may go entirely unnoticed even by the most watchful observers. Many quantic events can be detected only by highly sophisticated measuring instruments. Quantic events which occur in coordinated clusters and move through space in unicity are easier to recognize. Some clusters are loosely coupled, for example, a cloud of gnats or a flock of birds. Those which are more closely coupled we generally call “things,” “objects,” “organisms” or “higher-level systems” (such as you and me).

The face of the universe as set forth in one particular Now-state is an arrangement of quantic events that issues from a single pulse of creation. Each of these quantic events possesses its own peculiar characteristics which distinguish it uniquely from any other quantic event occurring anywhere else in that Now-state.

This is understandable from the way things are even on the macroscopic level. Take, say, a particular brick in a certain brick wall. At first glance that brick will appear to be much the same as any other brick of its kind. Closer examination however will reveal that there are many specific differences of textural details by which anyone who cared could identify it. The place which that brick occupies in that wall is distinctive, one which no other brick can occupy at the same time. For this reason the forces which are bearing upon that brick are significantly different from those that converge on any other of the bricks. Each one of them is located within a different set of relationships.

Each quantic event in a given Now-state of the universe finds itself in a like situation with respect to other quantic events. Each has its own position in a unique trajectory with respect to neighboring events. Each has its own posturing tendencies, i.e., its own individual penchant for proceeding in a certain direction, doing what it is inclined to do. Each quantic event also has its own affinities and its own exclusivities, i.e., it will consent nicely to combine with certain events, but it will refuse to associate in any way with certain other events. It is as if each quantic event in a given Now-state prefers to do certain things and balks at being involved in any alternative behavior. If to you this sounds as though I am attributing the power of choice to quantic events, you are quite correct. If no individual quantic event ever asserted its individual behavioral identity, the world would be only a uniform mush or foam rather than the dramatic arena it is, crackling and resounding from the decisive encounters of different interacting entities.

Travel time

As for Now-states, a single Now-state consists of the total array of all those quantic events that occur simultaneously throughout the universe. When I say “simultaneously” I do so deliberately and with full knowledge that I have used a controversial word. The concept of simultaneity in time-talk is sharply incisive, and I intend the above statement to be distinctively definitive and clean-cutting.

At each of our conscious moments, each of us is experiencing all sorts of things that are all present to us at once and happening at the same time. This describes fairly well our private, subjective experience of simultaneity.

But did all those events which we experience simultaneously actually happen at the same split second? When someone across a small lake fires a gun, we will see the puff of smoke before we hear the bang. Light travels more swiftly than sound and we accept that fact. But if we notice two distant stars that are visible at the same time, it seldom occurs to most people that one of the two could be vastly farther away than the other. Since light travels at a definite speed, if the light from the more distant of the two stars arrives at our eye at the same moment as the light from the nearer star, we must conclude that it started out well before the light whose journey was shorter. This means that when you look up at the starry heavens, the light which you experience simultaneously as coming from several different stars will have originated not only very long ago but at many different times throughout the ages. Perhaps by now one of the stars whose light you are presently observing may have long since blown up, and light is no longer being radiated from that source. When people say they are experiencing a distant event, they are really experiencing only the arrival of information that took some time, whether only a little or a lot of it, to come to them all the way from its point of origin.

It seems reasonable to assume that two things at a distance from each other can communicate only by sending some sort of signal across the gap between them. Even if a signal were to travel at the speed of light, it would nonetheless require some interval of time during which to pass from one location to the other. The moment a signal is sent therefore always precedes the moment it arrives at its destination. Thus it is clear that both the sending and the reception of a given signal across a distance cannot occur within the same Now-state.

If therefore all members of any single Now-state coexist simultaneously, no quantic event of that set can be aware that at that moment anything else exists but itself and whatever information it may be receiving from the past Now-state. If information always takes time to travel, it is clear that no information can be transferred from event to event within a single Now-state. Though other events may be actually participating in the same Now-state, their disposition, activity or condition cannot be made known to members of the same Now-set. The only exception to this rule might be the case where two neighboring events are in mutual contact with each other at some point in common to both. Being at no actual distance from each other and both being at the place where they are, such a pair could conceivably possess direct and immediate awareness of each other’s contemporaneous existence.

From time to time, people would like to know what was happening simultaneously with some event in which they are interested. Perhaps they would like to establish whether or not a specific event happened before or after the event that interests them. Such knowledge is particularly important for criminal investigations aiming to establish “Who done it?” A suspect may be asked, “Where were you on the night of August 24 at 10 p.m.?” If the testimony of reliable witnesses shows that the suspect was actually at a place far from the scene of the crime at the time the crime was being committed, the investigators will acknowledge that the suspect could not have committed it. The necessity for time to elapse in traveling clears away the suspicion.

But notwithstanding all our reasoning about simultaneity, and although it is not easy to prove our belief, we “just know” that while certain things are happening here in this location, other events are happening simultaneously at other earthly and celestial locations.

What now?

Sometimes we can calculate exactly which other events must have been occurring at the same time a certain special event happened. Synchronized clocks are to be found in almost every part of the earth, so it is possible to check back through dated recordings and timed successions of events at various places in order to ascertain which of those events must have been happening at about the same time. By this familiar procedure seismographic stations are able to pinpoint the center of an earthquake, even in a very remote area. The time-ordering of events at great distances is regularly worked out using calculation procedures which are well known to navigators, surveyors and astronomers. These calculations involve known distances, angles, signal speeds and synchronized clocks. But since calculating takes time, such methods can reveal only past simultaneities, never those of the present moment.

In his theorizing about the relativity of space-time, Albert Einstein expressed severe doubt concerning our ability under all conditions to determine whether or not certain events actually occurred simultaneously. For example, if two very distant cosmic events were observed from widely different directions in space, the observers in the different locations would not likely agree concerning when the events occurred.

Suppose that each of three hypothetical observers, A, B and C, has seen an exceptionally spectacular fountain of fire shoot out from each of two stars, Alpha and Beta. Suppose that observer A, stationed at a place which is equally distant from both Alpha and Beta, reports that the two stellar prominences occurred simultaneously. Observer B, who is closer to Alpha than to Beta, will disagree with A’s report. Since light from Alpha will reach observer B more quickly than light from Beta, the Alpha-event will appear to have occurred before the Beta-event. Observer C, located closer to Beta than to Alpha, will be bound to disagree with both of the other reports. From C’s point of view the Alpha-event definitely seemed to occur well after the Beta-event. Which event occurred before which? Or did the two events occur simultaneously?

Common sense would lead us to believe that observer A (and any other observer who also was equidistant from both events) should be believed. Their judgments that the two events were actually simultaneous could be justified. Light from either of the two events would reach each equidistant observer at the same time as light from the other event.

Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to show rigorously that cosmic events which take place at immense distances measured in terms of light-years are really equidistant. This being the case, neither observer A nor any other hypothetical observers who saw the two events happen simultaneously could ever prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were actually equidistant from both events. Then can we ever be sure that any two very distant events actually occurred at the same moment?

Einstein and those who follow his lead have moreover called attention not only to time-problems which arise from position and direction, but to others which arise when observers are moving at high speeds with respect to other rapidly moving observers. Hypothetical observers might be stationed on a rapidly rotating “space-vortex.” Others might be accelerating very close to the speed of light, or passing each other at that speed. In such cases the clocks which they use in recording the time of a jointly observed event might differ greatly, for when bodies are accelerated to almost the speed of light, their mass increases and their length decreases. This would put the several clocks “out of sync” and distort all subsequent calculations.

For such reasons, physicists do not believe that the commonsense earth-based approach to time necessarily applies across the whole universe. They reject any view of time which claims that there is an absolute time-ordering of universal simultaneities. The truth of such a claim, they say, cannot be verified at all places under all conditions of observation.

The clock struck

Then shall I too give up my commonsense view of time, namely that cosmic creation time is the succession of newly created Now-states, each of which is made up of simultaneous quantic events? That there are universal simultaneities which come in an absolute before-and-after time-order is essential to my whole conception. If in some situations a simultaneity of events, or a succession of simultaneous events (Now-states), cannot be established, even in principle, would it not be useless for me to talk about universal simultaneity? Without universally simultaneous Now-states there could be no universal before-and-after time-order. Has my whole thesis been undermined by the reasoning behind the relativity hypothesis? Can I retain my commonsense beliefs about time and still call myself reasonable?

When relativists abandon absolute time, they no longer have any “time” to talk about except the “time” readings on their clocks. In my opinion their “time” problems all stem from their clock problems and communication problems.

If the synchronized clocks of several earth-based, observer-carrying spaceships could be forever maintained in synchronization, in principle the ships’ captains could keep track of the trajectories of their vessels, logging times when outstanding events were sighted, as well as the direction of their occurrence. Earth-base eventually could correlate the position on course and the speed of each ship with the differing times and directions at which each reported similar sightings. Using the speed of light as a “measuring rod,” the logs of all the ships in space could thus be coordinated and a reliable judgment formed as to whether or not any two outstanding celestial events had actually occurred simultaneously.

Unfortunately, however, no one has yet come up with a way of keeping the clocks of all the ships synchronized throughout extremely long voyages under all conceivable conditions. No presently known navigational procedures will therefore help much toward the correlation and coordination of such ships’ log reports.

If any spaceship were traveling near the speed of light, the problem of synchronization would be further complicated by the tendency of matter to gain mass when traveling near the speed of light. The clocks on board a speeding ship would run much more slowly than their counterparts on earth.

“Clock-time” is what observers read off mechanical devices which mimic the earth’s daily rotation on its axis. Since clock-time is thus geared to earth-time, of course it must be relative—relative to earth-time. If my clock should ever get “out of sync” with earth-time, however, must I then concoct an elaborate new theory of space-time which will explain why, say, the earth’s rotation mysteriously slowed down or speeded up! It would be more sensible for me to get my clock fixed.

If in outer space during some unusual “motion situations” a scientific observer’s clock fails to perform its measuring function satisfactorily, then… “so much for clocks” as adequate universal time-measuring instruments!

That the bubble of circumstances surrounding a certain clock or clocks may have been changed by accelerating it or them, is not an adequate ground for presuming mat the rest of the whole time-ordered universe has also been altered. Just because clocks aren’t up to the demands of particular kinds of situations isn’t sufficient reason for scrapping our whole commonsense understanding of the absolute time-ordering of universal simultaneities. It is even less reasonable, in my opinion, if disappointed clock-watchers then proceed to devise a whole new relativistic theory of elastic clock-time with a view to vindicating the unreliable performance of their clocks.

Inside story

In any case, when relativists interpret deviant clock readings as indications that time can warp, curve and otherwise shift, they are talking about a subject which is entirely different from the one that I am talking about. Their clocks mark the moment a motion begins and the moment it ends. But in calculating “how much time elapsed” between the beginning of the motion and its end, they aren’t really talking about “time” at all. They are simply saying that they know by how much the 482 earth rotated while the motion they were measuring was in process. A comparison between two clock-readings and two positions of the rotating earth is only an abstract intellectual ratio. Relativistic “time” is only a “paper tiger”—a bookkeeping fiction. It is definitely not actual “time” in my sense of the word.

Clock-time has very little in common with “cosmic creation time.” Long before anybody ever invented the ratio principle of “timekeeping,” cosmic creation time—the only actual time—was proceeding with its promordial undertaking: setting forth the successive phases of a changing universe. Whether clocks run fast or slow, cosmic creation time goes on both within clock mechanisms themselves as well as in the world outside them. The pace of cosmic creation time would not be at all affected if astronauts should accelerate their vehicles to great speeds, nor would it be altered when they slow them down.

The kind of time that I’m talking about is involved not so much in the reading shown by a clock, as it is in the very existence of that clock. Were it not for the simultaneity of the simultaneities which constitute each successive pulse of creation, the various parts of a “timekeeping” device would neither exist nor “coexist.” If the components of a clock did not coexist in the same moment, no one could assemble them into the unicity of any coordinated system to function as a clock. A clock can’t be made from parts, some of which no longer exist and others that don’t yet exist. Only coexisting parts can work together. The elements that compose each part have to exist simultaneously, or there will be no parts to exist simultaneously. A clock is thus composed of a simultaneity of simultaneities. Dr. Einstein was inconsistent when he believed in clocks but not in simultaneous simultaneities.

Science fiction writers sometimes make capital out of off-the-cuff remarks by relativists whose imaginative theorizing has convinced them that “time is not the same everywhere” in the universe. On television one learns mat “time warps” are a dreadful hazard that may have to be faced by travelers in outer space. No one ever explains what a time warp is, or what makes it warp, or whether there really are any such things.

What would happen if some object in the time of our ordinary world were to be caught in a swerving surge of some really alien time-stream? Suppose, for example, that the right half of your table were to find itself in a maverick side-current from some strange time-stream whose frequencies were entirely different from those of the time so familiar to us. Because of the difference between the frequencies operating in the two table-halves, their disparate atoms would immediately become incompatible. Their atomic structures would no longer share in the same simultaneity of coexistence. The left half of your table would be left (I can’t resist the pun) standing there on its own two legs, while the right half would immediately disappear. If you grabbed at the raw edge of the two-legged piece to keep it from falling, you’d lose your hand.

A spaceship which actually headed into a realm swept by such a time-singularity would progressively vanish from fore to aft.

Were it not for the uniformity of cosmic creation time, the various parts of a spaceship could not continue to cohere in unicity. Were this universe ever to be invaded by a completely foreign cosmic time-frequency, the location of the frontiers between the two different times would be easy to detect and trace. Within the “foreign region” nothing at all would be visible.

The coherence of material objects depends entirely upon the uniform texture of cosmic creation-time—i.e., a time composed of moments within which all simultaneities are themselves simultaneous. Without such a time there could be no clocks, no observers to read clock-times, and no spaceships to carry either clocks or observers off to those allegedly troublesome locales and conditions that have driven physicists to adopt a relativistic theory of “time.” The requirement of simultaneous coexistence applies to every thing and to every system at every level right down to the quantic level. Simultaneous coexistence is an entirely different concept from those of speeds, accelerations, comparative motions and travel-times.

The most convinced relativist must agree that some simultaneities do exist. Were it not so, how could an observer claim to have noted the precise clock-time when any event began or stopped? How else could any meaningful synchronization between a clock and the rotating earth be achieved? For there to be any “clock-time,” someone has to mark two independent events as occurring at the same time.

Relativists, however, will still maintain that any observed simultaneities cannot be proved to coincide with other simultaneities that might be occurring under special conditions elsewhere in the universe.

For a clock-watcher that’s a safe enough belief. Were the physical universe nothing but an immense cluster of synchronized clocks, no one person could likely read more than two of them at once. No multiple recording device could possibly prove that all possible clocks were at any given moment everywhere showing the same time among themselves.

The whole story

The most that the relativists can expect from anyone who believes in a universal simultaneity of local simultaneities would be a demonstration of a kind of simultaneity on the quantic level that could, in principle, be extended to apply to the entire universe.

Fortunately such a demonstration is fairly easily come by. But before I continue I must make sure that you know what a hologram is and how one is made.

No doubt you know that when two converging trains of water waves are approaching each other, if a crest from one set of waves meets a crest from the other set, they reinforce each other and together produce an outstanding wave which is much higher than either original crest. If a crest from one set coincides with a trough from the other set, they more or less cancel each other out. At that point as the waves pass through each other, the average water level neither rises nor falls. Two troughs however make a deeper trough. Over a considerable area, all possible combinations of joint crestings and troughings occur, producing formations of various heights, many well above or below average.

When regular water waves of the same frequency and wavelength are propagated by two sources and begin to intersect, the result is a well-known phenomenon called an interference pattern. This pattern of enhanced, eminent crests with calmer patches of water in between is highly visible.

Similar but invisible effects are produced by the interference of any kind of regular waves, whether of sound, ultrasound, microwaves or radio waves. Interference patterns, whether observed or not, can occur throughout the whole range of vibrational frequencies.

That interfering light waves would create an interference pattern was shown mathematically by Nobel prizewinner Dennis Gabor in 1947. Light from most sources, however, contains so many frequencies that too many outstanding crests appear in too many places and on too tiny a scale for the human eye to unscramble the interference patterns. In 1965 with the invention of the single frequency laser, the clear demonstration of Gabor’s thesis became possible.

A laser is a device that emits a beam of “coherent light,” i.e., light of a single frequency whose crests simultaneously reinforce each other and whose troughs simultaneously diminish each other. It was found that when two laser beams of the same frequency and wavelength intersect, the crests and troughs will actually interact with each other to produce the interference pattern which Gabor had expected. Like other light, beams of coherent light can affect photographic emulsions.

If the light from a single laser is split into two beams, one of them can be directed upon an object, say a statuette. The light will men reflect from it toward a photographic plate. The other beam can be directed toward the same photographic plate while entirely bypassing the statuette. The two beams, of course, will interfere with each other right in front of the plate. A slice of the interference pattern which is occurring across the plate’s surface will be recorded on its emulsion.

This is lensless photography. The unfocused reflected light cannot produce on the plate a recognizable likeness of the statuette. Only a seemingly meaningless mix of assorted swirls and squiggles is recorded. Each ripple and blip is nevertheless related to the ways in which the various contours of the statuette affected the light. Each bit of information recorded on the plate shows that at that place a crest of light from the “reference beam” was interfered with by a crest of the light from the statuette. This kind of photographic record of one cross section of the total 3-D interference pattern generated by the two beams is called a “hologram.”

If the processed plate is once more set up and light of the same single frequency directed through it, an eery, ghost-like image of the statuette will appear. The image is not “flat” like the conventional photograph. It is remarkably three-dimensional. Moreover if all but a small area of the plate is masked off, the whole image of the statuette will still appear, though less distinctly. Information from every illuminated point on the whole statuette is recorded at every exposed point on the hologram, In Greek the root “holo-” means “whole.”

Now what has a hologram to do with simultaneous coexistence in time?

A hologram is the result of interference between two converging intersecting sets of light waves. When the crests of two traveling waves coincide with each other, they reinforce each other, upping the energy level enough at the point of coincidence enough to affect a photographic emulsion. In its root derivation the word “coincide” means “falling in together,” i.e., arriving at the same place at the same time. The hologram thus records every location across the plane of the plate at which crests from the two laser beams coincided, i.e., arrived at the same places at the same time—i.e., simultaneously.

“Coincidence” and “simultaneity” are thus closely related. If any two waves are traveling towards each other at the same speed on collision courses, a split microsecond before the two actually meet—i.e., coincide—they must have existed simultaneously. A hologram records the places where many converging, simultaneous wavecrests finally came together—i.e., coincided— during a single moment across the plane of the plate. Since every instance of cresting coincidence recorded on that plate occurred during a brief time of exposure, each case of coincidence recorded anywhere on it was exactly simultaneous with every other case recorded elsewhere on the same plate. We should also note here that when waves of light meet they intersect with each other at the quantic level. Besides, the speed and frequency of light are constant when traversing one and the same medium. As a timing device light is reliable at any speed or relativistic motion— unlike a substantial clock whose mass can change with acceleration.

When the hologram was made, if the plate had been placed farther from or slightly closer to the statuette, or tilted, or turned a little to either side, in none of these positions would the recorded pattern of cresting coincidences have been the same. Nevertheless any of these visibly different patterns would have reproduced the same 3-D image of the statuette. Altering the plate’s position does not change either the wavelength or the frequency of the intersecting light beams; it changes only the particular selection which can be made from the individual cresting coincidences. It simply provides a different slice through the swarm of cresting coincidences, all of which occur simultaneously within the volume of space wherein the waves from the two beams can meet.

The farther away from the source of the beams, the larger a possible photographic record could become. No matter where in space the laser-and-plate set-up may be placed, or in what attitude it may be inclined, a hologram in principle can still be recorded. This holographic demonstration of the reality of a simultaneity of simultaneities at the quantic level can obviously be performed at any location in the universe where the recording equipment can be sent. Since the velocity of light is believed to be independent of the motion of any frame of reference, the caveats of relativists would have no effect on this kind of demonstration under circumstances involving relative motions near the speed of light.

Fortunately we don’t have to charter an interminable space flight to test holographic recording absolutely everywhere throughout the entire universe. At any time everywhere in space, waviform radiation of every conceivable frequency is already crisscrossing from every direction. Undetected cresting coincidences and indecipherable interference patterns of so many kinds are already occurring all at once everywhere in interstellar and intergalactic space—so many of them, in fact, that they mutually conceal each other’s presence from the observer who would attempt to resolve them. By using the correct radiation filters, however, these naturally occurring patterns of simultaneous simultaneities at the quantic level could theoretically be detected anywhere they occur.

The three-dimensional space of the universe may thus be understood as permeated through and through by a 3-D network of related, simultaneous, cresting coincidences that occur at each moment on the quantic level. These quantic events are always taking place everywhere throughout all space, whether or not human beings are present, armed with lasers and photographic plates, or space ships with clocks. At any one moment, the whole universe itself fills the role of a single great 3-D “hologram” in which an untold number of these wave coincidences throughout the whole range of vibratory frequencies actually and simultaneously occur.

Just before each coincidence occurs, two simultaneously existing wavecrests, converging at the same speed, were each at exactly the same distance from where they would coincide. At any given moment the number of cresting coincidences corresponds to a certain number of simultaneously existing wavecrests coming in right behind, themselves about to coincide. One set of simultaneities thus follows another set of simultaneities. No matter where the universe may be sliced through, such patterns of time-ordered before-and-after simultaneities will always be findable.

On the quantic level in this conception of the universe, one set of simultaneous coexistences is followed at the next moment by another set of simultaneous coincidences. This squares with my conception of cosmic creation time as the absolute, time-ordered, before-and-after sequence of universally simultaneous Now-states with which God is creating the world.

Having taken seriously what relativists have said about the relativity of clock-time, I believe that excellent reasons yet remain for holding to my belief that cosmic creation-time is an absolute, time-ordered succession of universal simultaneities. It is to the briefest, most momentary phase of this succession of universal simultaneities that I refer when I speak of a Now-state of the universe. Hence my definition: a Now-state consists of all those quantic events which occur simultaneously.