TED Conversations

Pabitra Mukhopadhyay


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Time's Flow - Is Past-Present-Future notion of time an illusion?

I asked about the perspective of decision making, authority or authenticity, in the conversation titled ‘What leads us to decide?’

The time perspective of decision making as presented by Philip Zimbardo in his talk ‘The psychology of Time’ raises questions about the elusive nature of time’s arrow.

The arrow of time, or time's arrow, is a concept developed in 1927 by the British astronomer Arthur Eddington involving the "one-way direction" or "asymmetry" of time. Physical processes at the microscopic level are believed to be either entirely or mostly time-symmetric: if the direction of time were to reverse, the theoretical statements that describe them would remain true. Yet at the macroscopic level it often appears that this is not the case: there is an obvious direction (or flow) of time.

Or is it?

Of the 7 arrows of time that we know of (you can check wikipedia here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow_of_time) the psychological arrow of time is not a derivative of the thermodynamic arrow in the sense that it involves the linguistic notion of past, present and future and an idea of flow of time.

Flow of time? At what rate? A second per second? Seems non-sense. In his book 'God and the New Physics' Paul Davis describes a hypothetical discussion between a physicist and a skeptic implying our notion of past, present and future and flow of time as illusory. He contends that all time is there laid out on a space-time map where events are all but points with co-ordinates. Some events are causally related, some are not but everything that has happened, is happening and will happen are all there. We need just an efficient calendaring system to date the events and that’s about it.

Do you think you can live in a world where your brain state in 2013 records information about events in 2012 because 2012 < 2013 and cannot record information about events in 2014 because 2014>2013?

Is PPF an illusion?


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    Apr 19 2013: Another interesting notion - I actually have thought that just maybe free will is a dimension all it's own, the 5th dimension. I'm sure you are aware of the other-worlds theory of physics, where each choice we make may branch off into another universe. I don't quite see how this makes sense, other than that we may think of our past decisions with regret or happiness, etc., however, I do think that perhaps the next dimension from time is where we are faced with choice, and we choose. Accordingly, this dimension of free will is where are co-creating and where identity-actualizing reality begins - where are free-will is a part of time and the dimensions before it.
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      Apr 19 2013: RE: "Hmm...I see fault in my logic -". I agree the concept of Time is necessary for existence on Earth. To prove it is essential try to imagine never using a time related word in your communication with others. You could not use words like: is; was; am; are;will; were; now, before; after; later, earlier; past, present, future, duration; speed, velocity; and scores of other words and phrases that are time related. We could only make statements like: "The grass green", but we could not say: "The grass is, was, or will be green."

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