TimeTuesday: We’re All Time Travelers

Greenwich clock, appropriate for a time post including the DoctorI have this theory, it might really mess with your head, but it’s worth thinking about. We’re all time travelers. Well, maybe that isn’t a fair way to put it. We’re all actually time travelling machines.

One of the problems we have in modern science is a definition of what time is. I’m so enthralled by this problem that I’d like to dedicate Tuesdays to trying to figure it out (bonus points if you know the literary reference beyond the alliteration.) So here’s the basic premise I’m working with, it comes from math more than science but it’s a good working model.

A single point requires no units, thus it is unit^0 (we’ll use meters from here on out, just for clarity, so: m^0) This is fine, and when you realize that a single point is non-defined without any form of measurement, you put it on a line. There are numbers to the left and right of it, and this makes sense. It’s more than some, less than others. That line gives the point value, and thus we have a length (m^1). When you want to frame the value of that line segment, you put it on a plane. The plane can then be used (m^2 found with the formula: l*w) to find area, and to valuate it, you put it in a 3d space. To do something with the 3d space you measure volume (m^3 found: l*w*d) but then what? What is m^4 as a physical reality? Is it just an abstraction?

To determine this, I’d like to propose a look at Mythbusters.
What is being discussed in this video is a measurement of surface area covering a span of time. The results are interesting, but when you consider each drop of rain is also moving, basically we have a mathematical nightmare. So, it isn’t so much that we can’t determine m^4, but that it’s just way to big for us to compute (or at least write a handy formula for.) Or is it?

The TARDIS from Doctor Who, a simple blue police call box?Enter the TARDIS. If you don’t know Doctor Who I’ll explain. The TARDIS is Doctor Who’s time travelling box, bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. TARDIS stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space (yeah it violates the rules of time, so of course grammar is not a concern with the acronym.) Now, when you think of time traveller, Doctor Who might be the first type to come to mind, and surely a guy that can pop in and out of any situation he wants is pretty impressive. But we are time travelers in a much different way. We’re actually a lot more like the TARDIS (bigger on the inside.)

See, we travel through time by default. We happen to see this travel as a straight line, but it isn’t so much straight as it is inexorable. We are more than just what is here and now. Our physical (m^3) self is only the outside of the box, on the inside we are much more than that. We are a collection of our experiences. We are, essentially, a Time And Relative Dimension In Space. We move through space in much the same way, actually, because the space around us is also moving through time. Think about a spot you grew up in, and when you return it isn’t the same. You may say, ‘but we can travel in all sorts of different directions.’ To which I say, ‘but we are always moving from here to there.’ Very similar problem with time, until we break the rules on that problem by relying on past experience. Now, if you can find that neat equation to sup up m^4, you’ll probably be a millionaire in no time. Until then, embrace your time travel machine self.

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