Tag Archives: Time

Alan Moore on Science, Imagination, Language and Spirits of Place

In an excellent interview with the Daily Grail, author Alan Moore talks about the spirits of a place, time and simultaneity, and how the ephemeral artifacts of the current times are making it harder for the next generation to be imaginatively creative – something we should all be worried about. Continue reading

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One Hundred years after Albert Einstein predicted the existence of Gravitational Waves, the announcement that they had been discovered finally came. The two detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)  simultaneously observed a transient gravitational-wave signal last year on September 14th.

From the Introduction in the Physical Review Letters paper:

“In 1916, the year after the final formulation of the field equations of general relativity, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves. He found that the linearized weak-field equations had wave solutions: transverse waves of spatial strain that travel at the speed of light, generated by time variations of the mass quadrupole moment of the source. Einstein understood that gravitational-wave amplitudes would be remarkably small; moreover, until the Chapel Hill conference in 1957 there was significant debate about the physical reality of gravitational waves.”

 

From the Conclusion:

 

“The LIGO detectors have observed gravitational waves from the merger of two stellar-mass black holes. The detected waveform matches the predictions of general relativity for the inspiral and merger of a pair of black holes and the ringdown of the resulting single black hole. These observations demonstrate the existence of binary stellar-mass black hole systems. This is the first direct detection of gravitational waves and the first observation of a binary black hole merger.”

 

The complete paper can be read here:

 

 – Your Joyful Benefactor
Image: LIGO

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12th February 2016 · 8:15 am

Time’s Arrow

Merciless, time watches over our abject forms,
And steals lovely night with break of day.
It tempts with burned images that swim in brief ecstasy and are lost,
Our memory a shoddy palimpsest of battling desires and warring ideas.
The stacked moments of a brief universe stretch out for us to perceive,
And yet, for all of our trials and troubles,
We would not bare it to be any other way.

© Phil Corbluth

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Past, Present and Future – Ghosts All

The concepts of Past, Present and Future are as insubstantial as ghosts. The present is an illusory horizon line between the so-called past and the so-called future. If there is no present, where do the past and future come from? Continue reading

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Proposition (VIII)

All of the energy in the Universe is the product of oppositions – a manifestation of the tension between the ideal states of Something and Nothing.

Corollary. – The total amount of energy in the universe is zero, because the states of things only change as they pass through time (a narrative) using up the energy that was created during the Big Bang. The common perceptions that the universe came from nothing or an infinity of something do not provide answers about where existence comes from – sense can be made of this only if the tension between these two ideas produces an idea of something and this is the energy from which all matter is made. All manifestations of nature descend from this law: Light, Dark, Repulsion, Attraction, Heat, Cold, Life, Death.

– Your Joyful Benefactor

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There’s no Heaven or Hell – But, Don’t Worry

Imagine standing in the most beautiful garden you’ve ever seen. The sun is shining, the grass is lush. To your left are rolling hills that become the feet of great mountains. To your right just through the foliage the gentle undulating land meets a golden beach and the crashing waves of a mighty ocean. You stand in the utter stillness and on a whim, make a foolish wish: This moment and this place can last forever; it can transcend all harm, all disease and all the ills of mankind. Continue reading

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Information Overload: We’ve Had it Since the Beginning of Time

How does a number such as Pi exist in the universe? It’s probably been written down to certain degrees of accuracy many times over – and stored on as many electronic devices. Some people can hold hundreds of digits of it in their heads. However, when you think of a circle, try to imagine those magic numbers – the relationship between the circumference and radius, they do not spring to mind, they are not intrinsically anywhere and at most appear to be some kind of approximation. So where then, are they and how are they stored?

The same could be asked of those other magical numbers; the Primes. Consider a thought experiment in which we try to imagine how the primes could crop up in nature – well of course they are everywhere within sets of numbers – but surely they are only ‘known’ to be primes if some kind of system can ‘understand’ them as primes. What do we mean by understand? If we take humans out of the equation for a moment and ask instead – is there a system at large in the universe that could some how sort primes so at least they are definable by their very separation from other quantities? Imagine the asteroid belt within our Solar System or similar belts within billions of other solar systems through out the universe – trillions and trillions of pieces of rock floating randomly through space. Given enough time – surely some conglomeration of these could give rise to a repeatable set of collisions that would sort the rocks into prime numbers up to say one hundred. Perhaps, but it is unlikely that a computing device of such power could arise in one short step, within the complete lifetime of the universe. Instead a very simple computing mechanism has to come into existence that can be improved upon in later iterations until it becomes a sieve of Prime numbers – and of course there is such a sieve; the human brain of Homo Sapiens. One of those Homo Sapiens, a Greek called Eratosthenes actually created an algorithm for calculating a set of primes that we still call the Sieve of Eratosthenes.

This begs the question of how an evolved system, an ever improving life form carries information. It is quite obvious that the information carried by genes must be encoded and decoded within a body in order for the instructions to be ‘read’ and acted upon when a new body is created via reproduction and that this information, which is only now being decoded in a different way – by conscious minds who wish to understand it – came from somewhere and is going to somewhere else, albeit in a more complex state. A problem arises when you consider the raw information – it’s rubbish, a meaningless jumble of noise like the streams of radio waves that we are sending out from the Earth if nobody’s listening, and can only be used if the correct decoding device transcribes the information into another form. Interestingly it is the errors in copying that give rise to the diversity of life as we know it because the substrate that ‘carries’ the information is imperfect and in constant flux. What is information then? Itself, it is an ephemeral, plastic thing and is carried simply by patterns in matter, that inscribe more patterns onto more matter, and by random differences, molds them as it goes.

How all this has occurred is mysterious but it seems that pattern formation within the condensation of early matter in the universe, primed clumps of potential information substrates that eventually formed at least one intensely dense pocket of information flow – our planet and its staggering, descending streams of data. Information then is a shifting sand storm of decodings and interpretations that descends through time and can be cut-off at a stroke, by the burning of a book, the passing of a family member, the extinction of a species or the death of a star.

– Your Joyful Benefactor

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Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

The raw nature of existence appears to be one of those intractable questions that is problematic for many reasons. Yet again the limitations of language and semantics are complicating the issue. The basic definition of ‘nothing’ is (depending on your point of view) fuzzy at best, and at worst utterly meaningless. This may well also apply to the ‘something’ but I’ll let the wonder of sunsets, opposable thumbs and the fact that you are reading this, as proof enough that we can delve straight into the no-thing… thing.

The Void, Blackness, a Vacuum, ‘Before Time’ – all of these images reside in our imagination when we are forced to contemplate the concept of nothing. It is obvious that as soon as we use these definitions we are referring to ‘something’ and the very idea of nothingness disappears in a puff of logic (a vacuum is well known to be anything but empty). These terms refer to some kind of space, dimension or time (even ‘Before Time’ which is tautological as before describes sequential events). The mental exercise of removing space and time from the imagination leads to confusion and distress – the mental action negates any concept of nothing and these double negatives force something back to the surface.

Cultural memes spread in the stories and creation myths of our ancestors foster the idea of the necessity of a beginning and the void. Even the calculations of rational scientists, compute with some precision the amount of time that our universe (whatever that may be) has existed – they appear to then obfuscate the issue by delving into what came before. Various cosmological theories try to solve the problem of nothingness in their models, from the infinite ‘brains’ of the multi-verse where the many versions of me are all slightly different (in the universe next door – my sir name is spelled Corblyth – a mistake commonly made in this one) to endlessly recycling models of inflation and deflation – an infinite balloon that seems to have no trouble staying full of hot air.

Try the following thought experiment: Count forwards in seconds and then imagine this counting going on into infinity – it’s pretty easy to do, there seems to be no problem with a forward arrow of time that marches onwards without end. Now reverse this and do the same. Counting backwards into infinity might not feel like much of a struggle but one probably has the nagging sensation that proceeding backwards in time cannot go on forever – surely there was a start to it all. This anxiety comes from the fact that we are temporal creatures with a firm sense of the arrow of time that denotes the episodes of our lives, from birth to death and the hope for many of a beyond.
 
An easy and massive assumption is the idea that nothingness has had an elevated position as the natural state of things, prior to the something that we cling to. Where did this idea come from? Isn’t it possible that in the end (or, in the infinity) there simply cannot be a concept of nothing – it is forbidden. My advice: take a gentle dive into the warm ocean of infinity and consider that as we delve deeper into the seemingly unending layers of matter, it all really seems to made up of, well…

 

– Your Joyful Benefactor

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