CHAPTER 13: TRAPPED IN THE HERE AND NOW
When I was becoming more and more retired, DeWitt Henry was being designated Professor Emeritus by Emerson College. This is one of the ways experts in the literary elite group retire. This meant he could wander around being an expert and do whatever he wanted. Fortunately for me, one of the things he wanted to do was help new writers.
He had always wanted to find and promote new, talented writers, but at about this time he intensified his efforts by joining two literary publications.
The first was Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices. Solstice publishes fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and photography. From their mission statement, they include in their publication underserved or “writers on the margins”. Their contributors are from diverse cultures. They stress “We believe probing into diversity can promote unity. We want to shake things up. Cause some ferment. After all, Solstice is renewal”.
DeWitt's title at Solstice is Consulting Non-Fiction/Fiction Editor.
He also joined The Woven Tale Press as the Literary Bookmarks Editor.
The Editor-in-Chief of The Woven Tale Press states that their mission is to grow the online presence of noteworthy writers, photographers, and artists. They publish “an eclectic mix of the literary, painting, sculpture, mixed media, photography, drawing, the innovative and the offbeat”.
. . . .
I cannot escape now. I can wait one second, two seconds, three seconds – and it is still now. Yet it seems different. And I can't go back to that first now. I can believe in a future now, but I have to wait to get there.
I am here. I can see a here that is over there. But I can't get to it. By the time I got to it, it would have receded into the past. I am trapped in the here and now.
The problem is the speed of light and a concept I call “close enough”. Although your DNA is different than mine, you are still you and I am still me. Neither of us is a bumblebee. Our DNA is close enough.
We each have our own now. If you were near Jupiter, your now would be separated from mine by an hour. If you are in the same room, we are close enough so we feel we have the same now. We are close enough to build civilizations.
Our scientists tell us that every particle in the universe has been trapped in the here and now ever since our grain of sand beginning. They make this statement based on a billion observations and mathematical calculations beyond almost everyone's comprehension. Only a few particle physicists claim some exotic super-microscopic particles can move through time – and then only a few gazillionths of a second. Anyway, now is not the time to consider this.
Being trapped like this is a Law of Nature. It keeps us from traveling through time. It may also keep us from traveling to other universes. We can imagine things in other universes being trapped by similar laws. I really like to break laws – as long as the punishment is not too severe.
When we were a grain of sand, particles on one side of the grain were trapped in time, just like particles on the other side of the grain. Today, after almost fourteen billions years of expansion, everything in remote galaxies is still trapped in time – just like everything we see around us. Science says this Law is universal.
There are other laws – laws of nature that are universal. Our science can see these laws in action here and, then see things in the remotest parts of the observable universe that confirm these laws are universal.
A law of physics is a rule that nature obeys without exception. Nature obeys this rule everywhere. Our science believes that the results of experiments carried out on Earth would be the same if carried out, under the same conditions, anywhere in the universe. If this turned out to be untrue, our science would collapse into meaninglessness.
A recent study (Dr. Emily Baldwin: "Earth's Laws Still Apply in Distant Universe"; AstronomyNow.com; June, 2008) shows that one of the most important numbers in physics, the proton-electron mass ratio, is the same in a galaxy six billion light years away as it is here on Earth - apparently laying to rest the debate about whether the laws of nature vary in different places in the Universe.
At first, I thought Dr. Baldwin had shown that our science is safe from collapse – until I thought longer and harder.
I need to mention a few universal laws of physics – Science prefers the exact language of mathematical equations, but I like English:
Light always travels at an exact speed, close to 186,000 miles per second.
The temperature of a hot cup of coffee will always, over time, fall – until it is no longer hot.
The earth will rotate one time every 24 hours.
The mass of an object causes gravity. Given the same mass and distance from an object, the force of gravity is always the same.
. . . .
I have spoken of the birth of our universe, its long expansion until now, and then its future expansion for almost forever, until we reach a cold, dark, barren universe without time – and I noted or implied that we had returned to Never Never Land. This view seems to say that, with the birth of our universe, timelessness was pushed away, only to return after a gazillion years.
A better view is that Never Never Land is always there, below our universe and every other universe, its gazillion universal genes supporting and defining every particle, force, law of nature, and anything else, that can exist in our universe, or any other universe.
Quantum theory states that two entangled particles, even when separated by light years, are connected; a change to one will be instantly communicated to the other – this is called “spooky action at a distance”.
If our universe lives in Never Never Land, we get something that is, surprising, less complex: “spooky action at no distance”.
Can thought experiments and pursuing strange analogies help explain the laws of nature and why they are universal in our universe? Since our science is stumped by this question, we have nothing to lose by giving it a shot. The first step is to assume there really is a Never Never Land where time does not exist.
Standard Big Bang Theory states that we started as a microscopic dot and after a few gizillionths of a second, we were the size of a grain of sand. This was like the gestation period of a fetus – a time when our universe was being put together. There is also a time in the far future when our universe will be dying. I don't want to consider either of these two times.
I do want to look more closely at the grain of sand time, up until now, and then on to the future. This corresponds to the healthy part of human life, from baby to old man – a time when our cells are doing a billion things to keep us going.
We know that our chromosomes contain genes, groups of rungs on vast DNA ladders, that are needed instructions for our cells. Our chromosomes tell every cell when and how to do a billion things. If we ignore details, we can say DNA defines living creatures in our universe. A living creature could be a heart cell or a liver cell, a human being or a bumble bee or a maple leaf. DNA is telling each creature how to react to its environment, how and when to do the billion things it needs to do.
When I see everything – particles, waves, energy – in the past, present, and future, following complex, but strict, rules, I have to wonder what is the DNA of the universe?
I have spoken of a Never Never Land, a timeless region. It was needed to address cause and effect problems – to show that there did not have to be a “bottom turtle”. Once you accept Never Never Land, it seems the natural place for the code of universes – instructions that run our universe and perhaps a gazillion others.
I want to develop a thought experiment where I imagine mechanisms that let timeless code control universes. It is hard to think our way across the timeless – time boundary that seems to exist between us and “there”. In describing these mechanisms, I want to put off as long as possible using pretty phrases that mean “we don't know”. By this, I mean phrases like “spooky action at a distance” and “spooky action at no distance”.
I have speculated that gravitons and time particles exist in Never Never Land and our universe may have started when one of each combined – the time particle providing the essence of our time. Another, different possibility, is Never Never Land holds not gravitons and time particles, but vast collections of code, or timeless genes. Some of these genes define our time and everything else in our universe. Other genes, gazillions of them, code for other universes.
It is important to remember that these genes are timeless – they may not code for universes that begin or end. Also, being timeless, a gazillion genes could make up strands of genetic material whose length stretches forever, or has no length at all, or has any length in between.
I can think of one example that may be analogous, more or less, to how the universe works. The cells in our bodies, as well as, the entire universe, need information to operate. This information comes from genes, either regular or timeless.
Imagine a large city with a couple of million houses, each with one TV and cable service. The cable service, like our chromosomes, or perhaps a timeless version of our chromosomes, offers a vast array of information. A particular house, a particular TV, is set for only one channel. This house is like a skin cell, a white blood cell, or a neuron; or maybe this house is like our universe, while another house is another universe.
Our science knows a lot about how our cells communicate with and are affected by our chromosomes. The most difficult thing I have tried to imagine, the most difficult thought experiment, involves answering this key question: How can our universe communicate with and be affected by timeless chromosomes?
Everything, every process, we see in our universe, is time based. We are moving through time, from past to future. We are in constant motion. How can we communicate with a timeless world that just is? We cannot walk around this world because nothing changes – and walking implies change.
Part of the answer, I believe, is shape. A timeless gene has shape.
In our world, shape is important. Prion diseases – also known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE's) are some of the most insidious maladies known to Man. These illnesses are progressive neurogenerative conditions that can afflict both animals and humans. The first TSE was identified in the 1730s. This was Scrapie, a disease affecting sheep and goats.
Scrapie is related to the more famous bovine spongiform encephalopathy – mad cows disease.
Humans can get a version of mad cows disease by eating contaminated meat. The disease is always fatal. Even well cooked meat is dangerous. The good news is prion diseases are extremely rare.
What do prion diseases have to do with shape? Here is a simplified explanation leaving out many steps.
Healthy animals build a protein called a cellular prion protein. This protein is primarily expressed in the central nervous system and brain, but can occur in many parts of the body. Rarely, maybe because of a mutation in a critical gene, a prion is built that is the same as a normal cellular prion, but it is shaped wrong. What is worse, when this prion meets a normal prion, it changes it to the bad shape – resulting in a cascading destruction of normal cellular protein and death. Shape is important.
In biology and organic chemistry, the shape of molecules is just as important as the atoms that make up the molecules. Shapes will determine if molecules fit together, like a key in a lock, or not. Shapes will determine if molecules move together or drift apart. Shapes will determine if life supporting chemical reactions occur, or not.
I can imagine a timeless gene or timeless chromosome having a shape. Being in timelessness, this shape can never change – yet it can. Let me explain what I mean.
If you could look at a timeless chromosome, it might exist in many dimensions, with its shape traversing all of these. For simplicity, let us just look at only two dimensions. In this case, part of the chromosome could be shaped like “WW”. Anything above the “WW” is inside the chromosome and is part of Never Never Land.
Let me now ask some questions similar to questions asked before and see if we are not enlightened by some refined answers:
What is the length of the timeless chromosome?
How tall is the “WW”?
What is the length of each of the eight lines that make up the “WW”?
How thick is each line?
How far is it from the top of the right line in the left “W” to the top of the left line in the right “W”?
We may have implied that these questions have no meaning because we are in Never Never Land. But let's reconsider.
When we were discussing the Big Bang, we pointed out that it seemed like at the very first moment a particle could be half in, half out, of our reality. Part of it could still be in Never Never Land. It could have a real, measurable length, but an imaginary width. We then pointed out that, by changing our frame of reference, we could make length the width and vice versa. We then came to the weird conclusion that the length of object, or even if the object had length, could depend on how you looked at it.
Maybe the answers to the above questions depends on our universe's relationship to Never Never Land, on how it sees Never Never Land. What it sees today could be very different than what it saw when it was a grain of sand.
Every entity in our universe could contain a unique shape, a key that fits into a specific lock in Never Never Land. The timeless “WW” lock sits on top of a “ ^ ^ ” key (each “^” fits into the bottom of a “W”). As our universe expands, a gazillion keys grow – and yet, the “WW” lock is not broken. Our universe changes it frame of reference, how it looks at the timeless chromosome. The “WW” lock is always the right size.
Notice that nothing inside the chromosome has changed. It is still static and timeless. It has an unchanging shape. Only our frame of reference changes. Perhaps there is no gene for time. We may feel the changes to our frame of reference as the passage of time.
Bosons are particles that can occupy the same space at the same time. Since a gazillion keys can connect to one timeless lock, these keys, which are part of our universe must have boson-like qualities.
We have asked about the length of lines that make up the lock or the key and have said the answer may be based on our frame of reference, or we could even say the answers are based on what our universe needs. But we also asked about the thickness of the lines – how close is our world of time to timelessness?
As the “WW” lock grows as our universe expands, we could imagine that the eight lines also grow in thickness. In our world, especially our quantum world, lines, or the particles that make up the lines, also have a wave like nature. The lines are fuzzy and we can't be sure where they are. In our quantum world, particles can tunnel through impenetrable barriers.
I can imagine a fuzzy line, part of the lock in Never Never Land, sitting next to a line in our world, part of the key. Using quantum like rules, the fuzzy line could sometimes “tunnel through” part of our key – pulling it and part of us into a timeless world. Once there, there is no distance. We can be next to any gene, any set of instructions, in the timeless chromosome. Maybe we could read the instructions by changing our perspective, our frame of reference. Could we find clues to who wrote the code? - or is that a time based question in a timeless world?
If you viewed ours and a gazillion other universes from the standpoint of Never Never Land, it is us that is static, timeless, and unchanging. We are a grain of sand; we are building pyramids; we are being born; we are dying; we are expanding into dark, barren, nothingness. It is just a matter of how you look at us – it is just a matter of your frame of reference.
. . . .
I can never escape the here and now. Perhaps every particle in me contains timeless chromosomes with timeless genes that tie me to this universe, this now.
Maybe I can find the proper expert. Maybe he knows how to splice regular genes.
Maybe he can figure out how to splice timeless genes. Maybe he can free me from the here and now.