Time travel ‘n’ stuff

I think one of the many little linguistic tricks we play on ourselves is the trick of thinking of time as a dimension.  It’s odd that we don’t think of space as a dimension.  Space is obviously a medium in which we find dimensions: length, width, depth.  Time is also a medium in which we find a dimension.  The dimension isn’t time, it’s duration.  Duration can be measured like length, width and depth.  Time is infinite and immeasurable as is space.  We travel in space in a direction, which is also not a dimension.  We can measure the length of our journey and say that our journey was 1000 miles long.  1000 miles long is the dimension of our journey.  We didn’t travel ‘in’ the dimension of length, we use the dimension of length to describe our journey.  We didn’t travel in length; we travelled in space.

If there were only one dimension in space we would be unable to conceive of travelling ‘in’ space.  Space would be a line that you would travel along in one direction because if you tried to turn around and travel in the other direction the entire universe would have to turn with you or you’d run into everything.  As far as we know there is only one dimension in the medium of time: duration.  I think we’re going to have to find more dimensions in the medium of time before we’re able to travel in that medium.  As it is now, travelling in the medium of time presents the same problem as travelling in a one-dimensional space.

Einsteinian physics gives us a heretofore unknown dimension in the medium of time: speed.  According to relativity theory we are all travelling at the speed of light all the time, it’s just that almost all of our velocity is in the medium of time.  As we go faster and faster in the medium of space we’re not gaining speed, we’re just changing direction.  Instead of moving through time we move through space.  The faster we move through space the slower we move through time.  Just like if we were travelling on a road that was slowly turning from west to north.  Our speed doesn’t change, we just gradually stop going west and gradually start going north.  In this sense time and space are not media, they’re directions.

To throw one more bug into the ointment let me ask this: what are the dimensions of a symphony?  We know music exists in time so we can say that a symphony has duration.  That’s one dimension.  But obviously you can have two symphonies that are the same duration but sound completely different.  So what are the other dimensions?  We could measure the distance between the highest note played and the lowest and call that dimension ‘range’.  We could measure the difference between the loudest note played and the softest and call that dimension ‘amplitude’.  We could measure the difference between the slowest notes played and the fastest and call it ‘rhythmic range’ or something more elegant.  But we’ve already described four dimensions that could help us describe a symphony and only one of them takes place in the medium of time and none of them take place in the medium of space.  What medium do these other dimensions exist in?  The only medium I can come up with would be the medium of consciousness, because it takes consciousness to perceive these dimensions.  But then, it takes consciousness to perceive the media of space and time, also, which would make the medium of consciousness a hyper-medium or perhaps a meta-medium, which leaves us with our original conundrum.

Ah, physics.

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2 Responses to Time travel ‘n’ stuff

  1. Jenna Kearns says:

    Wow, you were right Mr. Lowrie, I have read your blog and I feel like a better person. On a note more related to the post, you have posted quite the question – and it makes me wish I took more physics classes in high school and college. I very much look forward to reading your book when it comes out!

    • john says:

      Hi, Jenna! Yes, physics and math, physics and math. If only those two subjects didn’t make a person sound like such a nerd when brought up at really cool parties! Think what the world would be like!

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