Time and creation

Two articles in Wired’s current “What we don’t know” issue stood out especially for me.

  1. Is time an illusion? – Mentions Einstein’s belief that time is just another dimension. If so, perhaps from one position it would look like a single point. (Similarly, Jeff Hawkins is quoted in this month’s Business 2.0 that “an expanding universe is the same as a universe where the rate of time is speeding up.” So if moving infinitely fast makes time elsewhere appear frozen, does time moving infinitely fast make us appear frozen?)

  2. How can observation affect the outcome of an experiment? – Talks about the observer effect, and specifically an interesting corrolary derived from quantum mechanics–“that unless we observe an event or thing, it hasn’t really happened”, where “observation” refers to a broad range of detection methods From Wikipedia:

In quantum mechanics, if the outcome of an event has not been observed, it exists in a state of superposition, which is being in all possible states at once. The most famous example is the thought experiment Schrodinger’s cat, in which the cat is neither alive nor dead until observed — until that time, the cat is both alive and dead (technically half-alive and half-dead in probability terms). However, it is not clear that quantum observation requires a human or sentient observer.

The combination seemed interesting to me. If time can look like a finite picture, and our “observation” of things makes them real, then perhaps we can contribute to that picture by observing things.

And how much more important then is it to observe new things, or alternatively, be a part of realizing new things so they can be observed. For the picture of time to change, we must create–and perhaps creating that picture is the unique opportunity of life here in our world.

This idea itself is not completely new, unfortunately. Ed Fredkin mentioned it in Robert Wright’s Three Scientists and their Gods, and Wright then said as much with his latest book Nonzero. Douglas Adams wrote about it in The Hitchhiker’s Guide. But the combination of these two ideas was what most recently made sense to me, and once again got me excited about my own little role as a creator.