atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#3437: Time is NOT slowing down.

I saw this Ace post a few days ago and forgot about it until just now.
What if time is simply ticking more slowly, giving rise to the illusion of a rapidly expanding universe, when the real culprit is time, literally, running out and slowing to a crawl?
Emphasis his.

WTF is this shit? Time is a dimension like the three spatial ones; you might as well say that the expansion appears to be accelerating because up is getting shorter.

If I may be permitted to put on my "pure science" hat for a bit...

We perceive the universe as having linear, unidirectional time because of how we're built. Our perception of the physical universe is predicated on certain chemical reactions taking place in a strict causal relationship. These reactions are one-way in that it takes an enormous amount of energy to reverse them, and the principle of least action generally prevents them from happening that way spontaneously.

(Omitted: any discussion of the soul. I said "pure science". IMHO the body is a meat-machine interface for the soul to connect to the universe...but this is not relevant to this discussion.)

But the universe in fact doesn't have time; it has a time dimension. (And quite possibly more than one.) There is no gigantic chronometer somewhere which is gradually increasing the span between each tick of the second hand; that's as silly as saying there's a gigantic measuring stick somewhere which is gradually getting shorter (or longer). In fact, the actual notion of objective time is meaningless; without an observer inside the universe there is no time. The universe is a vast multidimensional structure; viewed from outside it just is.

At one end there's the Big Bang, and through some fourth or fifth or twentieth dimension it expands from there into whence it goes. Absolutely everything is contained in that structure.

A Square of Flatland lives in a three-dimensional space but can't see the third dimension he live in because that dimension is time. His entire life is lived in a cube that he can't perceive; the first infinitesimal slice of the cube is his birth, and the last inifinitesimal slice is his death. His life and movements form a complex shape within the cube when viewed as a solid in three dimensions but he doesn't see it that way. He sees only one 2D slice at any given instant, and perceives the other slices as "time"--past, present, and future.

So how does "time" slow down in that instance? It doesn't. It can't. As I said, it's like saying "up is getting shorter!" The chemical reactions that take place in Mr. Square's brain determine his perception of "time", not any characteristic inherent in the universe he occupies.

What all this means is that the astronomers don't know what the hell is going on.

The universe is expanding? We think this is correct but we don't really know. It's based entirely on the doppler shifts in galactic spectra, and for all we know it could be something else we don't understand that's doing it. Maybe the universe is steady-state and the doppler shift is happening for some other reason. The theory of an expanding universe makes perfect sense, mind you, but it could be wrong.

Why is it accelerating? Is it actually accelerating, or is there some factor we're not taking into account? Are we sure we understand the behavior of photons over very large distances? Could it be because the universe is expanding and the light has to travel ever-farther, so while it's en route the expansion of the universe is enough to red-shift it more than the relative motion would by itself?

That sounds crazy, but 14 billion light years is a very long distance. If you're a photon traveling 14 billion light years, the unmeasurably tiny bit of expansion you feel at a local level is probably enough to red-shift your wavelength--to a significant degree--after you keep experiencing it continuously for fourteen billion years.

Does the math account for that? Can it?

I don't know, but I'm confident that we're not literally running out of time.

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