Sunday, May 7, 2006

The Time is Coming. . . .

While I was on my lunch break from the book store today, I wandered over to the Periodicals section, thinking that I would track down one of those magazines about living off-the-grid (power-wise, not technology-wise) and browse through it. [I'm terribly interested in the possibility of setting up a windmill for home electricity use, or possibly putting up a solar panel on the long south-facing side of our roof.] I got sidetracked, however, as my eye was caught by a special edition of Scientific American, devoted to the topic of time. I flipped through it a bit and I bought it. It seems like a very interesting read from what I've seen so far.

I'm going into it with my own preconceived notions. Chief among them, time always moves forwards, never backwards. What happened already has happened and will forever be in the past. It is not possible to go back to before a previous occurrence.

Reading this magazine may turn out to dispel these notions. I doubt it, but I'm keeping an open mind. I'll let you know if it succeeds in this regard.

This whole notion of time is something that I find fairly fascinating. I have been thinking about it for quite some time. It seems to provide a fairly inexhaustible opportunity for mental exercise for those who choose to ponder it. I find it's a sort of "thought toy".

I'm going in believing that time may be relative. Time may pass more quickly or slowly depending on perspective. It's an interesting concept and I don't doubt that Einstein was right on that count. What I haven't seen yet is any convincing argument that the jump from "slowing down and speeding up of time" to "the reversal of time" is a reasonable jump. Surely it's conceivable and it makes for interesting science fiction (at least sometimes). But I don't yet believe it's plausible.

In the meantime, I've been slowly working on an animated demonstration of what I believe to be the main point of impossibility (or EXTREME unlikelihood, anyway--shall we say "stumbling block"?) which would preclude the possibility of human time travel into the past--and no, it doesn't have anything at all to do with the usual "paradox" that's been discussed a million times before.

I don't find myself with much time available for this pursuit. That lack of available time, combined with my not necessarily being a master of the tools at my disposal, means that the illustration/animation and accompanying explanation will take me some time to post. If I've tantalized you with this come-on, you'll just have to bear with me. I hope it'll be worth the wait. (Sure, I could simplify my illustration and crank something out in Illustrator or Photoshop, but it's been a while since I've really tinkered in my 3-D software, and this seems like a perfectly good excuse.)

I also mentioned in my second blog entry that I intend to post something about "Designing and implementing the first ever meaningful time-travel experiment." Of course, it's been fully designed in my mind. I haven't yet implemented it, but when I do, this blog will be the place to find out about it. You'll probably be astonished at how simple an idea it is and how easy it will be to set in motion. It's just a matter of choosing the appropriate moment. (Of course, you might be terribly disappointed at just what the experiment is set up to do, but I have confidence that it's a good methodology for what it's meant to test.)

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