Français Français Français                               more readable page                     😀?!NO COOKIES!?😇     

General Epistemology        Chapter IV-3       


IV-3 The nature of time


(Permalink) (Was chapter 33 in version 1)


Modern physics simply studies the world as it is, its structures and laws, without even attempting any explanation on the causes of these structures and laws. For instance modern physicists do not even try to answer a question such as «what is time?». They consider that any response to such kind of question is beyond reach of physics, and find their content in only measuring this time, a thing they can do with an extreme accuracy. The metaphysical frame explained here allows for reasoning on the causes of physics, and thus on the cause of physical laws. We shall try this, with more or less success. Curiously, it is the most enigmatic of the laws of physics, time, which will give way with the less effort.


(Permalink) The nature of time is more difficult to apprehend than it appears at a first glance. Time is something abstract, which cannot be put in a test tube to study it. In more, there is no natural reference mark of time, something which may be like the succession of days and nights, but on a fundamental level from the point of view of physics, for example an elementary stitch of time like the turn in chess game. Thus we have to measure time with ad-hoc instruments: clocks. A clock is a material structure, in which a physical phenomenon is expected to always reproduce according to the same interval of time. For that, at each beginning of cycle the same causes are gathered, which will always produce the same effects. We then postulate that the time after what this effect appears is always «the same duration» (this cannot a priori be posed as obvious). That this phenomenon can reproduce «identical durations» is connected to the fact that the fundamental properties of the particles (and the vacuum where they behave) do not vary, in a wooden pendulum as well as in a cesium atom in an atomic clock. Therefore the cyclic phenomenon proceeds always in the same way, and thus we can now say that it does it according to the same duration. (Strictly speaking, irregularities always happen, as parasitic phenomena interfere. But if these interferences get closer to zero, then the clock effectively gets closer to perfection).

This phenomenon of measurement of time acts not only in artificial clocks, but also exactly in the same way in any objects and physical phenomenon, where each interaction, each movement «measures» the time in this way: artificial clocks are not physical objects different from the others. Any physical object «measures» time as a clock, and the later differs of other objects only with the presence of a counter and a display, in more of the pendulum.


We commonly feel time as something which seems to flow at a constant rate, as if the universe was a kind of movie. In a movie, the unfolding of the film is the absolute reference of time. All the events in the movie happen at different moments, separated by durations that we can measure in an absolute way, in terms of a number of images, for example 24 for an interval known as one second. And if the characters of the movie were conscious, they would feel the same duration for the same number of images, either we see the movie at high speed or slower. However, all the scenes of a movie, at whatever time they happen, have only one cause, atemporal relative to the movie: the author, who imagined a story which can be completely illogical. And the characters have no free will to modify this story.


But we see that our universe behaves very differently of the movie: at every moment, varied phenomena produce the causes of future events, in a constant chaining. These events are always different, but their unfolding and chaining happens after always identical ways and properties. This is what makes that the resulting apparent flow of time is «seen» by the clocks and by all the physical phenomena, as an absolute time passing continuously at a constant speed, although there is actually no absolute reference mark of time nor «something» which makes time flow at a constant and always definite speed as in a movie. So, to the difference of the movie, we can at every moment create the causes of future events, and thus modify the History. But, as in the movie, we cannot modify the unfolding of time.


The time of our universe seems to happen at a constant and extremely accurate speed. However, it is not defined by a kind of elementary stitch, as the turn in the «universe» of the chess game (considered in its abstraction), neither by something which would unfold like in a movie. The «clocks» in the «universe» of chess game do not have a pendulum, as it is enough to count turns. And a conscious being who may «live» into this «universe» may feel a flow of time according to the number of turns (without any relation with the short or long physical time players may spend in each turn). Into our physical world, there is no turn, no absolute beacon of time (no movie), but a relative time, where the phenomena reproduce in very constant and accurate ways. This makes that we can use for instance a pendulum to replace the missing «game turn», giving the illusion of an absolute and perfect time. We can push accuracy very far, for instance with an atomic clock, and approach perfection.


A proof a contrario of this hypothesis on the flow of time is that certain phenomena seem to escape from it. The ageing of the human body is done in a defined time, which has a certain value, within some statistical variations. It is thus really located in a flow of time, with a progressive wear. But it is not the same with the «ageing» of radioactive atoms, which is a quantum phenomenon. If the disintegration of radioactive atoms were similarly resulting of a progressive wear, or any other phenomenon playing the role of an internal clock ensuring the disintegration after a given time lapse, we then should see, in a sample of radioactive substance, the radioactivity, null at the beginning, grow when the atoms start to disintegrate, until a maximum, then decrease and cancel at the end of a certain time, with the disappearance of all the radioactive atoms, exactly as would do the activity of funerals in a city where everyone should be born the same day.

If, on the other hand, the disintegration can «choose» to take place at any time, completely independently of the date, without any temporal determinism, then the number of disintegrations at each second is at random, it is a probability, of which it is however obvious that it is proportional to the number of atoms actually here. A simple calculation (first order differential equation) shows that this probability, just like the remaining number of atoms, falls then continuously according to a law known as exponential: each time a time T (the radioactive half-life) passes, the radioactivity just like the number of remaining atoms are both divided by two, a constant number completely independent of the date. The radioactivity, strong at the beginning, decreases more and more slowly but without never being cancelled. The quantity of radioactive material makes the same.

The must is that it is with these timeless phenomena that we can obtain the most precise dating in geophysics and archaeology, by the mean of their statistical properties. Indeed certain radioactive systems constitute genuine natural dating clocks.

Interpretation after our metaphysical hypothesis

(Permalink) Let us suppose a mathematical series by iteration, where we add one to each element, in order to get the next. This gives for instance 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... This series of values is, in a way, numbered, in the order. Suppose that we cheat on a value: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, then we impose 10 instead of 6. The series then continues: 10, 11, 12... However the values before the cheat are not modified. So, into such a series, the numbering of the elements behaves like a time: events happen at a given moment, and each event influences only the future events. However this numbered time can be compared to the «time» of the chess game, not to the physical time.


A logical self-generation process, such as the one seen in chapter III-4, has the same properties that this mathematical series, save that, instead of a simple series of numbers, it produces complex sets of events. So we cannot speak of turns like in the chess game, as these events can happen at any date. However, each event can influence only the following ones in the series. This situation is totally equivalent to the one of quantum physics: quantum interactions happen at random moments, but each influences only the following ones.


The cause to effect law, which says that the cause is always before the effect, is a direct consequence of the fact that our physical universe is a logical self-generation process.


Ultimately, a logical self-generation process does not exist into time, no more than a series of numbers: the mathematical facts are atemporal, and the series exists as a whole, just like the series of the integer, whatever date we have in our head. However the description of such a system gives a series of events, which come in a chaining and a succession, exactly as in our usual notion of time. In more, for a being who would live into such a process, as seen in chapter III-4, this succession is totally indiscernible from a time, as we perceive «concretely» into our «real» physical world. We can state that the flow of time is nothing else than the unfolding of the logical self-generation process.

In this way, any physical system (machine, person, scientist, observation instrument) existing into this logical self-generation process will perceive the process as happening into a time. This is true even in the absence of an absolute time, and our universe is really generated «layer» after «layer», as in the diagram seen in chapter III-4.

It is however indispensable to note that this «subjective» time is proper to the considered logical self-generation process. So, each logical self-generation process has its own time, just as it has its own space. This apparently untestable and abstract metaphysical result was however physically checked: nothing forbids that the different parts of a logical self-generation process has different times, and it is really what Relativity predicts, and which was tested by satellites, in daily applications like the GPS. So there is no mystery in the way Relativity distorts time, either general or special. Simply, the different parts of our universe self-generate, each on their side. In the absence of any external perturbation, they will evolve together with an absolute accuracy, giving the look of a space-time continuum which would generate an absolute time, valid everywhere. But nothing forbids that specific causes change the synchronism, and thus offset the time of the different parts of the universe. And it is really what relativistic effects are doing.

And, the logical self-generation process necessarily having a start, its internal time starts only at this moment. So the time also has a beginning, before which nothing is defined. This is exactly what the astronomers found, with the Big Bang, which sees the creation of the universe and the beginning of time, without «before». It is difficult for us to figure «a time where time not yet existed», but it is really what predicts the theory of the logical self-generation process, and that astronomy shows.


Into such conditions, the absolute time that we imagine is just an easy to use conception, it does not exist as such, and the strange findings of science on the distortions of time (Relativity, Big Bang) does not arise any issue. This absolute, uniform and infinite time is just an illusion of our mind, perfectly equivalent to the flat Earth, infinite and uniform, that our far ancestors imagined.


So we got with a simple and complete explanation, not only of one of the deepest enigma of existence, but in more of all its troubling exceptions. And all this without any «alternative physics» or ad-hoc hypothesis. Just with removing the useless taboo on metaphysics, and the old hackneyed materialist dogma.

Time seen by consciousness

(Permalink) Time is one of the most fundamental experiences of consciousness. But why does it favours a perception of a passing time, compared to the vision of the entire chain of events, timeless, embracing both past and future simultaneously, without selecting any particular moment? Actually, we are aware of only one instant at a time…

Our consciousness is constantly connected to the physical phenomena, by the perceptions, but also by its neural substrate itself. Each instantaneous element of consciousness is carried by a physical phenomenon, the synchronous discharges of neurons. This makes a physical clock, which gives to the related consciousness a feeling of a continuous flow of time, even when the sensory organs do not give any time beacon (for example, when we dream). However, this subjective time is not precisely related to the physical time: the rythm of synchronous discharges changes, depending for instance on our emotions. This explains very well the variations of the subjective time, slow in trouble or pain, and fast when we are busy.

But why do we perceive only the present moment, and not our whole life at once? I do not think there is something metaphysical here. Simply, the structures and capacities of our consciousness are largely determined by the capabilities and structures of our brain. And this brain has evolved as a tool to analyse and act according to the current event. It is because this is the relevant and effective way to behave in the usual physical conditions, such as to immediately flee the approach of a predator. So our brain perceives very well the immediate concern, while we cannot easily grasp a large amount of time at once. If, for example, we try to remind our school years, we will get some pictures, but no sensation of the years where we waited for the schools out bell. Similarly, we cannot easily perceive the fourth dimension, because it does not exist in nature.

This however does not make the consciousness fundamentally unable to develop such capabilities. It could even manage these situations better than we think, as I found out with being immersed in two virtual worlds at once, with stereo headphones. This actually introduces a notion of a fourth dimension. And consciousness is not confused, as soon as something tells in which of the two scenes a given sound is. Similarly, our consciousness does not perceive the instant, but a short span of time centred on it. Indeed, we see movements quite well, such as a hello, a sign, a phrase, not as series of positions, but as coherent and indivisible objects. Also, if our senses are still glued to time, our imagination goes further: we can very well consider a complex history as a single image, and place any item instantly in the correct date. And if plants could be conscious, they would probably develop an atemporal meditation, as some yogis do.

At last, from this very intricate link to physics, consciousness perceives the world in the way of a local observer, in the sense of Relativity. But a consciousness not linked to our physical world may be able to observe it in its entirety, past and future, as we do of a movie where we can select a scene at will.

Time seen by physics measuring instruments.

(Permalink) A physics measuring instrument, especially a clock, is an integral part of the self-generation process. As such, it is forced to obey the self-generation law, and thus each cycle it uses (of a pendulum, an oscillating atom...) will recurs in a constant and identical way, with the exceptions of uncertainties (influence of temperature, quantum noise...). This makes that a physical clock is forced to always measure the local time (in the meaning of Relativity) of the place of the physical universe where it stands.

Of course, this is also true for any other instrument: whatever it measures, it will do it in the way of a local observer, in the meaning of Relativity. Ant if will always do so after the same laws of physics and invariable physical constants.

Logical self-generation process and Relativity.

(Permalink) However, according to the Theory of Relativity, two clocks in different frames of reference (speed, gravitational field...) can show two different times.

That Relativity can produce different times is consistent with the theory of the logical self-generation process. Indeed, two physical clocks each located in a different reference frame, are each in a different self-generation process (more exactly, two different parts of the same). So nothing imposes that these two processes occur at the same rate. Just that the clock located in each of them (the local observer) will measure a «normal» time, the one of the local process (of the local space-time, says Relativity) and will see the other clock give «false» readings.

Except that... we wonders how the two different processes join together, when they meet again. Let is then suppose two scientists, each with his clock. The blue scientist will stay in a gravitational field, where time passes more slowly, while the red scientist remains in normal space. Then they meet again. The question then is: how the two processes join together again?

Feynmann diagram of two scientists formed of three particles each,
				each in a different Relativistic referencial,
				showing the difficulty for the Feynmann arrows to join again
				if we suppose the space is a self-existing «membrane».

This is a Feynmann diagram, that we place in a time flowing from left to right. To simplify, we show only three particle per scientist. The blue scientist is figured by three blue particles (dotted lines) which exist only as quantum interactions (blue nibs). Same thing for the red scientist, who has red nibs. The green arrows represent the «waves» between the interactions.


The reply is very simple, if we draw the same diagram, while placing it in the relativistic time seen by the blue scientist (a local observer), then seen by the red scientist (a different local observer):


This time, each scientist has a particle of a lighter color, which quantum interactions occur on a regular basis: then they can be used as clocks. The two scientists have the same clock (running in the same local rythm). The blue scientist is in space, while the red scientist goes down on a planet, and thus in its gravitational field.

Feynmann diagram of two scientists formed of three particles each,
				each in a different Relativistic referencial,
				seen from the referencial of the blue scientist.

At each tick of his clock, the blue scientist sends a radio message to the red scientist (blue arrows). It is clear that the blue scientists sends six messages during six ticks of his blue clock, while the red scientist receives these six messages during only five ticks of his red clock. Thus the red scientist feels that the time of the blue scientist is faster. Conversely, if the blue scientist counts the clock ticks of the red scientists, he feels that his time is slower. We have the two images showing the two cases, above from the (relativistic) point of view of the blue scientist, and under from the (relativistic) point of view of the red scientist.

Feynmann diagram of two scientists formed of three particles each,
				each in a different Relativistic referencial,
				seen from the referencial of the red scientist.

This experience is in no way speculative, it was made many times, and we have to account with this effect in the operation of everyday devices such as the GPS.

If we see the whole thing as a logical self-generation process, we can join the two processes without difficulties, even if the clock cycles are offset. On the contrary, if the phenomena were happening in a «space-time continuum», which would be a king of «membrane», on the «surface» of which the phenomena occur, then the relativistic phenomena would bend and tear the membrane, making the splicing impossible: the mere fact of moving our hand would send it in a parallel space, with no way to recover it. We shall see in chapter IV-7 and chapter IV-8 how such considerations may be the cause of fundamental laws of physics, mandatory in any universe, even into psychical universes.

Time into a psychical universe.

(Permalink) The metaphysical theory developed in the third part predicts the existence of psychical universes, which nib is an element of the consciousness experience. A common example is simply the dream, but the theory also predicts the existence of such universes, independent of the physical world, where consciousness may continue to exist and to live after death. We can expect that such a universe also have a «quantum» behaviour, though of course with very different self-generation laws, specific to the elements of the experience of consciousness.

In such a universe, there is no «turn» (as in chess game) providing with an absolute reference of time. But there is not either any physical phenomena recurring in an accurate and consistent, as in a clock of the physical world. Certainly, the succession of instant of consciousness will give a subjective feeling of passing time, but this psychical time will be fuzzy (in the sense of fuzzy logic, chapter I-3) as in a dream, in its duration, and even eventually in the order of succession of events. However, this fuzziness put aside, this situation is not different from the physical world. Especially, we remain in a deterministic cause and effect system, even in apparently illogical situations, as in the dreams, see chapter V-8

The end of the version 1 of this chapter has been moved: We shall see more accurately in the fifth part on consciousness the role of the neurons and of the conscious principle, and in seventh part on unexplained phenomena, the incredible distortions of time observed in NDE and RR3. The metaphysical hypothesis of the logical self-generation process allows for precise scientific hypothesis, even on these incredible phenomena, still without any «alternative physics»!

Arrow of time and entropy.

(Permalink) The ordinary laws of physics are often perfectly symmetrical in functions of time. This means that if a phenomenon occurs in a given way in time, then the same phenomenon taking place in a reverse way in time is also possible.

However, some laws are not reversible with time. This is the case of entropy, which states that any physical system will deteriorate, increasing its disorder, or losing information. This appears concretely as the fact that we cannot create a perpetual motion: any system loses energy, as heat, with which we can not recreate power. In a general way, any physical systems, an engine, the human body, generates heat, and wears out. They need a permanent supply of energy to keep running, and even to repair themselves. Under these conditions, life on Earth is possible only because we have a constant supply of solar energy, combined with a cold space around to dissipate the created heat and entropy. This is also called the second law of thermodynamics.

This apparent contradiction (between symmetry and entropy) is somewhat difficult to understand, and it sometimes gives rise to sadomasochist speculations. Let us take an example: the explosion of a dynamite cartridge in a closed system. Once the agitation dies out, everything is stabilized, save the temperature of the system which becomes higher. In theory, if we reverse the motion of each particle and each photon, we would see the system agitation increase, and all the particles concentrating violently and reform the dynamite cartridge, intact. According to the laws of physics, this is perfectly possible. Yet no one ever observed it. Why? Because the amount of required information needed would be fantastic. Thus, although this could happen in theory, in practice we have never seen dynamite cartridges forming spontaneously from the thermal agitation of the air.

The only thing we could see would be in a piston containing only a few molecules of air: at times, the air could be concentrated in only one half of the piston, and then «explode» to reoccupy the whole volume. And implode again in one half, indefinitely. I allow myself to speculate on the possibility of recovering energy in this way. On the contrary of the first law of thermodynamics, which is a fundamental and unavoidable law of physics, the second principle is rather a statistical requirement. So my intuition says that it is not fundamentally impossible to get round of it. An example would be a diode rectifying its own thermal noise. In theory, any diode does it, but in practice the recovered energy is extraordinarily low, and I could not show that we can actually violate the second principle of thermodynamics with such methods, to produce an inexhaustible energy. But I do not exclude that we can do it, and there is at least an example of partial violation of the second principle of thermodynamics: the nanomachines inside the cell nucleus, using the Brownian motion to move and ensure the operation of the genetic machinery. So they make a «calculation» without consuming energy, while all the theories say that a computer needs energy to run. In this way, they partially violate the second principle of thermodynamics, by providing a useful result, without consuming energy. However this is only about the displacement of molecules without changing their energy level. Life has not found a way to recover the thermal energy of Brownian motion, for performing endothermic molecular synthesis: all these reactions require an external energy input. This is why we need to eat.


From there, some scientists have speculated that time would be irreversible. This is the case within a logical self-generation process, as in any way we cannot go backward. However this does not prevent some phenomena can occur in both directions. It is enough to bring the causes of each way, for it occurs physically. However, both directions are both happening in the same logical self-generation process, and thus in the same way of time. It is therefore in no way a move backward of time, we only have two symmetrical phenomena, taking place in the same way of time.

A total reversibility, as for restoring the dynamite cartridge above, is theoretically possible. However, this would require that each quantum interaction happens identically, but in the opposite direction, which is extremely unlikely. Therefore, the logical self-generation process contributes to entropy. And physicists have not noticed? Yes, of course, they noticed this phenomenon, even if they do not present things in this way: It is the non-elastic collisions of particles (quantum phenomenon) which dissipates energy and create entropy. So, we are in reversibility when particles execute trajectories with only elastic interactions, if not we are in entropy. If we spin an electric motor in reverse way, we re-make current, because everything is reversible (save the Joule effect, which is a quantum phenomenon). But if we spin a car engine in reverse way , we do not re-manufacture gasoline, because the combustion and the thermal cycle both create entropy.


(Added June 2014) I was not the only one to have doubts on the second principle of thermodynamics. In facts, scientists such as Maxwell, Kelvin or Feynman also asked the question: if entropy and the second principle of thermodynamics are statistical laws involving the average motion of many particles, they may be defaulted when only one particle is involved at a time. For this purpose, Maxwell designed in 1929 a though experiment known as Maxwell's daemon (He probably meant «daemon», from the greec «daimon», which is a positive or neutral nature spirit, to the contrary of a «demon» which always is an evil creature).

A closed box containing a gas is divided in two parts A and B by a wall. In this wall, there is a small hole, with a door. The daemon watches at the door, and he opens it when a gas particle goes from A to B, and he keeps it closed otherwise. In this way, he can build a greater pressure in the B part, thus extracting usable energy from the mere heat of the gas. Which is precisely what the second principle of thermodynamics forbids.

Extensive discussions happened for half a century among scientists to know if this device can actually work or not, the stake being if it can violate the second principle of thermodynamics or not, by lowering the entropy of a closed system. Today scientists rather say that, whatever material system controls the gate, it requires energy, and it will create entropy of its own. Said otherwise, the experiment with the daemon works, because he magically knows what to do, while a material device requires energy to measure the speed of particles and to control the door.

However, in a March 2011 article in «Scientific American», Professor Mark Raizen of the University of Texas in Austin, using an atomic «one way wall» or «single-photon cooling» built a physical realization of Maxwell's daemon for separating gas molecules of different kinds (isotopes), thus going against the second principle. This is not yet a perpetual motion, but it already produces for free an useful result which otherwise consumes a lot of energy.

So that my intuition was right after all, and this was already proven.

So, it appears that the second principle of thermodynamics is not so impervious than the first. Just that it is very difficult to beat. The only successful natural result so far is in the nucleus of living cells, using the Brownian motion to carry useful molecules toward the place where they are needed, and shaking them until they are in the good position lo engage in a link. In this way, useful results are obtained from mere heat. However life did not found a way to go upstream the Brownian motion, and extract energy from the ambient heat, which would create a kind of perpetual motion in the nucleus of cells. I still don't know if such a thing is actually possible or not.


Added June 2022:  finally it was done, a solar cell able to catch its own infrared radiation. The efficiency is still minute (5 millionth) but measurable.

The return of the revenge of Maxwell's Daemon

(Permalink) Added in April 2021: An article in Quanta Magazine finally proves me right (Experimental confirmation) (And yes, they still say «demon», even not «daemon». They even show one with horns and a goatee). The article describes several successful experiments (dating back 2007, so we were not told about these remarkable results, which deserved front pages in the media). Let us recall that the «demon» is in fact a machine, better called a Brownian ratchet, a valve which lets «hot» molecules in, and lets the «cold» ones out. Thus it produces a difference in temperature, which allows for an engine to work. According to considerations involving information theory, such a machine cannot work, because its operation produces more entropy than it saves. However, the article describes several experiments which effectively extracted energy from heat, albeit in tiny amounts. One of the tricks used was to get around the difficulty by opening and closing the valve at random: this freezes the statistical fluctuations in progress. The tiny difference in temperature which then appears allows energy to be recovered. So we really have a clear violation of the Second Principle of thermodynamics. This violation is possible on a small scale, because it is a statistical principle, and not a law of conservation like the First Principle.

Is it really possible to make an engine operating on a single heat source? The article only speakss about «making existing machines more efficient». The experiments involved tiny devices, which are however reproducible on a large scale using integrated circuit technologies. It is therefore not unreasonable to think of small devices operating in this way, without a source of electricity.

Where is the limit? Will it be possible to make a car to work this way? It is too early to say, but such a generator would need to be too large for a car, in order to pump enough air to cool without freezing. So it is better not to wait for this technology to counteract climate change.

On the other hand, it will be impossible to operate an interstellar probe in this way, because the heat which can be recovered from space is minuscule, compared to what is needed to propel it.


We speak again of entropy, in chapter V-7 in the the part of consciousness. Indeed, consciousness also being a self generation process, it is also submitted to the same considerations which create entropy in physics. Although we shall see that in consciousness the results are different.

Added in April 2023: another device which seems to challenge the second principle of thermodynamics would be a thermocouple with an absorbing coating on one side, used as a heat source, and on the other side an emissive coating, used as heat sink. We expect that such a devices operates well in sunlight. But with recent advances in materials, it also works in «clear night» (Paper on Optica). However the article remains evasive on the definition of «clear night» (Moon? Stars?) and it mentions no tests in total isolation.

Episode from August 2023: scientists finally succeeded into producing energy from a single source of heat. However they do not use the thermal noise of a resistor, but an electrically charged graphene sheet, which bucles between two electrodes. Apparentry this device produces a higher voltage than the thermal noise of a resistor, allowing diodes to rectify it and to charge condensers. Of course the produced power in minuscule, but this device could be mass produced to become usable. The original paper (behind paywall)

Temporal loops

(Permalink) From its very nature of logical self-generation system, our physical universe cannot go back. So, it cannot go back in time. This means that physical causes alone can not produce a temporal return. Whatever if these physical causes are natural, organic or artificial. Therefore, we cannot build a time travel machine. We shall not either find natural conditions producing such a return, or living organisms able of time travel.

However, we must carefully remember that time is a building proper to a physical universe, which does not exist in an absolute way: all the events happening in all the universe are, from the point of view of the logical existence (chapters III-4 and III-6) simultaneous, or more precisely, they have no definite date... just like we cannot say «since when 2 + 2 = 4». So nothing theoretically prevents time travel, as long as we can find other causes than physical causes. These causes could be about an hyperphysics (our universe would be included in a larger and more complex universe, from which other beings could cause physical effects in our universe, that we could not cause ourselves). Another way to bring information from the future, or other worlds, could be a quantum indeterminism, or in situations of extreme quantum isolation. At last, parapsychological phenomena should be able to cause time travel, because their causes are not physical (see chapter III-8).


Do we observe such phenomena?

So far, physicists have identified no physical or quantum phenomena which would be a temporal return of matter, or even only of information. And to be honest, no one knows how we can do this. There is no theory going in this direction, except for the very hypothetical and very very impractical relativistic «wormholes».

However we have some examples of temporal return of information with parapsychology phenomena:


Premonitory dreams. Although we cannot cause this phenomena, everyone was confronted to it, and I got myself two premonitory dreams clear enough to recognize the persons of my dreams when I met them. One of these dreams even included a warning about a very specific behaviour to avoid with the person.


Prophecies. We can easily forget Nostradamus and the like. I mentioned in the version 1 (in 2000) the prophecy of Saint Malachy about the successive popes. In 2005 it already needed a heavy dose of interpretation to work. But since 2013 we have Francis from Argentina, instead of Peter from Rome, proving at last the falsehood of this long debated prophecy.

An example of a prophecy which seems to be proven, is the famous prophecy on Tibet invasion... provided of course that it was actually published in the West before 1945! But we cannot check this on the Internet... At this date, only a few Tibetan masters, or people like Alexandra David Néel and Heinrich Harrer, are likely to have mentioned it. It tells about the iron bird (plane), horses with wheels (cars), persecution and suffering (the fascist invasion), Dharma (Buddhism) spreading in the land of the red man (the West)... There is a sequel to this prophecy, that I already published in 2000 in the version 1 of this book «General Epistemology», Chapter 39, ISBN 0-75960-349-9, registered in the «Library of Congress» in Washington. We owe it to the 5th Karmapa (1384-1415): The occupation of Tibet would last «during the first part of the life of the 17th Karmapa» and stop with the action of «a man from the West, an emanation of Padmasambhava, wearing a fur collar, with a fast and furious mind, speaking words of truth (Dharma) «to bring back religion and happiness in this country». At least we shall have an example of a proven prophecy, which is a prophecy published before it is realized.


Temporal loop. It seems that the Tibetan prophecy (if it is true) on the invasion of Tibet shows an example of a time loop: the Tibetan authorities, expecting an invasion, pursued a policy of absolute isolationism, refusing any contact with the outside world. It is precisely this policy which led to the invasion: when it began in 1949, Tibet was even not listed as a state! While neighbouring countries, Nepal, India, Sikkim, Bhutan, were recognized by the international community.

A time loop introduces a logical paradox in the logical self-generation system. But according to Rule 6 of chapter III-3, only one of the possible solutions of the paradox is reified. The set of events is then fixed in an unequivocal way, from the date when the «temporal return» occurs. On the other side, the causal element of this reification can be anywhere in the loop. In the case of the Tibetan prophecy, the return is attributed to Guru Rinpoche, in the 8th century. But the causal element would be the isolationist policy of the Tibetan government, especially when it neglected to ask to be a member of the League of Nations in 1919-1920, at a time when Republican China may have agreed.

According to the theory of the founder paradox, we can not change the History as a whole, which exists only in one version, including the looping. But we can still take part of its writing in this way, just a little more complicated. For example, let us suppose a person who, seeing the winning draw in the lottery, would use a machine to travel back in time, and meet himself before the draw, and play the correct numbers. This person would see things happen in this way: 1) he would receive his own visit before the lottery (probably a disturbing and unappealing experience) 2) he would play the indicated numbers 3) he would win. 4) Finally, he would make the leap into the past. But he should not think that, once won, it is no longer necessary to make the leap into the past! Because it is precisely this visit which makes the whole scenario possible: without it, no good numbers! But on the other hand, we cannot have a scenario where the person loses, go in the past to tell the winning numbers to himself, and returns a winner, because this would make two different versions of the same logical self-generation process. It is this kind of inconsistency (hopefully impossible) which worried the science fiction writers, who saw here a cause of chaos and destruction.

At a pinch, if somebody attempts to prevent us from going back in the past, either we get an History where he succeeds, or we get an History where he fails. But at no moment this History changes. Just as with the experiment of quantum choice, we can observe only one of the solutions of the time paradox.


Can a person enter into an infinite loop? For having this infinite loop, a person should be transported from the future to the past, and then follows the normal course of time, until he is returned to the past. However there would be no moment when he would be born! This scenario is impossible. A person already born in the normal course of time cannot either enter into such a loop, as the entry point would have two different pasts, which is also impossible. The science fiction scenario, where an apprentice time traveller finds himself living the same things indefinitely, is impossible.


Added November 3, 2017: fiction generally describes time loops as destructive. However, it should be noted that a film like «Interstellar» is not far from the coherent view explained here: it develops classically a linear history, where the efforts of the future to contact the present appear as messages without apparent cause. These messages allow the discovery of time travel, the latter allowing the emission of the messages. We even notice that it is a creative absurdity: the loop as a whole has no external cause, apart from itself. It contains its own creative absurdity. chapter III-3 However I'm not sure that it can work this way. On the contrary, in the history of Padmasambhava's prophecy, the cause of the loop is in the normal course of History, and in any case before its start: it would be the spiritual mastery of this person, which allowed him to to free himself from his attachment to the present, and thus to see the future.


Added on November 6, 2018: some justify the impossibility of temporal loops by the «Principle of coherence of Novikov»: a temporal loop event would have a null probability to happen. In fact, this principe is not proved, and probably unprovable. It is not needed anyway: Relativity and Quantum Mechanics already forbid the return to the past, without requiring any supplementary principle. This is the reason why, unlike the movie «Interstellar» (which supposes an underlying causal structure of space-time allowing to manipulate it), we do not admit here the existence of physical temporal return.

Added on November 6, 2018: The temporal return through a «worm hole» remains compatible with Relativity, because a fold of space-time would appear as another universe (chapter III-5), which is not constrained to have the same time. (A parapsychological return would enjoy the same exemption, because it happens through a psychical universe, chapter III-8). There however is a practical difficulty with the worm hole: we need to contain it in a wall of negative mass. Admitting this is possible, the «Interstellar» spaceship would either crash against this wall, or while passing through it would be spaghettified by the gravitationnal field, as intense as near a black hole (to produce te observed optical distorsions visible on the spaceship when it passes through the wall).

Time and History.

(Permalink) In the physics lessons, space and time are perfect vector spaces, where time is a simple dimension, which allows to predict all the physical events, even in an arbitrarily distant future. We can also revert the sign of time, and go toward the past exactly in the same way. These laws of physics are said to be symmetrical. Especially, past and future are symmetrical (reversible), as we understand this in the common sense of this word. However, in the real world, phenomena such as entropy, quantum indeterminacy, or the free will of living beings (chapter V-3), make that precisely we cannot do such a prediction: at each instant, the content of the universe is modified in a physically unpredictable way, changing all the predictions. This fact gave rise to a quantity of unclear comments in science popularizing literature, as what there would be an irreversible «arrow of time», without we know exactly why and at which moment it becomes irreversible, compared to the reversible time of the physics lesson.

We now know better how this happens: the real universe works as a pure vectorial space, only between two quantum interactions. In this case, all the equations, like the propagation of radio waves, are perfect, and everything can develop in a predictable way toward the future, and also toward the past if we reverse the causes. Thus, between two quantum interactions, time is symmetrical. But as soon as one of the mentioned phenomena occur (entropy, quantum interaction, free will), all the conditions are changed, and there is no way to come back to the previous. This is why in the real world passing time entails irreversible changes, contrarily to what we see in the physics lesson.


To distinguish this vision from the infinite and reversible time of mathematics, we shall rather speak in this book of the History of the universe. History is also the time, but with unpredictable events, see intentional events, modifying the course of things beyond the sole play of the symmetrical physical laws. Hence, time without Historical events is symmetrical. Time with History is irreversible.

At last, a self-generation process produces precisely an history of events, while a vector space is not such a process (its content is created entirely in one step, from its definition). Things like entropy, quantum interaction, or free will can happen only in a self-generation process.

This is important to bear in mind when we do models or simulations, depending on if they are just vectorial spaces, or if they contain unpredictable events like quantum events.







General Epistemology        Chapter IV-3       







Ideas, texts, drawings and realization: Richard Trigaux (Unless indicated otherwise).




As every independant author I need your support to be able to continue to work on this site and allow for a freedom of expression to exist on the net:




Legal and copyright notice.

Modified in 2024

1) Unless indicated otherwise, all the texts, drawings, characters, names, animations, sounds, melodies, programmation, cursors, symbols of this site are copyright of their author and owner, Richard Trigaux. Thanks not to do commercial use, or other evil purposes.

2) You can use the expressions marked with a copyright sign ©, to the conditions 2-1) to tell that the author is Richard Trigaux, 2-2) to make a link toward the definition, et 2-3) not to distort the meaning.

3) If this site disappears, you will then be free to make a mirror of it, of the whole or a part, to the conditions of: 3-1) tell that Richard Trigaux is the author, 3-2) only the rights owners can do a benefit, as guaranteed by the laws, but I forbid them to oppose the publication 3-3) do not distort or denigrate the meaning. This point also applies to the media, Artificial Intelligence and crowd-sourcing systems. cliquer pour verifier


Sceau officiel