I'm not a physicist. If I weren't so lazy and I had unlimited time perhaps I would become one so I could answer a question that's been bothering me for a while. Only today this question occurred to me in a different form than it had previously.

Does the future exist?

When I read Stephen Hawking's book A Brief History of Time, and in particular where he describes how time can be thought of as another dimension with space comprising space-time, I started to imagine the implications this would have if the universe had an actual creator.

My initial conclusion was that if space-time is tangible and if the universe was created by an entity which must necessarily exist outside of the universe and that creator has the ability to observe all of the universe then all of the following must be true.

  1. The creator would be timeless from our perspective, being outside of space-time.
  2. The creator would observe all points in space-time simultaneously, including (assuming the historical accuracy of the Bible or Qur'an for a moment) the "original sin" event, the death of Jesus, the birth of Mohammed, and my death. In effect, the creator might be called omniscient about events in the universe.
  3. The creator would have dictated the nature of space-time so not only would it be observed but it would also have been designed. In effect, free will could not exist. An omniscient creator and free-will are mutually exclusive.

Unfortunately, I don't know how physicists really understand space-time. I know that it is theorized that traveling to some point in non-contiguous space-time is possible in one direction (the past) but probably not the other (the future). Logically, if the future does not exist then one cannot travel there. However, if the future does exist, if space-time is complete and tangible, then our speculations about determinism are no longer so speculative. The events which happen at any point on the space-time continuum are set and the idea of free will (however you define it) is obsolete.

I invite discussion and, hopefully enlightenment, from people who have a different perspective and a better education. I personally don't think that space-time is complete or that time exists in both directions based on what I've learned so far.

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From countless attempts to understand the world around me, one single point has resounded as true :

It's pointless to think of anything as having been "created".
Not even ourselves as humans "create", we merely "warp" what we have into something else.

Creation doesn't exist. It completely defies logic.
Regardless of how you look at it.

The only point of creation was the division of zero into equal negative and positive quantities... and this was nowhere near anything resembling a structured event. It was a complete mess of chaos and repetitive destruction. We refer to this event as the big bang.
Order was perfect nothingness.
Chaos was the mess that we call the universe.
Hi Johnsky,

YES! I've made the same point, here on TA, several times. Creation, as an act of "bringing into being" is a one-time thing (if ever). The First Law of Energy Conservation makes this abundantly clear. Even I am not created. I am made from pre-existing carbon-based compounds that came, originally, from (relatively) nearby stars that exploded, creating enough energy and heat to combine their basic particles into heavier elements. Energy and matter change forms but they don't simply appear out of nowhere.

The notion that "nature abhors a vacuum" greatly precedes the scientific evidence that supports it. The prevailing scientific paradigm proposes that the universe was spawned by nothing . . . because nothing is more unstable than nothing. :-) Quantum fluctuations flit in and out of the empty spaces within your atoms just surely as they do in "empty" space (assuming you buy into the whole quantum theory point of view). At quantum scales, the atom is like a star with planets orbiting around it -- empty space prevails, even at the smallest scales.

Such symmetry of phenomena in the universe suggests that there are underlying principles governing everything. I think that it's interesting how the chaos of the quantum realm (the fundamental level of the universe) gives rise to the absolute predictability of causality in the observable universe. It's as if nature is coquettish and prefers to keep her inner self a mystery.

The whole concept of "everything from nothing", until quantum mechanics came up with quantum fluctuations, appeared to be supernatural gobbledygook. Now, the once-impossible seems entirely plausible. If the LHC produces evidence of quantum fluctuations, the death knell for theism might finally ring loud and clear.

But then again, never underestimate the power of the religious mind to deny ANYTHING.
I must say, you replied rather enthusiastically.

Yes, perfect nothingness cannot remain perfect.
As such, random events must take hold, and matter and negative matter must divide from each other to reveal existence.

It is my theory that both matter and antimatter exist in equal quantities on twin plains. We exist on one, and our negative counterpart exists on the other mirror plane.

When one (or both) amass too much mass in one area, the attractive forces are so great that the two (negative and positive masses) are attracted to each other enough that they contact and cancel each other. We may perceive this as a black hole, as the gravitational forces of both planes can be experienced on either end.

However, this is but a theory. And I do not pretend to dismiss the idea that my theory may be flawed.

I'm just glad to meet someone else who realizes the same as I have.

Everything fluctuates... even nothing.
I'm no physicist, so I have some pretty wild questions in mind. Something I've wondered about quantum fluctuations and the Big Bang is . . . if nature abhors a void and immediately fills it with quantum fluctuations, AND this led to the Big Bang, doesn't that mean similar events (universes) must have occurred (and continue to occur) throughout eternity?

I'm a bit confused about the requirements for quantum fluctuations. I've read that space itself was created by the Big Bang and continues to be created as the universe expands. If so, then quantum fluctuations must not require space because it hadn't been created before the Big Bang (what do you call the void in which the Big Bang occurred?). And if quantum fluctuations and Big Bangs don't require space, what's to stop them from occurring all the time? And what if universes are created in close proximity? Would they merge or (because of differing physical laws) would one consume the other?

Naive questions, I'm sure, but if anybody's got answers, I'd love to read them.
"Does the future exist?"

Not yet.
The corollary being, does the past exist? It used to.

It sounds funny, but in fact is incorrect. The past exists, present tense. To say that it does not exist is to say that the prediction of general relativity, that travel to a time in the past is possible, is false. Apparently space-time is created at the present moment and exists as far back as the formation of the universe, but not further ahead than the present moment. This doesn't seem to be a very elegant way of saying so though.

I always find it impressive how time travelers on tv manage to arrive on the surface of the Earth (never mind how they can travel into the future). For example, Hiro "master of space and time" Nakamura on Heroes is able to accidentally travel to unknown points in time but always manages to arrive somewhere on Earth even though the planet is moving through space around the sun and the sun is moving around the galaxy and so on. In order to do that you would have to calculate the position of the planet, trajectory, and probably a lot of other things not to mention relative velocity, elevation, and ambient conditions of the destination at a very precise moment in time. But how would you know those things?
"You have to put aside a lot of logic for much sci-fi."

That's an understatement. Most of what people call sci-fi isn't and there are almost no fictional stories of the subject that aren't riddled with absurdities.
With the risk of adding to all the warped ideas already present in this thread:

What if the entire universe suddenly travelled 20 years back in time – except you? Would you say the universe travelled back, or did you just travel 20 years into the future?
Say whaaaaaaaat?

Never mind how the universe, an inanimate object, could disobey the natural laws that govern it, how would I stop time for myself while time reversed for the rest of the universe? Even if I could stop time, what makes you think that I would stay at that particular moment in time if the space-time of the universe reversed. Since the future cannot exist then there would be no universe for me to exist in even if I could stay at that particular moment in time. Perhaps I would cease to exist as well. You seem to be imagining that time is independent of space but general relativity predicts, perhaps falsely, that they are co-dependent. What you propose sounds suspiciously like magic.
Let me make a few things clear right from the outset. Time travels are not possible, neither is a two-way communication with the past.
Time dilation does not exist. Spacetime is a mathemathical construct with no physical counterpart.

All of these theories leads to absurdities, and an absurdity is logic's way to tell you that somewhere along the line you went wrong. Terribly wrong.

You seem to think that travelling to the past might be possible, but not travelling to the future ("since the future cannot exist"). But you don't see the logical fallacy here.

If you could travel to the past or even only send a message to the past, then someone in the past would see you or get the message from... where? If not from their "non-existing" future?

Anyways, it's all absurdities.

I just came across a lecture by David E. Pressler. Well worth reading if you'd be interested in some rational thoughts about math/physics, dimensions, space and time. Here is a link.
"Time dilation does not exist."

I suggest that you are misinformed. A cursory read of the wikipedia article on the subject makes no mention of absurdities and gives examples of practical effects. One of the most practical examples is that satellites in Earth orbit travel at a much different velocity and, therefore, measure a different rate of time than GPS receivers on the surface of the planet. Therefore, the time difference caused by time dilation must be compensated for. It is very real.

As for the feasibility of time travel, I enjoy considering it but I lack knowledge and evidence to debate it with you. Call it absurd if you like.
Ooops! I posted the wrong link to David Pressler's lecture. Here is the correct one.

Time dilation.
First, GPS do not compensate for time dilation. This is a myth.
The GPS system has to correct for a wide range of error sources. A possible time dilation effect would be too small to separate from the rest.

Einstein's relativity theory is logically flawed. Time dilation is an absurdity.

The problem you'll have to solve, is this: If a clock on board a satellite ticks faster because it is moving relative to your clock here on earth, then your clock should also tick faster because it is moving relative to the satellite clock. How can both clocks tick faster than the other one?

Gertrude Walton has compiled a list of various explanations of the mystery:

"The reciprocal effect of length contraction and time dilation, which appears by logical necessity to emerge from the kinematic part of the special theory of relativity, has been variously explained as
1. true but not really true (guess who)
2. real
3. not real
4. apparent
5. the result of the relativity of simultaneity
6. determined by measurement
7. a perspective effect
8. mathematical."

Maybe you could come up with a better solution?



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