This Is The “Time” Proposal; The Author’s Primary Proposal For “Space” Can Be Viewed At: http://www.johnkharms.com/space.htm .
UPDATE; 29 September, 2003—This Text Is Now Published In The International Journal “Kybernetes: The International Journal Of Systems And Cybernetics”, Volume 32 Issue 7/8 2003. Much Thanks To Kybernetes For Open Minds.
Persistence Of Vision Section Added; 17 June, 2004.
Visual Metabolic Rate And Quantum Time And Space
By: John K. Harms
© Copyright, 2000
Updated: September, 2001
This text proposes that time is essentially one’s visual metabolic rate. Metabolic rate is regulated by the speed of the intake of energy, the rate of the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to the visual areas. The author’s working hypothesis is that the visual area of the brain known as human V5, the region involved in motion detection, may be the region most responsible for time. Our time sense is, thus, visual, the speed of the human perception of reality. Time is the relationship of the human perception of reality and the rate that the reality itself is taking place (given by light waves in the environment). Hence, vision (and the visual cortex area V5) may be vitally important aspects in answering the question: what is time? When we are not looking at a clock, time may be governed by our rate of metabolism; the rate of the production of ATP by the mitochondria in V5. For example, when general human metabolism (and V5) is fast, time runs slow. When metabolic rate is relatively slow, time runs relatively faster. Many factors enter into the speed of metabolism such as age, sex, drug effects, velocity compared to speed c, states of boredom or excitement, darkness or light and mental states such as sleep. The relationship between time and space is discussed with the metabolic rate of V5 in mind. Because the uncertainty principle and the quantum picture of reality is adopted, this model qualitatively quantizes space and time, showing why they must forever be connected i.e., space-time. This idea is discussed in relation to Zeno’s paradox which suggests that space and time are indeed quantized. Events, instants and entropy are defined. Reality can be understood in terms of the speed of instants as shown in the provided image. The arrow of time is pictured as caused by long-term potentiation of synaptic neurons within the brain. Minkowski-Einstein space-time is analyzed and compared with the visual metabolic rate. The probable consequences of this model are proposed.
Key Words: Time-Lapse, Time, Metabolic Rate, ATP, Quantum Space-Time, Zeno’s Paradox, Events, Instants, Entropy, Consciousness, Visual Cortex, V5, Minkowski-Einstein Space-Time, Long-Term Potentiation
It is commonly asserted by physicists either that time does not exist or that time is absolute in a given reference frame. Indeed, there are a wide variety of opinions among physicists when it comes to the topic of time. It was also previously thought before 1905 that space was absolute. Einstein showed us that space and time are personal quantities relative to how one’s reference frame is moving. In Einstein’s space-time continuum, the apparent linearity of events depends upon the observer.
The questions still remain: What precisely is time? What is the nature of the relationship between space and time? Why must changes in time also affect space? Why does time only flow in one direction–into the future?
It is proposed by this text that time is essentially one’s personal metabolic rate, the rate of production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) by the cells in our visual system. Time, hence, is related to our visual sense, a process associated with the visual cortex region V5 within the brain. Moreover, it will be shown that time has an effect upon space.
Reality in this text is pictured here as analogous to a moving picture camera. When the camera takes pictures at high speed (a high-speed camera) and this in-turn is played back and projected on a screen, the motion on the screen will appear to run slow. Conversely, if the pictures are taken in a time-lapsed mode (say one or two frames per minute), during projection the motion on the screen appears very fast i.e., time-lapsed.
Reality is pictured by this text as very similar to this analogy. When one’s metabolic rate (as defined by the changes in voltage of the receptors in the visual system) is very fast, the rate at which we perceive reality may be slowed. However, when this metabolic rate slows down, the rate at which we perceive reality (our consciousness speed) may be comparatively faster. Hence, time may be the relationship between the speed of reality itself (given by the frequency and speed c of the light waves in the surrounding environment) and the speed of our perception of reality i.e., cognition, (as determined by our personal V5 metabolic rate).
Subsequently, this can be understood as the rate of the “instants” that our visual system (the V5 area) can process. What we call perception is analogous to the almost instantaneous playback of this reality (in our visual cortex)–our consciousness. Therefore, there may be an inverse relationship between the metabolic rate in our visual cortex and time. Time, therefore, may be essentially one’s own visual metabolic rate. Hence, The Rate That Time Passes = 1 / Cortex V5 Metabolic Rate. Thus, as the metabolic rate of our visual sense increases, the rate at which time passes may become slower.
Time Is Visual Metabolic Rate
Einstein showed us that time and space are personal (observer-dependent) quantities related to our states of motion. Our internal clock is relative not only to our state of motion, but also the metabolic rate of the visual sense. Again, this is closely related to the operational speed that our cells can process visual information (or instants).
The author believes that time, thus, is associated with the visual cortex located at the rear of the brain. The author’s working hypothesis specifically is the area V5 of the brain, the area involved largely in motion detection.
Respiratory metabolism consists of a multitude of chemical steps where food is broken down and the energy released is utilized for the synthesis of ATP. ATP is the fuel of the cell, the driving force for the electrical functions of the visual system (Loewy & Siekevitz, 1969).
Hence, the higher the quantity of ATP fabricated by the cellular mitochrondria in the V5 region, the higher the electrical voltage potential and visual processing speed of instants (Barrett et al, 1986). As we will subsequently see, if time appears to run fast, there may be a greater distance between instants than if time appears to run slowly. These separations may be associated with the operational speed of the V5 region.
It may be the case that at high velocities (in a spacecraft, for example) there is an increase in the visual metabolic rate, hence, slowing the rate at which time passes. It is not argued in this text that the perception of time is the visual metabolic rate, but that time itself is the metabolic rate of V5 area. Time is something humans create and measure, and not something external to ourselves. So, time exists in our conscious psyche.
While physical objects may exist in “reality”, time is a far less concrete notion. Hence, time does not exist in what we call external reality, but lies within the brain itself.
Drugs And Time
An accurate measurement of overall metabolic rate does not as yet exist. As we age, our general metabolic rate (and that of the V5 area) slows, thus, time passes at a faster rate. This is a quite common experience. Hence, people who are all the same age (in years), may lead lives of a different duration.
Men oxidize their food approximately 5% to 7% faster than woman of the same age (Anthony & Thibodeau, 1979). Perhaps, this may be related to the shorter life-spans on average of men verses that of woman. The length of a person’s life may fundamentally depend upon one’s overall metabolic rate. This may demonstrate, as is proposed by this text, that time is related also to the overall metabolic rate of the cells in the body. Sleep may be a state of the extreme slowing of one’s metabolic rate, so time may pass very fast when we are asleep. Perhaps, V5 minimizes itself when we are asleep.
When our metabolic rate (perhaps, also the V5 region) is artificially slowed by drugs, for example, the rate at which we perceive reality may be sped-up. So, drugs that increase the V5 metabolic rate, may slow down the perception of reality. Hence, within the V5, there may be in general more instants. More about this subsequently.
Hyperactive children are sometimes given speed related drugs to slow down their thoughts. Psychiatric patients are sometimes given tranquilizers to slow their metabolic rates to match the rates at which they perceive reality–which may be very fast in some cases.
A very long frightening period, just before our automobile crashes, demonstrates that time can be seen to run in slow motion when the rate at which we perceive reality is very fast. Thus, when we are in a period of extreme fear, our visual system and consciousness may operate at a very high speed, slowing down our reality.
Similarly, a race-car driver may perceive typical highway speeds of around 80 km/hour as being very slow. A race-car driver’s visual metabolic rate, when driving, may be very fast. Thus, reality may slow to a crawl at normal highway speeds for this type of person. This is the notion of “adaptation” and this concept may obey the rules of organic relativity.
There is an old joke that it is rumored was once told to Einstein. It said that relativity is the passage of time when one sits on a hot stove; a minute seems like an hour. But when a beautiful woman sits on your lap; an hour seems like a minute. This suggests that the relativity of time may be inherently perceptual. How can this be so?
Time Is Absolute?
It is usually argued that time is absolute. Our perceptions of time may differ, but time is the same for everybody (in the same reference frame). But what precisely is time as measured by a clock? How do we know that time is only measured by a clock? Why should we believe a clock or other measurement of time such as the movement of the Sun caused by the Earth’s rotation? How do we know that clocks are the true measures of time?
Perhaps, time perception is rather analogous to subatomic particle experiments. The fact that we are looking at the clock affects it. Thus, humans and the measurement of time by clocks are interrelated with each other in the same complimentary reality. As in quantum mechanics, there is a difference in the result when you are looking at an experiment verses when you are not. Time in essence is a wave function that collapses when we actualize it by looking. Or put another way; time exists, as subatomic particles do, in a number of random possibilities until we look at the clock. The act of looking at a clock in essence is a measurement and this act changes the result!
The actual measure of time may be our own personal visual metabolic rate. Time may not be a constant when we are not looking at the clock. When we are not looking, time may be governed by our own personal visual V5 metabolic rate. So, we each have a different visual metabolic time. What determines what time it will be the next time we look at the clock, is the metabolic rate of the V5 region of our brain.
When one is not looking at a clock and, hence, making a measurement, our personal metabolic time governs the rate at which time flows and this can only be in the forward direction. For example, when one is bored, visual V5 metabolic rate may tend to increase. Thus, one looks at one’s watch more often and time appears to run slower. When one is relaxed and having a “good time”, visual metabolic rate may tend to slow and time passes at a faster rate. So, one looks at one’s watch less-often in this case. This is a quite common experience. Hence, the common expression “time flies when you’re having fun”.
It is interesting to note that a person shut-up in a dark cave for five days will invariably guess that he or she has been entombed for a lower number of days than five. This implies that human beings are inherently incompetent when it comes to estimating time. Hence, all these hours, minutes, seconds, this so-called official time we have constructed for ourselves, has nothing whatever to do with “real” time, the time as defined by our visual metabolic rates (Waugh, 1999).
Indeed, this may also suggest the state of light or darkness may have an effect upon our metabolic rate and, thus, the rate of time. In the dark, we may inaccurately guess the passage of time.
The late physicist Richard Feynman performed some tests concerning time in which he practiced counting seconds to himself to sixty. Feynman practiced counting at a standard rate and tried to determine what would affect that rate–his relative time. He tried heart rate, running up and down stairs while counting and also differences in temperature with no apparent effect upon his rate of (relative) counting. In fact, Feynman found that no activity he could think of affected his counting rate (Feynman, 1999). So, it must be the case that these activities must not be connected with the visual metabolic functioning of V5.
It is interesting to note that when one has a rising fever, that one tends to count to sixty more rapidly, suggesting that a rising fever in some way may affect visual metabolic functioning. When the fever falls again, the rate of counting slows as well. Hence, a rising fever may have an effect upon visual metabolic functioning (Feynman, 1999).
However, despite a somewhat accurate relative rate of counting, when compared to a clock, a person counting to himself rarely counts one minute as sixty seconds–the absolute time as measured by a clock.
Indeed, counting to oneself may not actually be able to be sustained with any kind of precision for periods of over ten minutes or so. This is because, in general, the greater the amount of time spent counting, the greater may be the tendency for inaccurate counting. As mentioned above, people in dark caves guess quite poorly at the length of time that they have been in the cave.
Even if the cave’s occupants were able to count the entire time they were in the cave, it is doubtful that their absolute time would be anywhere near accurate. Visual metabolic functioning may, therefore, be a longer term effect, affecting time lapses of above ten minutes or so. Or, perhaps, darkness is related to metabolic functioning. How can this be so?
It is well known among neuroscientists that the photoreceptors located on the retina are “on” in darkness, but “off” in visible light. Surprising as this may seem, the voltage potential sent across the neuron receptor is actually reduced when a light is shown in the eye and the voltage increases in darkness. This is known as the “dark current” (Hubel, 1995).
Perhaps, it is the case that this is one of the reasons that in the dark, that people may estimate the passage of time so poorly. The dark current, an increase in voltage by the photoreceptors in the darkness, may, therefore, be closely related to the processing of “instants” within the V5 region. Perhaps, the excess voltage sent to the V5 area in the dark may tend to increase the number of instants produced, causing an apparent slowing down of the passage of time. See the image provided below.
Quantum Time And Space
Time is related to space, distances and motion. This is because if one is traveling in a car at a uniform speed and direction, one’s distance perception is related also to the rate at which we perceive reality (as is time). Since this quantity of space may also be affected by visual metabolic rate (and the consciousness playback speed) as time is, the judgment of distance and space measurement may also be related to the time element. When one is in uniform motion, the relationship between time and space can be better understood.
Moreover, time and distance are related to speed. Hence, as time slows at high speeds close to the speed of light (c), distances (space) must Lorentz-Fitzgerald contract in the direction of motion. This must also be true as one’s visual V5 metabolic rate speeds-up. Can it be that very high velocities (or the location of a body in a gravitational field) speeds-up the visual metabolic processing rate of human beings? This is one of the predictions of this model. If one assumes that visual V5 metabolic rate is affected by motion, then time and space must be joined.
It is generally taught in universities that one can never find a mechanism or a reason why time dilates and space contracts at speeds close to c. While observers in a spacecraft will not notice the relative slowing of clocks and contraction of space, their relative visual V5 metabolic states may be sped-up, compared to observers in other frames at lower speeds relative to c. So, an increase in metabolic rate may describe the physical process of time dilation and space contraction. By following the uncertainty relation and quantum mechanical principles this may, therefore, lead to a quantum description of space and time.
Visual reality essentially is composed of light waves i.e., light quanta. Space and time, which are both not possible without visual reality, must, therefore, also be quantized. Hence, both time and space are quantum effects and related in this proposal to the human visual sense, the processing speed of V5.
Zeno’s Paradox And Quantum Time And Space
The ancient Greek thinker Zeno proposed an insightful paradox that demonstrates that space and time are unavoidably quantum systems. While Zeno’s Paradox (as it is called) was merely a puzzle in its day, the idea actually strikes right at the heart of relativity and quantum thinking more than 2000 years later. Below is a short description:
To set the problem: A male athlete runs a race of 100 meters; how is he to cross the finish line at the far end? For him to get there, he will first need to pass the halfway point of 50 meters. Once he has arrived at the 50 meter mark, he will still have an equal distance to run; yet to complete the last 50 meters he must first pass the 75-meter point. Wherever he is, however far from or close to the finish line, the athlete has a remaining distance to travel which he cannot complete before he has first run half the distance. As we keep dividing the remaining distances in two, he will get closer and closer to the finish without ever reaching it! Hence, our athlete will never finish the race (Waugh, 1999). This is known as Zeno’s paradox.
Moreover, by inverting this same line of logic, our athlete can never even start the race. For the athlete to reach the finish line he must get to the 50 meter mark, but to get there he must have already passed the 25 meter point. But how is he to reach the 25 meter mark if he has not already arrived at the 12.5 meter point? And so on and so on. He cannot go one millimeter until he has gone half a millimeter (Waugh, 1999). So, the athlete can’t even start the race much-less finish it! What is fundamentally wrong with this picture of reality? Why doesn’t this description agree with our common sense notions?
It must be said that this is not some sort of trick either with words or with mathematical reasoning (or some combination thereof); it essentially indicates that time and space must be quantum systems. This paradox is a paradox only if space and time are continuous systems–which is assumed to be true by most people. If the athlete succeeds in reaching the finish line, it must be that at some stage he reaches a point so close to the end line that the remaining distance between he and the finish is so minute that it cannot be divided any further–so he crosses the finish line (Waugh, 1999). Common sense, therefore, is saved by quantum space and time! Zeno’s paradox is resolved.
It is generally thought by physicists that space and time can be quantum systems, if one invents a quantum world based upon Max Planck’s work. For example, a Planck space (or length) is 10^-33 centimeters or 10^-20 the size of a proton. A Planck time is the time it takes for light to travel the Planck length or 10^-43 of a second (Waugh, 1999). These are physical inventions to understand the world and may have no physical meaning whatever. We do not as yet have the technology to probe matter on these scales or measure time with this kind of accuracy–so we actually do not know at this point.
The external viewpoint has been the invention of the Planck length and Planck time, but what if the actual quantum system exists (as has been the ongoing theme of this text), not external to ourselves, but lie within the brain itself? What if what we deduce as Planck space and time, are actually the inner-workings of our own internal quantum system; the human brain?! Indeed, not only is the visual system a quantum system because it absorbs light quanta, but the brain itself is an electrochemical firing mechanism–the brain is not continuous, but a discontinuous quantum apparatus. Hence, if how we perceive reality is “quantum”, space and time also must be quantum systems.
Reality may, thus, be divided up into instants!
Events, Instants And Motion
Since time is unavoidably connected to space (as described above) and also as Einstein showed us, the characteristic that best defines time is what are called in physics; events. Time is called a byproduct of events. Events give us a sense of before and after. Hence, no events, no time (Waugh, 1999).
An event takes energy. An event is essentially the correction of an imbalance of energy in the Universe. The Universe is always seeking an equilibrium state of energy–or space-time flatness. The event that defines time here is the firing of neurotransmitters within the brain; the brain always seeks flatness and equilibrium. The brain is without a doubt a quantum system and regulates the flow of time, operating through the increasing of entropy and the firing of neurotransmitters.
The other approach to dividing up reality into a quantum system may be to use the “instant” methodology. If one takes still pictures of a body in motion, the picture can often be blurry. Increasing the shutter speed until the picture has become absolutely clear gives one an instant in time. This instant must be related to the frequencies of the visible light that is entering the eye. At that instant, there can be no motion and (as described above) no time. Hence, motion and time simply do not exist at that unique instant.
So, the question arises, what precisely is motion? Motion must be the perceptual differences that exist from one instant to the next. Thus, motion may only take place between the instants in time. Here we are not talking about the instants as given to us by the frequency of light entering the eye, but the processing speed of these instants by the V5 area.
Since motion occurs between instants, perhaps, it is the case that motion is added to what we call “reality” by us; by our brains. Therefore, motion is what happens when we are not actually perceiving visual reality! What we see as the flow of time, thus, may be simply a sequence of instants, the quantized snapshots of what we call “reality”. These snapshots are only the limited perceptual versions of that which are given to us by the external world.
Hence, to the brain, an instant in time may be inherently visual, so an instant has partially to do with the speed of light and its frequency. This is given to us by our visual experience. How our metabolic rates fit into this scenario is that our perceptual speed (fast or slow) can change the rate of time. For example, if time flows fast to us there may be more distance between instants (the instants are farther apart from each other). So, we gather less information in the form of instants from the visual world.
If, on the other hand, time runs slow to us, the instants produced within the visual cortex are relatively closer together. We, therefore, take in a greater amount of “instant” information. Within the visual system at V5, this essentially is what is meant by perceptual speed. Note the image provided below:
Therefore, when time appears to run slow, visual metabolic rate and perceptual speed are fast and reality (for us) consists of relatively more instants. However, when time is fast, visual metabolic rate and perceptual speed are slow, then there are comparatively fewer visual instants produced in that “reality” from our perspective. So, it may be the metabolic rate of the visual cortex V5 area that affects the distance between our instants i.e., the speed at which these snapshots are presented to our consciousness.
So, why is the human V5 area of the visual cortex involved in time? Because the V5 area is the region of the brain that processes motions of all kinds. Any damage to V5 can destroy the ability to perceive the direction or coherence of motion (Zeki, 1992). As stated above, motion is related to the processing of instants (motion occurs between instants). Since instants can be understood to be the quanta of time, motion and instants are unavoidably connected with each other. Therefore, this is the reason for the author’s hypothesis that the V5 area must be involved in time.
In cases of extreme tiredness or drunkenness, the V5 metabolic rate may actually be slowed down. So, time flows at a somewhat faster rate and less instants on average present themselves to our perceptual consciousness. One can understand, therefore, why reaction time can (for example, while driving an automobile) be slowed either by being overly-tired or when intoxicated with alcohol. Reaction time may be slowed because our “reality” consists of on average fewer instants of time with which to react to and make any kind of rapid decisions.
(This Paragraph Added: 29 August 2004) Depressed people greatly overestimate time intervals —- a concrete demonstration of their frequent complaint that “time hangs heavy on my hands”. A bipolar patient in the midst of a manic attack, in contrast, experiences events as being accelerated. This sense of acceleration is the basis for the frequent complaint that there “just doesn’t seem to be enough time” (Restak, 2001). On the basis of this proposal, this in turn may mean that depressed people might have an increased number of snapshots of time processed in the V5 area compared to the average person, whereas the manic person’s V5 metabolic system may be generating on average relatively fewer such snapshots granting an overall sped up time rate.
As mentioned previously, when sleep occurs metabolic functioning of V5 may slow to a crawl (perhaps, since no visual information is then being processed) and time may speed-up. It is common to wake from a sleep and find that much time has passed. Where did it go?
So, in the above viewpoint, instants become the quanta of time; this provides the resolution to Zeno’s paradox.
Time And Entropy
The arrow of time (that time has a direction) may be related to increasing entropy. This is also the view taken by many physicists. As is suggested in the author’s other texts (see the Web address above), increasing entropy is increasing space-time flatness. The brain is constantly increasing flatness through the transmission of electrical signals (for example, within the visual system). These processes only take place in one direction; the direction that time flows into the future.
Electrical impulses (potentials) increase flatness in the same direction that time flows–the arrow of time. It is ironic that these impulses do increase the order and complexity of the brain, locally violating entropy. However, on a somewhat wider scale, the production of heat by the intake of chemical energy (food) by the body, increases entropy more than the smaller quantity of complex ordering taking place in the brain. However, what if the arrow of time is not defined by the entropy of the system?
The Nobel prize for Physiology or Medicine for 2000 was awarded to Arvid Carlsson, Eric R. Kandel and Paul Greengard for their contributions to neuroscience. Among their discoveries were how the nerve cells communicate with each other. Neurons send signals to each other using dopamine, a synaptic messenger that may regulate mood, movement and even the way the brain responds to drugs and alcohol. Kandel’s work investigated how synapses change shape and function producing memory and learning (Travis, 2000). Changes in synaptic function, known as “long-term potentiation”, are required for learning and memory. This discovery may be the key to giving a direction to time within the brain.
Like entropy, one cannot learn something before a change in synaptic function takes place (thus, one can never remember events in the future). Therefore, it is the brain that gives a direction to time and it may also be that the processing speed of instants by the visual cortex V5 area that may determine the speed at which reality happens; an important component of the rate of the passage of time as described above.
Consciousness (being the continuous playback of instants), however, travels only in the forward-in-time direction. What we call “visual” consciousness must be dependent upon the speed of light. Experiments have demonstrated that when a photon exceeds the speed of light it travels backward-in-time. Hence, the direction of visual reality must in some sense depend upon the speed of the photons entering our visual field.
Therefore, if faster-than-light photons do enter our visual field we may see a backward-in-time reality! Since (as far as we know) most photons on average do not exceed the speed of light, we experience largely a cause and effect forward-in-time reality. The direction of time, thus, is based not only upon events within the brain, but also upon the speed of light in the visual field.
The Persistence Of Vision And Time
(This Section Added; 17 June, 2004): There is a (not completely understood) brain-eye phenomenon known as “the persistence of vision”. The effect of the persistence of vision is that one may observe an ordinary movie at a movie theater (or an ordinary television broadcast for that matter) and see a literal continuum of motion, a perceptual flow of motion to the eye, when in actual fact, there is no continuum at all! Indeed, a sequence of slightly altered still motion photographs, when placed in a particular, specific and numerical order, may grant the viewer the perception of a flow of motion. Why?
While the author does not know the precise answer to this specific question (a kind of mystery involving perception), the author, however, now believes that he can offer some insight into the persistence of vision phenomenon (as well as to the phenomenon of time) that may not have previously been noted by other writers. That is, this common phenomenon that we all experience may essentially be a measure of the processing speed of the visual system itself, which has been noted here to be closely related to one’s personal experience of time.
Therefore, one’s personal “snapshots” of time (as described and imaged above) can be measured! Yes, this processing speed should (if the author is correct) be found to be identical to being the rapidity of one’s perception of the snapshots of a common movie. So, if a movie were to be able to be slowed down (frame by frame) to the point where the perception of the “flow” of motion suddenly were halted i.e., one could perceive the individual snapshots as being uniquely separate, still and individually distinct, then that point would likely be the lower limit of a person’s individual V5’s processing speed.
Therefore, the author is convinced that if his model of time proposed here is correct, that this would be related intimately to one’s personal processing rate of time. Yes, this should indeed be a solid and entwined relationship. Let us explore this possibility.
Einstein’s Relativity, Motion, Time And Space
Recall that the visual metabolic rate (hence, also time) are affected by motion. Changes in one’s motion may alters time, so time and space must be inherently connected. So, V5 metabolic functioning and time may be equivalent to the Einstein relation:
t^1 = t x the square root of (1 – v^2 / c^2)
It is important to recognize that all of the objects in one’s own reference frame (if one sees them) are essentially in resonance with one’s own visual system. Otherwise, these objects (living or nonliving) would not at all be observed.
It can, therefore, be understood in Einstein’s equation above that as one approaches the speed of light, one’s personal time slows down and metabolic V5 functioning may speed up. So, it can be deduced that if time is affected by motion and motion (as mentioned above) happens between instants, then time itself must take place within the visual system between instants! Therefore, the speed of the V5 area actually processes instants (and the number of these instants given to us effects time), but time itself physically takes place between these instants.
What we observe as our external “reality”, therefore, is when there is an alignment (or resonance) of our bodies with our surroundings i.e., within the same frame of reference, at the same time. Other individuals, as mobile wavelike units glued to the Earth as we all are, may pass through this same “reality” as we do. We may encounter these other individuals or objects, if at some point, these bodies pass through our space and time and come into resonance with our own experience during our lifetime.
Time Is Relative And Strictly Personal
It is important to note that time is only personal, and from our own point of view. Thus, we cannot actually ever know what other points of view are doing. While other people may pass through our “reality” with us, we cannot know any other information about them than from our own perspective. So, time is relative.
In special relativity, observer # 1 in one frame of reference may observe that observer # 2’s (in some other reference frame) time is running slow, while observer # 2 may observe the same of # 1–that their time is running slow relative to their own. This appears in this context, and does so in special relativity also, to be somewhat of a paradox.
However, in this model, this type of actualization of time simply cannot be allowed as a legitimate observation! Therefore, this model prohibits measurements of time across different frames of reference; either freely moving or accelerated. Time is, therefore, only personal. This also appears to be the theme of quantum mechanics as well. So, for this to be a viable model, the author has realized that certain ground rules for allowable observations of time must be laid down. Perhaps, it is these kinds of necessary prohibitions that may also make the paradox’s in special relativity somewhat more understandable.
So, widely separated observers moving at different velocities with varying visual V5 metabolic rates may carry on board with them clocks with which to measure relative time. These clocks may be affected by the observer being present in the same entangled reality. So, when it was mentioned previously that the observance of a clock affects it, what was meant by this was that moving clocks close to the speed of light run slow because of the presence of an observer. Thus, as in quantum mechanical experiments, the functioning of a clock is affected by an observation of it.
One can, therefore, deduce that time exists as a series of random possibilities, until someone actualizes a clock or some other measure of time by observing it. So, what does it mean when we bring together and compare two previously synchronized clocks that have been in relative motion at high speeds, and find that their times are somewhat different? Hence, what is the relationship between the time sense and the movement of hands on a clock?
Since it is argued by this text that the actual notions of time are determined within our visual cortex V5 region, the clock experiment with two clocks moving in different ways can have no physical meaning whatsoever! Hence, any experiment involving clocks alone (utilizing whatever high technology that is available) can have no meaning without the presence of a human observer.
So, for this model to be at all viable, two observational conditions must be met:
1) As mentioned above, measurements across accelerated or freely moving reference frames are prohibited. Any technology to measure relative time in this fashion, therefore, violates the rules for an acceptable observation or actualization of time.
2) Measurements strictly utilizing clocks alone have no physical meaning (when the clocks are brought together again and in the same reference frame). We, thus, can draw no meaningful conclusions from any of these types of observations.
Therefore, these observational rules tend to limit somewhat the physical meaning of time-based experiments in special and general relativity. It should be noted that it is not the author intention here to doubt the findings of either special or general relativity. Rather, it is to more precisely define and understand the meaning of time.
Quantum mechanics does suggest a personalized approach to observing the Universe. Relativity suggests that time is a personal quantity, relative to the person who measures it. The personalized nature of time (as described above) brings together the ideas of quantum mechanics and relativity into a unified system.
Let us discuss briefly the philosophical considerations of the subject of time. While it is generally considered true that (what we call) “physical reality” is sending signals from the environment at light speed to us that we measure as time, for example, the tick of a clock on the wall. This is what Immanuel Kant calls the noumena (or the things-in-themselves) sending signals to become what we experience as the phenomenal world–the world of the phenomena.
There is, thus, some physical reality (or wave energy field etc.) “out-there” that is sending signals to us at the speed of light, that we experience as our own personal reality. What essentially is proposed by this document is that the “out-there” noumenal world of the things-in-themselves are the photons we experience with our eyes–our visual sense.
It should, therefore, turnout to be correct that events are regulated by the processing speed of our visual sense–the rate at which V5 processes instants. This processing speed and cortex metabolic rate was the primary focus of this manuscript, as well as the effect of the speed of light.
Events may happen all at once in “external reality”, but the processing speed of our visual sense can never be over-stimulated in this manner, so the brain itself creates a separation or a barrier (a flow of time) between the different instants. These events (or instants) are given to us a little at a time, so as not to overload the neurological system.
This is what we experience as time. If everything did indeed happen at once, our lives would be in such utter chaos–so our brains give us only what we can safely handle at each unique moment. The speed of this reality coming at us as well as the direction of time is governed by the speed of light. However, the speed of the reception of this reality as based upon our cortex V5 metabolic rate must be strictly a personal experience, hence, is not the same for everyone. So, as mentioned previously, time is personal.
Recent experiments (as of 2000) support the idea that everything actually happens at once. The faster-than-light photon experiment demonstrated that when a photon travels faster than c, it arrived at the detector before it was emitted. While this appears to be logically impossible, it can be made sense of only if the cause (the emission of the photon) and the effect (the photon’s arrival at the detector) both exist side by side happening all at once (existing “out-there”) before the experiment.
The faster-than-light velocity simply reversed the order of our visual sense of this perceived reality. Hence, all events may happen at once, but the time direction that we experience is in a real sense governed by the visual speed of the visible light illuminating this reality for us. Therefore, special relativity is essentially correct in its prediction that time becomes reversed at above the speed of light c.
So, there must be essentially no time at the level of Kant’s noumena. Reality at the noumenal level, therefore, must happen all at once. However, the noumena grants us that reality (in the form of signals) in small separate quantum-sized chunks; a quantum reality that our brain and visual system can tolerate at each moment. The physical separation of these signals (or instants) by our V5 receptor consciousness playback system is the phenomenon of time. If the signal is given to us faster-than-light, we view it in reverse order (as mentioned above).
The Minkowski-Einstein space-time theory suggests that all time is out-there coexisting (as suggested above also). When we look at the stars we are looking backward-in-time. Indeed, our future is contained in the light waves now on their way to us. What we are seeing now in the dark sky is what it was like millions of years in the past (Waugh, 1999).
Any single atom, which is deemed by us to exist in a certain place, is also existing at other times and at other places, if viewed from a different perspective. Hence, all times coexist (as mentioned earlier), although on a separate plane, our deaths, our lives, every decision we have made, including the beginning and the end of the Universe, all are out-there inhabiting their own present (Waugh, 1999). The rate at which we are given this reality is limited in the Universe by the speed of light. What we call time is the relationship of the speed of this reality c, to our individual V5 visual cortex processing speed of instants–our consciousness.
Time And Free Will
It is worthy of note that if all time exists somewhere “out-there”, then our lives must all be predetermined, hence, we indeed have no free will–no freedom to choose our own destinies! This apparent paradox of free will can be resolved by assuming that all the possible future events of the Universe exist “out-there” also, thus, only when we make some sort of personal choice (our freedom of choice) about some event does this future event itself become actualized.
A human, hence, has free will because he or she selects one of the many possibilities to become the actual history of the Universe. The wave function of our personal Universe collapses, actualizing what we experience as the “now”. Humans are the “actualizers” of one’s own future lifetime events, despite the fact that one has only limited control over some events in one’s own life. The actual amount of control that a person has over these events, will remain a matter of debate and unfortunately is beyond the scope of this text.
It is also worthy of note that Einstein’s relativity makes the idea of a universal “now” completely untenable, even as a logical possibility (Barbour, 1999). The actualization of what we experience as a “now”, therefore, is a completely personal experience. Thus, another person’s experience of “now” cannot be the same as yours!
This “Time” model may lead to the following probable predictions:
1) Time is the visual cortex’s (in particular, the V5 region involved in motion) metabolic rate. When one is not looking at a clock, this personal metabolic time governs the rate at which time flows. Clocks and humans are an integral part of the same reality. They, therefore, affect and are affected by each other.
2) Time is related to the speed of reality as light waves and the perception of this reality by the V5 visual system. Perception (consciousness) is the almost instantaneous playback of this reality as instants. Hence, the V5 region, an area of the brain involved in motion that controls for us the speed at which instants are given to our consciousness. So, the V5 visual area is involved in time. It is a quantum system.
3) Drugs may increase or decrease the V5 metabolic rate and change the rate at which time flows. So, drugs may also affect the rate of a person’s counting.
4) Age and gender differences may change the overall metabolic rate (thus, also V5) and the rate at which time flows. Time flows faster when one is older because the overall metabolic rate slows down with age. Women may have different overall metabolic rates than do men.
5) Boredom may be an increase in the V5 metabolic rate, hence, time may slow. One may check one’s watch more often in this case.
6) Having a “good time” or being interested in something may be the slowing of the V5 metabolic rate, thus, time may appear to pass more rapidly. In this situation, one may glance at the clock less-often.
7) Electrical impulses (as increasing space-time flatness) in the brain may give a direction to time–the arrow of time. That synapses change shape to learn something new i.e., short-term memory, may give a direction to time. This long-term potentiation process in the synapses may be the actual arrow of time mechanism. A backward in time direction for light (for example, if light traveled faster than c) would tend to reverse the time arrow.
8) High velocities close to c may speed-up the V5 metabolic rates of human beings and other animals. The relative metabolic rate increase for frames close to c may be noticeable. Slow moving frames may have observers with slower metabolic rates. Speed, therefore, increases visual metabolic rate and slows time for moving observers. This concept joins time and space. This must also be true for accelerated frames of reference, for example, in a gravitational field. Hence, gravitating bodies speed-up metabolic rates depending upon location within the field. The closer a person is to the massive body the faster may be their visual V5 metabolic rate.
9) Both motion and time may take place in the brain in between instants. This is where change may occur. The processing of instants may takes place in the V5 region of the cortex. So, V5 may be where time happens in the brain. See the description and image above for further details.
10) Time is personal. The observational rules for time measurements are that one cannot measure time across different frames of reference, in either accelerated of freely moving frames. In addition, time measurements with clocks alone have an ambiguous physical meaning, so cannot be relied upon. So, concerning time, one cannot say what is taking place with any accuracy in some other frame of reference (or with only clocks alone). When the moving frames do come together again, there may be a comparison of clocks and elapsed time–if and only if an observer was present.
11) The rates of clocks are affected by the presence of observers. Like quantum mechanical experiments, the presence of an observer changes the results. This strictly “personal time” unites relativity and quantum mechanical concepts of time.
12) The rate of one’s V5 processing speed may be measurable. It may be related to the persistence of vision that takes place during movies or television broadcasts. This might indicate one’s the rate of time perception. The two should be related. See the above section for details.
I wish to thank the brain-behavioral researcher Gene Johnson for his input about the synaptic processes of long-term potentiation and long-term depression. Comments by Rohn Roth concerning instants were also useful.
Anthony, C. P., Thibodeau, G. A., 1979, Anatomy And Physiology, Tenth Edition, C. V. Mosby Co. St. Louis, P. 526
Barbour, J., 1999, The End Of Time, Oxford University Press, New York, P. 28, 142
Barrett, J. M., Abramoff, P., Kumaran, K. A., Millington, W. F., 1986, Biology, Prentice-Hall Inc., New Jersey, P. 128
Feynman, R. P., 1999, The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out, Perseus Books, Cambridge, Massachusetts, P. 218-222
Hubel, D. H., 1995, Eye, Brain and Vision, New York, Sci. Am. Library, 48-49
Loewy, A. G., Siekevitz, P., 1969, Cell Structure And Function, Second Edition, Holt, Rinehart And Winston, New York, P. 26-27
Restak, R. M., 2001, Mozart’s Brain And The Fighter Pilot, Harmony Books, New York, P. 140-141
Travis, J., October 14, 2000, Science News: Pioneers Of Brain-Cell Signaling Earn Nobel, A Science Service Publication, Vol 158, No. 16, P. 247
Waugh, A., 1999, Time: Its Origin, Its Enigma, Its History, Carroll & Graf Publishers Inc., New York, P. 8-11, 14, 208, 226
Zeki, S., September 1992, Scientific American, New York, P. 69-76
Reader’s Note: Proper References And/Or Acknowledgments To This Text Are Appreciated.
X-Copyright: J. K. Harms, 2000