Sunday, March 14, 2010

Backward Causality or Back from the Future

The siren wails disturbing the peace of the landscape. Another heart needs repair or another lung emptied of excess water or another tired and chaotic rhythm of entropic humanity needs a kick-start to keep going. This is the passage of time. Time; the unsheathed sword of Damocles, 

                  The unsheathed sword hanging over Damocles

the cloaked specter with gnarly skeletal hands who rides the arrow of time all the while smiling at the inhabitants on this earth that merrily while it away. 
This time is a bafflement of sorts. It flows, like the river and yet it is immutable, immovable and irreverent to human behavior. It is one o’clock and then with the passage of 60 minutes of 60 seconds each, it is two o’clock.

                           Humans and the Time Dimensions

 The flesh is elastic and soft 

and then slowly it withers into a rigid canvas of wrinkles and discolored shades. 

The sun rises from beyond the horizon bringing with it light of day and sets with the passage of the day. So too the night fulfils its time of its appointed hours. And as each day passes it robs the observer’s life of time.

Can the future be foretold? Or can the past be reincarnated to its exact form? As memories accumulate and new shapes take form so does the past as it mingles with the present. The concept of past changes as does that of the future from day to day. There is nothing but thinking makes it so. The ethereal sense of wonder collapses into the real world of time. Time is an arrow in flight. 

All forms change and obey the second law of thermodynamics, 

which simply put, states that order converts to chaos and entropy.

 An iceberg melts into water and cannot reform back to its original form,

 nor tea mixed with milk in a cup, un-blend after being stirred.

Aboard the Enterprise,

teleportation and time travel by worming through holes in the fabric of space is a doable deed. Taking from Einstein’s Space time continuum and the association of the gravitational pressures of weight on space leading to rents in the fabric of space can create the Worm Holes whereby one can escape this time for that time and this space for that one. This analysis forces one to consider situations...where there is a net flux of lines of force, through what topologists would call "a handle" of the multiply-connected space, and what physicists might perhaps be excused for more vividly terming a "wormhole".—John Wheeler in Annals of Physic

                         NASA's diagrammatic representation of the Worm Hole

 But in reality no one is worming through any hole anytime soon.
The only fortunate person we know as per Lewis Carroll was Alice whose fall through the rabbit hole made her a visitor into a parallel universe of the Red and white Queens. 

Alice aside, this world unfortunately has only sink holes and financial holes of magnitude that devour great empires of life’s earnings.

                      Alice looks at the Rabbit Hole

                          Alice and the Rabbit  (Above 3 photos from the Alice in Wonderland movie website)

But given the Platonist viewpoint of a philosophical life of solitude, a physicist counters with thought experiments which lead to theories that are assimilated into a mathematical formula and voila – A Eureka Moment arrives: Time Travel is possible! Or is it? Are we deluding ourselves, fomenting thoughts of philosophy and mathematical expressions to steer ourselves away from the humdrum and calamities that exist in the here and now. Or maybe there is this potential chance of time-travel?

After all reconciling the worlds of the large with the worlds of the miniscule is a torture that has faced many a theoretical physicist. How do you have the seeable and viewable fact that an apple falls from the tree that even a third grader can tell you it is because of gravity. It only comes to rest, when the apple’s mass and motion, is countered by the mass and resistance offered by the earth’s force. This is simple and without contradiction, because we can see it and experiment it over and over again. But what of the Quantum Physics where the act of observation changes the object’s position and form? If you rescale that imagery into the large-scale Newtonian world then the act of observing a falling apple changes it from an apple (object) into a wave – Impossible to imagine, isn’t it?. This borders on the unbelievable but it is true only in the world of subatomic particles.

The act of observing a single photon will show a scatter through a slit onto the wall. Better yet place a lamp in front of a cardboard with two slits in it. The pattern of diffraction seen on the wall will show weak and dark bands. How can that be when there are only two slits and one light source  and far too many bands. Does light split as it enters the slits? Why does this happen? 

  The Single slit shows at least three bands vs. the double slit showing multiple bands

There in lies the curse of the Quantum Physics, which stipulates that the particle is both a wave and a particle until the act of observation!  A particle when observed as a particle will show up as a particle, otherwise it will represent a wave with it’s crests and troughs and the resulting interference patterns we see on the wall. True. But to reconcile that wave-particle duality with the observation of an apple that falls from the tree and still remains an apple is a conundrum that faces the physicists. How can two different sets of laws exist for the large and the small?

So what does this have to do with time? Everything. If time is ticking then every moment becomes a past. Just as photon is moving at 186,000 feet per second a tachyon is faster than the speed of light can be seen to travel backwards. Again is this Science fiction or fact?

   Feynmann's escaping Baryon e+ radiating back in time.

So the question is whether time can be manipulated to allow us to see the future or better yet can knowing the future change the present and therefore the past? Here we shall bring another theoretical concept, now proven by experimentation that atoms are entangled in their actions. This was discovered by the Quantum entanglement theory. (EPR paradox = Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen)

 Subatomic particles from the same atom separated in distance behave as if together when one is exposed to an act of observation the other changes it’s presentation as if the other has been witnessed also. Funny! It is like being in two places at one time. Einstein called it the “spooky action at a distance.” 

                  Einstein's "Spooky action at a distance."

And yet it is true, however confounding as the concept seems. The theoretical physicists have wreaked havoc with the simple distilled world of the birds and the bees, the here and the now, the this and the that. And yet, And yet the thought experiment was proven correct by scientists looking at the up and down spin states of the subatomic particles split from the same photon and revealing through experimentation that the act of observing one particle changed the spin state of the other to coincide, even though they were separated by distances. But don’t worry the next time someone looks at you you won’t change into a frog.
Again without losing sleep over that concept the interesting thing is that space however expansive does not seem to exist between small particles.
So having wrecked the concept of space lets try to destroy time also. Assuming one can drive through the Worm Hole and exist on another dimension of time is an awe-inspiring thought. And to drive the motion forward, Worm Holes do exist theoretically. So now it is only up to us to build a space-ship to fly to one such rent in the fabric of space and there we will be, another time and space. Unfortunately Stargates do not exist except in television or if they do they might be buried in Area 51 and held by some large-scale government conspiracy.

               Image from the TV series Stargate SG1

But can a person exist, by knowing the future of where he or she wants to go and in effect  change the present. The answer most will tell you – I don’t know! In fact, the imagery of motion, by athletes has been utilized to win Olympic Gold Medals. You can see them with their eyes closed as their minds whoosh through imagined space in the future to achieve their goals in the present. These are the gymnasts, skiers, sky-divers and the rest of the brave souls who constantly challenge limits.

“Mr. Walsh, I am afraid this disease is not responding to therapy.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means at this point we can offer you comfort measures only.”
“Can I see that young doctor who came in yesterday?”
“Sure, I will see to that.”
“Thank you.” He said and closed his eyes to the cruelty of this world. He knew that time was a friend and his enemy. Every second was precious and yet every second cheated him of something far more precious – life.
“You sent for me Mr. Walsh?”
“Yes doctor. Thank you for coming to see me. I was told that all therapies have failed. You were the only one who has given me hope and I am kind of looking for something, however little.”
“That is a deep subject, isn’t it? I did not mean to put you on the spot.”
“No, no. I was thinking of an option.”
“I’ll try anything.”
“Well there are studies of using high dose steroids which can alleviate some of the symptoms. But you do understand that cure is impossible.”
“Lets try it. How much time will it buy me?”
“Maybe, a few weeks.”
“I’ll take it.” He said. That was September of the year. Fall was on its way and the green leaves had turned a shade of brown. Soon the branches would bare their souls to the hard rigidity of the cold winter. This season’s passage was something he felt he had to see. He would fight the elements and brave the torture for the one possible reward that he wanted from time.

The winter was harsh and brutal with wind-swept drifts and cold chilly sleet driving from the Northwest sideways into the windowpanes making all sorts of clattering din. The passage of time was slow but oh so quick for him. He went back into the hospital in January of the new-year for a few days.

March was easier as the new buds took hold and the blossoms colored the terrain. As the birds sang their songs walking on the grass feeling for the grub below, pecking at the earth for a morsel of food, he arrived once again at the hospital dehydrated and now living beyond his allotted time.

“How are you feeling?”
“A little tired and low energy, but otherwise okay.”
“This is amazing. I never thought the steroids could do this.”
“One for the books doc. One for the books!” he said, his voice hoarse from a sore throat.

Summer began as it always does, full of promise, school vacations and trips. The tides of  high pressure gravitated and the haze permeated the atmosphere where the blue sky was always a dull brown. The traffic on the highway increased to accommodate the vacation going cars burdened with bicycles and kayaks and station wagons filled with clothes that did not find room in suitcases.

It was August when he arrived back in the Emergency Room. He was admitted to a private room. His body riddled with disease that found its way every outlet it could to express its domain. He was weak but still held on to life.

“This is truly one for the books Mr. Walsh!”
“Nothing amazing. Remember you said, if I can think of a future, it will happen?”
Well, I thought of it and it is happening.”
‘Anything I can do for you?”
“You have done more than I could have asked for. Thank you and may God Bless you and your family.”

That afternoon his daughter got married in the hospital chapel. He was present. That night he passed quietly into the undiscovered country as a contented soul.

The backward causality in this universe is also a physicist’s domain. Experimenting with laser they have been able to split the beam and found that on reassessment of the secondary waypoint after evaluating the tertiary waypoint leads to a 100 to 10,000 fold increase in intensity of the secondary way-points. In other words, observing the third time-line waypoint of the laser beam caused a change in the intensity of the secondary time-line waypoint. If the tertiary waypoint was not evaluated then there was no change in the secondary waypoint observed. This is considered backward causality, that a future assessment changes the present and therefore the past.

Some may consider this as an “imprint on the mind” but it is still an imagined future that lengthened Mr. Walsh’s life. Mr. Walsh imagined a future waypoint of seeing his daughter’s wedding and by doing so he changed the present to exceed all limits imposed upon him by nature and medicine. His imagined future changed his past.

Somewhere in the Amazon Forest a large tree uproots carrying with it a century old fauna. Sometime in Ancient Greece the Parthenon lost its plaster and not long ago the Sphinx was buried under the sand and excavated. Just as the genes lay the artwork of stripe of a zebra in-utero and the rural building, once a bustling paradise of industry now shuttered, falls into disrepair. Slowly but relentlessly the arrow of time marks its moment.

                             Parthenon in Greece

                                        Sphinx in Egypt

 From Order to Chaos in large things such as humans aging, cars requiring needed repairs, and airplanes going to the bone-yard. From simplicity and low entropy states to complexity in high entropy states is the order of things, yet biology defies this. A sperm and an ovum unite and create a complex human being. This self-organizing principle from simple to complex is also witnessed by the mass of cells called the heart where all the heart muscle cells beat in unison under the guidance of the AV Node. 

  The AV Node of the heart and the dissemination of the electrical pulse

The genetic tick-tock of manipulating proteins send signals of this initiation and the cross-talk between cells then unleashes the global paradigm of organized unity. This principle was first detected in chemistry by Bealosouv Zabhotanski Reaction (BR Reaction) which showed a self organizing chemical reaction state in space and time. But somewhere in that realm is the Einstein’s bubble pin-prick to make us stand up and reconsider that space and time of the past and future are all fabricated in the present and that wormholes if they stay open long enough can transport us to the past or the future. These travels of course bring the various paradoxes of “Back to the Future,’ 

but they are thought experiments with mathematics articulating, that, which cannot be explained, seen or viewed.

So let us live in the here and now and enjoy the joyous outdoors of sunshine and rain and snow, see the flowers bloom and the birds sing and forget that Quantum theory has any impact on the large-scale order of things except in the mind where individually all of us can manipulate the present by thinking of a great future.

Thought is only a gleam in the midst of a long night. But it is this gleam, which is everything.
– Francis Bacon

A clash of doctrines is not a disaster. It is an opportunity.
 – Alfred North Whitehead

You hold that time is badly warped,
That even light is bent;
I think I get the idea there,
If that is what you meant.
The mail the postman brings today
Tomorrow will be sent.
– Professor W. Williams (special relativity)

Now for the love of Love, and her soft hours;
Lets not confound the time with conference harsh.
-Anthony and Cleopatra Act 1 William Shakespeare

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