( This is a guest pst by Dr. Paul Wandason who writes for time2timetravel . More details about the writer of this blog is mentioned after the article. )
Is the Perception of Time Relevant to Time Travel?
When we time travel we leave one point in time and arrive at another but the duration of that journey needs to be different to that of the normal ambient flow of time. Since time flows forwards, any trip to the past is time travel. A trip into the future is time travel if that journey takes less time than the amount of time we go into the future. In other words, we experience less time than ‘usual’.
So is the perception of time relevant to time travel?
A friend asked me this question a few days ago. My immediate thought was that of course it isn’t. It doesn’t matter how we perceive time, because 1 second always lasts for 1 second, however we perceive it. Whether we’re watching a kettle boil or not, it does actually take the same amount of time for the water to reach boiling point. Relativity experiment Whether Einstein is kissing a beautiful girl or sitting on a stove – time still passes at the same rate.
But actually time doesn’t always pass at the same rate, does it? Somewhere between kissing beautiful girls and sitting on stoves, Einstein came up with the idea of time dilation – where proximity to gravitational acceleration or experiencing (a change in) velocity can lead to differences in the measurement of time. Atomic clocks on board jets whizzing around the Earth – or indeed, GPS satellites – have shown this to be true, both experimentally and in the every day real world.
When our pupils dilate in the dark, they get bigger; it’s not a relative contraction of our ruler. Some argue that with time dilation it’s different – that time doesn’t actually speed up or slow down; it’s just the measurement of it. Personally I’m not sure, and I’d suggest that we ask (or observe) one of the twins in the famous Twin paradox experiment . Even so, seeing that one twin has aged more (or less) than the other is still an extension of perceived time. When you perceive or experience more time, you have more time to do things (such as cell reproduction and advancing the biologically traditional signs of ageing).
Perhaps perception is more of a psychological issue than experience – but how is time perceived psychologically?
Jill Bolte Taylor is a neurologist who says that the left part of the brain is responsible for the perception of ‘clock-time’; a chain of moments of cause and effect. Conversely, the right part of the brain is involved with the perception of time as a bubble full of possibilities where neither Self nor time exist.
Importantly then, Jill connects time directly to identity – if you can’t say ‘I’, then you can’t have clock-time. In a way this makes sense. People seem to be fixated on thinking about time as an additional dimension. You can probably thank H.G. Wells for that, or geophysicists who need to organise their data in terms of both time and space. But time is also sensual; a connection with a deeper self.
Some people of course have no sense of time, whereas others are completely governed by it. I’m sure many of us are aware of the sense of timing – or lack of it. A well delivered joke for example, or someone who just can’t dance to the same rhythm as everyone else. I read somewhere that when we dance, our heart beats in time with the music. Is this an odd outward expression to our internal body clock?
How our body clock reacts to changes in external time is central to finding the answer to our original question. It goes deeper than jet lag when we travel zonally across lines of longitude and time zones.
There has been much discussion among time travel fans in whether cryogenics, deep sleep or some other form of manipulation of our body clock counts as time travel. In these cases we (or at least our body) experience less time than real time. But where’s the time machine? Where are the scientific formulae and nuts and bolts which strip physics to the core and allow us to actually travel through time?
So maybe we first need to solve the philosophical riddle of what exactly is “time travel” before we can assess the role of the perception of time. However that discussion goes, I think we can be sure that it plays a vital part.
Strange, but interesting don’t you think?
Paul Wandason writes for time2timetravel.com , a timetravel blog with basics of time travel. You might like to follow him on Twitter tadpaul353 or visit, like or circle time2timetravel on time2timetravel on FB or Time2timetravel on G+