As I mentioned in some of my blogs from January, I started meditating this year. I had started to not like myself because I was always ready to snap. I had long thought of myself as a cool and composed person but that had started becoming more of a fictional character. So I turned to meditation to channel some of these energies.
Meditation is a fun activity when you don’t rush it or force it. I started meditating regularly and most days tried to do it in a part of my day where I wasn’t time pressed. Once I started to clear my head of the everyday thoughts about work, traffic, food, money, TV, technology etc I got a little more mental room to follow some of the other thoughts that would pop up. Earlier I would have run out of time or energy to even consider such thoughts but I felt more upbeat after starting to meditate.
Once in a while, during such meditations, my thoughts end up considering Time itself. It is the only truly finite resource we have in our lives. You can save and hoard everything else for a rainy day but not Time itself. The laws of physics do not have any known preferences around direction of time. What that means is that laws of physics work equally correctly whether time is moving forward or backward. But the only way we see time moving is forward. This is one of the biggest mysteries of physics that we don’t really understand.
I tend to focus a little more on the philosophical / psychological considerations of this finite time. While watching Crash Course (Psychology) on YouTube, I had heard “The human mind is always trying to find balance between activity and rest. When we are doing something, we crave for rest. And while we are resting, we crave to do something.” This seems to be a basic fundamental property that we are always trying to seek out a balance between Rest and Activity. This also tends to be the sub-conscious guide for many of our actions and motivations.
I started wondering about why this may happen? What changes when we do something after resting or rest after doing? It kind of clicked that we spend time in both states. I kind of took it further and wondered whether Time itself is the cause of Imbalance and our lives are spent trying to balance these time-caused-imbalances. Think about it, one extra second of sitting in a certain position and you can start getting numb. Every moment something drifts into a state of imbalance. Whether you are eating or sleeping or walking, every second you feel something change. Either you may start feeling more happy or tired or sad or restless. The changing factor is time and perhaps time is causing these imbalances. I do dream a bit, so I end up wondering, if time only passes when change happens. What if, we are all in some state of suspended animation, until something changes and we call it a second.
The other set of thoughts I was having the other day was about quantum theory. Everything that we know, see or perceive of this universe is built up of electrons, protons and neutrons. These particles inherently are made of smaller particles. There are a bunch of other particles in the standard model and all of them are governed by quantum theory. At the very basic level, quantum theory mentions that nothing is absolute but rather wave functions representing probabilities. Hence you can never know exactly where an electron is but rather you can have a wave function representing probabilities of finding it over various places.
If we are all made up of stuff that is essentially probability waves, what is reality? Well it is considered that the act of observation collapses these probability waves into a concrete measurable reality. Until the observation happens, all possibilities continue to exist in unison. A famous experiment denoting this is called Schrodinger’s Cat. So for reality to happen, time to pass, the probability waves need to collapse into one option. That perhaps may explain the forward directionality of time? Perhaps because you cannot un-collapse reality into probability waves, you cannot move time in backward direction?
It kind of aligns with central belief in many cultures that we have infinite potential. I like to think of it as infinite possibilities. The probability of any event happening is non-0 unless science can prove otherwise. Like of course, light will not move faster than speed of light. But for everything else, there is a chance. There is a chance god exists and there is a chance he doesn’t. There is a chance that humans wipe out themselves in 20 years or there is a chance we continue to evolve and one day outlast this universe in itself. Perhaps one day, once we de-mystify more of quantum theory we can better understand the true nature of time. It feels like Time is a property / a by-product / an effect rather than a cause of physical phenomena.
Some string theory versions talk about there being multiple time dimensions as well similar to spacial dimensions of length, width and height. Now that would be interesting to think about!
Disclaimer: I studied physics till 8 years ago, so my physics maybe completely off mark or I maybe missing very basic things. I still try to keep up to date on all things going on about universe and quantum nature etc.