Monthly Archives: July 2016

Is the Universe Timeless Unless Someone Somewhere Exists to See It? Explaining the Arrow of Time: Random Thoughts of a Lay Person

I ran across the following article in Quanta Magazine:

“A Debate Over the Physics of Time

“According to our best theories of physics, the universe is a fixed block where time only appears to pass. Yet a number of physicists hope to replace this “block universe” with a physical theory of time, By Dan Falk, July 19, 2016


By Michael R. Honig

The article is written, insofar as is possible, for the ‘lay’ person. If you are interested in such cosmological esoterica, it makes for interesting, if challenging, reading. I also highly recommend looking at the comments, which are uncommonly thoughtful and erudite.

The article made me think of some other possible perspectives.

At one point in the article, it is suggested “… although the universe appears continuous at the macroscopic level, if we could peer down to the so-called Planck scale (distances of about 10–35 meters) we’d discover that the universe is made up of elementary units or “atoms” of space-time.”

Rather than use an imprecise term like “atoms of space-time,” I might suggest theoretical Time Particles which we might call “Chrōnons”, if such particles might exist

Based on Heisenberg (as I understand it), I might posit that the Universe would be ‘timeless’ (no future, present or past) if no one existed to observe it. As some of the article’s commenters suggested, The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and Schrödinger’s Cat may well explain the ‘arrow of time’. Once a thing is observed, the quantum ‘wave function’ (i.e., all possible outcomes) collapses into a single observed state. Thus, at the moment of observation, Schrödinger’s Cat lives or dies and becomes part of the present, and future, thus establishing time’s arrow in a forged path.

Where this starts to get even more interesting is the question of what happens if beings elsewhere in the Universe (ETs) observe an ‘event’, thus causing the quantum wave function to collapse and making the event become a fixed point of reality in ‘time’ before we humans observe it. Have the ETs established this fixed event in time for all beings everywhere in the Universe, or can other beings cause a different quantum wave function collapse and see/create different events in space/time which represents a subsequent and different observer’s reality?

What if observers of a particular event in time from different times and places in the Universe later meet to observe the event jointly? Will they see the same thing? Can Schrödinger’s Cat be resurrected if two observers from different points in time and space later come together to make a joint observation? If their observations originally differed and one saw the cat dead and the other saw the cat alive, what happens when they subsequently view the cat together?

Or, does the first observer in the Universe determine the fate of Schrödinger’s Cat for everyone, for all time everywhere?

Deep stuff. How can we possibly ever truly know, given the scope of the Universe in space and time?

Sincerely as puzzled as you,

Mike Honig

WaPo: “The messy political history of where we pee”, By Ana Swanson June 28, 2016

Bathrooms: They’re more than just organically messy. They cause different societies no end of legal and social questions.


Until recently, few Americans probably thought of peeing as political.

But in the last few years, the issue of which bathrooms transgender people ought to use has become a big political question. The most contested law has been North Carolina’s requirement that people use restrooms in government-run buildings that align with the gender on their birth certificate. But many other cities and states are considering ordinances that would restrict or expand people’s bathroom choices.

To some, this might seem like an odd realm for political discussion. If you look at history, however, you soon see that decisions about public bathrooms – and in particular, the women’s bathroom — have always been linked with controversial ideas about gender, race and class.

Harvey Molotch, a professor of sociology and metropolitan studies at New York University, took me through the contentious history of women’s bathrooms in a recent conversation. Molotch was the co-editor of the 2010 book “Toilet: The Public Restroom and the Politics of Sharing,” an anthology of papers by sociologists, anthropologists, architects, historians and others about the unfamiliar and dramatic history of the public restroom.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. [Click here to read]