Time’s Arrow

“The Arrow Paradox” and “Time’s Arrow” work in space and time respectively and each have limitations. Can they be reconciled to allow time travel?

Seen the movie?

When I watched “Clock Anti-clock” by Deepak Sharma (Paragravity Films) it made me think about an altered state of physics.

Just last week I stumbled upon a description of the “Arrow Paradox” (sometimes called “Fletcher’s Paradox”) which is a much more succinct way of putting what I think I was trying to get over!

In my earlier post there was a snapshot of a plane in flight. A photo, or snap shot, is independent of time because time is essentially reduced to zero duration. I made the point that physics must be behaving differently if there’s no time; the plane which we see in the photo is stationary in the air. Velocity is a function of time (and there’s no time in a snap shot), and with no speed there can be no lift.

Plane doesn't fall
Plane remains in air with no lift

With no lift the plane must fall (OK, admittedly this would be a velocity, or a reaction to the force of gravity (acceleration – another function of time)), but we don’t see that happening (or expect it). We assume that the plane will continue to carry on its original flight path.

Now read the theory

The Arrow paradox follows a similar argument, using an arrow in flight as an example, and ultimately concludes that motion is impossible. It’s a clever argument – but flawed because we know that motion through space is possible.

Mix and retreat

You’ve probably seen the link coming a mile off – The Arrow of Time and the Arrow Paradox.

The Arrow of Time is a basic model of time which says that time can ‘move’ only in one direction. There’s a brilliant video describing it here:

But does having a limitation on (the direction of) motion sound familiar? ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’ve noticed that many authors play the H.G.Wells ‘trick’ and twist the space and time dimensions around when it comes to conjuring up a method for time travel. And I must admit that I have also played around with a few ideas in the past wondering that if space and time can be considered equal in terms of dimension then by space’s analogy we can think up some interesting temporal counterparts.

But I was interested to read a statement by Arthur Stanley Eddington (this is the astronomer who came up with the concept of Time’s Arrow):

“I shall use the phrase โ€˜time’s arrowโ€™ to express this one-way property of time which has no analogue in space.” – Arthur Stanley Eddington

What does this mean for us then? That time is bound to a single direction whereas this isn’t true in space? I suppose this is nothing new – it’s our base position because it fits in with our everyday experience in life. We can walk to the bar, have a drink, and walk back home again. But we can’t go back in time and wish we hadn’t got into that bar fight.

Maybe the clue isn’t in the direction of travel within a dimension, but in exploring the number of dimensions. Space has 3 (“length”, “width” and “height” – which I’ll label here as “X”,”Y” and “Z” respectively) and Time has one (“time” – let’s call it “T”.)

Even if we move along only the X axis in space, we know that movement along Y and Z is also possible. These are at right angles to X and effectively constitute a move into imaginary space. And if that’s possible then moving in a negative direction is child’s play.

With time it’s different. Having only one temporal dimension means that we’re restricted to movement only within that dimension along that one axis (and apparently, only along one direction).

Given that string theory is able to come up with as many as 26 dimensions this seems a little unfair! How come time only has one?

According to superstringtheory.com time was introduced by Einstein as a dimension “…to describe an event in spacetime” – in other words, so that things can move (in space) and happen at a given time. Or in Einstein’s own words (possibly…) “…the reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

Of course, I’m not one to argue with Einstein (because that would require a working time machine… ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) but I’d like to question his empirical approach where he’s constructed a set of parameters which describe what we have. Is there space (or time, *giggle*) to keep searching within string theory to find another temporal dimension?

Being at the back of the list, number 27, I expect it’s going to be tricky one to find. But that’s the thing when it comes to finding the secret of time travel, isn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜‰

A (Re)call to View

Time’s Arrow dictates that we cannot go backwards in time the same way that we can in space. This of course assumes that we can go backwards in space – though I’m sure that physics would take a funny turn…

Meanwhile, here’s the link to “Clock Anti-Clock”. If you recall, I mentioned this movie at the start of this post. Memory? Isn’t that the only way we can currently go back in time? ๐Ÿ˜‰ (see header image!)

Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚


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Hands off, Einstein, she's mine!

The results from my experiment with time dilation are in: despite playing with the twin paradox, kissing my wife makes the universe a safer place!

My experiment with a pretty girl. Hands off, Einstein!

Last week I posed the question if I kiss my beautiful wife for a minute and for her it seems like an hour, does that make me a good lover?

The results are in. (Don’t worry – this remains a post relating to time travel! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Time dilation from kissing.
Image credit: Prashant Soni

My wife feels pretty much the same as I do, i.e. when she kisses me for a minute it seems like a second.

This has interesting ramifications – and not just for my pride! ๐Ÿ˜‰

If we’re both kissing for a minute and each perceive it to last a second, two questions are raised:

Where has all the time gone?

Our bodies are tangled in real time for a minute, so somewhere 59 seconds remain unaccounted for. Where has that time gone?

The obvious answer is that love clouds the brain and as a result we simply think slower and subsequently perceive time differently. Amorous or amorphous? So let’s be a little more scientific; let’s talk time dilation.

Did the Earth move bringing a change in the reference frame? Or were we swept off our feet taking us to a lower gravitational potential? I’ll say yes on both counts, and the time as experienced by us and that experienced by external observers (which I hasten to point out that there were none – despite living in Holland!) differed.

But how does it stand for the passage of time within the ‘experiment’?

The original postulation was that time passes at differing rates for the (willing) kisser and the (perhaps not so willing) kissee. But it turns out that my wife feels the same as I, i.e. that she suspects that during her minute of kissing, an hour has passed for me.

So question 2…

Have we stumbled on the twin paradox?

If both of us feel that for us time is passing more quickly than for the other, have we bumped into a kind of reverse twin paradox?

The twin paradox is where one twin zooms off at high speed and comes back to find that he’s aged less than his Earth bound brother. The paradox arises (though disputed by some experts on wikipedia) that the laws of sibling rivalry mean that the brothers argue, in this case about who has moved relative to who and thus which one of the two has aged less.

The parallel with my wife is that we argue which one of us is experiencing the second and which one experiences the hour.

Well. There are ways to make up with your wife after an argument! ๐Ÿ˜‰

One possible explanation for the paradox is that the traveling twin accelerated away from the other, had a change of mind and slowed down to a stop, turned round, and came back home again. Or in other words, there was a change in the reference framework and special relativity no longer holds. i.e. the twins are identical in looks, but not in experience. They are different from each other. (Obviously; one’s into space travel and the other one wants to sit at home writing up his blog). I still suspect that if the twins were truly identical in all respects, and experienced identical circumstances, the paradox would remain.


So the mindset needs to be the same. But bringing this back to my wifey, if we are both feeling the same way then there is a very real risk that universe will shake itself apart because nature abhors paradoxes.

At the same time – and I can’t stress this strongly enough – kissing my wife without consent is a highly dangerous activity. Universes have heaved under the strain of the knowledge, black holes have collapsed, and supernovae have extinguished themselves and hidden themselves under a safe rock.

There we have it. Kissing with consent in the time2timetravel HQ makes the universe a safer (and much happier) place!



safer universe
Image credit: Marc Garrido I Puig

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An Experiment with Relativity

Einstein is famous for his theory of relativity, but he also described it using hot stoves and a pretty girl. This lead me to conduct my own experiment.

Einstein described relativity using hot stoves and a pretty girl:

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

I got round to thinking about combining the two – not by sending the pretty girl into the kitchen (yikes!), but thinking about something far more interesting:

When I kiss a hot girl for a minute, it seems like a second.

For the hot girl though, it would probably seem like an hour.

So the question is this: if I can make it last an hour for her…does that make me a good lover?

So much for thought experiments. I’ve got something I want discuss with my wife…


Einstein's theory of hot girls, stoves and relativity.
Image credit: Gabriella Fabbri.

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Mental time travel with imagination

I’ve had a double helping of mental time travel recently – I found a school exercise book from when I was about 10 years old, and I’d written a couple of short stories about clocks. Young children often have wild imagination, and I think that this should be nurtured – after all, the world is built on the backbone of imagination!

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” – Albert Einstein.

Reading diaries and journals in a way takes us back in time. (At least, it was the case in The Butterfly Effect! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) It’s a form of mental time travel.

This being the case, I’ve had a double helping. I came across an old school exercise book – there’s no year on the date, but judging from the content and the teacher’s handwriting, I think it’s from the 1982 / 1983 school year. (Apparently, like the UK tax office who start their year in April, schools adopt a different year to the standard Gregorian calendar…)

Reading through some of the stories, many of which were descriptions of my life at the time, really seemed to take me back. I was surprised at myself at how many of the events I could remember, and I could also remember how I felt. This in itself was an odd feeling…having different feelings back then than I would have now given the same circumstances. Time and experience has made me into a different person..but not in one go, rather, as a progressive series, building upon previous moments in my life.

A couple of stories struck me, and I’m posting them here.

They’re not quite time travel, but apparently I had an inkling of an interest in the theme of of clocks and time…

Hope you enjoy!

The Clock that Went Bonkers

17th November

Flying Scotsman

“I was riding along in a flying Scotsman. There was a clock that had a very loud tic…….TIC TOC TIC TOC. and so on. I was looking at this clock when it went bonkers. First the hands started to go whizzing round and then they broke through the glass, through the open window and then they started to fly round the flying scotsman.

They pointed at me and shouted “Supermonkey!” As the hands were off the main part of the clock, it started to make a humming whizz. Then the flying scotsman captain came and he put things right.”

Midnight Hour

5th February

Midnight hour

“I had just went to bed. The clock was going very fast with its tics……..TIC TOC TIC TOC. I changed the clock so it said 24.00. Then I sneaked out of bed, went to the sweet jar, and took some sweets out. I then went outside I saw a skeleton party I asked if I could join in, but they did not talk in my language. Well what did I do!. I started dancing but they threw me into the garden pond. I tried to swim out. Then I found myself rolling in my bed.”

And my teacher’s remark…

Paul, some of stories are becoming rather silly. You have a good imagination so don’t only use it for funny stories. I expect your work to be much more interesting to read from now on. See me.

Ah yes, the “See me.” comment! The true dread of a sensitive young schoolboy who wore his heart on his sleeve trying to write things down and getting called up in front of class to justify the wanderings of my mind to an elderly lady who couldn’t think past full stops and and capital letters (apparently she didn’t care for the definite article), and to the jeers of school mates hungry for some entertainment.

I was very sophisticated back then. I used my sleeve for wearing my heart and not my snot. I guess Miss Powell (name possibly changed…) would have had it otherwise. Some 32 years later, I still disagree with her. The world is built on the backbone of imagination.

I wonder what she’d make of this blog! I’d like to think that she’d approve of some out of the box thinking that has lead to reading some fantastic articles on other time travel blogs and websites, pieces of time travel fiction and watching time travel movies. To think that out of imagination come ideas which create and shape the world we live in. That through our minds, anything, if we really try, is possible.

But what do I know? The thought of my old school teacher being able to accept imagination is in itself…a product of my silly imagination! ๐Ÿ˜‰


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