Timeless Reality

Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes

Prometheus Books, 2000

While we can never be certain of the nature of "true reality," modern physics provides the best window available to us. Many believe that the laws of quantum physics represent a deep, Platonic reality that goes beyond the material objects that are observed by eye and by advanced scientific instruments. But reality may be simpler and less mysterious than most think. The quantum world only appears mysterious when forced to obey rules of everyday human experience.

 One of these commonsense rules is that time flows in one direction.  No basis for an arrow of time can be found in any of the laws of physics.  All fundamental physical processes can happen in either time direction.  However, on the scale of everyday experience, one time direction is highly more probable than the other for many observed processes. This results from the large number of particles involved and their largely random motions.  When the number of particles is small, or when their motion is highly coherent as it is for quantum phenomena, no arrow of time is evident.

 On the quantum scale, events are found to depend on the future as well as the past, which makes them seem very strange.  Weird effects occur, such as particles appearing simultaneously at different places ("nonlocality"). These and other quantum paradoxes can be easily understood in terms of time symmetry.  On the other hand, the time travel paradox, in which you go back in time and kill your grandfather, does not occur at the quantum level.  Thus quantum time travel is not paradoxical.

 Time symmetry at the quantum level makes it possible to draw a model of underlying reality that is simpler and more symmetric than the conventional view.  This reality is timeless, with no beginning, no end, and no arrow of time. Observations at the smallest distances and highest energies reveal a picture of localized, discrete material bodies moving along definite spacetime paths in an otherwise empty void, with no fundamental distinction between past and future and no need to introduce  "real" continuous fields.  This is the picture revealed to us by the standard model of elementary particle and forces, which is fully consistent with all empirical data.

  In Timeless Reality, the laws of physics are not externally imposed, but follow naturally from symmetry and simplicity. Spontaneous, localized symmetry breaking leads to complex material structures, but these are the result of chance rather intelligent design.  Overall, universal symmetry in space, time, matter, and antimatter is retained.

  Nothing rules out the existence of many universes besides our own and such a multiverse is strongly suggested by modern theories of cosmology.  But whether reality has one universe or many, it had no beginning and no creation.  It neither was nor will be.  It just is.


Table of Contents

The links will take you to pdf versions of select chapters. They may not correspond exactly to the published book which should be referred to if anything is being quoted. They are copyrighted and should not be copied or distributed without the permission of author and publisher.
1. Atoms and Forms
2. The Whole is Equal to the Sum of  its Particles
3. The Death of Absolute Now
4. Three Arrows of Time
5. The Quantum Domain
 6. Paradoxes and Interpretations
7. Taming Infinity
8. The Timeless Quantum
9. Modeling Matter
10. Dreams of Fields
11. Particle Reality
12.  Global Simplicity and Local Complexity
13. The Natural and the Supernatural
14. Truth or Consequences
15. Einstein's Building Blocks

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