The arrow of time

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AuthorTopic: The arrow of time
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #0
Why can I remember yesterday, but not tomorrow?

This is a serious question, and it is unanswered in current physics. (We don't exactly advertise this glaring deficit, but it is generally admitted to graduate students, who have already invested enough in physics that they can be counted on to keep quiet. The term of art -- er, science -- for this enigma is 'the arrow of time'.)

If I look at the equations by which we can predict future motion from present conditions, we discover that any forward-in-time solution has an exact analog, in which we determine the past motions that must have led to any final conditions. In other words, the basic equations of physics do not distinguish the direction of time, and would be just as happy to work backwards as forwards. In shorter other words, causality always cuts both ways.

And yet I don't remember tomorrow. Why not? A really genuine, deep, and thorough answer to this question would not merely be worth a Nobel prize. It would go down in history (or perhaps, futurity!). But even a wild stab from a non-specialist might be of some value.

So, any ideas?

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It is not enough to discover how things seem to seem. We must discover how things really seem.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
? Man, ? Amazing
Member # 5755
Profile #1
Simple, yet perhaps a non-answer. We as a species have not evolved to the point where we can recognize memories of the future. Certain individuals may have the ability, but it is usually drugged out of them if they confess to it. Other species on the planet may indeed have evolved that precognitive state.

Also, certain plant based chemicals have been rumored to have the effect of opening the mind to future events.

*this message brought to you by jimsonweed - now with alkaloid poison*
Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
By Committee
Member # 4233
Profile #2
Would it perhaps simply have to do with the fact that the human brain is incapable of accounting for the legion forces and variables involved in everything, everyday? Most people have enough trouble as it is thinking three moves ahead in chess, let alone a dozen. How much more difficult is it then to predict the world?
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
Shaper
Member # 32
Profile #3
Well if it's all predetermined then it is quite simple. Unfortunately the 10% of our brain that we use isn't helpful in this area...

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Lt. Sullust
Cogito Ergo Sum
Polaris
Posts: 2462 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
By Committee
Member # 4233
Profile #4
Why do we only use 10% of our brains anyway? Is this the result of increased efficiency over time? Having so much excess seems wasteful, evolutionarily speaking.
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
Infiltrator
Member # 4637
Profile Homepage #5
There's so many possible variables that will determine future behaviour, that it's impossible to preview the future. The advantage of the past is that all main variables can be known, because they exist/existed. So, we can't remember the future because there is no way to know what are the variables which, in turn, will determine a specific future. So, untill those variables are known, the future doesn't exist. Once they are known, they are past and present, not representing the future anymore.

Anyway, I don't understand what do you mean exactly with "I don't remember tomorrow" and what is its relation with "the basic equations of physics do not distinguish the direction of time". Unless with "remember" you mean something else than memmory.

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"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2:6-9
Posts: 483 | Registered: Tuesday, June 29 2004 07:00
Infiltrator
Member # 4637
Profile Homepage #6
quote:
Originally written by Drew:

Why do we only use 10% of our brains anyway? Is this the result of increased efficiency over time? Having so much excess seems wasteful, evolutionarily speaking.
We don't use only 10% of the brain. All brain is used. Now, people say that we only use 10% of its potential.

Some people say that Jesus used 100% of his brain potential, being able to do what he did. He was perfect. So that's why He said that anyone could do the same as He, if that person had faith enough (to be perfect as Him).

What would happen to humanity if all brain potential were unleashed?

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Visit the Blades of Avernum Center
and the Beta Testing Center

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"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2:6-9
Posts: 483 | Registered: Tuesday, June 29 2004 07:00
? Man, ? Amazing
Member # 5755
Profile #7
quote:
Originally written by Overwhelming
What would happen to humanity if all brain potential were unleashed?

That is exactly why responsible humans stamp out the 100%ers as soon as they are located.

*this message sponsored by the underachiever club of viti levu*
Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #8
This 10% of the brain thing is sheer hooey. No-one has a clue how the brain works, so no-one has any evidence whatever about how much of it we 'use'. I'm idly curious where this bizarre pseudo-factoid ever came from. Functional MRI studies are rather recent, and they basically show blood flow, which does seem to increase to certain areas of the brain depending on what the mind is doing. But all of the brain receives some blood, or it would die, and we have no idea how much 'use' is associated with that minimal blood supply. And a priori there seems no reason to suppose that we are any less able to harness all of our brain's capability than we are to exert our muscles to the full.

About prediction versus memory: this is just it. Determining the past by computing everything that must have happened to generate the present is exactly as hard as predicting the future, using the laws of physics. If we can nevertheless remember the past, why not the future?

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It is not enough to discover how things seem to seem. We must discover how things really seem.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
By Committee
Member # 4233
Profile #9
Well, currently, the only way to form memories is via observation. Observation is also painfully subjective. You can't remember anything that you haven't observed in some way, whether it occurs in the future, or has occurred somewhere outside the realm of your experience. Just as I can't remember the contents of a book I have yet to read, I also can't remember what SoT had for breakfast, as both events either occurred or will occur outside the realm of my own observation.

[ Monday, July 18, 2005 12:42: Message edited by: Drew ]
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
Agent
Member # 5814
Profile #10
Well, see, the difference between the past and the future is the fact that the past has happened, and the future is what's coming. So your memories of the past aren't memories of the variables and chances of what happened; they're what you saw.

What you're saying is that "seeing" the future (predicting what will happen) operates on the same principles as remembering the past, which isn't true.

In effect, you can "remember" the future, but since there are so many chances of so many things happening, there will be a multitude of futures and they're essentially useless.

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I HAVE LOCATED MY CAPS LOCK KEY AND FEEL YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT!
Posts: 1115 | Registered: Sunday, May 15 2005 07:00
Agent
Member # 2210
Profile #11
You can remember (see) a number of possible tomorrows but not the one which will happen as it does exactly. Because tomorrow is a specific pathway among a fixed variety of pathways. Believing in something called superdeterminism, it means there are an infinite number of tomorrows which are already predetermined. Both choice and fate weigh equally but are in a way illusory. You have a choice of which predetermined future you will follow.

Your mind can grasp a number of them but not necessarily the one which you will follow. Very occasionally, you will come very close to imagining a possible future as it happens creating a sense of deja vu or precognition, but it will not follow things exactly as you imagined them. Some people are better focused on this than others. The more aware a person becomes the more likely they will be able to choose their fate and be aware in the sense of deja vu of what is happening around them.

As far as remembering, the past is like a long string behind you, the string is deteriorating and you can only see it indirectly, leaving all memories open to interpretation.

This is my take on things. Take it or leave it.

[ Monday, July 18, 2005 12:44: Message edited by: I'll Steal Your Toast ]

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Wasting your time and mine looking for a good laugh.

Star Bright, Star Light, Oh I Wish I May, I Wish Might, Wish For One Star Tonight.
Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
Triad Mage
Member # 7
Profile Homepage #12
Don't we remember the future when we make decisions or weigh options?

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"At times discretion should be thrown aside, and with the foolish we should play the fool." - Menander
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Posts: 9436 | Registered: Wednesday, September 19 2001 07:00
By Committee
Member # 4233
Profile #13
Isn't that just testing a hypothesis though?

"I will do x because doing x will lead to y, which is best result for my life, based on a, b, c, etc."

You don't really know whether it will prove to be true or false because you can't conceive of all the variables and forces involved.

In a lot of ways, we're flying blind. :)

[ Monday, July 18, 2005 12:51: Message edited by: Drew ]
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
Apprentice
Member # 5723
Profile #14
quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

Why can I remember yesterday, but not tomorrow?


your subconscious mind recalls a COSMIC LAW.
so you do remeber tomorrow. in your dreams, buddy, said teh GODS, watching your dreams with infinnifte ability to do so. the gods laughed at unbelievers, woeful on their toilets.

meanwhile, time seems lineardoesn't it? no matter whatyou do. some friends of mine theorize thatthere is a permannent subconscious invisible and intangible wall preventing nerds from becoming true effective geniuses -- the self hatred of trying to turn the term fro a freak who eats chicken heads for carnies trying to go FTL-- I don't know. Seen Jeff? He may have turned into the square root of a negative number. notice how good his games all are.

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--"i don't like clowns. A clown killed my dad. BACK IN 'NAM!!" (guns blaze.)

Fifty - Cent, The Power Of Pretending You Don't Know,
'VIBE July '05
(sike)

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you don't have to be a sucker to suck.
chiptruth ENG: electronic news gathering equipment
Posts: 6 | Registered: Monday, April 18 2005 07:00
? Man, ? Amazing
Member # 5755
Profile #15
There seems to be a common problem of disbelief in human capacity at the personal level. (ie. I can't possibly do that, it is too hard.) This notion is proven wrong on several occasions throughout most peoples life history, and it is possible that it applies to the brain as well.

Unless someone could kindly teach me how to remember the future, I will have a hard time imagining how to do it. I do agree that prediction models are suspect. There are so many forces acting at any given point in time that are uncontroled that it would be impossible to work it out. People often remark "Who woulda thunk that could happen."

A recent Discovery channel show tried to detail through active MRI how different activities stimulate use of different sections of the brain. I turned away before I learned anything, but studies on the brain are continuing. Other than my initial and gut reaction to the question, I can already remember that I had nothing worthwhile to say on the subject.

*this message sponsored by tense structure, which makes it difficult to convey future memories*
Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Agent
Member # 2210
Profile #16
It is very hard to teach anybody to pay attention or be more aware of what is happening to them. This is not religious. The more aware a person becomes, the more aware they are of suffering, deception, and pain which makes most people want to go drink several beers, play video games until their eyes fall out (my favorite) or go hide in a corner.

We are talking about memory here which is internalizing what is happening in the external world. Memory meditation and awareness are a different form of meditation than most people are used to. Being able to remember clearly in the present and be more aware of what is happening now leads to better able to see what may happen.

There are basically two forms of memory meditation-- The Method of Eidos, and The Memory Castle both of which were originally taught as a part of rhetoric in the Roman era, or used in the Renaissance by the Jesuits and many of the Renaissance Italians. A perfect time for our favorites-- Leonardo and that nutcase Nostradamus. Dig around a bit, it is not too hard to find if you look. Enough said.

This is an interesting article on the Art of Memory.

http://www.renaissancemagazine.com/backissues/memory.html

[ Monday, July 18, 2005 13:50: Message edited by: I'll Steal Your Toast ]

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Wasting your time and mine looking for a good laugh.

Star Bright, Star Light, Oh I Wish I May, I Wish Might, Wish For One Star Tonight.
Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
Apprentice
Member # 5723
Profile #17
quote:
Originally written by Jumpin' Salmon:

There seems to be a common problem of disbelief in human capacity at the personal level. (ie. I can't possibly do that, it is too hard.) This notion is proven wrong on several occasions throughout most peoples life history, and it is possible that it applies to the brain as well.

Unless someone could kindly teach me how to remember the future, I will have a hard time imagining how to do it. I do agree that prediction models are suspect. There are so many forces acting at any given point in time that are uncontroled that it would be impossible to work it out. People often remark "Who woulda thunk that could happen."

A recent Discovery channel show tried to detail through active MRI how different activities stimulate use of different sections of the brain. I turned away before I learned anything, but studies on the brain are continuing. Other than my initial and gut reaction to the question, I can already remember that I had nothing worthwhile to say on the subject.

*this message sponsored by tense structure, which makes it difficult to convey future memories*

(teaches you how.)

why do you think time is linear?
why do you think time is real? it's an illusion. a real illusion. ENTROPY is what you are seeing friend.

You've seen it's opposite, Buk Fullerdid all his work there. The answer is your dreams. now if you go away saying 'Bull****!" -- i didn't fail to tell you, you succeeded in disbelieving in someone who knew the answer to your q!)

reductio ad absurdem!

chiptruth eng: electronic news gatehering equipment

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you don't have to be a sucker to suck.
chiptruth ENG: electronic news gathering equipment
Posts: 6 | Registered: Monday, April 18 2005 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #18
Time is real, and so is distance. They're the same thing. Entropy is something else.

Psychologically and neurologically, we remember the past and not the future because our brains are, at any given time, wired that way. Physics would be satisfied if our brains gained new memories moving forward in time or lost memories going back, but remembering the future isn't part of the bargain.

Why can't our brains analyze the present and the past to come up with accurate predictions? Not enough processing power and too many unknown variables.

—Alorael, who doesn't even see the problem with which way time moves. Subjectively, our thoughts are always existing one instant at a time, and in that instant we can only remember the past because that's how brains work. Objectively, everything works backwards or forwards if you take it one instant at a time. What's wrong with that?
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #19
Perhaps an answer to the original question in the thread is that we simply haven't yet discovered the physics equations that are assymetric with respect to time.

For example, (if I remember correctly), most reations between elementary particles are supposed to be as likely to produce particles as anti-particles. However, there are some reactions where that symmetry breaks down and these might be the reactions responsible for that fact that our universe contains mostly matter, rather than equal quantities of matter and anti-matter.

[ Monday, July 18, 2005 14:26: Message edited by: Zeviz ]

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Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
For it too has the power to kill.
However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
Can also have the power to heal.
Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Skip to My Lou
Member # 40
Profile Homepage #20
Anti-matter is fun! Unfortuanately, my knowledge on the subject comes almost exclusively from Dan Brown's Angels and Demons and so is of questionable veracity.

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Posts: 1629 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Agent
Member # 2210
Profile #21
Part of the problem with the description you are using is that in a very real sense, the present becomes the future through our own actions, every time an action occurs the equation changes so the moment a prediction is made, our present course changes the chance that it may happen. It is the observer problem, we predict a future then unconsciously act to change what may happen.

If you think of the butterfly effect, we act on what may happen before we are even aware of what is happening. By the time we are making a prediction-- the world has changed around us and what we do will have a different effect.

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Wasting your time and mine looking for a good laugh.

Star Bright, Star Light, Oh I Wish I May, I Wish Might, Wish For One Star Tonight.
Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
Shaper
Member # 32
Profile #22
How do you know there are multiple courses? What if there is just one? Sure you make decisions all the time, but perhaps you truly have no choices in the ones you make...

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Lt. Sullust
Cogito Ergo Sum
Polaris
Posts: 2462 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
? Man, ? Amazing
Member # 5755
Profile #23
I remember I wrote this but had forgotten where I put it. But I did promise to talk about money, so I would postulate that our present system of monetary based values would become obsolete if it was discovered that the future could be remembered.

*this message sponsored by semantics and conventional definitions*
Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Skip to My Lou
Member # 40
Profile Homepage #24
You know, you could argue that remembering the recent past is remembering the future of the distant past.

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Take the Personality Test! INTJ 100% 75% 100% 44%
Huzzah for the Masterminds!
www.Keirsey.com for personality information.
The Sloganizer! "Swing your Archmage Alex."
Deep down, you wish you were a stick figure.
Posts: 1629 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00

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