May 2012






















What If

What if time doesn't run forwards like we think it does? What if it runs backwards and our memories are really premonitions?

Or better yet, what if our memories are us creating the future before it happens?

Time needs space and space needs time, they can't be without each other. Time is motion and motion requires some place to move to. You can take a picture and "freeze" time but you can't really tell which way things were moving in the picture. Or even if they were moving or not when you pushed the shutter button.

You could freeze a block of space but when you unfroze it which way would the things you froze begin to move? How would they know which way they were moving before they got frozen?

What if you really froze it, I mean you stopped the boze's from higginzing or whatever it is they do? You stopped the electrons from orbiting. Would they still be able to stay apart from each other or would they collapse into a tiny little heap? Wait, we froze it before it could collapse because we have a mighty fast freezer widget so wherever the energy was when we froze it stayed put.

Ok, cool (I mean that literally). Now what? What if we heat it up again with our mighty fast heater widget. Which way do thing start moving?

This is a problem for us. You see, we're trying to make a backup of our section of the universe. It turns out that the basic building blocks of our univese are binary states, i.e., digital. Thus, we should be able to save them somewhere in case, you know, we mess something up then we can go back and restore it.

Even though we are working out a few problems, it's really not as hard to back up part of the universe as you might imagine. You see, the faster you move the more time slows down, until time stops if you're going at the speed for light. This means that if you're a photon traveling at the speed of light there is no difference in time from your beginning and your end. If nothing stops it the photon will travel to the edge of the universe. So there are actually many photons which are touching things around us and the edge of the universe at the same instant, at least from the perspective of the light.

The edge of the universe has lots and lots of information about the universe, because these photons aren't very good at keeping secrets. They show everything they know about to whoever cares to look. And considering how many photons there are, that's a lot of things they know about. So all we had to do to make a backup copy of the universe was to copy part of the edge of the universe onto another part of the edge of the universe. Or onto the boundry layer of a black hole, which apparently has the same makeup as the edge of the universe. It's just a little smaller.

In order to minimise how much room we need to store our section of the universe, we've made some compression algorithms, since most of the universe is pretty much like the chunk next to it. Now we only need about 10% as much surface as before.

So back to those problems. We're not sure how this little bit of edge of the universe will know which way things were moving when we saved them (when I say little, did I mention how little? It's on the Planck scale, about 0.000000000000000000001 meter per bit of information).

Not that that's our only problem, check out this conversation I overheard last week:

continued next page