(These theories are the brainwaves of my 16-year-old son, Aneesh Chatterjee. Please pardon if you see any atrocities. You can join in the debate if you want to)
[Spring Model of Time, single line theory]
Time is only a human concept. It is a name given by humans to the speed of the constant progression of the universe. Time is endless, and has no beginning – so to speak. One could say time is a circle, but an ever-changing one. Imagine time to be a drawn circle, where parts of the curved line are in different colours. Think of your finger to be the progression of time. As you trace your finger along the line, you produce new colours on the circular line, but the ones you have already created remain same behind – until your finger reaches the point from where you started. It is here when the circle, from your starting point, duplicates into another circle, connected by a single strand of time. Here, new colours form as you move your finger over the new circle, a different colour each time but remaining the same behind you. When your finger reaches the starting point, the circle duplicates yet again, and so on. This forms a sort of “spring” shape, where a series of infinite circles are all connected by single strands of time in the same locations. This is the Spring Model of Time.
The past does not change. The future, however, remains ever changing. Does everyone have a different perception of past, present and future? Do we, as human beings, see our own locations of past, present and future in time? Going against everything Albert Einstein has said about time, no. That is impossible. In my opinion, time is one supreme being; all entities in the universe follow only one single line of time. How we see that line, whether it reaches us at a particular speed – does not affect the flow of time in general. The concept of light years states that something that has happened many light years away will be visible to us many years after it has actually happened. Is this, then, the destruction of the single line of time? Do we see the present much later than its present? When joined with speed and distance, yes. However, how we see it does not affect how it works. We can watch a 3D movie wearing special glasses, but does that mean the pictures are actually 3D? No. They are only how we precept it, with the use of external additions (glasses). Similarly, we see explosions in space long after they took place because of external additions (distance and speed). The pictures on the screen remain 2D, and the single line of time remains unhampered, when external additions are removed. So, the Spring Model of Time is formed by a single line only, never overlapping and constantly moving forward. But wait – if it is moving forward, where did it start? Does time have a beginning? Will it have an end? No, it will not. This part of time is beyond human understanding (currently). We do not know, nor can we comprehend, the beginning and end of time. Time is constant, ever-moving, and – with our current understanding – infinite.
The “present” part of the Spring Model – the part where you are now – always, always has an equal distance of time in both past and future directions. So, if we could see “present” marked as a red dot on the Spring Model, the dot would appear not to move. However, it is moving, and that is all we need to know. But let’s move away from the reality, and dive into fantasy. This realm has other theories of time, but can we dissect them?
Freezing Time [Time-Locomotion Fabric Effect, train theory]
You’ve seen it in superhero comics, movies, cartoons, and even some novels. The concept of frozen time has fascinated humans ever since they acknowledged the existence of time. A universe where nothing moved; where clocks stopped, people became statues, water stopped flowing, birds remained suspended in midair. If, theoretically, the entire universe was frozen, and you were the only person not affected – imagine the passing years. One could think that they would grow old while time remained frozen, and eventually die, while everyone else remained young. Is that really true? In my opinion, no. Here’s what I believe would happen: you would gain age, grow old and die, but so would the rest of the world. Why? Because the concept of freezing time, really, only means freezing movement. If one day, everything stops moving, people will think time is frozen. That isn’t true at all, is it? Time cannot be frozen, because it is not a physical entity – even at the atomic level. Time, in a way, shares equal qualities with God. God is timeless, supreme, only one, and untouchable. No one, and nothing, can touch time, and thus, cannot freeze it. So, if “time froze”, and you grew old, the frozen people would also age. Food would rot. Skin would sag. Muscles would weaken. However, all this, without locomotion. Frozen movement does not affect the products of time. This is called the Time-Locomotion Fabric Effect. So, is it possible, even theoretically, to actually freeze time?
As said before, no. To freeze time means to stop its progression completely. But how can you stop its progression if it has no end? Imagine time to be a train. If you want to stop the train, the only way for you to do that is to put something in front of the train to halt it with an obstacle. However, how can you do that if you cannot find the “front”? How can we surpass time itself, and stop it from progressing? If the train is truly infinite in both directions, it is impossible to find its “front” or “back”. There is no possible theory for freezing time. Now, let’s move on to the other branch of time in this realm, a branch that mystifies humans most of all…
Who hasn’t dreamt of this? We all have thought of what it would be like to see what the future looks like; we all want to hop into a fancy-looking time machine and travel ahead thousands of years, where cities float in the sky and the moon and mars have human civilization upon them. We all want to go back to see how dinosaurs lived, how they fought, what they truly looked like, how cavemen discovered fire, and see great minds in the flesh such as Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein; we want to witness the discoveries and breakthroughs that have created the civilization we have today.
If we want to think about time travel, we have to go back to the Spring Model of Time. Recall how the spring stretches infinitely in both past and future directions, from the present. The theory is simple – the moving finger represents the speed of light. If we could move faster than it, we would be time travelling. Of course, there’s much, much more to it than that, but extended time travel is such a woolly subject that any theory could make sense if you put in some existing scientific logic into it. Scientists say it’s possible to travel into the future with enough speed. Gravity and mass affects time travel, too – according to modern sources. The future’s easy, theoretically. The past, however, is truly horrifying. We’ve all seen Back to the Future, and the chaos that nearly happened with that. Imagine that happening to you – or worse, imagine seeing yourself. What would your past self do? What would you do, if you saw your twin one day? We all know how dangerous time travel can be. So, for the sake of humanity, let’s just stay away from it.
Time is one of the few biggest mysteries in the universe, along with black holes, the Big Bang, the much discussed Big Rip, and of course, God. But God is a belief, so why connect it to science? Well, has science ever looked into the non-physical? Has science ever tried to see what can’t possibly be seen? Touch what can’t be touched? Do we always need to have solid, profitable proof of something before we try to dive into it? You say “God doesn’t exist, because his existence hasn’t been proven.” Well, so what? Maybe, if we looked into what hasn’t been proved, we could actually find a way to prove it. Maybe, if we stopped being so cynical and straightforward, we could see something we’ve been ignoring for hundreds of years.
(Aneesh Chatterjee is also the author of Requiem of Supremacy, published last year)