Sunday, November 02, 2008

Time is Illusion

As Rovelli explains it, in quantum mechanics all particles of matter and energy can also be described as waves. And waves have an unusual property: An infinite number of them can exist in the same location. If time and space are one day shown to consist of quanta, the quanta could all exist piled together in a single dimensionless point. "Space and time in some sense melt in this picture," says Rovelli. "There is no space anymore. There are just quanta kind of living on top of one another without being immersed in a space."...

Einstein, for one, found solace in his revolutionary sense of time. In March 1955, when his lifelong friend Michele Besso died, he wrote a letter consoling Besso's family: "Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."

The rabbis concur in their biblical exegesis. "There is no past or future in Torah," they teach. Therefore they are not bound by the vector of time and its inherent causality. Thus Abraham is bound by the laws of Kashrut (keeping kosher) even tho those laws were received "historically" 400 or more years after Abraham died, and Jacob studied in a Yeshiva (a school of Jewish learning, especially Talmud) even tho Talmud was not compiled until about 500 CE, or about 2400 years after Jacob died! From a historian's point of view, this kind of exegesis sounds like mere foolishness. From the point of view of quantum mechanics, the rabbis were brilliantly prescient.

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